This study was carried out to examine the impact of curriculum development on teaching and learning of basic science in junior secondary school in Nsukka . Specifically, the study examined the extent teachers align their teaching strategies to achieve the instructional objectives of Basic Science curriculum. The study also evaluate the qualification of teachers teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Nsukka. The study further, find out if the development of basic science curriculum has improved students learning ability in Basic science. Lastly, the study investigate the extent of utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum. The study employed the survey descriptive research design. A total of 30 responses were validated from the survey. From the responses obtained and analyzed, the findings revealed that the extent to which teachers align their teaching strategies to achieve the instructional objectives of Basic Science curriculum is high. Also, qualification of teachers affect the teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Nsukka. Furthermore, the development of basic science curriculum improve students learning ability in Basic science. Lastly,the extent to which utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum in junior secondary schools is high. The study thereby recommend that the government and ministry of education should organize workshops for teachers to update their knowledge on how to achieve the curriculum objectives, provide the necessary things needed for such implementation. Also,the planners and developers of the Basic Science curriculum should try as a matter of urgency to determine the extent to which the plan or program developed is actually been executed in the State. Lastly,the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC should organize more workshops and seminars for Basic Science teachers in particular and other science teachers in general to equip them with the necessary knowledge needed on the implementation of basic science curriculum.
Background of the study
The term science has to do with nature. It is derived from the Latin word “Scientia’ meaning to know, what is a fact, truth or certain (Odo, 2012). Science is concerned with finding out about things in our environment. The knowledge we gather about our environment constitutes the field of study called science and is distinguished from other fields because it relies on hypothetical deductive and experimental approach, (Millennium Development Goals, MDGs project, 2011). Mbajiogu (2003) perceived science as an act of doing and it is more concerned with various investigative processes and activities with regards to developing, acquiring and controlling knowledge, skills and attitude about the natural factors of the environment. Science has two major components namely science content and science process. The content is the knowledge we acquire about our environment while the process skills deal with ways in which scientists go about gathering knowledge concerning the environment (MDGs Project, 2011). Thus, science is viewed as the bedrock upon which any nation can be built (Onah, 2003). It is said to be a very important aspect of man’s life so much that its role in societal development has been revealed by various countries world-wide. No country can be globally recognized without talking about its scientific advancements. This can be seen in all aspects of life such as medicine, engineering, industries, education etc. These scientific fields are all guided by a curriculum. This is why Nzewi, (2008) stressed that the quality of education in any system and at any level is dependent on the quality of the curriculum. Curriculum is viewed as a body of all the experiences and activities (Co-curricular activities) provided, under the auspices of the school to bring about a change in the learner in the desired direction (Ugwu, 2004). This view is supported by Offorma, (2006) who noted curriculum as a document, plan or blue print for instructional guide for teaching and learning with the purpose of achieving educational goals and related specific objectives that will necessitate the positive and desirable behavioral change in the learners. Offorma further buttressed that curriculum is also the process of determining and pursuing set societal objectives through the instrumentality of the school. Based on the above definition, the researcher explained that curriculum is the totality of the environment in which education takes place. In the same vein, curriculum according to Wheeler (2000) has been defined as the planned experiences offered to a learner under the guidance of the school. The researcher views the curriculum as the totality of planned learning experiences which the learner will acquire under the guidance of approved educative agencies like home and school in order to realize his or her needs, interests and aspirations for the benefit of the society. Thus, Adeyegbe (2004) submitted that curriculum generally is the hub of the activities in any educational endeavor since it dictates what is to be taught, at what level, by whom, for what purpose, with what equipment and to be assessed by what means. The curriculum describes the content, instructional objectives, teachers activities, students activities, teaching methods, the learning materials and evaluation strategies available for a given subject or course of study. It is important to note that education has remained an instrument of change and national development and is viewed as the foundation for modernization. This modernization is required for great advances in science and technology (Okoro, 2006). Hence, in 1968, the Science Teachers Associates of Nigeria (STAN) set up curriculum development committees which looked into the different science subject’s syllabuses (Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology) in the view to revise and improve them (Okoro, 2006). This was as a result of the directive given by the West African Examination Council (WAEC). After these works on separate science subjects, jointed working sessions of the representatives from the core science committees made efforts to integrate the disciplines. The working sessions produced the integrated theme known as Nigeria Integrated Science Project (NISP) which was approved in Lagos in 1969 (Ezeudu, 2008). In 2005, the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) was directed to carry out the assignment of reviewing, re-structuring and re-aligning the then existing curriculum for primary and junior secondary schools to fit into 9-year Basic Education Program, all in effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015 which include; value re-orientation, poverty eradication, job creation, wealth generation as well as using education to empower the people (FRN, 2004). In line with the above, the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2006 launched a new curriculum for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) for Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. This UBE programme was formally introduced in 1999 in fulfilment of the governments’ signatory to a number of international declarations on Education which includes the Jomtien Declaration of Framework for Action on Basic Education. The UBE Act was passed into law in the year 2004 (Madu, 2012). Tahir further explained that at the end of nine years of continuous education, every child should acquire appropriate level of literacy, numeracy, communication, manipulative and life skills, be employable, useful to him/her and the society by possessing relevant ethical, moral and civic values. Thus, the vision of UBE has taken care of all that it entails to bring socio- economic development. The new curriculum