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DIFFICULTY AREAS IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL BIOLOGY CURRICULUM: THE PERCEPTION OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS IN IKWO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE
This study identified difficult topics in senior secondary school biology curriculum. Biology students and teachers in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State of Nigeria were used for the study. Two research questions were formulated to guide the study. Two hundred students (200) and thirty (30) biology teachers formed the subjects of this study. There are twenty-two public secondary school in Ikwo Local Government Area out of which ten schools were selected for the study through simple random sampling technique. The researcher used mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions and the result of the study showed that the students find most topics difficult. Revelation from the study shows that some topics were perceived difficult by the teachers. It recommended that more professionally qualified and experienced teachers be employed and sent to secondary schools. Also, teachers were advised to use appropriate teaching materials and teaching methods in order to encourage the students to study biology effectively. Teachers and students are advised to be more dedicated to their study. Students should also be made to understand the importance of biology, as this will encourage them to be serious with the learning of biology.
1.1 Background to the Study
Biology is a branch of science that studies life. According to Maduabum (2006), science (Biology) constitute the bedrock of the National development which in its broadest sense refers to all human activities which involves organized knowledge of natural phenomena. It simply implies that, science is the systematic study of nature with the purpose of accumulating an organized body of matter, their interaction and outcomes. Omiko (2011) sees science as the way of knowing the facts and theories of the nature. According to him, this knowledge of facts and theories promote attitudes of reality, objectivity, curiosity, self-examination and search of truth.
Eweleukwa (2005) defined biology as a science subject that deals with life. It was derived from two Greek words: “Bios” which means life and “logos” which means study. Biology therefore means the study of life or living things. Ekwu (2012) defined biology as a natural science which deals with the study of living organisms. According to him, it is derived from two Greek words “Bios” which means life and “logos” which connotes knowledge. It is a fascinating study that ranges from microscopic cellular molecules to the biosphere, encompassing the earth’s surface and its living organisms.
The oxford advanced learners dictionary defined biology as the scientific study of life and structure of plants and animals. Taylor (2012) defined biology as a science devoted to the study of living organisms. As a natural science, biology is the individual life forms within the world of life known as nature. Biological studies cover all that is known about plants, animals, microbes, or other living things of the past and present. It is the science of fishes, grasses, flies, grasshoppers, humans, mushrooms, flowers, sea stars, worms and moulds. In fact, biology is the study of the life on top of the highest mountains and at the bottom of the deepest sea.
William (2012) stated that at different levels of education, all learners are exposed to the following levels of biological organization: cellular level, molecular level, tissue and organ level, the community level and the world biomes. Biology programmes prepare students for several fields of life such as: agriculture, medicine, veterinary science, dentistry, food production industries, horticulture, biochemistry, biotechnology and teaching.
In our Secondary Schools today, biology as a subject is made compulsory for the science-inclined and optional compulsory to arts students. This is because of its over whelming importance to human life which cannot be over emphasized. This is in cognizance with the findings of Shayer and Adeu (2014) who grouped biology at the “soft” side of a spectrum of the sciences while chemistry and physics are at the “hard” side. Biology is the only science subject which art students optionally select to meet their Senior Secondary School (SSS) Certificate examination requirements. This is because most students generally see biology as a relatively easy subject when compared to other science subjects.
Egbujor (2006) stated that biology usually has the highest enrolment and also the highest failure rate compared to other subjects at the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate examination.
Also in Chief examiners reports of 2008 on practical biology, he commented “many candidates could not give the distinguishing features of the vertebra some wasted their time in describing the features instead of pointing out the relevant things required as regards teaching practical biology, the Chief examiner (2006) observed that most of the candidates who were to study the diagrams in the stage of germination of seeds and draw a graph for it, avoided the questions. The few that attempted it used inconsistent seeds in drawing the graph. Also these students were unable to spell correctly the labels of their diagrams.
Currently in Nigeria, biology teaching syllabus is organized into the following segments: topics, performance objectives, content, activity and notes. The principal reasons for including performance objectives in the segments are to enable teachers to self-evaluate their own teaching and the achievements of the students after the lesson. In spite of the careful planning and organization of teaching the subject, some teachers and students still find some content areas of biology difficult to teach and learn. For instance, teachers are not sound in anatomy and genetics in the curriculum and when they do, they usually do not devote the adequate time and attention to the teaching of the concepts. Oyewole (2011) stated that some teachers give the impression that genetics is an abstract and difficult area that requires a lot of brainstorming and need not be studied.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Past studies that have been carried out on biology curriculum in Nigeria particularly in Ikwo Local Government of Ebonyi State have revealed the nonchalant attitude of teachers in the secondary schools towards certain concepts in biology curriculum. There is problem of content areas in biology curriculum teachers find difficult to teach and problem of the content areas in biology curriculum students find difficult to learn.
- Then what could be responsible for this?
- Could it be that teachers themselves neglect or do not teach some concepts in the class?
- Are the methods the teachers use in teaching some areas or concepts in biology inappropriate?
Well, this research is an attempt to answer the above questions.
This study therefore, sought to investigate those content areas in senior secondary school (SSS) biology curriculum perceived difficult by students and the teachers.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study was to find out the difficult content areas in Senior Secondary School biology curriculum that science students and teachers find difficult to learn and teach respectively. Specifically, the study was aimed at finding out:
- The difficult content areas in Senior Secondary Schools biology curriculum as perceived by the biology students.
- The difficult content areas in Senior Secondary Schools biology curriculum as perceived by the teachers.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The researcher was moved to engage in this study work of difficult content areas in the Senior Secondary School biology curriculum, due to the present alarming increase in the failure of biology subject by students in Senior School Certificate biology examinations. The findings of this study will be beneficial to all students of biology, and biology teachers through active participation in teaching and learning biology.
As earlier noted, the knowledge of biology prepares students for various fields like pharmacy, agriculture; medicine etc. For instance, if the problem of cells, genetics, meiosis and mitosis are dealt with as regards to heredity and cell division, the people in the society will be about to choose the best life partner and be aware of cell divisions in them during embryonic formation in the area of reproduction. Diseases among the population will be prevented and also living conditions will improve. The suggestions will be of great help to the students and teachers in those areas of difficulties.
Meanwhile, the findings of the study will be of immense benefits to the students, teachers, curriculum planners and the government even researchers.
For student: It will help to understand some difficult concepts in biology and the possible measures to tackle them. It will help the biology teachers to see ways in which they can make teaching and learning of biology simpler, more interesting and more relevant to the needs of the society.
The findings of this study will help curriculum planners in biology to understand the instrument with which society can foster worthwhile ideas and values that would enable them progressively attain those social and economic goals as they pertain to academic progress of an individual.
For government: it will lead to sustainable development and improvement in the teaching and learning of biology in Senior Secondary Schools and will yield good performance on the part of the student in Secondary School certificate biology examination.
Finally, for researchers it will serve as reference material.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study primarily sought to find out the difficult content areas in Senior Secondary School biology curriculum as perceived by the teachers and students in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Specifically, the scopes covered are summarized thus:
- The areas in the biology curriculum which students find difficult to learn
- The areas in the biology curriculum which teachers find difficult to teach.
- What content areas in the Senior Secondary School (SSS) biology curriculum do students find difficult to learn?
- What content areas in the Senior Secondary School (SSS) biology curriculum do teachers find difficult to teach?