Enhancing understanding of abstract and challenging concepts in ordinary level biology learning

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study investigated the instructional approach capable of enhancing deeper understanding when an abstract or challenging biology concept is addressed. The study was meditated as mixed approach design utilizing both, qualitative and quantitative approaches. Two different school settings were involved. Forodhani and Kibasila secondary schools were used for control and experimental conducts respectively. A total of 66 subjects participated. Purposeful sampling technique was used to obtain two science classes, each group with 30 students. In addition, six participants were biology teachers from the respective schools. The specific objectives of the study were four: (i) To identify students’ perspectives on the ways they are conventionally learning abstract concepts in biology classes; (ii) To identify instructional discrepancies in a traditional instruction; (iii) To identify teachers’ perspectives on their actual teaching of challenging concept; and (iv) To assess if there is any significant difference in test scores between traditional and constructivist instructional approaches. Four instruments were developed: students’ questionnaires; teachers’ interviews; classroom observation checklist; and tests. Results demonstrate that, currently, both teachers and students know about difficulties they encounter during processes of teaching and learning of abstract or challenging concepts. Similarly, results disclose that constructivist instructional approach seems to be greatly successful in enhancing understanding of challenging concepts. Regarding the study’s findings, it has been revealed that there is need to develop some influential educational policies to uplift learners’ understanding. It is recommended that the country’s education system should undertake the following: programme constructivist instructional approach under concepts identified as abstract or challenging in nature; apply technology assisted instruction to fluently enable student-centred learning; make use of constructivist lessons available in the global education resource market; regularly equip teachers with relevant epistemological as well as pedagogical professional entity; and undergo further longitudinal investigations of the underlying study for generalization purposes.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF QH320.T34M76)
Understanding, Challenging
Mrope, F.S (2006) Enhancing understanding of abstract and challenging concepts in ordinary level biology learning, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.