Teaching behaviour patterns in high and low performing biology classes in selected Nairobi province secondary schools
Kiria, George Kiruja
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This study addresses the issues of verbal teaching behaviour in some secondary school Biology classes in Kenya at a time when concern is being expressed about the poor performance in Biology. Specifically the researcher aimed at answering the following research questions: a) What are the common teacher-student interaction patterns in secondary school biology classes? b) What type of teacher-pupil classroom interaction patterns exists in high performing schools? c) What type of teacher -pupil classroom interaction patterns exists in low performing schools? d) Is there any difference in teacher -pupil classroom interaction patterns between the high and low performing schools? This was a simple descriptive survey research and the sample was randomly selected. Data collected from 10 (ten) secondary school teachers teaching form three biology classes in Nairobi Province of Kenya. A modified Science Teaching Observation Schedule (STOS) developed by Eggleston (1975) was adapted for data collection. Marginal notes were also made of the main teaching methods and styles at the end of a lesson and other aspects not codable using STOS but thought to have some pedagogical implications. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics. The analysis revealed that teacher talk dominated the classrooms with pupils talk taking less than quarter of the total verbal interactions. There was an over emphasis on content and mainly classroom interaction was teacher dependant. The statements and question posed mainly demanded recall or application of facts and principles testing pupils hence, hindering their high level thinking process. Teachers rarely used pupils’ ideas and mainly asked questions to test what they wanted pupils to learn. Poor classroom management was also manifested by the prevalent noise making and chorus answers especially in the low performing schools. Teacher in most biology classes observed practised more of the teacher-centred than learner-centred teaching methods. However, there was a tendency for teaching in the high performing schools to use slightly more learner-centred teaching inthe high performing school to use slightly more learner-centred teaching methods than their counter parts in the low performing schools. Teacher talk domination imply an autocratic teaching behaviour that might hinder the learning process and hence the need to improve on the type of teacher-pupil interaction to enhance learning. The prevalence of teacher-centered teaching methods reduces pupil participatory experiences and is seen as not favourable to science teaching. The short and rhetorical teaching teacher quest ions reflected lack of teacher preparedness and mastery of questioning methods which may deter learner creativity. This lack of inquiry approach to teaching of biology even in the high performing schools might be the reason for failure to score the maximum possible points in the national examinations. This study recommends that: a) Teachers are inserviced to encourage and assist them increase pupil learning activities. b) Learner-centered teaching methods and classroom management be emphasized in teacher education curriculum. c) Teacher-colleagues need to observe one another in class for more self-evaluation on teaching approaches and content coverage.