EFFECTS OF TWO MODES OF ADVANCE ORGANIZERS AND COGNITIVE STYLE ON SECONDARY STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT IN EPISTLES IN EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA
This study was carried out to investigate the effects of two
modes of advance organizers and cognitive style on achievement of senior
secondary school students in Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK). It also
investigated the influence of gender and location on achievement of Senior
Secondary II (SS II) CRK students. Seven research questions and seven null
hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted a pretest,
posttest non-randomized control group design. Two hundred and sixty seven
students from six secondary schools in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State
were assigned to experimental and control groups. The instruments used to
collect data were Christian Religious Knowledge Achievement Test (CRKAT) and
Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT). An internal consistency reliability
estimate of 0.72 was established for the objective items of CRKAT using
Kudar-Richardson formula 20. An inter-rater reliability coefficient of 0.90 was
obtained for the essay items of CRKAT. Data collected were analyzed using mean
and standard deviations and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). The major findings
of the study among others include the following: students taught with
audio-visual organizer had better achievement mean scores in CRK than students
taught with written organizer who in turn had better mean scores than the
students taught without organizer, although the differences were not
significant. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores
of field dependent and field independent students. There is no significant
difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students. There is
significant interaction effect of mode and location on students’ achievement in
CRK. The educational implications of these results include: that the
achievement of senior secondary school students in CRK is not determined
by the use of advance organizers in teaching the subject. As a result,
either of the advance organizers can be used to enhance learning.
Field dependent and field independent cognitive styles do not influence
the learning of CRK as in science subjects and mathematics. It is recommended
that the use of audio-visual, and written advance organizers especially in urban
schools should be encouraged.
Background of the Study
Religion is a system of belief in and worship of one or more gods. Christian
religion is the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ (Fawole,
1981). Christian religious knowledge (CRK) is the understanding of
Christians about their belief. CRK has been in the curriculum of educational
institutions in Nigeria since the introduction of formal education. Okafor
(1988) states that education without religion, which Christian religion is part
of, helps to create a vacuum in the life of citizens. It leaves the young
frustrated and confused about life when they are not provided with the ultimate
and transcendental values to guide their lives. CRK is an agent of good
morality which produces love, justice, truthfulness, fair play, and good government
that leads to nation building (Njoku, 2008 & Agha, 1995). Christian
religious laws are made to guide and strengthen human conduct. They lead
people to the fear of God and constituted authorities in the society. CRK
guides students in such a way that they can attain intellectual and moral
perfection and discipline themselves both mentally and morally to face their
daily and future challenges. According to Obilo (1995), CRK contains rich
variety of concepts that enhance better and meaningful life. It cultivates
the mind and provides moral consciousness and commitment to one’s duty towards
one’s neighbours and society; which Nigeria and the world at large need
Notwithstanding the importance of this subject to human race, students perform
below average in the subject in external examinations. The West African Senior
School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) Chief Examiners’ Reports show that the
performance of students from 1998 – 2008 in CRK is below average. The
reports note candidates’ inadequate ..knowledge of the subject matter with
particular reference to Section C of the question paper entitled: ‘Themes from
selected epistles. Epistles are letters written by some of the apostles
of Jesus Christ to individuals or churches to address some of their religious
problems as they arose. The poor achievement and inadequate knowledge of the
subject matter can be attributed to many variables. These include teachers’
method of teaching, media used and the abstract nature of the themes.
Most of the time, teachers of CRK use lecture and story telling methods (Eze,
1999), which are teacher-centered. These methods seem to make students passive
participants in the teaching–learning situations. According to Mkpa (1987),
the lecture method does not allow teachers to adapt learning to the level of
students’ understanding. Consequently, the use of these methods to
teach abstract themes such as justification by faith, faith as a condition for
justification, faith and work, resurrection, law and grace etc makes these
aspects of CRK difficult to students. There is every need then to seek
ways of making the teaching of these themes more effective, interesting and
motivating in order to enhance students’ achievement.
For effective teaching and learning to take place, learners have to be actively
involved. This can be done by arousing and arresting the attention and
interest of learners and creating in the learner a genuine interest and desire
to learn. Hass and Packer (1965) cited in Eze (1999) noted that attention
can be arrested by preparing the learner to be ready to learn, making learning
pleasant and interesting and helping the learner to assimilate what has been
One of the ways of preparing learners to learn is by the use of advance
organizers. Advance organizer is a model of teaching (Joyce and Weil,
1972). According to Chauhan (1979), a model of teaching is an
instructional design which creates a particular environmental situation which
causes the students to interact in such a way that a specific change occurs in
their behaviours. It is developed to help a teacher to improve his
capacity to reach more pupils, and create a richer and more diverse environment
Advance organizer was first developed by David Ausubel in 1960. His aim
was to enhance learning and retention of verbal materials. They give the
learner a general overview of the more detailed material to be l0earned. They
consist of introductory materials that are more abstracted, general, and
inclusive than the learning task itself. They activate a general
organization from the learner’s existing knowledge that would not have normally
been used to assimilate the new material. They are tools or techniques
that provide identification and classification along with possible
relationships or connections among ideas, concepts, and issues. They are
useful to the learner when given in advance of instruction and often serve as
clues to ideas that the instructor plans to introduce, (Callison. retrieved,
2000). They have positive influence on the learner’s ability to focus on new
Advance organizer can be regarded as instructional media presented to the
target audience before the main learning and material to enhance the
understanding of the material to be learned.
