IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL BIOLOGY CURRICULUM: A STUDY OF CURRICULUM INTENTIONS AND CLASSROOM PRACTICE IN THE CENTRAL REGION OF GHANA
This study evaluated the classroom implementation of the Senior High School elective biology curriculum in the Central Region of Ghana. A cross-sectional descriptive survey design was used for the study. Three instruments were designed and validated for data collection; these were (i) Questionnaire (ii) Interview (iii) Observation Instrument (Barbados Workshop Instrument) as the main instrument for the study. The target population comprised all the public Senior High Schools in the Central Region of Ghana that offered elective biology. The accessible population however consisted of 58 public Senior High Schools out of which 21 schools were selected making up 36% of the accessible population. The schools were categorised as Grade A, B and C schools based on GES standards. The schools were selected through stratified random sampling from these districts and municipalities in the region; Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, Assin North, Assin South, Cape Coast, Efutu, Ekumfi, Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem, Mfantseman, and Upper Denkyira East. Form two biology teachers and students were selected as respondents for the study. Student respondents were selected through random sampling in single sex schools and stratified random sampling in mixed schools. Microsoft Excel and The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 22.0) were used by the researcher to analyse the data. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse and answer research questions 1, 4, 5 and 6. Factor analyses was also used to perform inferential analysis and to draw conclusions on research questions 2 and 3. The results revealed that all teachers in grade A schools were academically and professionally qualified to teach biology whilst 22.65% in grade B schools, and 9.43% in grade C schools however, were not professionally qualified to teach biology at the Senior High School. Resources for teaching and learning biology were also inadequate in all the categories of schools visited. A high proportion of teacher respondents thus 77.36% agreed that they had challenges with their teaching functions and thus did not also reflect enough cognitive and process skills in their instructional activities. Over 90% of teachers also did not organise practical activities regularly and this was affecting some profile dimensions as suggested by the teaching syllabus. It was recommended that professionally and academically qualified biology teachers in the Central Region should be evenly distributed so that they would not be concentrated in only a few schools while others lacked them. Also only qualified and experienced teachers should handle Senior High School students in order to build a good and strong foundation for the students. Among other recommendations made were that schools should employ qualified laboratory technicians to assist biology teachers in organising practical activities, regular support and capacity enhancing activities should be organised to augment teachers’ pedagogical skills and also imprests should be given regularly to teachers in order to organise weekly practical activities as suggested by the biology curriculum. Based on the findings of this study, it was suggested that a study should be conducted to investigate the classroom implementation of the Senior High School biology curriculum in other regions of Ghana. Also another study should be conducted to investigate the professional competence of Senior High School biology teachers in selected schools.