Science Curriculum Implementation Strategies / Models In Senior Secondary Schools
This study focuses on science curriculum implementation strategies/models in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt. . A proper research was carried out to find out the strategies adopted in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt for science curriculum implementation, to ascertain the factors Responsible for Implementation of Government Curriculum in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt, to find out the challenges facing science curriculum implementation strategies in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt, to determine the performance of students of senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt in science subjects, and to investigate how to improve science curriculum implementation strategies in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt.
In carrying out the research, research questions are been set in order to direct the researcher in administration of questionnaires. There is also review of relevant literature on related topics to the study. Questionnaires which was the instrument used was given to 94 senior secondary school teachers in Port Harcourt by the researcher. The result obtained from the questionnaire was analyzed and conclusion was derived from the analyzed result.
1.1 Background of the Study
Science as a field of study has made it possible for man to know more about the universe. The effective teaching of science subjects can lead to the attainment of scientific and technological greatness (Adesoji & Olatunbosun, 2008). Science teachers are very crucial in the translation of science educational objectives into practice. Science education provides a more effective preparation for citizenship and in order to achieve this, qualified and experienced science teachers who are well aware of global demands of science teaching with a view to engendering scientific and technological values in learners are required.
There has been much concern about the apparent fall in the standard of science education at the secondary school level in Nigeria. For instance, Madu (2004) and Okebukola (2005) working separately, have lamented on the decline in the standard of science teaching in Nigeria. Nwagbo (2001) identified a number of factors obstructing students’ understanding and achievement in the science subjects and among these factors was the use of inappropriate, non-effective teaching methodology. Abimbola (2013) stated that the performance level for individual science subjects did not show any significant rise for a twenty-year period between 1991 and 2011, except occasionally for chemistry and physics.
It is appropriate to say curriculum is all about experience required of a child for all round development since the organization of schooling and further education had long been associated with the idea of curriculum. Curriculum is a particular form of specification about the practice of teaching. It is not a package of materials or syllabus of ground to be covered rather it is a way of translating any educational idea into a hypothesis testable in practice. It invites critical testing rather than acceptance (Stenhouse, 2005).
Furthermore, curriculum is said to be a specification about the practice of teaching which involves pragmatic efficacy of the learners’ experiences. Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill of something or some events gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. In this wise, curriculum is an important element of education in which overall objectives of education depend largely on the nature of the curriculum (NERDC, 2004).
Curriculum experts have argued that curriculum making either at the level of development, design, implementation or reformation needs the inputs of critical stakeholders if it is to be relevant, meaningful and adequate to meet the needs of the people for whom it has been put together. In his opinion, Dewey (1897) contends that education is a social construct which is a part of society and should reflect the community. In this sense, curriculum is the thrust of education vested with force thereby integrating societal trends, traditional values and individual expression.
In his conception of curriculum Bobbitt (2008) affirmed that curriculum is the course of deeds and experiences through which learners become the adults they should be for success in adult society. In other words, curriculum encourages the entire scope of formative deed and experience occurring both within and outside school for the purposeful formation of adult members of society.
However, curriculum may refer to a well-defined and prescribed course of studies, which students must fulfil in order to pass a certain level of education. That is, curriculum is being construed as learning activities that make up a particular system of education. Ackerman (2008) in his examination of cognitive development theory explained in details how the curriculum is sequenced in schools.
In Nigeria for instance, secondary school curriculum is designed to encourage all students to achieve their spiritual, intellectual and social potential as well as to understand the relevance of learning in their daily lives. It is important to note that, it is one thing to develop/design curriculum, it is another thing to implement it effectively. Objectives of any level of education cannot be achieved if the planned programme for such level of education is not well implemented. Onyeachu (2008) observed that no matter how well a curriculum of any subject is planned, designed and documented, implementation is important.