is then thought to address other issues that were not specified in the old version of it in order to bring about value re-orientation, poverty eradication, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial or life skills among her citizens. In addition, the new curriculum according to Obioma, (2007) the then executive secretary of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) seeks to correct the abnormalities of the former curriculum. Thus, the Universal Basic Education is to provide a universal, free, compulsory and continuous 9 years education programme for all school age children irrespective of their socio- economic circumstances (Federal Republic of Nigeria, FRN 2004) However, since the vision of UBE is to bring about socio-economic development as explained by Madu (2012), the role of science and technology in the UBE Programme cannot be over- emphasized. The world–over, it is generally agreed that development could only be meaningful if and when it is science and technology driven. As such, countries of the world are now categorized as developed, developing or under developed based on their scientific and technological attainments. Hence the incorporation of Basic Science and technology as a core subject in the 9- year Basic Education Programme. A feature of the new curriculum is the phasing out of primary science and integrated science as earlier mentioned, for what is now known as Basic Science and Technology for primary schools and Basic science for junior secondary schools, which according to the Obioma (2007) prepares a child adequately for the higher studies by providing a solid foundation on which to build upon. Also added was information & communication technology (ICT) which has been introduced into the primary school curriculum alongside with culture and creative arts, all these are in the bid to make a child strong enough to face challenges of the future. Basic Science is a science that describes the most basic objects, forces, relations between them and laws governing them such that all other phenomena may be in principle derived from them . The objectives of new Basic Science curriculum are spelt out to enable the learner:
• Develop interest in science and technology,
• Acquire basic skills in science and technology ,
• Apply their basic knowledge and skills in science to meet societal needs. • Take advantage of the numerous career opportunities offered by the study of science and technology and
• Become prepared for further studies in science and technology. From these, it is perceived that Basic Science Objectives are broad, specific and sequential such that interest in science and technology precedes the basic knowledge and skills of science and technology. Nonetheless, the Basic Science curriculum contents are systematically organized and arranged in a sequential order at the various levels of the Nigeria education system. The curriculum reflects depth, appropriateness and inter relatedness of the contents. In the light of the forgoing, it is important to note that in spite of persistent efforts made by the government, NERDC, curriculum specialist, teachers, parents and other relevant stakeholders in the education industry in order to achieve the above commendable objectives, the basic science curriculum seems not to be producing the desired outcomes which is quite underwhelming. These underwhelming outcomes could be as a result of poor implementation of the basic science curriculum. However, the actual implementation of the project (basic science curriculum) kicked off with a lot of schools having no qualified basic science teachers, no laboratory, inadequate instructional materials, scanty classrooms etc. Although many workshops and conferences have been held, yet curriculum outcomes remain issues of great concern. That is why Osuala and Ogomaka (2005) observed that despite the workshops and annual conferences, there is continually persistent poor student’s performance in basic science due to poor teaching methods used by teachers which are geared towards implementation of the new curriculum.
Statement of the problem
The Basic Science Curriculum which was developed few years ago does not seem to be producing the assumed result(Madu,2012). The outcomes of the curriculum as perceived by many people have not impacted much owing to persistent rate of poor academic achievement of pupils and students in science related subjects especially in basic science. In recent times, the issue has become a great concern to the government, NERDC, curriculum specialist, teachers, parents and other relevant stakeholders in the education industry due to the underwhelming outcomes of the new curriculum(Madu,2012). Suffice to state that, efforts made by the government, science educators and other relevant stakeholders towards improving this unfortunate trend have not yielded much result. These underwhelming outcomes according to many researchers could be as a result of poor implementation of the basic science curriculum. However, many believe that the actual implementation of the basic science curriculum kicked off with a lot of schools having no qualified basic science teachers, no laboratory, inadequate instructional materials, and scanty classrooms(Ugwu,2004). Aside these, there are considerations by many studies that students perceive the subject as an abstract field and mentally tasking which can influence their achievement in the subject. Moreover, recently researches have revealed that teacher’s competencies, instructional materials, school infrastructural facilities and finance have influence the outcomes of the implementation process. Hence, science educators and researchers have anchored most of their researches on factors responsible for this persisting and disappointing trend. Although many workshops and conferences have been held, the curriculum outcomes remain a great concern. Moreover, most researchers are of the opinion that evaluation should be a continuous exercise in order to determine the workability of any programme. In other words, to ascertain if the goals of any educational programme is being achieved, there is need for empirical studies to find out if the development process was successful in achieving the expectation of the curriculum(Obioma,2007). Hence, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no known study have been carried out on the subject matter of this study, and it is the basis of the forgoing background that this present study is necessitated. Therefore, this current research work is informed to provide empirical evidence by evaluating the impact of curriculum development on teaching and learning of basic science in junior secondary school in Nsukka
Objective of the study
The general objective of the study is the impact of curriculum development on teaching and learning of basic science in junior secondary school in Nsukka. The specific objective is as follows:
- To examine the extent teachers align their teaching strategies to achieve the instructional objectives of Basic Science curriculum.
- To evaluate the qualification of teachers teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Nsukka.
- To find out if the development of basic science curriculum has improved students learning ability in Basic science.
- To investigate the extent of utilization of the instructional materials in implementing Basic Science curriculum.
The following questions have been prepared for this study
- To what extent do teachers align their teaching strategies to achieve the instructional objectives of Basic Science curriculum?
- Do qualification of teachers affect the teaching Basic Science in junior secondary schools in Nsukka?
- Have the development of basic science curriculum improved students learning ability in Basic science?