ABSTRACT: The study investigates continuous assessment practices and student’s academic performance in biology. Research hypotheses were formulated and a Quasi experimental research design was adopted for the study. The sample size consisted of 120 SS2 students in four intact classes from 4 selected secondary schools in the study Area. The four different classes were taught for one term by their biology teachers and assessed using guidelines given by the researcher. A Biology Achievement Test with 25-items multiple choice items constructed by the researcher was administered on the respondents at the end of term.
Data collected were analyzed using independent t-test statistical techniques. Findings show that students exposed to assignments and tests performed significantly better than those assessed with tests only. It was recommended among other things that teachers should improve their efficiency in the implementation of continuous assessment to improve students’ academic performance.
Continuous Assessment Practices and Student’s Academic Performance in Biology
1.1 Background to the Study
One of the functions of a school is the certification of individual learners under its embrace. To effectively carryout this role, a proper way of assessment is a prerequisite.
The Nigerian National Policy on Education (2004) recommended the use of continuous assessment for taking summative decision on students’ level of attainment at the end of any level of schooling. According to Essien (2005), Continuous Assessment was introduced by the National Policy on Education (2004) for all levels of education in Nigeria under 6 – 3 – 3 – 4 system. The purpose was to make assessment of the learners more reliable, valid, objective and comprehensive (Chukwua 2013). Since the emphasis is now on the totality of learning, it becomes necessary to evolve and use an assessment practice that will embrace all aspects of learning the various subjects offered in the school system, including Biology.
Before, Continuous assessment was introduced in Nigerian schools, the old system of assessment was summative, and that is, examination was done only at the end of the term’s work (Essien 2005). In some cases, students were not examined on what they have been taught until the end of each term. Also, the summative assessment only made use of class work and examinations while take-home assignment, class assignment and practical exercises were hardly used in assessing learners (Essien, 2005). According to Chukwuka (2013), the former system of assessment was based on cognitive domain while affective and psychomotor domains were not considered.
Continuous Assessment, According to Falayajo cited in Decker (2013), is a mechanism whereby the final assessment of students’ performance in cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of behaviour takes account in a systematic way of all his performances during a given period of schooling. Decker (2013) added that, such an assessment involves the use of a great variety of modes of evaluation for the purpose of guiding and improving the learning and performance of the students.
His variety of modes of evaluation include tests, projects, assessment, practical exercises, interviews, checklists, rating scales, inventories, anecdotal records and sociometric methods for assessing various components of learning not only in the thinking process (cognitive) but including attitudes, motives, beliefs, behaviours, personality trait (affective) and dexterity (Psychomotor). Continuous Assessment emphasizes more on comprehensive information on cognitive, affective and psychomotor measures of individuals if well practiced. This is intended to make learning more meaningful to the students.
The Federal ministry of Education according to Essien (2005) asserted that Continuous Assessment was introduced into the school system with the view that it would:
- Enable teachers to be more flexible and innovative in their instruction;
- Give the teacher greater involvement in the overall assessment of his pupils;
- Provide a basis for more effective guidance of the child;
- Provide a basis for the teacher to improve his instructional methods and;
- Reduce the high incidence of examination mal-practice as the success or failure of a student would no longer depend on one- shot type of examination.
According to Essien (2005) for the objective of Continuous Assessment implementation to be realized, teachers must be well acquitted with the different methods of Continuous Assessment practices at various levels of education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The former method of assessment in schools which was purely summative in nature failed to take into account the pupils academic performance Ipaye cited in Essien (2005).
In order to solve the problems inherent in the old system of assessment, National Policy on Education (1981) stipulates that “Educational Assessment of the progress of the individual be continuous in nature”. One of the objectives of introducing the Continuous Assessment system was to improve the academic performance of the learners.
Despite the fact that continuous Assessment has been in practice for a number of years now, students still failed Biology. Reports show that students still perform poorly in Biology at senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) (West African Examination Council. (WAEC) Reports 2006, 2007 and 2008). Could the problem be associated with the methods adopted by the teachers in assessing the students in biology? What strategies are adopted by the biology teachers in assessing the performance of students?
Therefore, there is a need to investigate the methods adopted by teachers in Continuous Assessment and the influence of these methods on students academic performances.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate the influence of Continuous Assessment practices on students’ Academic Performance in Ini Local Government Area.
Specifically, the study was designed to determine the influence of the different strategies of continuous assessment adopted by biology teachers on academic performance of students.
It was also aimed at investigating the influence of regularity of tests and assignments on academic performance of students in the subject.
Continuous Assessment Practices and Student’s Academic Performance in Biology
1.4 Significance of the study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to students, parents, teachers, educational planners and agencies such is ministry of education and educational administrators and Government;
- The findings of the study will be of help to students who are the end benefactors of the programme of continuous assessment.
- It will help the teacher to implement continuous assessment to effectively.
- It will provide parents with the view to encourage their wards to take continuous assessment seriously.
- It will promote a basis for pre-service training programme for teachers on the need of proper implementation continuous assessment.
- It will help Government educational planning agencies for validation of training programme.
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following null hypotheses were formulated guide to study.
- There is no significant difference between academic performance of students who are subjected to continuous Assessment through Test and assignment three (3) times in a term and those who are subjected through test and assignment weekly.
There is no significant difference in academic performance of students in biology between students who are subjected to continuous Assessment through test alone weekly and those who are subjected to continuous assessment through test alone three times in a term.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
The study was delimited to investigate the influence of continuous Assessment practice on students’ academic performance in Biology. The study is also delimited to Ini Local Government Area. Continuous Assessment practices to be considered in this context include.
1.7 Definition of Terms
The task of getting a universally acceptable definition of a particular word or concept is not an easy one. Consequently, the following will be taken as the definitions in the context of the study:
- Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment is a process through which the quality of individuals’ work or performance is judged progressively.
- Students Academic Performance: This refers to the students; test or examination scores or results.
- Biology: This is the branch of Science that deals with the study of living things.