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DIFFICULT AREAS IN THE SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL (SSS) BIOLOGY CURRICULUM: THE PERCEPTION OF BIOLOGY TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN IDEATO SOUTH L.G.A. OF IMO STATE

Difficult Areas in the Senior Secondary School (SSS) Biology Curriculum: The Perception of Biology Teachers and Students in ideato south L.G.A. of Imo state

Chapter one

Introduction

Background of the Study

Biology is a branch of science that studies life. According to Ndu, Asun and Aina (2002) the word “biology” is 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 L. G. (2002) defined biology as a natural science which deals with the study of living organisms. It is derived from two Greek words: “bios” which means life and “logos” which connotes knowledge.

Sarojini T. R (1993) defined biology as a natural science that involves the study of living organisms. 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.

  1. J. Taylor (2005) 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, human, mushrooms, flowers, sea stars, worms and moulds. In fact, it is the study of life on top of the highest mountains and at the bottom of the deepest sea.

Biology programmes prepare students for several fields of life: medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, agriculture, horticulture, food production industries, biochemistry, teaching and biotechnology etc.

William (2001) 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.

In our secondary schools today, the subject biology is made compulsory for both science and arts students. This is surely because of its over whelming importance to human life. This is in cognizance with the finding of Shayer and Adeu (2001) 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 non-science or arts students usually select to meet their school certificate examination requirements. This is because most students generally see biology as a relatively easy subject when compared to other science subjects.

Egbujor (2003) stated that biology usually have the highest enrolment and also the highest failure rate (compared to other subjects) at the West African senior school certificate examination.

At present in Nigeria biology teaching syllabus is organized into the following segments: topics, performance objectives, content, activity and notes. The cardinal reason for including performance objectives in the segments is to enable teachers to self evaluates their own teaching and the achievement of the students after the lesson. In spite of the careful planning and organization of teaching of 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 genetics and anatomy in the curriculum and when they do, they usually do not devote the adequate time and attention to the teaching of the concepts. Oyewole (1996) stated that some teachers give the impression that genetics is an abstract and difficult area that requires a lot brain storming and need not be studied.

The above scenario moved the researcher into difficult areas in senior secondary school (SSS) biology curriculum from the perception of the biology teachers and the students.

Statement of the Problem

Several research works carried out on curriculum in Nigeria particularly in Imo State have revealed the nonchalant attitude of teachers in the secondary schools towards certain concepts in biology curriculum. There is therefore a problem of which concepts did teachers find difficult to teach and the concepts students find difficult to learn. Then what could be responsible for this? Could it be that teachers themselves neglect or do not teach some areas in the class? Are the methods the teachers use in teaching some areas in biology inappropriate? Well, this research is an attempt to answer the above questions.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to identify the difficult content areas in secondary school biology curriculum that science teachers find difficult to teach. Specifically, the study was directed at finding out;

  1. The difficult content areas in secondary schools biology curriculum as perceived by the biology teachers and students respectively.
  2. To ascertain the topics that are difficult as perceived by the science teachers.
  3. To suggest and recommend some possible solutions to these difficulties.

Significant of the Study

The researcher was compelled to engage in this study work of difficult content areas in the secondary school biology curriculum, by the present alarming increase in the failure of biology subject by students in senior school certificate biology examinations.

As earlier noted, the knowledge of biology prepares students for various fields like medicine, pharmacy; agriculture etc. For instance, if the problem of cells, genetics, mitosis and meiosis are dealt with as regards to heredity and cell division, the people in the society will be able to choose the best life partner and be aware of cell divisions in them during embryonic formation in the area of reproduction. Disease among the population will be prevented and also living condition will improve. The suggestions will be of great help to the teachers and students in those areas of difficulties.

Moreover, the findings of the study will be of immense benefits to biology researchers and book writers in biology. It will also help institutions preparing teachers of biology to be familiar with important data for planning biology course for potential and present biology teachers in our secondary schools.

Governmental bodies entrusted with curriculum planning will know where to amend while planning biology curriculum when this work must have been completed by the researcher. And this will eventually lead to a sustainable development and improvement in the teaching of biology in schools and good performance on the part of the students.

Scope of the Study

This study primarily seeks to find out the difficult content areas in secondary school biology curriculum as perceived by the teachers and students in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State. Specifically the scopes covered are summarized thus:

  1. The areas in the biology curriculum which teachers find difficult to teach.
  2. The areas in the biology curriculum which students find difficult to learn.
  3. The comparison of “1” and “2” above.
  4. The possible reasons why the students find the identified areas difficult to understand and learn.

Research Questions

  1. What content areas in the senior secondary school (SSS) biology curriculum do teachers find difficult to teach?
  2. What content areas in the senior secondary school (SSS) biology curriculum do students find difficult to learn.
  3. What are the reasons for difficulties in those content areas of biology curriculum?
  4. What are the possible solutions to these perceived difficult areas?

Hypotheses 

H01:There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the content areas in the SSS biology curriculum teachers find difficult to teach.

H02: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the content areas in the SSS biology curriculum students find difficult to learn.

H03:There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the reasons for difficulties in those content areas of biology curriculum.

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