Improving Secondary Students’ Cognitive Process in Biology Using Concept Mapping and Cooperative Mastery Learning Strategies

Bizimana Emmanuel, Dieudonné Mutangana, Adrian Mwesigye


Students’ performance in Biology in National Examination has been reported to be unsatisfactory. This demands teachers to shift to methods that enable students to acquire meaningful learning. In an attempt to cope with this situation, the effects of concept mapping (CM) and Cooperative Mastery Learning (CML) on the cognitive process in Biology among lower secondary school students in Nyamagabe district, Rwanda was investigated. A quasi-experimental non-equivalent pre-test, post-test control group design was applied to a sample of 449 Senior Secondary School two (SS2) students (224 males and 225 females) drawn from seven co-educational secondary schools purposively selected from 46 schools. The students were in CM (n=151), CML (n=144) and Conventional Teaching Method (CTM) (n=154) groups. The Biology Achievement Test (KR-21=0.82) was used to collect data. Analysis of Covariance and Bonferroni test were applied for data analysis. Findings revealed that CM and CML groups scored better in all cognitive domains tested than the CTM group. A statistically significant difference between CM and CML was observed in favour of the CM. Based on the findings, it was concluded that the implementation of CM and CML can improve the students’ cognitive learning achievement in Biology than CTM. 


Concept mapping, Cooperative mastery learning, Cognitive process Instructional strategy


M. A. Ahmed and I. O. , Abimbola, “Influence of teaching experience and school location on biology teachers’ rating of the difficult levels of nutrition concepts in Ilorin, Nigeria,” JOSTME, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 52–61, 2011.

Rwanda Education Board, Ordinary Level Mathematics and Science Syllabi. Kigali, Rwanda, 2015.

A. . Umaru, “The study investigated the effects of biology practical activities on students ’ process skill acquisition in Minna , Niger State . The design of the study was quasi-experimental ; specifically the Pre-test , Post-test , Non Equivalent Control Group Desig,” vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 120–128, 2011.

F. E. Nwakonobi, “Realizing the visions of national economic empowerment and development needs (NEEDS) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Implication for biology education.,” J. Sci. Educ., vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 53–68, 2008.

W. A. E. C. 2014 C. E. R. West African Examinations Council, “No Title,” 2018.

A. A. Bichi, F. B. Ibrahim, and R. H. Ibrahim, “Assessment of students performances in biology: Implication for measurements and evaluation of learning,” vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 301–308, 2019.

Y. Ameyaw and M. Okyer, “Concept Mapping Instruction as an Activator of Students ’ Performance in the Teaching and Learning of Excretion,” 2018.

F. Kambaila, C.M., Kasali, G., & Kayamba, “Assessing the effects of Biology Practical Activities on Academic Performance of Senior Secondary School Students,” J. Educ. Pract., vol. 10, no. 20, pp. 116–121, 2019.

K. N. E. C. (2015)., “2014 KCSE Examination Report. KNEC, Nairobi.,” Nairobi, 2015.

P. Ntawiha, “Educational Inputs and their implications for output in public secondary schools in Nyarugenge and Nyamasheke districts, Rwanda,” Kenyatta, 2016.

R. of Rwanda, “Nyamagabe District Education Office. National Examinations Results in 2018,” 2018.

J. J. Kyado, C. O. Abah, and R. M. A. Samba, “Effect of Collaborative Concept Mapping Instructional Strategy on Secondary Students’ Achievement in Difficult Biology Concepts,” Am. J. Soc. Sci. Humanit., vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 434–447, 2019.

G. Hadiprayitno, Muhlis, and Kusmiyati, “Problems in learning biology for senior high schools in Lombok Island,” J. Phys. Conf. Ser., vol. 1241, no. 1, 2019.

A. B. Etobro and O. E. Fabinu, “Students’ Perception of Difficult Concepts in Biology in Senior Secondary Schools in Lagos State, Nigeria,” vol. 16, pp. 139–147, 2017.

