BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Science provides a collection of information that may be used to many types of human, material, and environmental problems. It may also be divided into two broad complimentary modes: the acquisition of information about the natural world via exploration and discovery endeavors, and the application of such knowledge for human and material progress. Science is studied and practiced around the world, including Nigeria. Nigeria is a developing country with a growing demand for science-based skilled labor. At the secondary school level, this might begin with the learning and application of science topics such as biology, chemistry, integrated science, and physics. Only biology was covered among the science topics taught in Nigerian secondary schools, which included biology, chemistry, integrated science, and physics. This is due to the study’s concentration on biology education.
In Nigeria, biology is one of the senior secondary school courses taught. Biology is a core scientific topic that provides curriculum for students pursuing careers in medical, nursing, pharmacy, forestry, and fisheries, among other fields. A credit pass or above in biology is required for any science-related occupational specialty.
The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) had the authority to produce curriculum for use at all levels of Nigeria’s educational system as part of attempts to tackle educational challenges. The National Council of Education (NCE) authorized the (NERDC) to examine and realign the current senior secondary school curricula to meet the tangents of the reform in the framework of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDs) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (M.D.G). Furthermore, the curriculum is used to provide the greatest textual resources as well as the best teaching and learning results (Egwu,2009). Biology’s importance as a discipline cannot be overstated. It is one of the most often needed disciplines for entry to many professional courses, including medicine, pharmacy, nursing, medical laboratory science, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and physiotherapy. Microbiology, Biochemistry, Botany, Agricultural Science, and Biology Education all need biology (FGN 2004). According to the National Policy on Education, students must provide at least one scientific topic in senior high school. Biology is the most prevalent scientific course provided to all SSS students. The present biology curriculum’s contents and settings emphasized field studies, guided exploration, laboratory instruction and skills, and conceptual thinking. The objectives cannot be met unless adequate and suitable instructional resources are made available and utilized maximally (Babalola, 1998).
Abimbola (1998) discovered that the biology content areas judged by teachers to be significant correspond to what might be dubbed “Applied Biology” in his study on “Teachers’ views of important and difficult biology material in secondary schools.” The survey also discovered that biology curriculum areas viewed as difficult by instructors to teach fall under the category of “Pure Biology.” Ecology, Chromosomes, Cellular, Respiration, Growth, and Heredity are examples of biology topics viewed as difficult to teach. According to Brennen (2002), Olorundare & Oni (2006), and Ariyo (2014), educators often presume that whatever instructors deem to be extremely significant subject will be taught properly. What is viewed as difficult will almost certainly not be taught. Teachers have little or no option but to teach all topics in a centralized educational system where the curriculum is more or less handed down to them.
Nigeria has a centralized system in place. The Federal Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), developed the biology curriculum for all senior secondary schools in Nigeria. As a result, all biology teachers are expected to cover all topics for SSS 1, SSS 2, and SSS 3 classes.
Statement of the Problem
Students’ poor performance in external examinations such as Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) and General Certificate Examinations (GCE) in secondary school has become a source of concern for stakeholders in the education sector, particularly in light of the nation’s goal of becoming one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2020. According to recent figures issued by the two examination authorities, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO), the caliber of teaching and learning in both public and private schools has continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate (Osuagwu, 2013).
Once a teacher has difficulty understanding certain biology topics, he will not be able to teach such topics to the students’ good understanding, so such a teacher will likely avoid such topics, and students will likely not understand the area of the biology curriculum not taught by the teachers, and students may even not prepare well for external examinations in such topics. Because the syllabus and questions are based on the senior secondary education curriculum, this may result in low performance in the senior level certificate test. The study’s aim was to examine instructors’ perceptions of tough themes in senior secondary biology curriculum.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this study is to analyze teachers’ perception of difficult topics in senior secondary biology curriculum. Specifically, the study was directed:
i. To identify the areas in biology curriculum which senior secondary biology teachers find difficult to teach.
ii. To ascertain whether teachers academic qualification influences the difficulty in senior secondary school biology curriculum.
iii. To establish whether teaching experience of teachers contributes to difficulty in senior secondary school biology curriculum.
iv. To decipher strategies to be employed in other to solve the problem of difficult topics found in the senior secondary school biology curriculum.
The following research questions were raised.
i. What content areas in the senior secondary school (SSS) biology curriculum do teachers find difficult to teach?
ii. Does teachers academic qualification influence the difficulty areas in senior secondary school biology curriculum?
iii. Does teaching experience of teachers contributes to difficulty in senior secondary school biology curriculum?
iv. What strategies can be employed in solving the problem of difficult areas found in senior secondary school biology curriculum?
SIGNIFICANCE 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.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study borders on teachers’ perception of difficult topics in senior secondary biology curriculum.It also sought to determine whether teachers academic qualification, teaching experience and gender as factors responsible for perception of difficulty which leads to poor performance of students in science courses (biology). The study is delimited to selected secondary school in Oko local government in Anambra State.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only public secondary schools in Akure Local Government Area, Ondo State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other secondary schools in other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Perception: conscious understanding of something.
Teacher: a person who teaches, especially one employed in a school.
Difficult: hard, not easy, requiring much effort.
Curriculum: the set of courses, coursework and content, offered at a school or university.
Biology: study of all life or living matter.