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effective teaching and learning of Biology in senior Secondary School in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State

Project topic for Education department.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Science is a great enterprise which nations depends on, in-order to advance technologically. Science therefore, is receiving much emphasis in education because of its signification and relevance to life and society. Science is both a process (scientific method) and a product (knowledge, fact and principles) (Ezeh 2013). Both the process and product of science are acquired through education and this is specialized type of education such as science education. Science plays important roles in the society because it relates to our daily life and career. The importance of science in our society made the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the federal ministry of education to introduce science subject introduced.

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Biology is defined as the study of life and structure of living things. Biology is the study of living things and concerns itself with the study of the structural, behaviour, distribution, the origin of plants, and animals and their relationship with their environment (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2009). Abugu (2007) stated that biology is natural science in which we study living organisms plants and animals. The knowledge of biology helps in checking environmental degradation such as desertification, erosion, water hyacinth land, air and water pollution.

The cardinal objectives of biology education are to prepare students to acquire: adequate laboratory and field skills in biology; meaningful and relevant knowledge in biology, ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matter of personal and community health and agriculture and lastly reasonable and functional scientific attitudes (Federal Ministry of Education, 2004). The study of biology in senior secondary school can equip students with useful concept principles and theories that will enable them face the challenges before and after graduation. Practical biology is the scientific study of the life and structure of plant and animals and their relative environment in real or experimental set-up rather than dwelling in the theory and ideas (Opuh, Eze, & Eze Magu, 2008).

The characters in current teaching of biology appear to be discipline-centered, teacher-centered teaching, and the student learning is just passive surface learning. A wealth of evidence has been reported to support the concept that under the discipline-centered teaching, the needs, concerns, and requirements of teachers and students are not considered because the subject content is driven by, and depends mainly on the disciplinary content that must be presented. Science teaching requires attention to both the content of the course and the process of moving students from their initial state of knowledge and understanding to the desired level in fact, teaching is part of a whole that comprises the teacher, the learner, the disciplinary content, the teaching/learning process, and the evaluation of both the teacher and the learner. A shift from the traditional teacher-centered to a progressive mode of teaching-learning process had led to an increased interest in learners’ individual differences. The new paradigm is student centered, based on inclusiveness, cooperative learning and encouraged diversity.

In spite of the new approach to the teaching-learning process, students’ performance in senior secondary school certificate examination in biology appears to be discouraging; prompting researchers to investigate the causes of the poor performance and how to improve on it.

          There has been consistent decline in the performance of students in public examination conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) in biology across the country over the years (Agogo, 2013; Samba & Eriba, 2012). Ahmed and Abimbola (2011) argue that because of its numerous importance, Biology is the most popular choice, among science subjects nationwide, offered by candidates sitting for the senior secondary school certificate examinations. According to     WAEC Research Report (2008) and (2009), despite the popularity of Biology, results of research studies always revealed the poor performance of students in the subject. Results from findings revealed that a vast number of factors are responsible for the students’ poor performance: different biological concepts (Tekkaya, Osborne & Collins 2011); Cimer, 2014; Zeidan. 2010; the nature of science itself and its teaching methods (Lazarowitz and Penso, 2012) as well as the biological level of organization and the abstract level of the concepts.

          Cimer (2011) argued that many concepts or topics in biology, including water transport in plants, protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis, gaseous exchange, energy, cells, mitosis and meiosis, organs, physiological processes, hormonal regulation, oxygen transport, genetics, Mendelian genetics, genetic engineering, and the central nervous system can be perceived as difficult to learn by secondary school students. While Tekkaya et al (2011) found that hormones, genes and chromosomes, mitosis and meiosis, the nervous system, and Mendelian genetics were considered difficult concepts by secondary school students. Ozcan, (2013) stressed that experiencing difficulties in so many topics in biology negatively affects students’ motivation and achievement. Students’ difficulties with many topics in biology have stimulated researchers to investigate why students experience such difficulties and how to overcome these difficulties. Experiencing difficulty in Biology could be attributed to many factors such as classroom learning environment, lack of interest in learning science, overloaded curriculum content and delineation of science from society, among others.  

