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ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INTEGRATED SCIENCE CURRICULUM IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA
The title of this study is: Assessment of the Implementation of Integrated Science Curriculum in Junior Secondary Schools in Kaduna State. The study used the survey method with 130 Integrated Science teachers’ respondents as sample size and the questionnaire was used as research instrument. In the data analysis, percentage score was used in analyzing personal data, mean score and t-test were used in answering the research questions while t-test also was used in testing the research hypotheses. The research finding shows that the implementation of the objectives of Integrated Science curriculum has significant impact on the teaching and learning in junior secondary schools. In addition, methods and techniques that aid learning in Integrated Science have tremendous effect on teaching and learning of students in junior secondary schools. Furthermore, teachers’ qualification determines the level of achievement of Integrated Science curriculum objectives at junior secondary schools. Also, findings revealed that there is no significant difference between male and female teachers in teaching and learning of Integrated Science at junior secondary schools, while a significant difference exists among teachers of Integrated Science on account of their experience. The study also revealed that there is no significant difference between urban and rural teachers on teaching and learning integrated science. Finally, the study recommended among others that government should provide enough resources, employ qualified and trained teachers, pay teacher remuneration and promote Integrated Science teachers in order to ensure effective implementation of the Integrated Science curriculum and achievement of its objectives.
1.1 Background to the Study
There has been growing concern throughout the country over the years about the discouraging state of teaching and learning of Integrated Science. This has arisen mainly as a result of a failure within teaching-learning contexts to illustrate the connections between classrooms Integrated Science and the environment learners come from. It has been argued that junior secondary school (JSS) students must be well grounded in Integrated Science at this level for them to be able to study the core science subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Physics etc). This has resulted in a call by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for setting up a committee to look into Integrated Science as a subject (Olarewaju, 1994). The committee recommended the following specific methods for teaching Integrated Science:
a) Use of discovery teaching tactics
b) The inclusion of problem solving activities
c) The involvement of students in open ended field or laboratory exercise (Olarewaju, 1994).
The efforts of the committee were expected to bring about a change in focus in the teaching and learning of the subject. For changes to be effectively implemented in Integrated Science education, it is necessary that base line information should be available on a number of important aspects. Such aspects include, for example, how teachers view the subject, issues relating to attitudes towards the subject, Integrated Science anxiety and others. In Nigeria, while research has focused on a number of aspects related to Integrated Science Education, there has been no research focusing on teachers‟ view of Integrated Science. Hence, this study was embarked upon in order to know the opinions and comments of science teachers on Integrated Science curriculum implementation.
The views scale used by the researcher to tease out students‟ views of Integrated Science was adopted from the one used by Arigbabu (2005), developed by Gunstone (1991) and Crawford (1998). The scale is divided into two categories.
Fragmented and cohesive: In fragmented view, Integrated Science was seen to be about principles, formula and scientific calculations, while in cohesive view, it was viewed as a complex, logical system that helped in providing insights for understanding our environment. Of significance here was the fact that fragmented conception was associated with surface approaches while cohesive was associated with deep approaches to learning (Arigbabu, 2005). These categorizations have a bearing on higher order learning skills and outcomes; hence, they are very important for Integrated Science students. To encourage higher order learning skills and to improve teaching and learning of Integrated Science, it is essential that students are discouraged from resorting to unnecessary retention of facts, where the sole aim is to consciously recall information in the memory so as to use it later (Cooper, Fromme, Gordon and Nicholasm, 2002). The aim therefore should be to ensure that learning environments that encourage higher order learning skills are created. It has also been argued that teachers should organize the teaching and learning context in such a way that students are more likely to follow higher order processes (Biggs, 1999).
If teachers are to be entrusted with the role of ensuring that appropriate environments are created for enhancing students higher order learning skills, it is expedient that empirical research finds out the views which Science teachers hold about Integrated Science. This is paramount because educators have to find ways of injecting new knowledge into the system to bring about improvement and to share that knowledge with future generations of teachers (Hiebert, Gallimore and Stigler, 2002). Such knowledge and information should help provide guidance on necessary changes that could be effected in order to address issues including teaching for higher order learning skills among pre-service teachers.
Furthermore, in order to improve the quality of learning, an important fact is to adopt deeper approaches to study through the creation of a context involving good teaching, clear goals and some independence rather than to focus on discouraging surface approaches (Trigwell and Prosser, 1991; Trigwell and Prosser, 1997). Moreover, teachers‟ views of Integrated Science together with the teaching context will play an influential role and impact on instructional decisions.
Psychologically, teacher behaviours in the classroom are shaped by internal principles based upon views on Integrated Science teaching. Inexperienced teachers are more likely to pass their past Integrated Science learning experiences to learners; irrespective of the view they hold. In view of this, the purpose of this study was to determine pre-service teachers‟ views of Integrated Science.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The current situation of Integrated Science teaching and learning in Nigeria is a concern to all including government and the society at large. Research indicates that many students found Integrated Science to be difficult, boring and not interesting to them (Salau 1995, 1996). Large class sizes, inadequate funding, insufficient resources, poor teaching skills and lack of support for teachers among other factors further limit the quality of Integrated Science teaching and learning in Nigerian Junior Secondary Schools (Okebukola, 1997). To solve these lingering problems, one needs to develop a realistic picture of what is currently happening in the teaching and learning of science in general and Integrated Science in particular at the Junior Secondary School level in Nigeria and also to identify the factors that are limiting the quality of Integrated Science Education. Furthermore, one needs to develop a reasonable picture for which the nation can strive towards improving Integrated Science teaching and learning within the existing resource limitations.
