EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL BIOLOGY
Background of the Study
Science provides a body of knowledge for use in addressing various forms of human, material, and environmental problems. It can also be viewed as composed of two major complementary modes: accumulation of knowledge through exploration and discovery efforts about the natural world, and the use of such knowledge for human and material development. Science is studied and practiced in all parts of the world, including Nigeria. Nigeria is a developing nation with an increasing demand for science-based skilled manpower. The achievement of this can start with the learning and application of science subjects as biology, chemistry, integrated science, and physics at the secondary school level. Among these science subjects: biology, chemistry, integrated science, and physics taught in Nigerian secondary schools, the only biology was discussed. This is because; the study was focused on the biology curriculum.
Biology is one of the senior secondary school subjects taught in Nigeria. Biology is an integral science subject that provides content in the training of students who want to study medicine, nursing, pharmacy, forestry, fisheries, and so on. The requirement for a credit pass and above in biology is needed for science-related vocational discipline. The majority of senior secondary school students choose biology in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) or National Examination Council’s Senior School Certificate Examinations (NECOSSCE). Also, for some senior secondary school students, biology is a subject of the first choice because they find it to be an interesting subject as a subject that is more related to nature. Biology is one of the subjects in the national curriculum for senior secondary schools, first published by the Federal Ministry of Education in 1985.
The biology curriculum was first introduced in 1977. At that time the duration for secondary school education was five years. The biology teaching was started in class four and in class five the students took the West African School Certificate Examination. In keeping with the dynamics of social change and demands on education, there was a need to broaden the curriculum. The quest for improving the method of teaching and learning of secondary school biology began in 1982 by the Nigerian Education Research Council (NERC, 2005). The Federal Government in collaboration with Esselte (Swedish non-governmental organization) initiated the National Secondary Science and Mathematics Project (NSSMP). They worked for hand in hand with the federal government of Nigeria. The basic aim of that project was to inculcate learning through the use of a wide variety of instructional materials. The outcome of this was the emergence of the new biology curriculum in 1985 published by the Federal Ministry of Education. In this 1985 curriculum, many more topics in biology were introduced and the number of years to be spent in secondary school increased from five years to six years. It is the implementation of the National curriculum for Secondary School Biology that the present study is designed to evaluate. Implementation in this study is the teaching of biology curriculum content to secondary school students. Curriculum evaluation in this study is a process of comparing the degree of achievement of goals, aims, and objectives, by students with set standards after schooling. Biology is the study of living things. It is the study of life. Biology can also be defined as the study of plants and animals.
The biology curriculum has a spiral arrangement of content. The content of biology, curriculum are: Concept of living; Basic ecological concepts; Plant and animal nutrition; Variations and variability; Evolution and Genetics. Based on this spiral arrangement, the concepts to be taught are arranged in such a way that topics are repeated yearly, throughout the three years of the course; to cover the 62 units in the biology curriculum. Any repeated concept is discussed in greater complexity and depth as the course matures over the three year period. The contents of the senior secondary school biology curriculum places emphasis on field studies, guided discovery, laboratory techniques and skills. The curriculum for teaching biology in senior secondary schools emphasized the relationship between the living and non-living things; relevance of biology to agriculture; the structure and physiology of organisms; some basic ecological concepts; the use of natural resources; lands, plants, and animals-their variations, populations and implications, adaptation; theories of evolution and application of the principle of heredity in agriculture and medicine.
The objectives of the secondary school biology curriculum have been derived from the National Policy on Education first introduced in 1977 and revised in 1981, 1998, and 2004 (FRN,2004). The cardinal objectives are to prepare students to acquire: 1. Adequate laboratory and field skills in biology; 2. Meaningful and relevant knowledge in biology 3. Ability to apply scientific knowledge to every day’s life in matters of personal and community health and agriculture. 4. Reasonable and functional scientific attitude. Biology is the study of living things. It is the study of life. Biology can also, be defined as the study of plants and animals. Content of biology curriculum The content of the biology curriculum are: i. Concept of living ii. Basic ecological concepts iii. Plant and animal nutrition iv. Variations and variability v. Evolution vi. Genetics
The objectives of the biology curriculum have been adjudged as laudable according to Agu (2006), Soyibo (2008), and Yabugbe (2009); and there is evidence to show that even though many students find biology interesting, thereby registering for it in the senior secondary schools, many of them obtain poor results, year in and year out in it as shown by Okebukola and Akinbola (2008). When one examines the senior secondary school biology results, in WASSCE and NECOSSCE in Nigeria, and particularly in Anambra State, in the last nine years (2004-2012), one finds out that the results were generally poor. Students that scored credit and above are regarded as those that achieved well. Achievement is seen in this study as the learning outcome of the students in biology. The majority of the students scored less than credit in both public examinations. For instance, a report from WAEC chief examiner has it that out of 1,100,589 candidates that enrolled for the Biology examination in 2004, only 423,403 (38.47%) had credit pass and above. Similarly, in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 only 35.74%, 49.23%, 33.37%, 33.94%, 23.26% 25.62%, 34.10%, and 36.02% respectively, obtained credit pass and above in Biology. Again, 31.70%, 32.18%, 22.96%, 32.47%, 38.41%, 47.70%, 47.63%, 34.80% and 31.89% recorded failure in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively (WAEC, 2004 – 2012).
