FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE STUDENTS’ CHOICE OF COURSE IN BIOLOGY EDUCATION
This work sought to determine the factors that influence students’ choice of course in biology education. Biology has been in existence since the educational philosophy and objective of the nation determine the curriculum experience. In this study, it was revealed that some factors like, lack of fundamental knowledge of the course, student wrong perception of the course, parental influence etc. hinder the students’ choice making in biology education. In conclusion, it was recommended that parents should limit the way the chose course for their wards, also government should critically examine its role in education sector and finally students should be meant to understand the career benefits in biology education through the school guidance and counselors.
Biology has been defined by Taylor (1997) as the study of living things. The word “biology” according to him was derived from root words “bio” meaning life and “logy” meaning the study of living organism which include both plants and animals. Thus the study of biology started with life, and biology as a science is as old as life itself. According to Maduabum (1992), biology education is a subject that helps the individual understand himself, the parts of his body and its function, the relation of man to his environment as well as knowledge of the interrelationships existing between living and non-living things that abound in the environment.
According to him, biology education inculcates in the individual scientific skills and attitudes in this approach to personal and social life and has helped the school curriculum to designed and produce educated individual. However, in what profession they finally find themselves, it is hoped that the biology they have acquired in school will be of value to the totality of achievements they have made in human growth and development.
Abdullahi (1982), define biology education as the process, that helps to develop ability to relate experience in each subject area to life in general. Bonner (2006), sees biology as the science of life. He said that the limits of the science (biology), however have always been difficult to determine and as the scope of biology has stuffed over the years, its subject areas have been changed and reorganized. Today biology is sub-divided into hierarchies based on the molecule, the cell and the population. Bonner also said that biology includes the study of humans at the molecular and organizational level.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF BIOLOGY EDUCATION
According to Ebonyi state university study form for accreditation [2007), the document states that training in biology education enhances capacity building in science and technology and provides students with employable skills and opportunities which could lead to self-employment. The major aim and objectives of biology education are as follows;
- To produce graduate biology teachers who will be able
to teach with the laboratory and discovery method.
- To enable students to have adequate knowledge of the interrelationship between living and non living things.
- To produce graduate biologists, who will be able to teach their students how to discover new things such as those things that make life better bearing in mind the ethical responsibility.
- To produce graduate who can work in science related industries.
- To provide students with the ability or skill to understand the use of scientific instructional materials.
- To provide teachers and students with general education in biology that would help them to understand and face the challenging world of science and information technology.
- To produce highly motivated and competent biology teachers for all the levels of our education system.
- To produce well qualified biology graduate teachers who would be competent in teaching all aspects of work in science related industries.
BENEFIT OF BIOLOGY EDUCATION
According to Abubakar (1968), although biology is relatively still new to man, it has within a short span of time made a tremendous impart on man’s existence. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- The application of discoveries in biological and other
science has enabled man to increase his food production and reduce the amount of labour involved in the production through the use of fertilizer, mechanization and numerous techniques to control erosion, pesticides and herbicides.
- The medical knowledge obtained from biology has lengthened the life span of man and reduced pain by the use of antibodies and other drugs.
- Development in biology has enabled man to care and control many diseases such as cancer which before could not be cured.
- Through the knowledge obtained in genetics, individuals know their genotype and blood group before moving into marriage and introducing of family planning has also helped man to space and limit the number of birth and population control as well
- Food can now be better preserved by the use of preservative and pollution which endanger the life of the society has been controlled by locating or sitting industries far away from urban areas, using filters to remove pollutants from industrial waste gases, by burning of refuse in incinerators, recycling of some materials for new product.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE STUDENTS’ CHOICE OF COURSE IN BIOLOGY EDUCATION
A lot of factors influence students’ choice of course in biology education, some of these factors include;
ABSENCE OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS: Okonkwo (2006),defined guidance as a discipline that acknowledges the uniqueness of an individual, that is awareness of individual differences and vital concern for the individual capacities. Omebe (2004), sees guidance as a total school programme of activities aimed at assisting the school child to make and carry out adequate plan to achieve satisfactory adjustment in life. It is a function of the school for perceive themselves with regard to their potentials, talents and available opportunities, while counseling is a process of helping an individual relationships to solve his/her problems that he cannot solve either by himself or with the assistance of such important people as parents or teachers. Guidance and counseling together gives a super orientation of the students.
The 6-3-3-4 system of education, which was introduced by Babatunde Fafunwa, during Babayida regime in 1989, provides for the preparation for a broad based education with emphasis on the attainment of permanent, and functional literacy with effective communication skill prior to the introduction of this system of education, education in Nigeria has been basically theoretical. It was centered primarily on cognitive development. One of the consequences of such a system was that students were relatively not given due opportunities, for the maximum development of their potentials, hence there was a high dropout in time with serious academic pursuits fell by the way side. Our education has to show marked flexibility if it has to be of value to its recipients and the entire society. It is most likely that the present unemployment situation will change, however, it can only change when the students are guided effectively at schools into choosing courses and occupation that best suit their individual abilities, interests and talents through a well planned and executed guidance programme. Infact, the success of the 6-3-3-4 system of education will depend much on the guidance function of the schools.
Hence, there is a great need for proper guidance and counselling if the 6-3-3-4 system of education will be meaningful and effective in achieving the national objectives.
