Students Perception Of Difficult Topics In Biology Senior Secondary School Curriculum

Biology Education Project Material

Students Perception Of Difficult Topics In Biology Senior Secondary School Curriculum


Abstract


This study was carried out to examine the perception of secondary school students on difficult topics in biology curriculum in Kogi state using some selected senior secondary schools in Lokoja as a case study. The study was specifically set to find out the difficult topics students are faced with in biology; find out the perception of students concerning the difficult topics; and investigate the factors associated with the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary students in biology. The survey design was adopted and the simple random sampling techniques were employed in this study. The population size comprise of biology students of selected senior secondary schools in Lokoja. In determining the sample size, the researcher conveniently selected 147 respondents and 141 were validated. Self-constructed and validated questionnaire was used for data collection. The collected and validated questionnaires were analyzed using frequency tables and mean scores. While the hypotheses were tested using Chi-square statistical tool. The result of the findings reveals that students perceived some topics as difficult and some as not difficult in Biology. Furthermore the study also revealed that there is no difference in the perception of male and female students of difficult Biology topics. Therefore, it is recommended that there is a need to make the subject content of senior secondary school biology curriculum more contemporary, meaningful and interesting for the students, reflecting the current developments in the field and relating teaching learning process with daily life issues. To mention but a few.


Table of Content


  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • Abstract

Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of the Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Terms
  • 1.10 Organisations of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the Study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the Study
  • 3.10 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.4 Test of Hypotheses

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References
  • APPENDIX
  • QUESTIONNAIRE

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

While adequate research has been conducted in other countries of the world as named above in relation to biology topics perceived as difficult, and pupils’ learning challenges, very little research of this nature had been carried out in Zambia. Despite the teachers’ full knowledge of the difficulties that pupils face in learning some of these topics in biology which actually lower their overall performance in biology examinations, teachers have taken no serious steps to redress the situation. This is partly due to the teachers’ lack of specific research-based information on how to teach such problem topics which could otherwise serve as a tool in alleviating the pupils’ difficulties in learning the aforesaid topics. This study therefore established the topics in biology which were perceived as difficult and examined the pupils’ difficulties in learning biology, and highlighted 2 some of the possible teaching strategies that the biology teachers could use in order to address the learning challenges.

Various Scholars have investigated difficulties pupils face in learning biology in other countries such as Scotland, Nigeria, Turkey and Israel (Johnstone and Mahmoud 1980). In their findings, Johnstone and Mahmoud (1980) suggested that genetics was among the most challenging topics in biology for secondary school pupils. Lazarowitz and Penso (1992) identified cells, physiological processes and hormonal regulation as being the biological concepts that posed learning difficulties to the secondary school pupils. According to Johnestone (1999), monohybrid, dihybrid crosses and linkages in genetics, meiosis, central nervous system, alleles and genes were largely perceived by pupils as being topics of the highest difficulty.

There has been consistent decline in the performance of students in public examinations conducted by the west African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) in sciences across the country over the years (Agogo, 2003; Samba & Eriba, 2012). Ahmed and Abimbola (2011) argue that because of its numerous importance, Biology is the most popular choice, among science subjects nationwide, offered by candidates sitting for the senior secondary school certificate examinations. According to WAEC Research Report (2008) and (2009), despite the popularity of Biology, results of research studies always revealed the poor performance of students in the subject. Results from findings revealed that a vast number of factors are responsible for the students’ poor performance: difficult biological concepts (Tekkaya et al., 2001; Çimer, 2004; Zeidan, 2010); the nature of science itself and its teaching methods Lazarowitz and Penso (1992) as well as the biological level of organization and the abstract level of the concepts. Çimer (2011) argued that many concepts or topics in biology, including water transport in plants, protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis, gaseous exchange, energy, cells, mitosis and meiosis, organs, physiological processes, hormonal regulation, oxygen transport, genetics, Mendelian genetics, genetic engineering, and the central nervous system can be perceived as difficult to learn by secondary school students. While Tekkaya et al. (2001) found that hormones, genes and chromosomes, mitosis and meiosis, the nervous system, and Mendelian genetics were considered difficult concepts by secondary school students. Özcan, (2003) stressed that experiencing difficulties in so many topics in biology negatively affects students’ motivation and achievement. Students’ difficulties with many topics in biology have stimulated researchers to investigate why students experience such difficulties and how to overcome these difficulties. Experiencing difficulty in Biology could be attributed to many factors such as classroom learning environment, lack of interest in learning science, overloaded curriculum content and delineation of science from society, among others.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

For over a decade now various scholars of senior high school pupils have exhibited unsatisfactory performance in some biology topics that are perceived as difficult to learn, and the reasons for their learning challenges are not known. While adequate research has been conducted in other countries of the world in relation to biology topics perceived as difficult, and pupils’ learning challenges, very little research of this nature has been carried out in Nigeria especially Kogi State.