The same trend of poor achievement was reported in NECO/SSCE Biology results for Nigeria from 2004 to 2012. For instance, out of 845,447 candidates that entered for the examination in 2004, only 57.56% had credit and above. Similarly in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 2010, 2011 and 2012 only 29.93%, 52.98%, 53.63%, 49.04%, 48.63% and 49.63%, 47.48% and 43.01% obtained credit and above in Biology, while 25.70%, 28.80%, 21.45%, 20.79%, 9.07%, 25.48%, 23.92%, 28.17% and 30.42% recorded failure in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively (NECO, 2004-2012) (See appendix F).
In Anambra State particularly, the WAEC result analysis also revealed that only 36.42%, 33.40%, 45.67%, 31.20%, 37.20%, 30.76%, 34.70%, 32.50% and 34.87% of the candidates had credit pass and above in biology for the year 2004-2012 (Anambra State Post Primary Schools Services Commission, Awka, 2012). Again, the NECOSSCE result analysis showed that only 51.23%, 30.42%, 48.25%, 49.43%, 48.93%, 45.65%, 44.86% and 44.56% and 49.54% of candidates scored credit pass and above in biology in the years 2004-2012 (Anambra State Post Primary Schools Services Commission, Awka, 2012).
From the data presented above, it can be seen that from 2004 to 2012, the percentage of candidates that passed Biology at credit level and above was below 50%. Thus, the results show candidates’ poor achievement in Biology in the same year period under review (2004 - 2012). Thus a large number of the students did not perform well. One wonders whether it is because of a lack of infrastructure and facilities or the methods of teaching. Some science educators like Ali A, have expressed some doubts as to whether the senior secondary school biology curriculum is being well implemented in schools. This issue ought to be empirically investigated rather than speculated upon hence, the need for the present evaluation of the implementation of the national curriculum for secondary school biology (NCSSB) in Anambra State. Curriculum evaluation is an empirical, field-based attempt to find out how the use of a particular curriculum content only meets the objectives of implementing it in schools. Olaitan and Ali (2007) see curriculum content in terms of how it relates to national and individual objectives. Evaluation according to Tyler in Olaitan and Ali (2007) is a systematic process of determining the extent to which instructional objectives are achieved in learning. Curriculum, according to Olaitan and Ali (2007), is defined as the planned experiences provided by the school to assist the pupils in attaining the designated learning outcomes in the different school subjects pupils choose to study in the school. Another dimension to the curriculum is that the learning of content may not result in achieving an objective if both contents and objectives are not closely related. The achievement of the objectives is partly determined in terms of how well the curriculum is implemented. The implementation of the curriculum is the aspect that concerns the nature and scope of classroom teachers and the evaluation of learning achieved by students who were taught. Specifically, the process of curriculum implementation entails interaction between the curriculum planner, the teacher, the learners, and the learning environment. The teacher is the major implementer of the curriculum since what the teacher does with it in the classroom determines whether the set goals would be achieved or not. How well the teacher implements the curriculum is determined by the teachers’ knowledge, professional training, competence, initiative, interest, and motivation. Though such factors as students’ interest and readiness and more importantly physical environment (e.g. availability and adequacy of learning materials and equipment) may be constraining, a knowledgeable and competent teacher would always be able to make the best out of any situation. It is the process of evaluation that exposes in a comprehensive way, the worth and the true picture of what happens to the curriculum at its implementation. The curriculum can be evaluated in a number of ways using the different evaluation models. However, in the present study, the Stufflebeam’s Context, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) model of the evaluation was used. The CIPP framework detects the presence of any defects or weaknesses in the context, input, process, and product as these would be identified and remedial or adjustment measures would be provided. This model is chosen because it is comprehensive, purposeful, and accepted and used by curriculum evaluators in different parts of the world. For example, such indicators as curriculum, teaching staff, rate of students’ participation, implementation of programs, teaching materials, and organization of programs are all part of Stufflebeam’s model that are categorized into facilities input, process, and products. (Okpoko, 2004).
