The project focuses on the Identification of Difficult Biology Topics Amongst Senior Secondary School Students in Makurdi metropolis. It investigated the topics in biology that students find difficult either to learn and comprehend or to answer questions in the areas of those topics during examination. The researcher adopted the descriptive survey research design in carrying out the research. This involves appropriate usage of a well-designed questionnaire. The population consisted of all the senior secondary school students in Makurdi metropolis. 100 senior secondary school (SSII) Biology students were selected from five (5) secondary schools students from each school were sampled using stratified random sampling method. The research questions were answered using means and simple percentages while the hypotheses were analyzed using T-test at 0.05 level of significance. The sixteen most prevalent topics were Living Things, Excretory system, Respiratory system, Digestive System, Transport system, Nervous system, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, Energy Transformation, Hormonal Coordination, Conservation of Natural Resources, Variation in Population, Reproductive System, Population and Circulatory System. The students listed several reasons for having difficulties learning biology. Among these, the nature of the topic, teachers’ style of teaching biology, students’ learning and studying habits, students’ negative feelings and attitudes towards the topic and lack of resources predominated. They also proposed that the content of biology curricula be reduced and that the number of biology questions in the examination be increased.
1.1 Background of the Study
Science and Technology remains the bedrock for individual and societal development. This makes the entire world to take issues of science education very serious because of its serious impact and services to humanity. Due to its importance, the Nigerian Government has made good efforts in projecting science related disciplines and subjects that are replete in the Nations curriculum. The Nigerian policy on Education (2008) emphasizes the teaching/learning of science in all the tiers of education. In the primary level, the subject appears in the name of ‘Basic Science”. In the secondary school it is called “Biology” and in Tertiary Institutions you can still find it as “Biology” extending tentacles to disciplines like “Zoology, Micro-biology, Medicine, Agronomy, Anatomy, Botany among others.
Biology in particular is a natural science that studies living organisms and how they interact with each other in the natural environment. It examines the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution of living things (Tamaraukro, 2012). And the study of living things (Biology) is very essential to human beings for many reasons. School students study biology to obtain a certificate and to go and train for jobs that need the knowledge and the practical skills acquired through the study of Biology. The study of Biology also helps us to live healthier and happier lives because it helps us to understand our bodies, other living organisms and our environment. It also reveals the importance of nutrition and hygiene. High school biology is not merely intended to increase students/learners’ knowledge but also to develop and encourage scientific attitudes. It again encourages its learners/students to be open minded in asking questions and to be objective and accurate in interpreting results (CDC, 2000).
In addition, learning of biology gives the students the opportunity to follow instructions, perform and report on tasks and comprehend written information underlying scientific principles. It also intended to give the students the opportunity to develop skills of observation, recording, classification, recording, classifying, seeking answers and objectively assessing information or interpreting situations (CDC, 2000). The learner should be aware that the study of biology is subject to social, economic, technological, ethical and cultural influences and limitations. The application of biology may be both beneficial and detrimental to the individual, the community and environment. Biology transcends national boundaries and the language of science, correctly and rigorously applied, is universal (CDC, 2003).
Despite the numerous benefits derivable from the study of biology, it appears students’ performances in external examinations such as WAEC and NECO in Biology are not impressive. For example, in 2010 one million, one hundred and thirty-two candidates sat and wrote biology exam in the National Examination Council (NECO) but only three hundred and fifty-seven candidate/students passed Biology at distinction and credit level (Tamaraukro, 2012).
A Plethora of factors have been identified to be responsible for this failure and difficulties students encountered in some biology .these factors ranges from lack of effective use of instructional materials, quack teachers or lack of professional teachers in teaching biology in most cases, complexity of some of the topics in Biology. Unreadiness on the side of most students to confront and conquer difficulties due to mere laziness, laxity and low intelligent quotient (IQ). Henry and Adams (2009) on their own blame the teachers or some teachers for lack of effective use of continuous assessment. However, whatever the factors are, what this study intends doing is to identify the topics the students find difficult to comprehend.
It is against this backdrop that this research work attempts to identify the difficulty biology topics among secondary schools with the intension of proffering solutions to these difficulties/challenges amongst the students.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Any research study of this nature without a clear-cut stated “problem” has no basis and relevance. To this end, this study has got the problem of poor performance in biology among some students to address. On the other hand, the poor performance in biology by the students is largely argued by researchers and scholars to be as a result of some topics in biology which most students find difficult to understand. Consequently, most could not pass biology examinations as we have pointed out early in the introduction or background of this study.
