The Punch

Monday, June 20, 2011

Need for improvisation in classroom teaching

Leke Osho

The natural way of learning, especially by children, is through the employment of the senses. The great efforts of educationalists, through their various research works, have shown how powerful the sense of sight is to the general learning acquired by the learners.


We learn1.0 per cent through taste; 1.5 per cent through touch; 3.5 per cent through smell; 11.0 per cent through hearing and, eight three per cent through sight. The studies further showed that learners generally remember twenty per cent of what they hear, thirty per cent of what they see, fifty per cent of what they see and hear, ninety per cent of what they see and do. This illustration is more evident in our students today where their mode of analysing football matches or film to their colleagues shows how powerful and effective their visual experiences are to their verbal experience.

However, this should have been an advantage to their academic achievement but the opposite is the case. There is the need, therefore, in tapping and building upon this gain of visual experiences through the world of improvisation.

Education in general can only be successful with reasonable availability and proper selection of equipment, facilities and supplies. However, the fact remains that it is virtually impossible to purchase or make all the equipment, facilities and supplies required for sound and quality education available, especially in this part of the world. This makes it imperative for teachers to think of how best to make use of their manipulative skills to improvise so as to achieve their lesson objective at least to a reasonable extent.

Instructional materials ensure that the learners see, hear, feel, recognise and appreciate as they learn, utilising the five senses modalities at the same time.

When the real material and equipment are not available, improvisation takes their place. This is to enhance the teaching- learning process as well as make the expensive nature of scientific equipment, the difficulty experienced in procuring them as well as the excruciating and persistent problem of in adequate of funds less relevant in achieving the set objective. It is a fact that non provision of real material and equipment have all combined to worsen the teaching of science and technology education in schools. But with well packaged and relevant improvisation, the arbitrary and complete abstract of the subject matter in the face of the learner is significantly reduced to lend credence to the importance and essence of improvisation where and when the real instructional materials are not on hand.

Improvisation can be described as substitute: To make a substitute for an item, out of the material that can easily be sourced for or available at the time. This means teachers' effort to supplement, substitute or device means, material and equipment to facilitate effective teaching and learning among the pupils. Improvisation and fabrication can be explained as composing a careful selection and use of material as an alternative means of complementing the existing or otherwise instructional materials /equipment in schools.

Through improvisation, students' attention are captured and retained for the better part of the lesson. Since they serve as educational materials, students' interest in science and technology education is stimulated, meaningful and interesting. Learning is more permanent and there is development of skill in the psychomotor domain.

The need for improvisation becomes essential where, as has been the case in Nigeria, there is no adequate capital to procure the real materials and equipment. It is also necessary when population outweighs what is available because of the insufficient funding in education. Hence, due to gross inadequacy of material/equipment meant to enhance the effectiveness of science and technology education in the area of teaching and learning, many teachers develop negative attitude towards the preparation and use of improvised and fabricated local equipment and materials. The negative attitude is reflected in the teacher's persistent preference for the moribund chalk and talk method to other forms of contemporary method of teaching.

Our environment is richly endowed with materials that can be employed in the school to make teaching real and lively. The importance of real objects in classroom need not to be over-emphasised as they make teaching and learning straightforward, more effective, immediate and meaningful. Efforts should therefore, be stepped up to provide improvisation and fabrication material very abundantly in our schools more so that emphasis nowadays is placed on relating what is taught to the worldview of the learners. It is therefore, important to improvise and fabricate for the following reasons: To provide to students a cognitive bridge between abstraction and reality of knowledge, To widen the scope of inquiry, to develop in students the necessary process and practical skill. To provide materials in sufficient quantities thereby enabling students work independently.

The basis for success in classroom teaching is resourcefulness. To be able to improvise requires being resourceful and creative. Certain steps to be followed for effective improvisation and fabrication of material include: Identify the item to be improvised and fabricated, student understanding the basic principles involved in its working; Design and draw a rough sketch of the item: Make a list of the materials needed; Construct the item according to the given procedure to produce the prototype, Test/evaluate through use. Re-design if need be and Mass-production if possible and necessary.

For students and teachers to derive maximum benefits from improvised and fabricated materials and equipment, the teacher must have adequate knowledge of the particular subject matter. It is equally important for the teacher to have a thorough understanding of the learning process in addition to possessing a good knowledge of available improvised and improvisable materials and equipment.

The environment is richly endowed with material resources that could be utilized for improvisation. Teachers need to harness the opportunity provided by the abundance of resources to produce variety of materials that can bring about concrete and meaningful learning. Most of the raw materials for improvisation can easily be obtained from the home, hardware shop, radio-repair shop, automobile repair shop, food market, the school laboratory, school, office, bicycle repair shop, and the locality.

Improvised apparatus is often more effective as a teaching tool as it is easier to see and understand the principle involved when the parts that make up the apparatus are exposed and not hidden in a fancy box. A student who can improvise also shows a clear understanding of the science behind the apparatus.

- Osho is a postgraduate student of the Department of Science and Education, Lagos State University. He can be reached on