Context evaluation helps in the diagnosis of the program and problems in relation to the determination of the program objective. The achievement of the objectives results in program improvement. Input evaluation provides information for determining how to utilize resources to achieve project designs (Stufflebeam, 1971). Process evaluation is needed to provide periodic feedback to persons responsible for implementing plans and procedures. It also provides information for interpreting project outcomes. Product evaluation has the purpose of measuring and interpreting the qualification of graduates at the end of a project cycle. It is expected to provide a measure to see more of the number of candidates passing biology at credit level and going into science-oriented courses after their secondary school program. Anambra State operates the same West African Examination Councils’ (WAEC) curriculum like any other state of the federation. This is also the same with biology in the six education zones of the state namely: Aguata, Awka, Nnewi, Ogidi, Onitsha, and Otuocha. In all these education zones, the contents and system of instruction, are supposed to be uniform. The implementation of the curriculum from where the syllabi are drawn is expected to be the same in both urban and rural schools. A number of empirical studies have revealed that the absence of social amenities e.g. electricity and pipe-borne water in rural areas are among the major reasons why teachers reject their posting to schools located in rural areas (Ameke, 2006). As a result, such schools lack qualified science teachers and biology teachers to properly implement the curriculum. It is worrisome to note that the biology curriculum being implemented since 1985 still produce students who achieve poorly in biology. Also, no empirical study to the best of the researcher’s knowledge has been carried out on biology curriculum evaluation, to find out the extent to which the stated objectives of the biology curriculum are being achieved.
Statement of the Problem
One of the major goals of science education in Nigeria is to produce scientists for national development (FRN, 2004). In spite of Nigerian government’s desire to promote science education program in the country, the quality of science students produced by the secondary schools seem to be deteriorating. In the particular case of biology, one is led to observe that despite the importance of biology as a science subject, evidence have shown that students are not doing well in this subject at both West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the National Examination Councils’ Secondary School Certificate Examination (NECOSSCE). Consequently, there is a need to empirically evaluate the implementation of the national curriculum for secondary school biology.
Therefore, the problem of this study put in a question form is: To what extent has the implementation of the biology curriculum succeeded in achieving the set objectives of biology education, with regards to achieving aims and objectives; content coverage; teachers’ utilization of the available input factors; level of compliance of teachers with the recommended teaching methods; evaluation techniques used by biology teachers in assessing their students as well as the problems militating against the implementation of national curriculum for secondary school biology in Anambra State?
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study was to evaluate the implementation of the National Curriculum for Secondary School Biology (NCSSB) in Anambra State. The evaluation was on the five major areas, namely: Context, Input, Process, Product and Constraints (CIPPC) model which is a modified Stufflebeam’s (1971) Context, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) model of the curriculum implementation. Specifically, the study was intended to: 1) Find out the extent to which the aims and objectives of the national curriculum for secondary school biology contents has been achieved. 2) Find out the extent to which the contents of the biology curriculum for secondary schools cover the aims and objectives of the curriculum. 3) Determine the rate at which biology teachers utilize the available input factors such as teaching equipment and materials; (chemicals, specimens) and other teaching support facilities. 4) Identify the level of compliance of teachers with the recommended teaching methods as indicated in the biology curriculum 5) Identify the evaluation techniques used by biology teachers in assessing their students. 6) Find out the problems militating against the implementation of national curriculum for secondary school biology in Anambra State.