Science education plays a vital role in the lives of individuals and the development of a nation scientifically and technologically (Alebiosu and Ifamuyiwa, 2008). It is widely and generally acknowledged that the gateway to the survival of a nation scientifically and technologically is scientific literacy which can only be achieved through science education. To make her citizens show interest in science education, Nigerian government came up with a policy that 60% of the students seeking admission into the nation’s universities, polytechnics and colleges of education should be admitted for science oriented courses, while 40% of the students should be considered for arts and social science courses (Ajibola, 2008). This government’s effort cannot be said to have yielded much fruits given the dwindling nature of students seeking admission into science-oriented courses in the Nation’s tertiary institutions, more students are seeking admission into art and social science courses than those of the science-oriented courses on yearly basis. Therefore, this study focuses on science curriculum implementation strategies/models in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The plight of secondary school curriculum implementation in Nigeria has been attributed to many factors including funding, obsolete educational facilities, and inadequate qualified teachers among others (Adebanjo and Charles-Owaba, 2008). It is against this backdrop, this paper examines the challenges confronting effective implementation of new secondary school curriculum in Nigeria with a view to proffering far reaching solutions.
The dynamic nature of science necessitates its curricula to accommodate different innovations and changes in Science, Science education and the context in which science education takes place. A new science curriculum programme should of necessarily be evaluated, more so that the implementation has entered three years when the first set of the programme are at the verge of completion. Essentially, it is the component of the new science programme of UBE that is evaluated in this study.
Evaluation in the context of this study is to ascertain the availability and adequacy of resources (i.e., human, physical and instructional material) for successful implementation of the UBE Basic Science. It is believed that this would reveal elements that are missing, which when addressed would give the programme a sound footing, when compared with other educational programmes (such as UPE and 6-3-3-4 system) that existed before this UBE. Coupled with Galabawa (2008) notion of modern procedures of evaluation, which emphasizes systematic clinical supervision and monitoring as instruments of quality assurance, the programme needs to be evaluated. Furthermore, the fact that individual components of the UBE science curriculum are the essential foundation for the programme, it is of necessity that these core components be evaluated to ensure that the stated goals/objectives of the curriculum are achieved. These problems necessitate a need for a study on science curriculum implementation strategies/models in senior secondary schools in Port Harcourt.
1.3 Objectives of study
The study was guided by specifically objectives as follows:
- To explore the changes in teaching methods due to curriculum implementation.
- To examine the effects of curriculum implementation on teachers’ mastery of the subject matter.
- To assess the effect of curriculum implementation strategy models on the availability of teaching and learning materials.
1.4 Research Questions
- Why is it necessary to change the teaching methods due to curriculum implementation?
- Why is it important to determine teachers’ mastery of the subject matter before the change of curriculum?
- Why should the availability of teaching and learning materials be known before the change of curriculum?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Since this study examined curriculum implementation strategies and models in science subjects, its findings are expected to be useful in providing the following details to educational policy makers, planners, officials, practitioners and stakeholders, To learn and understand the effects of frequent changes in science subjects curriculum and hence take precaution before involving in those frequent changes, To prepare training programmes to teachers on how to go about new inventions introduced in the new curriculum so as to make teachers more competent to teach the subjects and helping students, To have a clear understanding on whether these changes require changes in teaching methods or not and if these changes go with availability of teaching and learning materials.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
This study was conducted in secondary schools in Port Harcourt. It only involved four secondary schools of which two were public and two others private. The focus was mainly on students in form II and IV as these were mainly concerned with national examinations.
This study also confined itself to the exploration of whether curriculum implementation require changes in teaching methods, examining if teachers havemastery of subject matter required by changes in school curriculum and to the assessment of if curriculum implementation goes with availability of teaching and learning materials.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
Several limitations were encountered in conducting this study.
The first limitation was the institutional bureaucracy and complex time tables for official responsibilities resulted in more than anticipated time for data collection from students, teachers and heads of school. Thus, the researcher had to adjust time table to meet the appointments according to respondents’ schedules. Secondly, some respondents especially teachers, wanted payment before being engaged in interviews and this was overcoming by seeking cooperation with those few respondents who were willing to help the researcher.
On the other side, due to over emphasis on academic activity, some school heads were not willing to let students to be involved in the study for reason that they had to study in classes up to when they are supposed to go home. Therefore, the researcher had to use the evening hours to meet with children for discussion which sometimes led to difficulties of gathering the children together because some had to go for extra studies out of their schools
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Summary of the Study
This study sought to examine the effect of secondary school curriculum implementation in science subjects on teaching and learning. Specifically, the study sought to: explore if curriculum implementation require changes in teaching methods, examine if teachers have mastery of subject matter required by changes in school curriculum and to assess if curriculum implementation goes with availability of teaching and learning materials.
