The study investigated the identification the difficult teaching and learning topics in junior secondary school curricula in Nigeria using JSS3 curricula of home economics in some selected secondary schools in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, as a case study.
Three research questions and two hypotheses were raised and formulated. One hundred and fifty JSS3 home economics students were used. The instrument for data collection was the chemistry students’ concept difficulty assessment questionnaire. The research questions were answered using percentages and mean scores while the hypotheses were analyzed using chi-square at 0.05 level of significance.
1.1 Background to the Study
School curriculum changes have been subject to debate at times when societal conditions or technological advancements have raised questions about how education addresses the needs of youth. In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education reported on the condition of public education in its report A Nation at Risk. This report identified major learning gaps in the areas of math, science, reading and writing. Further supporting the Commission's findings were lower student Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, a knowledge measurement used as a basis for entrance into many United States colleges and universities. Specific curriculum changes were quick to appear and could be seen by many as the logical means for improving the deficiencies. Course credits needed for high school graduation were increased in response to college entrance requirements being made more difficult. Computer literacy courses were added so young people would be prepared to live in a technological society. In addition, state departments of education developed basic skills competencies in reading, writing and computation.
Although students' needs and interests are a major factor for developing curriculum in all subject areas, there are other factors which are also important. Societal conditions, cultural influences, and educational goals ought to be evaluated as they specifically relate to students' needs. According to Apple (1983), identifying students' needs is the responsibility of all those concerned: students, teachers, parents, concerned citizens, and even identifying the needs that each group perceives important is the responsibility of researchers and curriculum developers if curriculum is to be changed to address all areas of need.
Many junior secondary school students perceived some topics taught in home economics as difficult and these topics perceived difficult are experienced by both boys and girls. It should be stressed that the sex-role stereotyping has affected the type of education provided for the female in Nigeria and in many parts of African. Sex-role stereotyping also influences the classroom interaction patterns of students and teachers. Gender stereotyping in home economics therefore arises from different social roles, which ultimately affect the way they perceive chemistry concepts. The ability of the home economics teachers to comprehend and internalize concepts and skills are determined not only by individual differences, but also by the teachers’ effectiveness in terms of his/her teaching experience and qualifications. Educators therefore emphasized on the qualification of teachers in the proper execution of their professional mandate. Such teachers are expected to perform academic roles as well as leadership roles that are related to the successful and meaning teaching and learning of their specialized subject. The qualification of the home economics teacher will therefore enable them to competently handle all concepts in the subject. (Mailumo, Agogo and Kpagh, 2007).
Perception is one of the mental processes or skills human beings engage in. It is a cognitive activity in learning which is seen as the process of making sense out of something (Agogo, Ogbeba and Damkor-Ikpa, 2013). However Ortese, Yaweh and Akume (2006) posited that learners’ perception is often affected by a given number of factors, such as interest, motivation, attention, self concept as well as thinking and creativity. This is why Agogo (2003) observed that what may appear difficult to somebody may be easy to another person because the concepts of easiness or difficulty as perceived by somebody are dynamic. This study aimed to identify the difficult teaching and learning topics in junior secondary school curricula in Nigeria using JSS3 curricula of home economics in some selected secondary schools in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, selected as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Presently, enrolment of students into home economics related courses in the West Africa Examination Council have been completely low and this is due to low number of students in the junior secondary schools in Nigeria. Uko-Aviomoh, (2005) and Anene-Okeakwa, (2002) noted that students have lost interest in home economics as a subject in secondary schools and are becoming fewer in the colleges of education, where teachers are trained as teachers for teaching in primary and junior secondary schools thereby jeopardizing the future of the subject. The problem statement stated in question form therefore, is "could the classroom learning environment in home economics be so discouraging to the extent that students are no longer encouraged to participate in the home economics lessons?"
1.3 Research Questions
These are some of the questions the study is designed to answer:
i) what is the perception of students on their home economics teachers’ method of teaching ?
ii) what is the perception of students on the topics taught by their home economics teachers?
iii) what is the prevalence of difficult teaching and learning topics in home economics in schools?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is identify the difficult teaching and learning topics in junior secondary school curricula in Nigeria using JSS3 curricula of home economics in some selected secondary schools in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, selected as a case study. The specific objectives are;
i) to investigate the perception of students on their home economics teachers’ method of teaching
ii) to examine the perception of students on the topics taught by their home economics teachers
iii) to survey the prevalence of difficult teaching and learning topics in home economics in schools
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The research hypotheses to be tested include:
i) there is no significant relationship between perception of students on their teachers’ method of teaching and difficult learning topics in home economics
ii) there is a significant relationship between perception of students on the topics taught by home economics teachers and students’ academic performance
1.6 Significance of the Study
Findings from this study will be beneficial to the students, teachers, school administrators and the Government as it will expose them to various issues that are affecting our educational system and how they can go about to tackle them. It will also help the government in selecting the best and qualified teachers to teach home economics to make it simpler subject and appealing to students to offer. This study will also contribute to academic knowledge and serve as a foundation upon which further research can be made.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study investigated difficult teaching and learning topics in junior secondary school curricula in Nigeria using JSS3 curricula of home economics in some selected secondary schools in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, selected as a case study. The samples for this study were selected among students in JSS3 in some selected schools in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The study focused on investigating the basic issues in education most especially in home economics subject. However, the researcher was faced with the constraint of getting adequate information from students in the State due to the fact that most of them were not willing to reveal adequate information about their perception of the topics in the subject as some of them thought that the researcher might be seeing them as unserious students.
1.9 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Home economics: field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community.It deals with the relationship between individuals, families, communities, and the environment in which they live.
Learning: is the act of acquiring new or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences which may lead to a potential change in synthesizing information, depth of the knowledge, attitude or behavior relative to the type and range of experience.
Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
Teaching: the process of attending to people’s needs, experiences and feelings, and making specific interventions to help them learn particular things.
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