Although, the general view is that biology is the easiest science subject to learn in comparison to other science subjects offered at Senior Secondary school level (Haambokoma, 2007). But examination results, the 2010 NECO results we discussed earlier stands as an example that many students fail this subject. This under achievement or poor performance of students in biology suggests that they experience difficulties in learning the subject. However, the nature and causes of these difficulties experienced by students in biology are not known. The same way, those topics they find difficult are not known. Therefore, there is the need to identify the topics and the factors responsible for the difficulties they encounter in the identified difficult topics. This is important because persistent lack of knowledge about the topics then students find difficult in biology might lead to continued and prolonged poor performance of the students in the subject matter and consequently retrogressing the knowledge and impact of biology not only among the students in the present generation but from generation to generation.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research or project work was therefore to investigate and identify the topics in biology that students find difficult either to learn and comprehend or to answer questions in the areas of those topics during examination. However, the purpose of this study can be categorized under the following items;
- To identify the topics in biology most students find difficult
- To also investigate into knowing the reasons for the said difficulties students encountered in some biology topics.
- To identify ways of improving students’ understanding of the biology difficult concept.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to gather first – hand information from the students the following questions are raised:
- Which topics do you find difficult to learn and understand in biology
- What are the reasons for the difficulties you do encounter when learning biology?
- What are the strategies for tackling these difficulties by students?
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 could help 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 could make school administrators to improve learning environments of the students in their schools by providing textbooks and reagents for practical activities; organize seminars on effective teaching method and how to tackle topics students find difficulty. They can also provide regular advisory services to the difficulties in some of these biology topics. This study can also help the curriculum with a breakdown emphasis on the identified difficult topics and gives directives as to how teachers can simplify them for the students.
1.6. Scope of the Study
The research work covers only four selected Senior Secondary Schools in Makurdi Metropolis of Benue State in Nigeria. The work is also limited to only the issues of difficulties faced by some students in biology even though references are made to other areas and subjects. Again, it is limited to only Makurdi Metropolis of Benue State but with the hope that what is attainable among the students in this area can be applicable to the entire Nigerian situation in respect to the subject matter if this work is consulted by the government and utilized.
1.7. Operational Definition of Terms
For in depth understanding, it is pertinent to define the major concepts or terms that underpin this study. These are “Identification” “Biology”, “Difficulty”, “Topics”, and “Metropolis”.
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. Then, Wikipedia maintains that, Identification is the action or process of identifying someone or something or the fact of being identified. Whichever perception, the one important to this work is the identification of something but not merely human being(s). It is the identification of the topics students find difficult in 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. An organism is a living entity consisting of one cell e.g. bacteria, or several cells e.g. animals, plants and fungi (www.ntrou.edu/biology/whatisbiology). Biology is the study of life and living organisms, from one celled creatures to the most complex living organism of all – the human being. Biology includes the study of genes and cells that give living things their special characteristics.
Finally, biology is all about the Science of life and of living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution. It has branches like Micro-biology, Astrobiology, Agrobiology, Anatomy, botany amongst others. But the focus of this study or research work is on “Biology”
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. However, the freedictionary.com maintains that, difficulty refers to something that hinders you or causes you to face challenges, or the state or condition of being challenged or having a hard time. Then, Mirriam – Webster holds that, difficulty means the quality of something that makes it hard to do; the difficult nature of something; something that is not easy to do.
Consequently, applying the latter definition to our case here, it means the quality or nature of those biology topics that made them difficult for the students to comprehend easily or do the practicals perfectly.
Topic(s) can be said to be basic organizational unit of instruction that covers one or more closely linked areas of study. It is subdivision of a theme or subject. In other words, topics(s) are the subdivision of content under different subjects like the biology we are treating. Therefore, the topic or topics are found under the subject/biology.
The noun “Metropolis” comes from the Greek roots called “Meter,” meaning “Mother”, and “Polis” means “City”. Historically, the word referred to the founding city-state of a region in Ancient Greece. But today, the word is used to refer to any urban area. That is why it is also used in this research – project topic, projecting Makurdi as an urban area and of course, the capital of the State (Benue).