1.1 Background of the study
The characteristics in today’s education seem to be discipline-centered, teacher-centered, and student learning appears to be only passive surface learning. A large body of data has been documented to support the idea that in discipline-centered education, instructors’ and students’ needs, concerns, and requirements are ignored since the subject matter is primarily driven by and dependent on the disciplinary content that must be provided (Magna, 2002). Teaching science requires a focus on both the course material and the process of advancing students from their current level of knowledge and comprehension to the desired one. Teaching, in reality, is a component of a larger system that includes the teacher, the student, the disciplinary material, the teaching/learning process, and both the teacher and the learner’s assessment. The move from a conventional teacher-centered to a progressive method of teaching-learning has resulted in a greater attention in individual variations among students. The new paradigm is student-centered, inclusive, cooperative learning, and diversity is promoted. Despite the new approach to teaching and learning, students’ test results seem to be disappointing, encouraging academics to look into the reasons of the low performance and how to enhance the teaching-learning process (Okenyi, 2012).
Biology is the study of a wide range of living things. It is a natural science that investigates the structure, function, growth, distribution, and classification of living beings (Magna, 2002). Biology is the study of all living things, including microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals, and their structure, function, heredity, and evolution. Despite the enormous expanse of biology, there are certain universal and unifying notions that govern all studies and researchers, bringing the discipline together into a simple and logical whole. In general, biology regards the cell as the fundamental unit of life, the gene as the fundamental unit of heredity, and evolution as the driving force behind the synthesis and creation of new species. All creatures live by consuming and changing energy and controlling their internal environment to maintain a stable and vital state, which is now widely accepted (Okenyi, 2012). The scale at which organisms are researched, the types of organisms investigated, and the techniques employed to study them characterize the sub-disciplines of biology. As an example, Biochemistry is concerned with the basic chemistry of life, while molecular biology is concerned with the complex interactions between biological molecules: – Botany is the science of plant biology: Physiology examines the physical and chemical functions of tissues, organs, and organ systems of an organism, while cellular biology examines the basic building blocks of all life cells. Evolutionary biology investigates the processes that gave rise to life’s diversity: Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their surroundings: The study of animals is known as zoology. Pathology is the study of disease in plants and animals, as well as methods of treatment. Algaelogy is the study of algae, parastology is the study of parasites, and microbiology is the study of bacteria. Microbiology is the study of microorganisms. Biology As a result, education is biology education, which aims to teach people how to understand themselves, their bodies, and how they work. As a result, biology education is defined as the application of educational ideas to the teaching and learning of biology. It is the technique of instructing and educating pupils in order to instill or impart biological information (Okenyi, 2012). Because of this, they will have the chance to contribute significantly to the growth of society in some manner.
Ecology is a sub-discipline of biology. It is concerned with the study of interactions between organisms and their biophysical surroundings. Both biotic and abiotic components make up this biophysical environment. The German scientist Ernst Haeckel invented the term “ecology” (“kologie”) in 1866. It comes from the Greek terms Oikos, which means “house,” and logos, which means “study.” An ecosystem is the biophysical context in which all interacting processes take place. Earth science forms the backbone of ecology since the ecosystem is a geographic region where plants, animals, and other species, as well as weather and landscapes, work together to build a bubble of life. Organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, and the biosphere are all studied in ecology. The organism’s habitat is its place of residence. As a result, ecology is often known as environmental biology. Ecology is regarded as one of the natural sciences in general. It is regarded as a science dealing with the nature of living things and their interrelationships. The word “ecology” comes from the Greek word “oikos,” which means “habitation,” “home,” or “living place.” Aristotle or his student Theophrastus, both of whom were interested in a wide range of animal species, may have been among the first ecologists. As early as the 4th century BC, Theophrastus recognized interrelationships between animals and between creatures and their surroundings. The majority of ecological ideas are taken from existing philosophical, ethical, political, and natural history principles. In their study of natural history, ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle formed the basis of ecology. In the late nineteenth century, ecology became a much more rigorous discipline. Adaptation and natural selection as evolutionary principles became the focus of research. Scientists educated as botanists and zoologists dominated the discipline in its early phases. Many concepts or topics in biology, such as water transport in plants, protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis, gaseous exchange, energy, cells, mitosis and meiosis, organs, physiological processes, hormonal regulation, oxygen transport, genetics, Mendelian genetics, genetic engineering, and the central nervous system, can be perceived by secondary school students as difficult to learn. Hormones, genes and chromosomes, mitosis and meiosis, the neurological system, and Mendelian genetics were all regarded challenging topics by secondary school pupils, according to Tekkaya et al. (2001). Students’ motivation and success are significantly affected by problems in so many courses in biology, according to zcan (2003). Students’ struggles with a variety of biological courses have prompted academics to look into why they have such issues and how they might overcome them. Many variables may contribute to difficulties in Biology, including the classroom learning environment, a lack of enthusiasm in studying science, overloaded curriculum material, and the separation of science and society, to name a few. Yüzbaşlolu and Atav (2004) found that designing learning environments while neglecting students’ interests and expectations leads to a variety of learning challenges as well as a decrease in their interest in biology. According to Fraser (1998) and Imer (2011), there is a strong link between students’ conceptions of learning ecology as a component of learning biology.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Ecology is the study of organisms in their natural habitat, which is referred to as the “environment” (Nwagbo, 2005). The word ‘environment’ refers to the areas of the globe or the whole set of conditions that surround a creature or a group of organisms. These two words are synonymous. The whole planet may be thought of as a single ecological unit. However, there are a number of variables that make successful teaching and learning of Ecology, which is one of the disciplines in Biology, difficult. Some of these reasons include, but are not limited to, a lack of trained instructors, a teaching style, a lack of instructional material, a lack of an adequately equipped scientific laboratory, a lack of student enthusiasm, and a perceived difficulty in the subject (Ebong,2008). Hence the need to look into the challenges in learning ecological aspects Of Biology among secondary school students in Rivers State.
1.3 Objective of the study
The primary objective of the study is as following
1. To evaluate the challenges in learning ecological aspects of biology among secondary school students.
2. To examine if teaching style affect the learning of Ecology as a topic among secondary school students.
3. To examine if lack of instructional material have an impact in learning Ecology as a topic in biology.
4. To find out strategies that can be used to facilitate learning of Ecology among secondary school student
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions have been prepared for the study
1) What are the challenges in learning ecology aspects of biology among secondary school students?
2) Does teaching style affect the learning of ecology as a topic among secondary school students?
3) Does lack of instructional material have an impact in learning ecology as a topic in biology?
4) What are the strategies that can be used to facilitate learning of ecology among secondary school student
1.5 Significance of the study
This study examines the challenges of learning ecology which is a topic in biology and will be of benefit to the ministry of education and to school authority in the sense that it will help student know more about the study of different species and environment , it will also help school authority employ qualified teachers who can teach biology
This study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study will evaluate the challenges in learning ecological aspects of biology among secondary school students. The study will also examine if teaching style affect the learning of ecology as a topic among secondary school students. The study will further examine if lack of instructional material have an impact in learning Ecology as a topic in biology. Lastly , the study will find out strategies that can be used to facilitate learning of Ecology among secondary school student. Hence this study will be delimited to secondary schools in Rivers state.
1.7 Limitation of the study
This study was constrained by a number of factors which are as follows:
Just like any other research, ranging from unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study, inability to get data.
Financial constraint , was faced by the researcher ,in getting relevant materials and in printing and collation of questionnaires.
Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work making it uneasy for the researcher.
1.8 Definition of terms
Challenges: a call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.
Ecology : the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.
Biology: the science of life and living organisms