An analysis of o-level physics curriculum design and teacher pedagogical content knowledge in selected secondary schools in Lusaka district, Zambia.

Thumbnail Image
Zulu, Jacqueline
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The University of Zambia
The rationale behind the 2013 Zambian revised curriculum is to prepare learners who can face challenges in a rapidly changing world. The world has become a technological space and as such its citizens are supposed to be scientifically oriented. However, the situation in secondary schools in Zambia is that science subjects are becoming less popular among secondary school learners and the most affected is physics. Physics forms a base for science and technology (Zhaoyao, 2002). There has been a general decrease in the knowledge of physics in Zambia exhibited by the decline in the candidature of physics learners during the school leaving examinations for grade 12 as well as the high failure rate in O-level physical science which is a combination of physics and chemistry. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the physics curriculum design and pedagogical content knowledge of the teacher on the continued poor performance of learners of O-level physics. The embedded research design of the mixed method approach was used. 158 secondary school learners where sampled using the stratified random sampling. Quantitative data was obtained from the learners through the use of questionnaires. Teachers of physics and subject specialists from CDC and ECZ where selected using purposive sampling and semi-structured interview guides where used to obtain qualitative data from six of them. Data collected from questionnaires was analysed using descriptive statistics while data from semi-structured interviews and lesson observation was analysed using themes so as to easily interpret and understand the essence of the data. The findings of the study clearly suggested that truly physics was difficult to the learners as confirmed by the learners themselves, teachers as well as the specialists. The findings of this study helped the researcher to conclude that lack of appropriate pedagogical content knowledge by the teachers had contributed to the subject being difficult to the learners. Curriculum designing was also another factor that was found to be a contributor to poor learner performance in physics but this view only came from the learners and the teachers but as far as the specialists were concerned the physics curriculum was well designed. Based on the findings of this study there is a need for teachers of physics to undergo continuous professional development in order to perfect their art of teaching and thus improve learner’s comprehension of physics which can lead to better performance. Keywords: curriculum designing, pedagogical content knowledge, comprehension
Curriculum designing-- Pedagogical content knowledge--Zambia , Curriculum content--Physics--Zambia