A. Zeidan, “The relationship between grade 11 palestinian attitudes toward biology and their perceptions of the biology learning environment,” no. October 2008, pp. 783–800, 2010.

A. Cimer, “What Makes Biology Learning Difficult and Effective: Students’ Views,” Educ. Res. Rev., vol. 7, pp. 61–71, 2012.

S. G. Isa, M. A. Mammam, Y. Badar, and T. Bala, “The impact of teaching methods on academic performance of secondary school students,” Int. J. Dev. Res., vol. 10, no. 2011, pp. 37382–37385, 2020.

V. Nsengimana, “Implementation of Competence-based Curriculum in Rwanda: Opportunities and Challenges.,” Rwandan J. Educ., vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 129–138, 2021.

T. Nsengimana, L. Rugema Mugabo, O. Hiroaki, and P. Nkundabakura, “Reflection on science competence-based curriculum implementation in Sub-Saharan African countries,” Int. J. Sci. Educ. Part B Commun. Public Engagem., vol. 0, no. 0, pp. 1–14, 2020.

Ndihokubwayo K., “Research on Improvised Experiment Materials for Science Lesson in Rwanda,” Hiroshima University, 2017.

K. Ndihokubwayo, J. Uwamahoro, and I. Ndayambaje, “Implementation of the Competence-Based Learning in Rwandan Physics Classrooms : First Assessment Based on the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol,” vol. 16, no. 9, 2020.

I. Nizeyimana, G. and Nkiliye, “A Baseline Survey on Barriers to Quality of Basic Education in Rwanda : The Case Study of Kicukiro , Gicumbi and Rwamagana Districts,” 2015.

E. Byusa, E. Kampire, and A. R. Mwesigye, “Analysis of Teaching Techniques and Scheme of Work in Teaching Chemistry in Rwandan Secondary Schools,” Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 16, no. 6, 2020.

K. Ndihokubwayo, J. Uwamahoro, and I. Ndayambaje, “Implementation of the Competence-Based Learning in Rwandan Physics Classrooms: First Assessment Based on the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol,” Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 16, no. 9, p. em1880, 2020.

D. Uwizeyimana, L. Yadav, T. Musengimana, and J. Uwamahoro, “The impact of teaching approaches on effective physics learning : an investigation conducted in five Secondary Schools in Rusizi District , Rwanda,” Rwandan J. Educ., vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 4–14, 2018.

P. Kousa, R. Kavonius, and M. Aksela, “Low-achieving students’ attitudes towards learning chemistry and chemistry teaching methods,” Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 431–441, 2018.

C. Epstein, “Constructivism or the eternal return of universals in International Relations. Why returning to language is vital to prolonging the owl’s flight,” Eur. J. Int. Relations, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 499–519, 2013.

S. Y. Fernando and F. M. Marikar, “Constructivist Teaching/Learning Theory and Participatory Teaching Methods,” J. Curric. Teach., vol. 6, no. 1, p. 110, 2017.

C. C. Chang, T. K. Yeh, and C. M. Shih, “The effects of integrating computer-based concept mapping for physics learning in junior high school,” Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 2531–2542, 2016.

S. Chawla, J., & Gurmit, “Effect of Concept Mapping Strategy on Achievement of IX Graders in Relation to Achievement Motivation,” Asia Pacific J. Res., vol. 1, no. 24, pp. 54–65, 2015.

R. P. Keter, J.K., &Ronoth, “Impact of cooperative mastery learning approach on students’ academic achievement in chemistry by gender in Bomet County, Kenya,” Am. J. Educ. Pract., vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 49–58, 2016.

F. M. A. Khan and M. Masood, “The Effectiveness of an Interactive Multimedia Courseware with Cooperative Mastery Approach in Enhancing Higher Order Thinking Skills in Learning Cellular Respiration,” Procedia - Soc. Behav. Sci., vol. 176, pp. 977–984, 2015.