Significance of the Study
This study is considered significant because of the usefulness of the findings to be made with regards to the theoretical contributions to already existing literature on the evaluation of the secondary school biology curriculum in Nigeria. The finding of the study may be of relevance to Context, Input, Process, Product and Constraints (CIPPC) model which is a modified Stufflebeam’s (1971) Context, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) model. The PPC model of evaluation will be used to categorize the main components and specific aspects of the study. For each category, the presence of any defects or weaknesses in the context, input, process, product, and constraints would be identified and remedial or adjustment measures would be provided. The model is chosen because it is comprehensive, purposeful, accepted, and could be used by curriculum evaluators in different parts of the world. For example, such indicators as curriculum, teaching staff, rate of participation, presentation of program, materials, and organization of programs are all part of modified Stufflebeam’s model is categorized into context, input, process, product, and constraints. Stufflebeam (1971) advocates step by step approach and also emphasized attention to stated goals and objectives and that every aspect of whatever is being evaluated should be taken into consideration. Empirical evidence adduced will serve as additional literature on how the teaching and learning of biology using the senior secondary school curriculum can be improved. The importance of curriculum evaluation is an integral aspect of establishing how well a course of instruction is being implemented. Literature obtained from such evaluation studies adds to the existing body of knowledge on procedures for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in school. Every educational program should be monitored periodically to assess the extent to which the objectives of such a program have been achieved. The result of this study would be of utmost importance to the Ministry of Education, Post Primary Schools Management Board, biology teachers, students, parents, as well as future researchers especially in the area of biology teaching and education when published. It is expected that the study could highlight findings in the area of biology teaching and learning in Anambra State which will be made available to Ministry of Education. The information may help the State Ministry of Education (Quality assurance unit) to enforce the regulations laid down by the Federal Ministry of Education in regard to the provision of biology teaching and learning in all public and private secondary schools in Nigeria. The State Ministry of Education may also use the information to organize seminars, workshops, and conferences for principals and biology teachers to sensitize/train them on how to effectively use the national biology curriculum which encompasses all aspects of child development and adhere to it at all times. Information from the findings of this study may be useful to Post Primary Schools Management Board as it may help them see the need to adopt serious measures to ensure facilities/instructional materials are available and adequate for children in both urban and rural secondary schools. PPSMB may also find the information provided through the findings of this study useful to ensure the continuing professional development of biology teachers. This may also help to expose the teachers to current trends in biology teaching and child development. Proprietors of private secondary schools may benefit from the findings of this study if adopted. The information from the findings of the study may help them meet with the national minimum standards and guidelines for the establishment, operation, and administration of secondary schools. This may help create a conducive environment for the students to maximize their learning process and also prevent the closure of their schools and possible prosecution by relevant agencies. Further, the information will help them ensure that biology teachers in their schools give their best in not only teaching but also ensuring that students who are placed in their care are well treated and cared for. The findings of this study would be beneficial to biology teachers who are actually the implementers of the NCSSB with self-evaluating criteria to enable them to assess themselves on the implementation of the National Curriculum for Secondary School Biology (NCSSB) in Anambra State. The findings may provide them with information on the requirements of the national minimum standards in biology teaching. It may also serve as a guide for them on how to effectively use the national biology curriculum in their classroom teaching which encompasses all aspects of child development. Students may benefit from the findings of this study. The information from the findings of this study may also help parents pay more attention to their care/education by becoming more responsible in paying their children’s school fees, purchasing their school materials, and ensuring that they are well fed. This is because good nutrition helps children to be mentally alert and well fitted for high academic performance and achievement of social competencies. Parents may also benefit from the findings of this study. This is because the good quality teaching, care, of their ward and children are given through the biology teaching programs may also bring joy and satisfaction to the family. Good education and performance of their children may also serve as an assurance for a better tomorrow. Finally, the study may also be useful to future researchers especially in biology teaching and learning. The information could provide them with empirical data on the extent of implementation of setting minimum standards for biology teaching in the Anambra State of Nigeria which may be useful for further research studies in related areas.
Scope of the Study
The study was delimited to evaluating the implementation of the biology curriculum in senior secondary schools in Anambra State. The specific curriculum evaluation plan for this study was based on Context, Input, Process, Product and Constraints (CIPPC) model which is a modified Stufflebeam’s (1971) Context, Input, Process, and Product (CIPP) model of the curriculum implementation. The evaluation was based on five areas, namely: context, input, process, product or output, and constraints component.
i) The content evaluation will include identifying the level of satisfaction of the aims and objectives of the NCSSB. ii) input evaluation will cover the following: - extent of provision of adequate instructional facilities. - methods of teaching students biology - qualifications of biology teachers iii) Process evaluation will investigate-mode of assessment and mode of the instruction used in senior secondary school biology teaching. iv) Products or Output evaluation will evaluate the-product variables (in terms of Anambra state secondary school students achievements in biology (NECO, WASSCE)
The following research questions guided the study. 1) To what extent have the aims and objectives of the national curriculum for secondary school biology been achieved? 2) To what extent are the contents of the biology curriculum for senior secondary schools adequate for achieving the objectives of the curriculum? 3) How often do the biology teachers utilize the available instructional materials for teaching and learning of biology? 4) What is the teachers’ level of compliance with the appropriate teaching methods recommended for use in the biology curriculum? 5) What evaluation techniques are used by biology teachers in assessing their students? 6) What are the problems militating against the implementation of national curriculum for secondary school biology in Anambra State..