Title

An exploratory study of grade 10 students' perspectives on making learning of biology effective

Date of Award

7-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Professional Development Centre, Karachi

Abstract

This study aimed to explore Grade 10 students' perspectives concerning the biology topics that they find the most difficult to learn, the reasons of experiencing difficulties in learning biology, and ways to overcome the difficulties. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative approaches. A survey tool difficulties and effectiveness in Learning Biology questionnaire (DELBQ) was adapted from the literature which has already been used in other context in a similar study (Cimer, 2012). 132 Grade 10 students participated in the cross-sectional survey including girls (n=86; 65%) and boys (n=46; 35%). The sample was recruited from 10 public schools of district Hunza. DELBQ was directly administered to all participants. The results showed that students have identified five concepts of biology - genetic engineering (37%), cell division (31%), Mendel principles and application (28%), defense and immunity (23%) and matter cycle (17%) - as the most difficult concepts to learn. The students proposed multiple reasons to learning hindrances which include: the nature of the topic, teachers' teaching method, students' learning techniques, students' attitudes towards the topics and deficiency of resources and time. Prominently, of five the themes 'the nature of the topic' was found to be the most repeatedly cited reason (99) for difficulty in learning biology. Students have not only identified these hindering factors of learning they have talked about viable suggestions to improve learning of the subject such as reducing the subject content; using visual aids in teaching ; teaching through experiments; students using various study techniques; making biology teaching interesting and effective; and, teaching biology by connecting the topics with daily life. Interestingly, a majority of responses (99) highlighted 'the nature of topic' as one of the primary reasons for making biology learning difficult; however, the suggestions to enhance learning were predominantly related to either 'students' own learning habits' (148) or 'teachers' teaching style' (127). The study provides an insight into 'students' voices' not only in identifying the 'difficult areas in Biology' but highlighting perspectives in explaining the 'reasons for difficulties in learning these concepts' and potential strategies to improve learning. The results could be useful for practitioners and policy-makers in enhancing curriculum and classroom practices to make this fundamentally important subject interesting for students. The tool adapted for the study is a valuable addition to the indigenous literature which can be used by the other researchers in the field to conduct large scale studies.

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