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TEACHERS’ VARIABLES AND STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN BIOLOGY
1.1 Background of the Study
The fact that no country can advance in technology without a sound science background can be attributed to the increase in the teaching and learning of science globally. This made the National Policy on Education (2008) to advocate for improvement in the teaching and learning of science and technology in order to create the foundation for technologically oriented workforce in line with the needs of national development.
According, Avaa (2007) remarked that, education, particularly science and technical education, is the “factory” for the production of the needed technologists, technicians and craftsmen as well as skilled artisans who are required to turn the nation’s economy around and usher in the desired technological advancement which is very much required for the elevation of Nigeria from a ‘consumer nation’ to a ‘producer nation’, from a ‘developing nation’ to a ‘developed nation’. The author further remarked that it is against this background that science education has been accorded a prime position worldwide.
Within the context of science education, biology has been identified as a very important science subject and its importance in scientific and technological development of any nation has been widely reported (Adesoji and Olatunbosun, 2008). It is as a result of the recognition given to biology in the development of the individual and the nation that it has been made a core-subject among the natural sciences and other science related courses in Nigerian education system.
Unfortunately, Jacob (2011) lamented that in spite of the importance of biology to the individual and the nation, students achievements in both internal and external examinations have been generally poor and this has in one way or the other inhibited the growth of science and technology in the country.
This therefore calls for the need for effective teaching and learning of Biology in schools. It is not an exaggeration to state that effective teaching and learning of any subject cannot take place in schools without the teachers. The teacher is the one that would translate educational objectives into knowledge and skill and transfer them to students in the classroom.
Teachers holds the key to education by deciding what students should learn, developing appropriate learning units, establishing functional classroom cultures, effectively organizing and managing classroom planning, delivering focused structure, engaging lesson, and communicating as clearly as possible with their students so as to bring about desired outcome.
According to the TRCN (2005), the teacher occupies a central position in the educational process because he/she is responsible for setting up learning opportunities, providing learning experiences and utilizing relevant teaching skills and appropriate methods and media to bring learners in a face to face encounter with learning activities that will enable them acquire the desired knowledge, skills and values.
There has been a substantial theoretical and practical shift of emphasis, mostly in mainstream education, towards acknowledging that teachers are among the principal components of any pedagogical programme. In the past ten years, a burgeoning research base has increasingly shown that teachers are among the most important players influencing students’ achievement, holding the key to sealing the gaps in students’ achievement outcomes (Goldhaber, 2002, Sanders, 2000).
Sanders (2004), for example, states that the single largest factor affecting academic growth of populations of students is differences in effectiveness of individual classroom teachers. Several factors have generally been identified as predictor of poor academic achievement.
Agyman (193) reported that a teacher who doesn’t have both the academic and the professional teaching qualification would undoubtedly have a negative influence on the teaching and learning of his/her subject. Apart from qualification other teachers’ variables still exit which can either positively or negatively predict students mathematics performance.
Davis (2012) observed that among all the factors that could influence teaching effectiveness of the teachers, personal variables of the teacher is the greatest. Teachers’ variables therefore refers to factors which could influence their teaching effectiveness. It means teacher-related factors that can either enhance or impede their ability of deliver effective lessons in the classroom.
Tella (2008), identified these variables to include teacher self-efficacy, interest, attitude, qualification and experience. Oyekan (2000), remarked that teachers are the prime executors of government policies on education and, as such, a number of sterling qualities are expected of them for effective visionary as this could assist him/her to enhance teaching effectiveness, productivity, conceptual understanding of the curriculum content , professional growth and educational excellence in schools. These variables include and are not limited to experience, qualification, subject matter knowledge, gender and marital status.
Usman (2003) argued that shortage of qualified teachers is responsible for the poor academic achievement observable among the students while Ademulegun (2001) argued that students taught by more qualified and experienced teachers in terms of knowledge of the subject matter perform better than those taught by less qualified but experienced teachers.
Edem (2008) asserted that untrained teachers cannot teach effectively, they cannot motivate the students to bring innovation into their learning because they lack experience. According to the source, experience increase teachers’ effectiveness. Mbipom (2003) noted that by practice, implying that the longer one teaches, the better one teachers and the better students perform in examination.
Jackson (2009), viewed a qualified teacher as someone who has been trained, certified and employed to impart knowledge to the learner. Passi in Ibok (2009) stated that the bedrock of any educational system lies on a core of devoted, knowledge, competent and a qualified teacher. In a related development, Emmanuel (2011) remarked that no matter how beautifully set education aims and objectives are, on educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers.
As no educatioanl system is capable of rising above the quality of its teachers, therefore a qualified teacher is one that is capable of using his wealth of knowledge and skills in his teaching enterprise in order to function effectively. Subject matter knowledge of teacher refers to how knowledgeable a teacher is in subject he/she is teaching. It means the level of mastery the teacher has in his/her teaching subject.
According to Ekanem (2004), the teacher must be a master of his teaching subject and transfer meaningfully the value of knowledge and experience of his expertise to the students or learners so that they can analysed and interpret such coded lessons. Without good subject matter knowledge of the teacher, it will be difficult for the teacher to deliver effective lesson to the students and this in turn will influence students performance. It is therefore in the light of the foregoing that the study is poised to examine teachers’ variables and academic achievement in secondary school students in biology.