1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Students' difficulties in learning biology have been studied by various researchers across the world (Johnstone and Mahmoud, 2011; Finley et al., 2008; Tolman, 2008; Anderson et al., 2010; Seymour and Longdon, 2009; Jennison and Reiss, 2009; Lazarowitz and Penso, 2012; Bahar et al., 2016). 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, and the central nervous system can be perceived as difficult to learn by students. According to Tekkaya et al. (2012) also observed that hormones, genes and chromosomes, mitosis and meiosis, the nervous system, and genetics were considered difficult concepts by students. Experiencing difficulties in so many topics in biology negatively affects students’ motivation and achievement (Özcan, 2010). Students’ difficulties with many topics in biology have motivated researchers to investigate the reason students experience such difficulties and how to overcome these difficulties. There are many reasons why students have difficulties in learning biological concepts (Lazarowitz and Penso, 2012; Tekkaya et al., 2012; Çimer, 2009; Zeidan, 2010). The nature of biology as a science subject itself and its teaching methods are major reasons for the difficulties experienced in learning biology, while Lazarowitz and Penso (2012) asserts that the biological level of organization and the abstract level of the concepts make learning biology difficult to understand. Overloaded biology curricula, the abstract and interdisciplinary nature of biological concepts, and difficulties with the textbooks are the other factors preventing students from learning biology effectively (Chiapetta and Fillman, 2010; Tekkaya et al., 2012). Chiepetta and Fillman (2010) state that overloaded biology curricula may not contribute to students’ achievement and lead them to learn the material through memorization. This, of course, prevents meaningful learning. Designing or conniving learning environments while neglecting students’ interests and expectations leads to several learning problems as well as decreasing their interest in biology (Yüzbaşılıoğlu and Atav, 2009; Roth et al., 2011; Zeidan, 2010). Fraser (2010) indicates that there is a close relationship between students’ perceptions of their classroom learning environment and their success. Osborne and Collins (2012) also found out that students’ reducing interest in learning science was a result of the curriculum content being over packed and not generally related to working life, the lack of discussion of topics of interest, lack of creative expression opportunities, the exemption of science from society and the prevalence of isolated science subjects. Another reason as reported by many researchers, is that because of the nature of biological science, biology learning is completely based on memorization. Biological science includes many unseen concepts, events, topics and facts that students have to absorb. This makes it hard for students to learn them (Anderson et al., 2010; Efe, 2012; Özcan, 2010; Çimer, 2009; Saka, 2011; Durmaz, 2009). Teachers’ styles of biology teaching and teaching methods and techniques may also be factors that affect students’ learning in biology (Çimer, 2009). If students are not happy with the way that biology is taught, they may show disinterest in and negative attitudes towards biology and its teaching. Furthermore, according to recent statistics from the University Entrance Examination, students answered on average 12.77 out of 30 science questions correctly (OSYM, 2015). Scoring the lowest percentage of questions correctly answered in biology has been a concern among many teachers, students and researchers, who all wonder why students have difficulties in answering biology questions correctly on national exams. Based on this, there appears to be a clear need for further and deeper insight into the factors that may cause students’ difficulties in understanding of biology. Also, in addition to determining the factors that negatively affect students’ learning in biology, acknowledging the use of teaching methods in teaching biology is crucial, as many researchers suggest that in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning in school, students’ views must be taken into consideration by researchers, teacher educators, schools and teachers (Fullan, 2009; Macbeath and Mortimore, 2012; Çimer, 2009; Ekici, 2010). They argue that what students say about teaching, learning and schooling is not only worth listening to but provides an important perhaps the most important foundation for thinking about ways of improving teaching, learning and schools. For instance, Phoenix (2013) states that student views of teaching may reflect the ways that they learn best. Indeed, schools that acknowledge the significance of student views have found that these views can make a substantial contribution to classroom management, to learning and teaching, and to the school as a social and learning place (Macbeath et al., 2013). It is thought that how students perceive the learning environment in biology affects their attitudes towards biology and its learning (Çakıroğlu et al., 2010; Telli et al., 2009). Therefore, understanding secondary school students’ perceptions of biology will help policymakers, teachers and teacher educators plan more effective teaching activities that can help students learn biology better and have more positive attitudes towards it. Therefore, the aim of the study is to determine the biology topics that students have the most difficulties learning and understanding, their views of the reasons they have difficulties learning some biological topics and the teaching strategies or methods that can make biology learning more effective. This will provide a knowledge base for policy-makers and teacher educators in the implementation of the new biology curriculum and textbooks which have been used since previous academic year. Hence, there is need to examine the use of teaching methods for solving students’ difficulties in understanding of biology.
Education is an indispensable instrument for the development of any nation. Teachers are the implementers of the educational program and they are responsible for the translation of educational theories into practice. For teaching to be effective, it has to be rooted in an understanding of how students learn. Several researchers have conducted research with a view to finding better ways of teaching and learning Biology. Results indicated that performance in public examination in Biology still remain poor. Not much effort seems to have been made towards finding out the methods of teaching for solving students’ difficulties in learning some of the concepts in Biology. Although, many factors may account for students’ poor performance in Biology, it is evident that most students have difficulties in learning some concepts. It is for this purpose of redressing this trend that this study is being carried out.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the use of teaching methods for solving students’ difficulties in understanding of biology. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this research would equip the biology teachers with the information on how to effectively utilize laboratory methods to enhance students’ performance in biology at secondary school level. The principals and secondary school supervisors would also be sensitized on their role expectations to enhance teaching and learning of biology in particular and sciences in general. More so, it will help other researchers to carry out further research on this subject area. The study would also be of immense benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the use of teaching methods for solving students’ difficulties in understanding of biology.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Biology: is the study of plants and animals (Michael, 2015). It is a science subject offered at senior secondary school level in Nigeria and it is among the subjects taken at Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
The Teacher: The teacher is the person that has to initiate the particular teaching method or methods he/she intends to use in a given lesson
Teaching Method: is any teaching maneuver that can be used to facilitate students learning and satisfaction.
OTHER SIMILAR EDUCATION PROJECTS AND MATERIALS