AN EXAMINATION OF STUDENTS IDENTIFICATION OF DIFFICULT BIOLOGY TOPICS AND ITS EFFECT ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
1.1 Background of the Study
Individual and social progress are still based on science and technology. Because of its significant influence and contributions to mankind, this causes the whole globe to take scientific education extremely seriously. Because of its significance, the Nigerian government has made significant efforts to promote science-related fields and courses in the Nigerian curriculum (Tamaraukro Amuna, 2012). The Nigerian School Policy (2008) stresses scientific teaching and learning at all levels of education. The topic is known as “Basic Science” at the elementary school level. It is known as “Biology” in secondary school and “Biology” in tertiary institutions, with tentacles spreading to fields such as “Zoology,” “Microbiology,” “Medicine,” “Agronomy,” “Anatomy,” and “Botany,” among others.
Biology, in specifically, is a natural science that investigates living creatures and their interactions in the natural world. It studies living things’ structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution (Tamaraukro Amuna, 2012). And biology (the study of living things) is crucial to humans for a variety of reasons. Biology is studied in school to get a credential and to prepare students for careers that need the information and practical abilities obtained through biology education. Biology also assists us in leading healthier and happier lives by allowing us to better understand our body, other living beings, and our surroundings. It also emphasizes the need of proper diet and cleanliness. Biology in high school is designed to create and foster scientific attitudes as well as expand students’/learners’ understanding. It once again encourages its learners/students to ask open-ended questions and to assess outcomes objectively and accurately (CDC, 2000).
Furthermore, understanding biology allows students to follow directions, complete and report activities, and interpret written material that supports scientific ideas. It was also designed to allow students to practice skills such as observation, recording, classification, seeking answers, and objectively assessing information or interpreting situations (CDC, 2000). The student should be aware that the study of biology is influenced and limited by social, economic, technological, ethical, and cultural factors. Biology’s application can be beneficial or harmful to an individual, a community, or the environment. Biology knows no borders, and science’s language, when used correctly and rigorously, is universal (CDC, 2003). Despite the numerous advantages of studying biology, students’ performance in external examinations such as WAEC and NECO in Biology appears to be lacking. In 2010, for example, one million and one hundred and thirty-two candidates sat and wrote the National Examination Council (NECO) biology exam, but only 357 candidates/students passed Biology with distinction or credit (Tamaraukro Amuna, 2012). A variety of factors have been identified as contributing to this failure and the difficulties students experienced in some biology classes.
These factors include ineffective use of instructional materials, quack teachers or a lack of professional teachers in biology teaching in most cases, and the complexity of some biology topics. Most students are unprepared to face and overcome challenges due to laziness, laxity, and a low intelligence quotient (IQ). On their own, Henry and Adams (2009) blame teachers, or at least some teachers, for the lack of effective use of continuous assessment. Whatever the factors are, the goal of this study is to identify the topics that students find difficult to understand. It is against this backdrop that this research work attempts to identify the difficult biology topics among secondary schools with the intention of proffering solutions to these difficulties/challenges amongst the students.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Any research project of this sort that lacks a clearly identified “problem” is without foundation and significance. To that aim, the goal of this research is to address the issue of low biology performance among certain students. On the other hand, academics and intellectuals claim that students’ low performance in biology is mostly due to particular themes in biology that most students find difficult to comprehend. As a result, as we said in the introduction or backdrop of our research, most students were unable to pass biology exams.
Although, in compared to other scientific topics given at the Senior Secondary school level, biology is often seen to be the simplest to master (Haambokoma Hakeema, 2007). However, test results, such as the 2010 NECO results mentioned previously, show that many students fail this course. Students’ low accomplishment or bad performance in biology indicates that they are having difficulty understanding the topic. However, the nature and reasons of the issues faced by biology students are unknown. Similarly, those things that people find challenging are unknown. As a result, it is necessary to identify the themes as well as the elements that contribute to the challenges they face in the specified tough issues. This is significant because a persistent lack of knowledge about topics that students find difficult in biology may result in students’ continued and prolonged poor performance in the subject matter, thereby retrogressing biology knowledge and impact not only among students in the current generation but also from generation to generation.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The general objective of the study is the examination of students’ identification of difficult biology topics and its effect on academic performance among senior secondary school students. Specifically, the study will be guided under the following:
- Toexamine the reason why student find some topics in biology difficult
- To find out the effect of the difficulty in some biology topic on the academic performance of students.
- To recommend ways of improving students’ understanding of the biology difficult concept in other to improve their academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions have been prepared for the study:
- What are the reason why students find some topics in biology difficult?
- What are the effect of the difficulty in some biology topic on the academic performance of students?
- What are the recommended ways of improving students’ understanding of the biology difficult concept in other to improve their academic performance?
1.5. Significance of the Study
This study is very-very significant and important because of the anticipated information it would provide, which could meaningfully contribute to knowledge in learning biology. Such information could as well be useful or used by various governmental and non-governmental educational institutions like, the ministry of Education for instance to influence policy on curriculum design. Information to be generated here can also be used by various stakeholders and private school owners to effect changes in teaching method for maximal performance.
Furthermore, the information to be gathered here will be significant to the teachers in both secondary schools, colleges of Education and lecturers in the University to be able to identify areas in their teaching/training programs that might need change to address the challenges. As a matter of fact, teachers of biology are likely to benefit from the findings of this study by improving their teaching methodologies. Heads of Science departments will be able to monitor the teaching and learning of biology effectively by ensuring the availability of all that are necessary or by providing all the necessary teaching and learning aids.
Finally, this study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.
1.6. Scope of the Study
The research workwill examine the reason why student find some topics in biology difficult. The study will also find out the effect of the difficulty in some biology topic on the academic performance of students. Lastly, the study will recommend ways of improving students’ understanding of the biology difficult concept in other to improve their academic performance.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Just like any other research, unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study, and inability to get data were among the constraints the researcher encountered in the cause of this study. Financial constraint was equally faced by the researcher, in getting relevant materials and in printing and collation of questionnaires. Furthermore, time factor pose another constraint because the researcher have to shuttle between writing of the research and engaging in other academic work which made it uneasy for the researcher.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Identification: According to the 7th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Identification means the process of sharing, proving or recognizing who or what somebody something is.
Biology: The world biology is derived from the Greek words called “Bios” meaning life and “Logos” meaning study, and is defined as the Science of life and living organisms.
Difficulty: Difficulty is a term or concept that every lay-man understands. As it is an adjective of a noun called “Difficult” which simply means when something is complex or hard to either understand or when a condition is critical.
Topics: Topic(s) can be said to be basic organizational unit of instruction that covers one or more closely linked areas of study.