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Fostering Students’ Retention in Photosynthesis Using Concept Mapping and Cooperative Mastery Learning Instructional Strategies

Abstract: The performance in biology at the secondary level has not been as good as expected. This has been a matter of concern. Thus, there has been a continuous focus on exploring newer innovative learner-centered and friendly instructional strategies to enhance understanding and retention in biology. This study, therefore, determined the effects of Concept Mapping (CM) and Cooperative Mastery Learning (CML) on fostering retention in photosynthesis among secondary schools in Nyamagabe district, Rwanda. A pre-test and post-test non-equivalent control group quasi-experimental design was used. Data were obtained from 151 students taught with CM, 144 students taught with CML, and 154 students taught with Conventional Teaching Methods (CTM). The Photosynthesis Retention Test (KR-21= 0.82) was used for data collection. The data were mainly analyze d using mean and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). The results showed that the CM and CML treatment groups outperformed the CTM group in retention in photosynthesis. There was a statistically significant difference in favor of the CM between the two experimental groups. The male and female students taught using CM retained equally in photosynthesis while gender difference was revealed in the mean retention scores of the students exposed to the CML, with females retained significantly higher than males. The study concluded that the CM and CML strategies were more effective than CTM. It was suggested, among other things, that teachers should be encouraged to apply CM and CML strategies when teaching biology.

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