Background of the Study
Secondary education is important for developing country like Nigeria as it is concerned with the provision of competencies required for useful living to those whose education is terminated at the secondary school level (FRN, 2004). The broad aims of secondary education within the overall national objectives of Nigerian education:
- Preparation for useful living in the society
- Preparation for higher education
In other to achieve the above stated aims of secondary education, the secondary school curriculum is structured to include Home Economics among other subjects, taught in secondary schools in Nigeria.
Home Economics which is an aspect of vocational and technical education is an interdisciplinary field of study which helps family and individuals to understand and adapt to the effects of social economic, cultural and technical changes. It is an applied science subject which is dependent on the integration of different academic disciplines such as the natural science, social science and art in solving problems of families and individuals within the families and individuals within the families (Lemechi 2002). According to Fleck (2000:4) the world shapes home economics and home economics contribute to the shaping of the world through its impact on millions of individuals and their families”. The American Home Economics Association (2005:10) has rightly defined Home Economics as “the study of laws, conditions, principles and ideas which are concerned on the one hand with man’s immediate physical environment and on the other hand with his nature as a social being and is the study especially of the relation between those two factors.
Advanced countries have realized the importance of Home Economics to both sexes since they know that both men and women have need for training and cooperation to improve the standard of living of their individual families. It is also a means of providing both academic and vocational training and work opportunity for people thereby reducing the unemployment rate of a nation.
There are about seven major areas of study which could help achieve lofty objectives of Home Economics and provide areas of specialization at the higher levels of Education. These are Foods and Nutrition, Home Management and family living, child development and care, clothing and textile, housing and interior decoration, and consumer education (Anyakoha, 2007).
Foods and Nutrition which is the major concern of this study is all about foods and its utilization in the body. One of the major characteristics of living things, plants and animals, man inclusive, is their struggle for existence. Right from the days of the early man, the search for Food is the major pre-occupation of mankind. He moves about looking for food. Thus, food is very important in the day-to-day life of man. Food can therefore be aptly defined as that which nourishes the body. It is any edible substance which after consumption, digestion and absorption by the body produces energy, promotes the growth and repair of the tissues and regulates all the body processes (Anyakoha, 2007). Foods are able to perform these functions because of the chemical substances they contain. These chemical substances are called nutrients. For any material to be called food therefore, it must contain at least one nutrient.
Nutrition is the combination of processes by which the living organism receives and utilizes the materials (food) necessary for the maintenance of its functions and for the growth and renewal of its components. The council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association (2005:12) defines nutrition as “the science of food, the nutrition and the substances there in, their action, interaction and balance in relation to health and disease, and the process by which the organism ingests, absorbs, transports, utilizes and excretes, food substances”. The science of nutrition is the study of food and its relationship to the well being of the human body, it includes: the metabolism of foods, the nutritive value of foods, and the qualitative and quantitative requirement of food at different age and developmental levels to meet physiological changes and to meet activity needs.
A pertinent question at this juncture is why do we have to study Foods and Nutrition in schools? The answer to this question is not farfetched. Foods play a paramount role in our lives. Everybody has the ambition of becoming something in life. This can only come through if we are healthy (Ene-Obong, 2001). For example it is only when a pupil or student is well fed that he can listen attentively and understands what he or she is being taught by the teacher. A hungry person will not be responsive to any form of training. In fact scientists have found that there is a strong correlation between good food and the intellectual development of human beings. Therefore, for a nation to progress, her people must be well fed. This proportion of the nutrients consumed is very important because it has been found that consumption of too much as well as inadequacy of the nutrients can have deleterious effects on the body (Ene-Obong, 2001). Hence the needs to study Foods and Nutrition in our schools.
Apart from its effect on the intellectual development of man, good nutrition also plays an important role in the maintenance of good health. People who are well fed have more resistance to diseases than those who are poorly nourished (Anyakoha, 2007). In a country where people are well fed, there will be less incidence of sickness and therefore fewer amounts will be expended on health (Cobb, 2001). Good nutrition is one of the foundations of a strong nation. Good nutrition enhances one’s appearance, efficiency and emotion well being.
