The knowledge of biology is applied in many aspects of human life including genetic engineering, population control, branches of medicine and environmental conservation. It has a significant role to play in enhancing the country’s socio-economic development by enabling exploitation of land, animal and other natural and human resources. Inspite of this, the overall achievement in biology in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) has been poor. Approaches used in the instructional process have been identified as among the factors contributing to the problem of low achievement. In this study an attempt was made to overcome this problem by using Computer Based Mastery Learning (CBML) approach as an intervention to investigate its effects on students’ Achievement and Motivation. A non- equivalent Solomon’s Four Group design (quasi-experimental research design) was used in which four co-educational secondary schools were purposively sampled. The four schools were randomly assigned to four groups. Students in all the groups were taught the same biology content. Teachers of the experimental groups taught using CBML approach while teachers of the control groups taught using the conventional methods. The study focused on the topic Respiration and involved a sample of 167 Form two students in four schools in Bomet District. Two instruments namely Biology Achievement Test (BAT) and Students’ Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ) were used to collect data. The instruments were validated by five research experts in Science Education and five practising high school biology teachers. Reliability was estimated using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. A reliability co- efficient of 0.77 was obtained for BAT and 0.79 for SMQ. Inferential statistics ANOVA, t-test and ANCOVA were used for data analysis. Hypotheses were tested at an alpha level of 0.05. The findings indicate that students taught using CBML approach had significantly higher scores in BAT and SMQ than those taught using conventional approaches. The findings further indicate that there is no gender difference in achievement and motivation when CBML is used. It is recommended that CBML teaching strategy be incorporated in teacher education programes. Designers of computer based learning programmes should also be encouraged to include CBML to enhance student learning.

1.1 Background Information
Biological knowledge has been used throughout the centuries because it has a wide range of applications in most aspects of human life. It’s applications in genetic engineering has resulted in the production of high yielding plant and animal species. This has made tremendous contribution towards meeting the demand of food requirements for the ever growing human population (Keraro, Wachanga & Orora, 2007). Biological knowledge has also been applied in branches of medicine such as organ transplant and control of a wide range of diseases. Biological knowledge is also applied in industry such as the use of microorganisms in food processing. Other areas where biological knowledge has been applied include population control and environmental conservation (UNESCO, 1986)

Secondary school biology enables learners to acquire knowledge and skills useful in every day life and in development of desirable attitudes (Brown, 1995). According to UNESCO (1975), school biology should be relevant to real life and experiences of learners. There is need to change from closely directed learning of facts to conceptual understanding, application of acquired knowledge and skills to solve emerging problems. Students leaving high school should be able to use biology in their every day life (Rose, 1971; Orora, Wachanga & Keraro, 2005). For this to be realized, effective teaching approaches that enhance learning need to be developed and used in the teaching of biology. Expository approaches cannot stand up to the challenges of the new demands and objectives of biology education hence a fresh look at new approaches should be taken (UNESCO, 1986). In recent years, science educators have used the constructivist approach to enhance students’ learning (Trowbridge, Bybee & Powell, 2004). According to Good and Brophy (1995) learners’ are seen not just as accessing information but also as constructing their own meanings. Aslop and Hicks (2001) point out that learning of science is essentially an active process. Therefore, the teaching of biology should enhance active learner participation.

The actual outcomes of instruction depend largely on what happens in classrooms. If scientific knowledge is presented in terms of proven facts and absolute truths readily communicated through texts and lectures, then students will come to regard science as a static body of knowledge that is founded on well-defined methods (Roth & Roychoudhury, 2003). Knowledge, for these students, consists of memorizing a body of information for later retrieval. If, on the other hand, students actively engage in science processes, they recognize that scientific knowledge is based on experiments in which the meaning of data is negotiated and theories are not absolute. Knowledge, in this context, consists of learning experimental methods and the norms and practices of scientific communities as much as it does learning known facts and current theories within a domain (Wheeler, 2000).

In teacher-centred instruction, learning focuses on the mastery of content, with little development of the skills and attitudes necessary for scientific inquiry. The teacher transmits information to students, who receive and memorize it. Assessments of knowledge typically involve one right answer. The curriculum is loaded with many facts and a large number of vocabulary words, which encourages a lecture format of teaching (Leonard & Chandler, 2003). In contrast, in a student-centred curriculum, learning science is active and constructive, involving inquiry and hands-on activities. The goal is to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills by posing and investigating relevant questions whose answers must be discovered. The teacher acts as a facilitator, creating the learning conditions in which students actively engage in experiments, interpret and explain data, and negotiate understandings of the findings with peers. In this approach, the teacher puts less emphasis on memorizing information and more emphasis on inquiry and hands-on activities through which students develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the nature of science (National Research Council, 1996, 2000, 2003; Singer, Marx, Krajcik, & Chambers, 2000). Thus when learners are actively involved during the instructional process, their achievement and motivation to learn would improve.

Achievement in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) biology has continued to remain poor (KNEC, 2012). Table 1 shows the achievement in KCSE in Biology for the period 2008-2012....

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 86 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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