The teaching of genetics in selected Secondary Schools in Kitwe District, Zambia

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Chifwa, Justina
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This study investigated the teaching of genetics in selected secondary schools of Kitwe District in order to determine causes of poor performance in genetics questions in the biology examinations held at the end of senior secondary education. This study was guided by the following questions: Who teach genetics in secondary schools in Kitwe District? How is genetics taught in secondary schools in Kitwe District? What challenges do teachers and learners face when teaching and learning genetics respectively? How could the teaching of genetics be improved?The research design used was cross sectional survey. The target population was all teachers of biology in Kitwe District. Data was collected from 18 teachers of biology and three heads natural sciences department who were purposively sampled. Data was also collected from 180 randomly sampled grade 12 pupils. Three participating secondary schools were purposively sampled. The research mainly used the qualitative research methodology. Qualitative data was collected by using lesson observations,open ended interview guides and questionnaires. The data collected was analysed using qualitative content analysis approach. The study revealed that most of the teachers (14; 78%), who taught genetics in Kitwe District were holders of secondary teachers’ diploma. Seven (7; 39%) of the teachers of biology who participated in the study, had more than ten years experience in teaching biology in general and genetics in particular. The majority (13; 72%) of the teachers used lecture method to teach genetics while some teachers (5; 28%) used group work. All the teachers observed used question and answer technique at some point during the lessons but asked low order questions. They did not use teaching aids or practical work when teaching genetics. Further, they did not give homework to the learners. Some teachers (50%) did not write lesson plans and those who wrote did not write clear objectives. The challenges teachers faced when teaching genetics were; learners’ lack of background knowledge, lack of teaching and learning aids, negative attitude of learners towards genetics, the abstract nature of genetics, the bulkiness of this topic and the teaching of genetics in the third term of grade 12 just before final examinations. The learners complained that the teachers taught genetics very fast using similar and confusing terminology. The implications of these findings are that learners found it difficult to construct their own knowledge about genetics. This study concluded that the use of low order questions and the lack of; lesson planning by some teachers, homework, teaching aids and variety in teaching strategies was the cause of poor performance in genetics in Kitwe District. Among the major recommendations were that regular short in-service courses for teachers of biology should be conducted in order to increase content and skills in teaching genetics. It was also recommended that internal monitoring of lessons by school administrators should be intensified to ensure that teachers prepare for lessons adequately in order to present effective learner centred lessons. It was further recommended that genetics be taught in term one of grade 12 in order to give learners time to understand the concepts.
Genetics-study and teaching-Kitwe, Zambia