The objectives of Foods and Nutrition is to produce competent teaches of Foods and Nutrition, nutritionist and dieticians who will be able to perform basic functions in food technology practice and impact the knowledge of food to both individuals, public and private sectors. But unfortunately students do not achieve well in Foods and Nutrition examinations especially in area of Nutritional Food values and diseases (Adeyemi, 2008). Nutritional food values and diseases are important concepts in Foods and Nutrition as a subject. It is through these concepts that one obtains the knowledge of food, its content, and its functions in the body. The food we eat and do not eat has much to do with health. The science and practice of nutrition exist for and attempt to contribute to the advancement of populations throughout the world towards longer and more secure living, relatively free of diseases. Good nutrition enhances one’s appearance, efficiency and emotional well being. Nutritionists have devised an elementary method that simplifies planning an adequate diet. This method is based on the basic food group or classification of food. In West African countries, and Nigeria in particular, a wide variety of foods is available naturally.
The classification of food is essential to our study of nutrition because by grouping together food with similar nutrient content, it is possible to choose from a wide variety of alternatives if certain food becomes scarce (Uddoh, 2008). Ignorance of knowledge, classification and combination of foods to make up adequate diet is responsible for more nutritional diseases. Ignorance leads to faulty food habits which certainly contribute to the onset of obesity and diabetes and probably with the degenerative disorders (Santrock, 2003). Households must also have enough knowledge and information about each member’s nutritional needs and how those needs can best be met with the resources available. Knowledge about nutritional needs and food uses is particularly important among the poor and food insecure household. It can literally make the difference life and death, illness and health.
In spite of the importance of nutritional values of Foods and diseases, student achieve poorly on questions bothering on these two concepts (Adeyemi, 2008) Adeyemi (2008) describes academic achievement as the scholastic standing of a student at a given moment which states individual intellectual abilities. The level of achievement in these two concepts of Foods and Nutrition by students is not encouraging. To buttress this point, Table 1 in appendix shows the secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) results in Foods and Nutrition conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) May/June 2009-2012 and Table 2 which is also in appendix shows the SSCE results in Foods and Nutrition conducted by national examination council (NECO) 2009-2012. The overall results show that about one third of the students that took the examination failed while one third also had pass, that is, P7 & P8. These tables therefore go to indicate that the students are not achieving highly in SSCE in Foods and Nutrition. The contributory factors to this poor achievement could be found among the following variables:- students lack of interest , school locations, gender issues, teaching methods, to mention but a few (Ogbuanya and Fakorede, 2008).
In spite of the importance of Foods and Nutrition, students do not show interest in the subject .Interest is a persisting tendency to pay attention and enjoy some activity or content. Interest has been viewed as emotionally oriented behavior trait which determines a student’s vigor in tackling educational programme or other activities (Eze, 2002).It is an important variable in learning because when one is interested in an activity, one is likely to achieve highly in that activity and learned facts retained. Lack of interest therefore inhibits learning and retention. Umoh (2001) pointed out that interest must be supported by proven ability, aptitude and attitude. The way a student reacts towards a particular occupation helps to determine his disposition to succeed in it. For example students tend to choose and succeed in occupation, or subject which appear to promote their self-image or which appear to be acceptable not only to themselves but to others as well. Students, more especially, males tend to avoid Foods and Nutrition which is one of the vocational programmes they feel has low image when in fact this programme has much to do with their health.
Societies in Nigeria see females’ roles as being domestic and child bearing (Johnson, 2000 and Anyigbo, 2005). Some activities are considered abnormal to the male but normal for the female and vice versa as passed from generation to generation through informal education of every ethnic group. In the Nigerian culture, the practice is that the female’s place is the home, so gender has become a very important concept in Education (Anyigbo, 2005).