The researcher also observed that once the teachers have difficulty in understanding certain biology topics, he/she will not be able to teach such topics to the good understanding of the students, hence such teacher is likely to avoid such topics and students are likely not understand the area of the biology curriculum not taught by the teachers and the students may even not prepare well for external examination in such topics. These might lead to poor performance in the senior secondary certificate examination as the syllabus and questions are based on the senior secondary education curriculum. Based on this premise, the study is set out to find out the perception of the students on difficult topics in senior secondary schools curriculum in Kogi state.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to find out the perception of secondary school students on difficult topics in biology curriculum in Kogi state, specifically the study intends to:

  1. Find out the difficult topics students are faced with in biology
  2. Find out the perception of students concerning the difficult topics
  3. Investigate the factors associated with the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary students in biology.

1.4 Research Question

  1. What are the difficult topics encountered by students in biology subject in secondary schools?
  2. What is the nature of students perception the difficult topics in biology in secondary schools?
  3. What are the factors associated with the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary students in biology?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • Ho: There is no difference in the perception of male and female students of difficult Biology topics.
  • Hi: There is a difference in the perception of male and female students of difficult Biology topics.

1.6 Significance of the Study

A lot of research has been done on pupils’ difficulties in learning biology across the globe generally. However, not much research, according to the literature, has been done on pupils’ learning difficulties in biology in Kogi state Nigeria. This study therefore is very important as it will provide useful data on the students learning difficulties in biology. It is hoped that data from this study may be useful to policy makers and curriculum designers in the Ministry of Education who may prescribe some changes in teaching methods. The results of the study would equally be useful to educational institutions, school heads; teachers of biology, parents of students studying biology, and other stake holders who may wish to improve classroom teaching and learning. It is also hoped that this study will motivate other scholars to carry out similar research into pupils’ learning difficulties in biology and other science subjects or scale up this work beyond Kogi state.


1.7 Scope of the Study

This research work students perception on difficult topics in senior secondary school will be carried out in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi state as it will be very difficult to cover the whole of Kogi state due to some constraint like limited time to complete the research work. However the results of the research conducted will be generalize since Lokoja is the major city in kogi state.


1.8 Limitations of the Study

The researcher encountered minor obstacles when conducting the study, as with any human endeavor. The significant constraint was the scarcity of literature on the subject due to the nature of the discourse, so the researcher incurred more financial expenses and spent more time sourcing for relevant materials, literature, or information and in the data collection process, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Furthermore, the researcher did this investigation alongside other academic activities. Furthermore, the sample size was limited because only a few respondents were chosen to answer the research instrument, therefore the results cannot be generalized to other secondary schools outside the state. Despite the constraints encountered during the research, all elements were minimized in order to provide the best results and make the research effective.


1.9 Definition of Terms

Difficult Topics:

These are concepts in a subject that are critical to comprehend among students. In biology subject, these difficult concepts or topics may including water transport in plants, protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis, gaseous exchange, energy, cells, mitosis and meiosis, organs, physiological processes, hormonal regulation, oxygen transport, genetics, Mendelian genetics, genetic engineering, and the central nervous system can be perceived as difficult to learn by secondary school students.


1.10 Organization of the Study

The study is categorized into five chapters. The first chapter presents the background of the study, statement of the problem, objective of the study, research questions and hypothesis, the significance of the study, scope/limitations of the study, and definition of terms. The chapter two covers the review of literature with emphasis on conceptual framework, theoretical framework, and empirical review. Likewise, the chapter three which is the research methodology, specifically covers the research design, population of the study, sample size determination, sample size, abnd selection technique and procedure, research instrument and administration, method of data collection, method of data analysis, validity and reliability of the study, and ethical consideration. The second to last chapter being the chapter four presents the data presentation and analysis, while the last chapter (chapter five) contains the summary, conclusion and recommendation.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations:

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings on the perception of secondary school students on difficult topics in biology curriculum in Kogi state using some selected senior secondary schools in Lokoja as a case study. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.


5.2 Summary of the Study

In this study, our focus was to examine the perception of secondary school students on difficult topics in biology curriculum in Kogi state using some selected senior secondary schools in Lokoja as a case study. The study specifically was aimed to find out the difficult topics students are faced with in biology; find out the perception of students concerning the difficult topics; and investigate the factors associated with the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary students in biology.

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 141 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents are biology students of selected senior secondary schools in Lokoja.


5.3 Conclusions

It can be concluded from the study that students perceived some topics as difficult and some as not difficult in Biology. However, the study revealed that gender has no significant difference on students’ perception of difficult Biology topics. Similarly, the study revealed that students’ choice of subjects had no effect on their perception of difficult topics in Biology. Furthermore, the students attributed their causes of difficulty of the perceived difficult topics to abstractness, complexity, misconception of topics, unavailable instructional materials, poor attitude of teachers to teaching, lack of practical classes and poor students study habits.


5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are proffered.

  1. There is a need to make the subject content of senior secondary school biology curriculum more contemporary, meaningful and interesting for the students, reflecting the current developments in the field and relating teaching learning process with daily life issues.
  2. Biology instruction should be supported by qualified textbooks, instructional materials, hands-on, mind-on sessions and observations as well as experiments that actively engage students in learning processes.
  3. There is need to teach biology dynamically, not as a static subject in textbooks, emphasizing inquiry instruction that would allow students to pursue areas of personal interest.

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