The following types of advance organizers, among others, exist according to
Clawson and Barns (1973), Marzano, Debra, Pickering, Pollock and MCREL (2001),
and Mayer (2003) graphic, narrative, expository, skimming, audio-visual and
Graphic organizers take the form of pictographs, descriptive
patterns, and concept patterns. It combines the linguistic and non-linguistic
modes of information storage. Narrative advance organizers present
new information in a story format to students. Skimming advance
organizers look over the new material and gain a basic overview.
Comparative advance organizers discriminate a concept from other closely
related ones. Comparative advance organizers allow you to easily see the
similarities and differences in a set of related ideas. It provides more
specific model closer to that, which is already familiar and very similar to
concepts just mastered. While expository advance organizers describe in
detail what the new content will look like,expository advance organizers
provide general model for introduction of new facts or ideas, but broad enough
to move the learner up a notch or so on the complexities of the material to be
Audio-visual advance organizers synchronize pictures with words
in presenting new content. Audio-visual organizers appeal to the senses
of hearing and seeing. This type of organizers creates room for the students to
see and hear the learning content. Written advance organizers present new
content in written form. This type of organizers appeals only to the sense of
seeing. Students read the learning content. To the knowledge of the
researcher, much has not been done on audio-visual and written organizers, hence
the need for this study. It is necessary then to determine the effects of
advance organizers (audio-visual and written) on the achievement of students in
Generally, learning demands certain qualities, which have to do with the
ability to process abstract materials for learners who are to benefit from
them. One of those qualities is cognitive style. Cognitive style is a term used
in cognitive psychology to describe the way individuals think, process,
perceive and remember information, or their preferred approach to using such
information to solving problem, (Wikipedia .org, 2008). Cognitive style
according to Gane (1985), is the skill by which the learner regulates his
internal processes of attaining, learning, remembering and thinking. Since
themes from selected epistles concern problem solving, in the affective domain,
it may be necessary to find out what type of cognitive styles help students to
understand these themes better.
There are different types of cognitive styles. The following types of
cognitive styles exist: cognitive complexity/simplicity (Kelly, 1955); filed
independent/filed dependent (Witkin 1962); impulsive/reflective (Kagan, 1965);
Divergent/convergent (Hudson, 1966); Global/analytical (Kirby, 1988). Hammon
(1989) indicates that the most reported cognitive styles are; field
dependence/independence, reflective/impulsive, leveling/sharpening and
rigidity/flexibility. However, there is no scientific proof that one type
of cognitive style is academically superior to others (Dunn, and Dunn, 1992).
Of all the dimensions of cognitive styles, field dependence/independence has
generated considerable number of research (Saracho, 1997), but nothing appears
to have been done in Epistle.
Field dependence-independence cognitive style was proposed by Witkin
(1962). Field dependency represents the tendency to perceive and adhere
to an existing externally imposed framework, while field independency
represents the tendency to restructure perceived information into a different
framework (McGee, 1979).
There are research reports that increased learning gains can be
achieved when instructional exercise is designed with students’ cognitive
styles in mind (Dunn, Bruno, Sklar, and Beaudry, 1990; Gordon, 1993; William,
1994). Field dependent– independent cognitive style is useful in this study
because it has important implications for an individual’s cognitive behaviour
and his or her interpersonal behaviour, two domains of learning emphasized by
CRK. Therefore, there is the need to find out how field
dependence-independence cognitive style affects students’ achievements in
themes from selected epistles, which by their nature may require cognitive
Findings of research studies which demonstrated differences due
to gender in various academic achievements have become popularly and generally
accepted by scholars. According to Itsuoko (1989), girls and women tend to
score higher on verbal tests and always do better than boys and men on coding
tests, which call for short memory, speed and draftiness. The males on the
other hand, invariably achieve higher scores on arithmetic, blocks design, and
the visual spatial tests. To Hutt (1972), although there is little evidence
that males and females differ in average intelligence, the constitutions of
intelligence in the two sexes are far from similar. Bacchus (2004) in his
analysis of man and woman believed that woman’s tendencies are towards the
emotional and psychic, while man’s are towards intellectualism and materialism.
One’s gender may determine choice of course of study. It will also determine
performance in any given subject (Nwobodo, cited in Madueme 2002). How gender
will influence achievement in CRK, with particular reference to Epistles which
is more emotional and psychic than intellectual, has been determined
hence this study.