Gender refers to the varied socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities, behaviour and so on that are ascribed to women and men of different societies (UNICEF, 1990). In Keller’s (1991) opinion, gender is a cultural construct developed by the society to distinguish the roles, behaviours, mental and emotional characteristics of males and females. In showing the difference between sex and gender, Sadig (1996) states that sex is a physical distinction while gender is a social and cultural one. This implies that roles and expectations of males and females are defined by societies and cultures. In other words, men are expected to behave in a certain way and to perform certain duties while women are expected to behave in a certain way and to perform certain duties. It has been observed by researchers (Obikese, 2007 and Okoro, 2011) that there is a significant difference in the learning and achievement of males and females in some subjects, example; food and nutrition. The author pointed out that this gender difference in learning outcomes have been attributed to various factors such self-confidence, biological differences, socialization and teacher gender bias method of teaching. Males and females adapt differently to different teaching methods, strategies and approaches. This kind of situation therefore, calls for continuous research works on gender and academic achievement.
Apart from gender, location is a variable that plays an important role in learning. Location as stated by Okeke (2000) refers to urban and rural areas. Secondary schools in Nigeria are located in urban and rural areas. Over the years there has been a controversy on the question of whether schools have effect on the behaviour and attainment of children who attend them. The location of a school determines so many things that are important in learning such as learning facilities and environmental factors, infrastructures, number and quality of teachers and the class size, to mention but a few (Obioma, 2004 and Akubue, 2007). Adequate provision of lack of these facilities respectively may improve or hamper learning by students. This may also affect the achievement of students in the technical and vocational courses or programme and indirectly in Foods and Nutrition. Schools, no doubt, play a vital role in the intellectual development of children that pass through them. No two school environments are the same. The difference in school environment is expected to result to a differential impact in the acquisition of skills in Foods and Nutrition. The location of a school determines the classroom environment which is crucial in teaching and learning. The nature of classroom environment can play a major role in promoting learning, encouraging effective social relationships, especially in developing tolerance and determining role behavior (Okeke, 2000, Obioma, 2004 and Akubue, 2007). They opined that a good learning environment has the following advantages of fostering desirable behaviour and attitude, developing problem solving skills and thought encouraging students interrelationships and when well planned and properly arranged can be effective in accommodating learner centered methods like guided discovering method etc. Unfortunately, schools in the rural areas cannot boast of classroom environment thus described. The result is that students in this area are disadvantaged due to poor staffing, lack of laboratory facilities and other educational materials (Okeke 2000).
Although, numerous variables have been shown to affect students learning outcomes in Foods and Nutrition, the most devastating factor is the teaching methods. These have effect on the students’ academic achievement. Teachers are blamed for the observed poor achievement. Some use obsolete teaching methods which make students lose interest and consequently achieve poorly, promote negative attitude and encourage poor retention of leaning materials rather than methods that engage students’ participation and interest (Boule, Duffy and Don Leavy 2003).
In recent times, emphasis on teaching method has shifted from the teacher-centered to the student–centered approach. Hence educational activities should be centered on the learner for maximum self development and fulfillment, so those teaching methods that foster the philosophy of learning by doing, problem solving through guided experimentation and that which enhances students-participation and creativity are recommended, for example guided discovery method.
Guided discovery method according to Uwameiyi and Ogunbemeru (2005), is a method of teaching that has the advantages of allowing learners to use process skills to generate content information. Guided discovery method activity engages learners in first hand real world learning. Uwameiyi and Ogunbemeru (2005) stated further that guided discovery method encourages learners to explore the content through the use of concrete experience. EdutechWiki (2005) stated that guided discovery method is characterized by convergent thinking.
Operationally, guided discovery method is a method of teaching that fosters the philosophy of learning by doing, problem solving through guided experimentation and that which enhances students’ participation and creativity. The method also enables students to make references with limited guidance from the teacher. Guided discovery method allows the students the opportunity to discover principles or explanations (Spence, Jensen and Shepherd 2004). In using guided discovery as a teaching method, according to Reinchart (2005), the teacher devises series of statements or questions that will guide the learner, use a step by step series of discoveries that can lead to a single predetermined goal. The teacher initiates a stimulus and the students react by engaging in active inquiry, thereby discovering the appropriate response. Also Ajewole (1990) pointed out six steps or procedures to follow for a successful use of guided discovery teaching method by a teacher.
- The teacher should first of all identify the topic to be taught.