How Teachers Influence The Performance Of Biology In High Schools

Steven Spielberg

Biology plays a key role in industrialization and other sectors of the economy. Biology is a practical subject, which equips students with concepts and skills that are useful in solving the day-today problems of life. The study of biology aims at providing the learner with the necessary knowledge with which to control or change the environment for the benefit of an individual, family or community.

In general, the importance of biology to humanity can be outlined as follows:

(i) The learning of biology helps us to know how to use natural resources more efficiently in industry e.g. in bio-technology, food production, building and textile and paper industries.

(ii) The learning of biology helps us to understand changes in the environment and the factors affecting these changes, in order to know how human needs are influenced.

(iii) The learning of biology is important in helping mankind to find effective ways of preventing, treating and curing diseases and home management techniques e.g. better methods of food preservation, efficient food preparation and care of the family

(iv) The learning of biology is important in helping the improvement of agricultural yields through scientific research.

There has been public outcry and concern by parents, teachers, educationists in Kenya about poor performance in science subjects and mathematics in national examinations.

But do you know the biology teacher has a role to play in this poor performance?

Biology as a science subject requires an integration of both theoretical and practical work to make it easily understood by the students. The largest proportion of teachers still use the conventional lecture method while teaching biology.

Teacher expectations have a bearing on the attitude and science anxiety levels of the learners particularly when the learners are aware of the level of expectation the teacher has of them.

In relation to the teaching and learning of biology, attitudes begin to develop on the first encounter between the teacher and the learner, once formed they play a key role in determining students’ learning and performance in biology.

Authoritarian and impersonal teacher- student interaction in class could be the major factor that contributes to negative attitude of the students towards learning biology. On the other hand, democratic and personal teacher-student interaction in class elicits positive attitude towards learning biology

The teaching approach, methodology and how the professional skills and practices of the teacher are displayed may be dependent on the level of science anxiety the biology teacher has.

A teacher who suffers from career dissatisfaction is likely to contribute negatively in terms of performance of the learners in biology; this is because the teacher will have lower self-efficacy and high levels of anxiety. This kind of teacher is likely to develop negative attitude towards the students and his/her interaction with the students will be negative and this may contribute to a negative attitude of the students towards biology with the likelihood of the students developing high levels of anxiety towards the subject.

Therefore, teacher perceptions, teaching methods applied, the type of teacher -pupil classroom interactions, teacher expectations of students in terms of performance and science anxiety levels of the teachers- partly contributed by lack of job dissatisfaction or satisfaction are the key factors that influence performance in biology in Kenyan secondary schools.

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