This study was conducted among teachers and students of form two and forms four in four selected secondary schools in Port Harcourt, . The study involved heads of school, academic teachers and science subject teachers who were purposively selected. All four heads of schools of the sampled schools were purposively selected because of their responsibilities in school leadership and supervision of school’s daily routines including academic matters. Heads of schools are in charge of schools so they are always aware of whatever is happening in their schools with how teachers teach and how students learn; and are the first to be informed about all changes in academic issues in their respective schools whereas teachers from all four selected public and private secondary schools were purposively selected to get all science subject teachers and academic teachers on the basis that all these are concerned with science subjects’ development and its teaching and learning processes. On the other hand students in form two and four were purposively selected from each school to participate in the study because of being in classes which do national examination. Hence, they were expected to give their experience and provide information relevant to the study.
A total of 150 respondents participated in the study. Semi-structured interview, documentary review and focus group discussion were used to collect the needed information for the study. Qualitative data from interviews and focus group discussions were analysed, with some direct quotations from respondents used to verify the findings, whereas descriptive statistics were used to summarize some quantitative information.
The study came up with three major findings in accordance with the three research questions.
With respect to the first question on the exploration on whether curriculum implementation require changes in teaching methods, the findings indicated that any curriculum implementation should also involve changes in teaching and learning methods in order to cope with newly introduced or transformed content. However, many respondents validated that, the reformation of those teaching and learning methods should be the ones that present a fundamental shift from the teacher being the centre of attention in the classroom to the learners as the centre of learning whereby learners’ self-evaluation and full participation dominate in the learning process.
With regard to the second question on the examination of whether teachers have mastery of subject matter required by changes in school curriculum, it was discovered that many teachers had little mastery of subject matter required by changes in school curriculum particularly to those who start to implement the changes for the first time and are also are faced by inadequate skills to implement the content especially during the time of teaching some new concepts that they are not familiar with.
With reference to the third question on the assessment whether curriculum implementation goes with availability of teaching and learning materials, the study findings indicated that many changes in school curriculum particularly in science subjects do not consider the availability of teaching and learning materials which seems to negatively affect the teaching and learning of science subjects in secondary schools.
On the basis of the findings recounted above, four principal conclusions can be made as follows:
Any school curriculum implementation should also involve changes in teaching and learning methods in order to cope with newly introduced or transformed content.
Teachers should have enough mastery of subject matter required by changes in school curriculum particularly to those who start to implement the changes for the first time and should also have adequate skills to implement the content to the learners.
Changes in school curriculum particularly in science subjects should first put in place the availability of teaching and learning materials that goes hand in hand with the changes done in order to ease the implementation process.
Teachers should be well trained to implement a newly introduced curriculum before they are allowed to implement it to students so as to make them well equipped with the related knowledge that has to be taught to students.
Arising from the conclusions that have been made above, the following recommendations are made:
Recommendations for action
Educational practitioners and authorities should not be drawn into changes of the curriculum before investigating out the types of teaching and learning methods to be used and ways in which are going to be applied by both teachers and learners. Pilot studies should be applied to check out the effectiveness of the newly introduced curriculum before it is put into implementation to the whole country.
It is important for curriculum planners and developers to learn from the mistakes or success of previous science subjects’ curriculum implementation. It shows that teachers’ limited knowledge and expertise in newly introduced curriculum concepts, inadequate resources and enough time of implementation are affecting the effectiveness of new changes in science curriculum. It is advisable that, people who are planning the curriculum must learn from the success and mistakes made by previous curriculum implementation and from other countries to make new changes in curriculum affect teaching and learning the way it is expected.
Curriculum support forums should be established at the school and district levels.
Functional cohesion of curriculum support forums would assist unveiling input on how well the new changes are affecting teaching and learning of science subjects; which changes should be made to make the new changes in curriculum affect teaching and learning in a positive way; the resources that need to be provided for positive effect of the new changes in curriculum and the evaluation plan to assess effectiveness of the pilot project. All these could help to forecast curriculum hiccups before and during the implementation of changes in curriculum.
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