INSUFFICIENT QUALIFIED BIOLOGY TEACHERS: Ezike (1991), stated that shortage of suitably qualified biology teachers will result in poor teaching which invariable will result in the poor attitude of students toward the course. Adewni (1982), portrays this by saying that there were shortage of qualified biology teachers in our schools, usually specialist from other related disciplines such as physics, chemistry and integrated science are co-opted to teach biology. Most of these borrowed teachers of biology are not professional teachers, therefore they lack the method and probably the basic knowledge needed in teaching biology especially the practical aspect. In order to implement the 6-3-3-4 system, we needed trained teachers who can cope with the special need of the present child and who can fulfill the education of those levels through special instructional skills and techniques to help their young learners in their education development task. Inadequate qualified biology teachers result in poor method of teaching biology, these render choice of course in biology. By this we mean that we lack teachers with the vocational orientation needed to teach biology subject. This has tremendously reduce the urge of students in making a choice of course in biology education. However, students should not be blamed for not making or choosing a course in biology education, but the authorities concerned. Government on its own pays little or no attention on that aspect of vocational education. If government can provide schools with experience and qualified teachers to teach biology course, the students would not have problem in choosing a course in biology education.
LACK OF FUNDAMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE COURSE: pre-knowledge stands conspicuously in learning process. It has been observed that to improve their performance in the course, while ignorance about the course can result into an influencing factor. Students find it easy to learn skills related to their background. Oydele (1985), opined that it was a known fact that students found it easy to learn skills related to their background and environment. So lack of basic knowledge of the subject in the secondary school level can contribute to the factors that influence students’ choice of course in biology education.
WRONG PERCEPTION OF THE COURSE
Students’ wrong perception of the course is another factor that influence students’ choice of course. This wrong belief or notion that science courses are meant for intelligent and rich people was an undertaking for illiterates. This wrong perception conceived by the students hinder them from putting interest and effort in the course. Bonner (2006), noted that because of this wrong perception of biology students, many of the students did not like to involve themselves in science courses.
PARENTAL INFLUENCE/LACK OF AWARENESS BY PARENTS
Lack of awareness by parents or parental influence affect students’ choice of course especially in our secondary schools. The Nigerian adolescent needs vocational guidance but the decision to take to any course depends greatly on parental influence. Many vocational guidance theories proposed that parents have an important influence upon the child’s choice of course. Parents influence their children not only by their attitudes, but also through identification of their children with them. Recognized school of thought (Ann Roe theory of 1959) has it that the three predominant parental attitude are:
- Emotional concentration upon the child
- Acceptance of the child
iii. Avoidance of the child
when a parent has interest in a particular choice of course as well as the supersonic prestige the job carried, he dictates to the child the step to take. He does not consider or put into consideration the abilities of the course he has been dictates to, which is the reason for some students performing poorly in many courses because they are misled. Parents always want their children to go into courses that are uncreative “get rich quick” which has caused more harm to the society where the yard-stick for success in any profession depends on the amount the individual gets. This sort of attitude towards money has led to all sorts of behaviours, many parents or most parents feel that success is marked by the amount of Naira one is able to display. Parents should know that the National Policy on Education gives credence to excellence and vocational perception. Anene (2001), says that parents should create awareness of opportunities in educating vocational area by providing their children with appropriate, useful and usable information.
LACK OF SCHOOL FACILITIES/LABORATORY
Osuga (1985), has the following to say: “some schools lack number of facilities which include qualified teachers, sufficient classroom accommodation and laboratories that are necessary for effective teaching and learning. Absence of these materials is enough to course students to direct and choose a non-desired course. When laboratory is present, some are ill equipped and these hinder students from carrying out practical in order to observe and inquire things for themselves and some who have interest for biology course will be discouraged. So, government should provide the schools with the necessary facilities needed to run courses in biology education.
We select a particular course because we have interest in it. It is interest that makes the individual to persist no matter how difficult the course may be. Predetermined interest is that which gives zeal and energy to overcome difficulties and most cases, enjoy the situations of the work environment no matter how tedious and arduous the task may be. Interest are guiding factors that help us to make choice of courses. Some students choose a course because their friends are choosing the course without considering whether they have the ability and interest for the course. All these are factors that influence students’ choice of course in biology education.
With the available information reached by this study on the “factors that influence students’ choice of course in biology education”. The study is of the opinion that lack of fundamental knowledge of the course, wrong perception of the course, parental influence, lack of guidance and counseling service and predetermined- interest constitute a major problem in students choice of course. Absence of all these factors is enough to cause students to direct and choose a non-desired course. Students should be provided with all these factors that will enable them not to make a mistake in choosing a course. This is because once some-one makes a wrong choice of course, that person had made a mistake in his/her whole life.
This work has highlighted the factors that influence students’ choice of course in biology education, the researcher wish to make recommendation as follow:
Students should form the habit of reading widely national newspaper and magazine, this would help them in updating their knowledge about some courses/professions rather than being stocked to a particular area of interest just for affection that lacks intellectual suitability.
Government on its own should critically examine its roles in the education industry. It should assist the schools to improve their learning facilities because if the facilities are efficient and adequate qualified teachers are trained, there is no doubt that their condition (school) would improve.
The importance of guidance units schools cannot be over emphasized. It cannot be attended that the nation lack guidance counselors, but it is just likely look down its necessity despite their interest towards vocational studies. There should be limitation to parents says towards or as it regards to choice of course of their children. Parents should give opportunities to their children while making a course choice. No one advocates for a total freedom from parents, but rather than having communalism on the student, the parents should acts as a guide to their wards by knowing those areas where the interest and abilities of their children (students) can be effectively utilized.
Finally, choosing a course is like choosing a life partner and when it is not properly handled could mar the individual concerned. Students are advice to make adequate consultations with people who are higher than them so that they should be able to know what profession is all about. If not, the exercise could lead them into professional malfunctioning in life.
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Factors That Influence Students’ Choice of Course in Biology Education