          Also, in addition  to determining the factors that negatively affect students learning in Biology, understanding students’ views on what makes their biology learning effective is crucial, as many researchers suggest that in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning in school, students’ view must be taken into consideration by researchers, teachers educators, schools and teachers (Macbeath and Mortmore, 2011; Cimer, 2014; Ekici, 2010). They argues that what students say about teaching, learning and schooling is not only worth listening to but provides an important perhaps the most important foundation for thinking about ways of improving teaching, learning and school. For instance, Phoenix (2010) states that student views of teaching may reflect the ways they learn best. Indeed, schools that acknowledge the significance of student views have found that these views can make a substantial contribution to classroom management, to learning and teaching, and to the school as a social and learning place (Macbeath and Mortimore, in Nwagbo, 2011). It is thought that how students perceive the learning environment in biology affects their attitudes towards biology and its learning  (Cakiroglu, William & Tailor, 2013; Telli & Colem, 2009). Therefore, the present study will examine the constraints to effective teaching and learning of biology in senior secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Statement of Problem

          From the view of teachers, designing learning environments while ignoring students’ interests and expectations causes several learning problems for students taken biology subject as well as decreasing their interest in Biology. There is a close relationship between students’ perceptions of their classroom learning environment and their success. Students’ diminishing interest, the absence of creative expression opportunities, the alienation of science from society and the prevalence of isolated science subjects. Another reason report by many researcher, is  that due to the nature of biological science, biology learning is generally based on memorization. Biological science includes many abstract concepts, events, topics and facts that students have to learn. This makes it hard for students to learn them. These constraints falls under students and teacher related constraints.

          Most of the factors that cause poor performance of students in Biology in senior secondary School Certificate Examination is still not fully examined by the various stakeholders in education sector and various ways to improve the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process of Biological topics to improve students’ performance in Biology in senior Secondary School Certificate Examination demands more attention from researchers. The present study therefore, will examine the teachers’ and students’ perceptions on the constraints to effective teaching and learning of Biology in senior secondary school in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Purpose of the Study

          The general objective of the study is to examine the constraints to effective teaching and learning of Biology in senior Secondary School in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State. Specifically, the study sought to examine:

  • Teachers’ related constraints that cause poor performance of students in biology in senior secondary school in Enugu East Local Government Area.
  • Students’ related constraints that cause poor performance of students in biology in senior secondary school in Enugu East Local Government Area.
  • Ways of improving the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process to improve students’ performance in Biology in senior Secondary School in Enugu East Local Government Area.

Research Questions

          The following research questions guided the study:

  • What are the teachers’ related constraints that cause poor performance of students in biology in senior secondary school in Enugu East Local Government Area?
  • What are the students’ related constraints that cause poor performance of students in biology in senior secondary school in Enugu East Local Government Area?
  • What are the ways of improving the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process to improve students’ performance in Biology in senior Secondary School in Enugu East Local Government Area?

Significance of the Study

          Practically, the following people will benefit from the finding of this study: students, biology teachers and the government.

          The result of the study could enable the students realize the sources or causes of their poor performance in biology in senior secondary school certificate examination. This will enable them to become knowledge and prepare themselves in many areas of subject content expected from them in order to excel in every biology examination thereby improving their academic performance.

          The findings of this study will be of help to biology teachers as it will enable them understand the right method of teaching to adopt and to help the students to understand biological concepts with the abilities of carrying out practical work successfully. The teachers will realize that biological concepts are not taught in isolation but should be incorporated into practical work to maximize the achievement.

          The study will make the government, through the Ministry of Education to realize the need for provision of science equipment especially in biology subject to schools and posting of qualified biology teachers to secondary schools, it is not the issue of jack of all trades, master of non teaching that has not attained professionalism and specialization.

Scope of the Study

          The study covers the constraints to effective teaching and learning of biology in senior Secondary School in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.


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