From the range of evidence in the Integrated Science Education literature, it is very clear that Integrated Science Education in Nigeria is faced with numerous problems that need to be addressed so that the goal of equipping students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology, as formulated in the Nigeria National Policy on Education (Federal Government of Nigeria) (FGN), 1981, 1998) will not become a day dream. It is, however, believed that if appropriate steps are not taken to address these lingering barriers to the reform, the citizens will not be able to develop scientific literacy necessary for coping in the modern scientific/and technological world. Efforts at developing scientifically literate citizens by improving the quality of science teaching and learning in schools is a laudable reform that should pre-occupy the mind of policy makers and all key stakeholders in science education in Nigeria. It is imperative for the issues involved to be examined empirically in the context of Integrated Science Education in Nigeria.
Gaining the support of key stakeholders in exploring and revealing what is actually happening in Integrated Science teaching and learning in junior secondary schools and formulating a realistic picture of science teaching and learning through which recommendations for filling the gaps between the actual and ideal could be developed, is necessary to improving the quality of Integrated Science Education for Nigerian junior secondary schools students. This is the motivation for conducting this study.
Importantly, the research approach for this study was modeled on a study in Austria by Flanders (1984) and Good Rum (2001) which compared two approaches of Integrated Science teaching and learning in schools.
These are the actual pictures, which describe what is actually happening in schools and the ideal pictures, which defines a realistic quality teaching and learning in Integrated Science in junior secondary schools in Kaduna State, Nigeria. This study applies this established research approach to developing an education system in a developing country.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are as follows:
- To determine the extent of the achievement of the objectives of the Integrated Science curriculum at the junior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- To find out whether there are differences in the assessment techniques used between urban and rural school teachers used in the implementation of Integrated Science curriculum at the junior secondary school.
- To examine the qualification and training received by Integrated Science teachers in the implementation of Integrated Science curriculum at junior secondary schools.
- To examine the adequacy of the methods and techniques used by Integrated Science teachers for lesson delivery in junior secondary schools.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are the research questions that will guide the present research work.
- To what extent are the objectives of Integrated Science curriculum being achieved at the junior secondary schools in Kaduna State?
- Are there differences in the assessment techniques used by Integrated Science teachers in urban and rural schools?
- What is the relationship between teacher’s qualification/training and the implementation of the Integrated Science curriculum in junior secondary schools?
- How adequate are the methods and techniques used by Integrated Science teachers for lesson delivery in junior secondary schools?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Based on the research questions, the following null hypotheses were developed:
HO1: There is no significant difference in the opinion of teachers with regards the achievements of Integrated Science curriculum objectives at the junior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
HO2: There is no significant difference in the opinion of urban and rural teachers in the assessment techniques used in the implementation of Integrated Science curriculum in junior secondary schools.
HO3: There is no relationship between teacher’s qualification/training and level of implementation of Integrated Science curriculum in junior secondary schools.
HO4: There is no significant difference in the adequacy of methods of teaching/techniques used by the teachers in the implementation of Integrated Science curriculum and lesson delivery in junior secondary schools.
1.6 Basic Assumptions
The study was conducted based on the following assumptions as a guide:
- Teachers‟ view of the adequacy of the objectives of Integrated Science curriculum is crucial in the acquisition of scientific knowledge.
- Well chosen Integrated Science content is crucial to the realization of the value aspect of the subject.
- Well chosen resource materials will go a long way in the achievement of the objectives of Integrated Science
- A good choice of methodology is necessary for the realization of the value component of integrated science.
- Appropriate choice of Integrated Science evaluation techniques is a necessary factor in determining the extent to which students have inculcated the right type of knowledge.
1.7 Significance of the Study
In an effort to improve the teaching and learning process of Integrated Science in Nigerian secondary schools and to make the learning of the subject matter more attractive to students, this study makes the following contributions to knowledge and education.
Firstly, this study provides Integrated Science and other science educators, science curriculum planners and government with detailed information about the actual picture of Integrated Science and other science teaching, science learning and educational practices in Nigerian schools and provides, cost effective ways of improving the situation. This in turn can help in planning and formulating further policies for science education in Nigeria.
Secondly, this study engaged key stakeholders in all science education in revealing the actual and ideal pictures and gaining their support for recommendations to close gaps. This in essence informs them about the features of quality Integrated Science Education and gains their support for improving the recommendations for the study.
Thirdly, this study provides an opportunity to apply a research design developed in Australia, a developing nation of Africa, and to evaluate the effectiveness of that research design and compare the findings between a developed and a developing country‟s educational system.
Finally, it is expected that government will further realize that the subject (Integrated Science) is not just a mere addition to the existing school curriculum, but one that is actual for the attainment of the much needed goals for scientific and technological development/advancement.
1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study is centered around teachers‟ views on the teaching of Integrated Science at the junior secondary school (JSS) level. It was limited to the teaching of Integrated Science as a subject. It was further limited to junior secondary schools (JSS) and Integrated Science teachers in Kaduna State. Such limitation was due to reasons such as the scope of the title and the fact that other researchers are working on other aspects of the subject.