The Effectiveness of Instructional Materials in Teaching & Learning Biology in Secondary Schools

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Passive learning through lectures and textbook reading may not provide a lasting understanding or interest in any field of study. For secondary students learning biology, instructional materials could help students connect to the object of study, and student participation may increase. Personal investigations done by students provide a way for students to engage within the field of study and nurture a deeper understanding of biology.

Types of Instructional Materials

Engage students by providing 3-D models related to the current area of study in biology. Scale models of human anatomy, such as the human skeleton, muscular system and nervous systems, can be used to show students what parts of the human body looks like up close. Skeletal models of animal bones may also be used when studying a branch of biology called zoology, or the study of animals. Using scale models of insects and arachnids provides students a deeper understanding in the branches of entomology, the study of insects, and arachnology, the study of spiders and related animals. Three-D, or realistic, models of plants provide students with instructional materials beneficial to the study of botany, or the study of plants.

Hands-On Research

Give students outlets for hands-on learning through special investigations in the field of current study. For the branch of biology called microbiology, provide students access to microscopes and micro-organisms to study and document. Engage students by taking field trips centred on a specific branch of study. Visit zoos and animal rehabilitation centres when studying zoology. Tour aquariums for marine biology, and visit inland waters for the study of limnology. Go to a local recreational park for studying environmental biology.

Learning Through Experience

Students allowed to experience science instead of just reading or listening about the subject develop a deeper connection with fields of biology. Holding an actual mushroom or bird egg makes a lasting impression on secondary students, while just a picture in a textbook may not allow students to visualise the texture and weight of the objects. Tools used in the different branches of biology should be accessible so the students experience biology while they learn. Tools such as microscopes, magnifying glasses, 3-D models and other instruments from biology studies can get students actively participating in learning.

Observation and Reflecting

Observation occurs when the student has been presented with a piece of instructional material she can touch, feel, smell and possibly even taste. Allowing secondary students to observe living organisms in natural environments helps students better understand the living conditions some organisms thrive in. Teaching students to reflect on these findings and observations helps students connect with the organisms of current study. Students allowed to observe and then reflect on materials found in biology may enhance the learning and help the students during tests and working on schoolwork.

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