Novak J.D, Learning, creating, and using knowledge: concept maps as facilitative tools in schools and corporations, Erlbaum. New Jersey, 1998.

J. D. Novak, “Concept mapping: A useful tool for science education,” J. Res. Sci. Teach., vol. 27, no. 10, pp. 937–949, 1990.

P. Mutodi and B. Chigonga, “Concept map as an assessment tool in secondary school mathematics: An analysis of teachers’ perspectives,” Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 2685–2696, 2016.

D. B. Novak, J. D. , Gowin, Learning How to Learn. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

E. Zandvakili, E. Washington, E. Gordon, and C. Wells, “Mastery Learning in the Classroom: Concept Maps, Critical Thinking, Collaborative Assessment (M3CA) Using Multiple Choice Items (MCIs),” J. Educ. Learn., vol. 7, no. 6, p. 45, 2018.

Ausubel D., The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune and Stratto, 1963.

S. Saeed, D., & Ali, “The Effect of Using Concept Mapping Strategy on the Achievement of Eighth-Grade School Students in Biology Subject in Erbil City,” Zanco J. Humanit. Sci., vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 127–147, 2019.

G. U. Jack, “Concept Mapping and Guided Inquiry as Effective Techniques for Teaching Difficult Concepts in Chemistry : Effect on Students ’ Academic Achievement,” vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 9–16, 2013.

A. Olarewaju, A., & Awofala, “Effect of concept mapping strategy on students’ achievement in junior secondary school Mathematics,” Int. J. Math. Trends Technol., vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 11–16, 2011.

G. Liu and K. Chen, “The Effects of a Collaborative Computer-based Concept Mapping Strategy on Geographic Science Performance in Junior High School Students,” vol. 8223, no. 8, pp. 5049–5060, 2017.

M. Saradindu, B., & Ramakanta, “Effectiveness of Concept Mapping Strategy on Cognitive Process in Sciences at Secondary Level,” Eur. Acad. Res., vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 3612–3628, 2016.

K. Sing, I. S., & Moono, “The effect of Using Concept Maps as Study Tools on Achievement in Chemistry at Tertiary Level,” J. Educ. Pract., vol. 6, no. 15, pp. 106–116, 2015.

B. E. Ozoji, “ffects of concept mapping technique on Nigerian junior secondary school students’ cognitive development and achievement in basic science and technology (Integrated science),” Sci. Educ. 21st Century, pp. 95–11, 2020.

Bloom B.S, Human characteristics and school learning. New York: MCGraw-Hill, 1976.

R. E. Slavin, Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. Pearson College Division, 1995.

P. C. Abrami, C. Poulsen, and B. Chambers, “Teacher Motivation to Implement an Educational Innovation: Factors differentiating users and non-users of cooperative learning,” Educ. Psychol., vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 201–216, 2004.

K.-A. Gloria Ibemenji, E. I. Sunday, and O. P. Chijioke, “Effect of Cooperative Learning Strategy on Biology Students’ Academic Performance in Senior Secondary School in Rivers State,” J. Sci. Res. Reports, vol. 156, no. 2, pp. 1–11, 2019.

O. S. Olabiyi and A. O. A. Awofala, “Effect of Co-operative Learning Strategy on Senior Secondary School Students’ Achievement in Woodwork Technology,” Acta Didact. Napocensia, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 171–182, 2019.

H. Chia-Ling and C. Ya-Fung, “Using Large Data to Analyze the Effect of Learning Attitude for Cooperative Learning between the High Achievement Students and the Low Achievement Students,” Univers. J. Educ. Res., vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 293–296, 2017.

F. Gull and S. Shehzad, “Effects of Cooperative Learning on Students’ Academic Achievement,” J. Educ. Learn., vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 246–255, 2015.