It is believed that environment influences the individual. This
is applicable to teaching and learning environment. Location of a school may
contribute to the achievement of the students. It is believed that those
schools in urban areas are likely to have more resources, human and material,
than those schools in rural areas. These may make students in schools in urban
areas to achieve better than those in rural areas. This study determined
whether the achievement of students in Epistles depend on location of school.
It is against this background that this study was set to find out how two modes
of advance organizers, cognitive style, gender and location will affect
students’ achievement in CRK.
Statement of the Problem
The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) Chief
Examiners’ Reports show that the achievement of students from 1998-2008 in
section C –Themes from selected epistles is below average. The poor achievement
might be attributed to teachers’ method of teaching the subject. It is believed
that advance organizers can improve students’ achievement in Christian
Religious Knowledge (CRK) generally and themes from selected epistles in
Teaching methods in use by CRK teachers no doubt contribute to
the poor achievement of students. It is believed that if teachers prepare
students and arouse their consciousness before actually presenting their
lesson, students’ achievement in CRK, especially in section C that contains
abstract materials may improve. To the best of knowledge of the researcher, no
study appears to have been done on the effect of advance organizers on
achievement in Epistles. Although studies such as that of Iorchugh (2004) have
shown the superiority of field independent cognitive style over the field
dependent cognitive styles in science subjects, no study appears to have been
done to determine the influence of cognitive style on achievement in Epistles.
The problem of the study put in question form is: what are the
effects of two modes of advanced organizers (audio-visual and written) and
cognitive style on students’ achievement in Epistles?
Purpose of the Study
The aim of this study is to determine the effects of two modes
of advance organizers (audio-visual, written) and cognitive style on students’
achievement in Epistles.
Specifically, the study sought to:
out the effect of two modes of advance organizers on the mean achievement
scores of the students.
the influence of cognitive styles on the mean achievement scores of the
the influence of gender on the mean achievement scores of the students.
the influence of location on the mean achievement scores of the students.
the interaction effect of mode of advance organizer presentation and cognitive
style on the mean achievement scores of the students.
out the interaction effect of mode of advance organizer presentation and gender
on mean achievement scores of the students.
the interaction effect of mode of advance organizer presentation and location
on the mean achievement scores of the students.
Significance of the Study
Christian religious knowledge develops man morally, spiritually, socially and
academically. It is therefore necessary to find means of making its instruction
more effective, interesting and motivating for the benefit of humankind and for
nation building. The findings of the study therefore may help teachers to
know the type of organizers that will be effective in Epistles
instruction. The teacher will then be better informed on the selection of
appropriate techniques for the facilitation of Epistles instruction
The findings of the study may be of great importance to textbook authors and
publishers of audio-visual instructional materials. The results may provide
guidelines for presenting advance organizers in text and audio-visual
Curriculum development centres may benefit greatly from the findings of this
study. The findings may help them to plan suitable curriculum and instruction
that will enhance students’ understanding of Epistles. Furthermore, the
findings will help them create and recommend different modes of teaching and
learning of Epistles with respect to the individual differences of the
This study has touched such variables as gender and location and their
influence on achievement in Epistles. The findings of this study may
likely generate researches, conferences and seminars in these areas for the
improvement of Epistles instruction.
Finally, the results of this study may provide the basis for further study on
the use of advance organizers and cognitive style in learning of Epistles in
Scope of the Study
study is centred on the effect of two modes of advance organizers and cognitive
styles on students’ achievement in Epistles. Senior Secondary II (SS II)
students in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State constituted the sample.
The study determined students’ achievement in “themes from selected epistles”,
based on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE)
curriculum. The topics covered are: Justification by faith: meaning and
fruits of justification (Romans 3:21-24, 10:1-13) Law and Grace: The purpose of
law and the significance of law and grace (Romans 4:13-25, 5: 10 – 14, 18-21,
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the
effects of audio-visual and written organizers on students’ mean achievement
scores in Epistles?
2. What is the
influence of cognitive style on students’ mean achievement scores
3. What is the
influence of gender on students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles?
4. To what
extent does location influence students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles?
5. How does mode
of advance organizer presentation and cognitive style interact to influence
students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles?
6. What is the
interaction effect of mode of advance organizer presentation and gender on
student’ mean achievement scores in Epistles?
7. What is the
interaction effect of mode of advance organizer presentation and location on
students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles?
These null hypotheses were tested at probability level of 0.05.
: There is no significant difference between the mean
achievement scores of students when audio-visual and written organizers and no
organizers are used in Epistles instruction.
: There is no significant
difference between the mean achievement scores of students who have field
dependent and field independent cognitive styles.
: There is no significant
difference between the mean achievement scores of male and female students in
: There is no significant difference between
the mean achievement scores of students in urban and rural schools in Epistles.
: Mode of advance organizer
presentation and cognitive style do not interact significantly to affect
students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles
: The interaction of mode of
advance organizer presentation and gender do not significantly affect students’
mean achievement scores in Epistles.
: The interaction of mode of
advance organizer presentation and location do not significantly affect
students’ mean achievement scores in Epistles.