STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BIOLOGY IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN IZZI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE
Background to the Study
Teaching means making positive impact on students’ learning. Educators are committed to all students. They are student focused and persistent in pursuing high and appropriate expectations for the students. While learning to an active process of making meaning from experience and it takes place in contexts relevant to the learner. Learning is a collaborative process between the teacher and students.
Biology is one of the disciplines that make up the physical sciences. Biology is the study of life. Biology is a Greek word, Bios and Logos where Bios means life and Logos means knowledge. It is a science devoted to the study of living organisms. According to Taylor, Green and Stout (1997) Science has progressed by breaking down complex subjects of study into their component parts so that today there are numerous branches of biology, some of which are Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Cell biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Zoology, Botany, Microbiology.
The teaching and learning of biology is therefore indispensable. The aim of biology must ultimately be to explain the living world in terms of scientific principles, although appreciating that organisms behave in ways which often seem beyond the capabilities of their component parts, Taylor, Green and Stout (1997). Man has to know all about himself and all about other animals and plants on which man’s life depends.
The teaching and learning of biology enables students, teachers and would be teachers not only to know their body makeup and the different biological functions going on but also to know the type of food he needs. Since biology enables man to know his genotype or blood group so that he can marry a girl who has a corresponding blood group without producing a child who is bound to suffer from sickle cell anaemia or haemophilic son or daughter. A student who is interested in such profession as medicine, dentistry, veterinary, biotechnology and pharmacy, must of necessity study biology.
Students with positive attitude towards instruction and subject content are more likely to perform better than students with negative attitude. Creese M. J. (1990) concluded that some of unpopularity of science in schools are attributable to the teaching other than the subject itself. He also mentioned that teachers tend to regard cognitive knowledge more important than the effective knowledge. The teachers’ attitude towards progressive teaching methods such as project, discovery, problem solving is one of the overriding determinants of students school success. It is reported that students often come to school with some pre-conceived notions that contradict the acceptable scientific explanation; sometimes it is difficult for the students to drop such a notion, Igwe (2003). It is the duty of the teachers to help students construct an acceptable explanation about science (biology) using the child’s previous idea as a starting point. It is only when this is done that students can develop the right attitudes to science (biology) work.
In teaching, methods or methodology is a variable instrument for the conveyance of the principles or theories as well as materials to the learner for the achievement of the goal of that instruction, Eya, Ugwu and Alu (2001). They went ahead to say that the instructor’s ability to use various teaching methods effectively and to provide variation in cognitive behaviour, classroom activities and instructional materials means his ability to determine his success in the pursuit of his goals. The National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) Course Book on Education, Cycle 3 (1990) argues that methods improve the content (information or knowledge) as well s the process (attitudes and behaviour).
There is the inadequacies in the number of well qualified teachers of biology; many secondary schools have no qualified teachers. In some cases a qualified chemistry or physics teacher is asked to teach biology. There is need for more biology teachers to be trained to help improve the teaching and learning of biology.
In a few secondary schools, there is the absence of biology laboratories and a few laboratory equipments available are squeezed in the corner of a chemistry or physics laboratory.
Because of the high cost of textbooks only few or some of the teachers and students have the biology textbooks. In some schools biology teaching period are reduced to two or three periods in a week for science subjects instead of the ideal four or five periods in a weak. In such schools the double period which is given out for practicals at least once a week is not given and it reduces effective learning.
Gender influence disrupts teaching and learning, in some single schools like boys or girls secondary schools, gender becomes a problem because if a male teacher is assigned to female students, the students tend to shy away and not ask some questions and if a female teacher is assigned to male students, the students will not hesitate to call her names. In this case it is more comfortable for female teachers to teach females schools while a male teacher should be assigned to teach in boys schools. This will help the student to feel free to ask questions and also answer questions and there will be high understanding.
From the foregoing, one could rightly state that it is, within the economic, political and social matrix that what was, what is, what should be of teaching could be critically evaluated. It can also be seen that many people are blamed for the poor teaching, lack of qualified teachers, lack of a well equipped laboratory, lack of adequate periods. Teachers would bear the blame of not being able to purchase their own textbooks due to high cost and also the non-use of an appropriate teaching method.
In providing a solution to this, seminars and workshops should be organised for teachers to improve their teaching skills and widen their knowledge. The students should also be enlightened on association, socialization to help in eliminating the gender problems. Webara (1967) emphasized that the problem facing the teaching of biology is inadequate of biology textbooks. Based on this, the P. T. A. (Parent teachers association) and philanthropists in their own way would contribute in reducing the cost of textbooks. A school library should be built where these books are bought by the school authority and the P. T. A., the books are kept in the library so a to help the teachers and the students. Biology laboratories are built for each school with the help of the government.
This study is aimed at determining the strategies to improve teaching and learning of biology. There are problems that the teachers faces which are strategies used in teaching the student is not appropriate or that the biology teachers are not sufficient enough to go round the schools. In a few schools biology teachers are graduates of other science related courses; this means that there is insufficient qualified biology teachers. From the chief inspector WAEC report in Senior Secondary Schools Certificate Exams (1995), he emphasised that some students in answering biology questions did not understand the question, majority of them performed badly in practical works because of lack of good laboratory facilities. Based on the foregoing, the following problems are responsible for the large failure of students in SSCE in biology.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to find out:
- Methods that are commonly used in the teaching of biology in secondary schools.
- The availability of textbooks for the teaching of biology in secondary schools.
- The adequacy of laboratory facilities for the teaching of biology.
- How biology teachers are being supervised in their teaching assignments.
Significance of the Study
Students tend to retain more of what they see, hear or do. The students will learn more when they are involved in the teaching and learning process. The findings of the study will help the post primary schools, management board in issue concerning the employment of adequate number of qualified biology teachers and the paying of the science teachers allowance as motivational incentives. It will also help them to see the need for organising seminars and workshops to upgrade teaching techniques and methods of teaching.
School principals would see the need to constantly supervise their biology teachers in their daily job, provide more security to prevent armed robbers and others within and outside the school from vandalising some of the costly equipments which are used in the biology laboratory for the teaching of biology.
Lastly, the study would also put more light into the problems of ways of teaching on the part of both the teachers and the students and perhaps compel principals to see to it that the teachers are compelled to use strategies that would make the student understand the topic more in teaching the student.
Scope of the Study
This study is a survey of the strategies with regards to human and material resources in improving the teaching and learning of biology in some selected secondary schools in Izzi local government area of Ebonyi state. This study pays special interest to SS2 students.
Therefore, the scope would include not only the adequacy of biology teachers in terms of qualities and quantities but also the adequacy of non-human facilities in biology teaching. It includes the extent to which the teachers are supervised in their teaching assignments, the adequacy or otherwise of the teaching periods in the schools time table and the identification of the strategies which would improve the teaching of biology in schools.
For the purpose of carrying out the study, the following research questions will guide the researchers:
- To what extent could methods used or needed in the teaching of biology in secondary schools?
- To what extent are the materials for teaching biology provided.
- How adequate are the biology laboratory facilities for the teaching of biology?
- how sufficient are the available textbooks for teaching of biology?