O. V. Animola and T. O. Bello, “Comparative Effectiveness of Mastery and Peer-to-Peer Learning Strategies in Improving Junior Secondary Students’ Learning Outcomes in Basic Science,” Asian J. Adv. Res. Reports, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 1–12, 2019.

O. O. Blessing and B. T. Olufunke, “Comparative Effect of Mastery Learning and Mind Mapping Approaches in Improving Secondary School Students ’ Learning Outcomes in Physics,” Sci. J. Educ., vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 78–84, 2015.

M. E. Damavandi and Z. S. Kashani, “Effect of mastery learning method on performance and attitude of the weak students in chemistry,” Procedia - Soc. Behav. Sci., vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1574–1579, 2010.

H. Ishtiaq and Q. Suleman, “Effect of Bloom’s Mastery Learning Approach on Stud ents’ Academic Achievement in English at Secondary Level,” J. Lit. Lang. Linguist., vol. 23, pp. 35–43, 2016.

J. Filgona, J. Filgona, and L. Sababa, “Mastery Learning Strategy and Learning Retention: Effects on Senior Secondary School Students’ Achievement in Physical Geography in Ganye Educational Zone, Nigeria,” Asian Res. J. Arts Soc. Sci., vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 1–14, 2017.

Adeyemo and V. Babajide, “Effects of Mastery Learning Approach on Students’ Achievement in Physics,” vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 910–920, 2014.

M. Effiong, U. Theresa, and M. Udofia, “E ffects of mastery learning strategy on students ’ achievement in symbols , formulae and equations in chemistry,” vol. 2, no. May, pp. 28–35, 2014.

Keter J.K, “Effects of Cooperative Mastery Learning Approach on Secondary School Students’ Motivation and Achievement in Chemistry in Bomet County, Kenya,” Egerton University, 2013.

M. Ghoreishi, M. K., Kargar, F. R., Ajilchi, B., & Kazemlou, “The effect of combined mastery-cooperative learning on working memory capacity , self-efficacy and academic achievement in grade skipping Autor ( es ): Publicado por : URL persistente : DOI : Accessed : Ghoreishi , Monir Kalantar ; Kargar , Flor Rezaei ;,” Int. Stud. time Perspect., pp. 215–221, 2021.

A. Newen, “What are cognitive processes ? An example-based approach,” Synthese, 2015.

A. Zandvakili et al., “Mapping PTSD symptoms to brain networks : a machine learning study,” Transl. Psychiatry, 2020.

J. Cohen, Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Routledge, 2013.

S. Murdiyah, S. Suratno, A. Firdausi, and N. Ardhan, “JPBI ( Jurnal Pendidikan Biologi Indonesia ) The effect of problem-based learning integrated with concept mapping technique on students ’ learning activities,” vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 39–46, 2020.

A. Toheed, L.’ Ali, “Effects of Mastery Learning Model on Academic Achievement of Secondary School Students in Mathematics,” vol. IV, no. IV, pp. 232–238, 2019.

Y. Prihatnawati, “The Effect of Module Implementation with STAD Cooperative Learning Toward Process Skills in Science and Cognitive Achievement of 8th Grade Students,” vol. 164, no. Icli 2017, pp. 111–116, 2018.

J. C. Nnorom, N.R., Uchegbu, “Effect of Mastery Learning Approach on Senior Secondary School Students Achievement in Biology in Imo Nnorom,” African J. Educ. Sci. Technol., vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 100–104, 2017.

C. Chiou, L. Lee, and Y. Wang, “Analyzing the Effects of various Concept Mapping Techniques on Learning Achievement under different Learning Styles,” EURASIA J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ., vol. 8223, no. 7, pp. 3687–3708, 2017.

A. Anohina-naumeca, “The Educational Multimedia Clip as a Tool for Students ’ Self-learning on Concept Mapping,” vol. 2, pp. 203–214, 2016.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Institute of Advanced Engineering and Science

International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE)
p-ISSN: 2252-8822, e-ISSN: 2620-5440

View IJERE Stats

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.