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This research work was conducted to identify difficult topics in teaching and learning topic in senior secondary schools curricula in Enugu urban of Enugu state, Nigeria. (A case study of SS3 curricula of chemistry, physics and English language). Two research questions and one hypothesis guided the study. A survey design was adopted for the study. A sample of 16 teachers in the subject areas and 200 students were drawn from the 16 senior secondary schools of SS3 in the Enugu South and Enugu North Local Government Areas. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data and the data collected were analyzed using percentages, mean deviation and t-test for hypothesis. The finding of the study showed that, most of the teachers did not cover those areas when they were students, which made them to shy away from teaching those difficult topics in physics, chemistry and English language. The following recommendations were made:The teachers should attend workshops, seminars and conferences. Resource personnel should be used to teach difficult topics, and they should be provided with adequate instructional materials for the teaching and learning of the difficult topics. The strategies identified by the study should also be used to stimulate the teaching and learning of physics, chemistry and English language and other science subjects in senior secondary schools.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
According to Horny (2000), the word “Identification is defined as the process of showing, providing or recognizing who or what somebody or something is”.
Therefore, the identification of difficult teaching and learning topics in SS3 physics, chemistry and English language curricula in Nigeria can be seen as the process of showing or providing or recognizing the difficult topics in teaching and learning physics, chemistry and English language in SS3 curricula in Nigeria.
But, in order to identify the difficult teaching and learning topics in SS3 physics, chemistry and English language curricula, we have to look into how the definitions of the word curriculum have been offered by different educationists.
Curriculum, according Hosford (2005) in Badmus (2006), is a set of experiences planned to influence learners towards the goal of an organization. However, Lawis and Niel (2002) cited in Akanybon (2007) define curriculum as a set of intentions about opportunities for engagement of person to be educated with other persons and with things (all bearers of information, process, techniques and values) in certain arrangement of time and space.
On the other hand, Tanner and Tanner (2000) in Akangbon (2007) see curriculum as the cumulative tradition of organized knowledge, modes of thought, a planned learning environment, cognitive/affective content and process, an instructional plan, instructional outcomes and a technological system of production.
Therefore, the content of the curriculum and the methods employed to present the content have to be determined by the nature of the society and the nature of the learner.
Chemistry is one of the three main branches of pure sciences, the other two being biology and physics. Chemistry deals with the composition, properties and uses of matter. It probes into the principles governing the changes that matter undergoes. So, it is not, of course, for those who teach chemistry in schools to concern themselves directly with the economic future of the nations for which they work. But it remains a fact that students want to do useful things and that they will profit from being shown how they can contribute to a dynamic part of their country’s industry. This provides an added reason for teaching chemistry in school.
The teaching and learning of chemistry, on the other hand, is not a simple job for those who teach the subject and learners. The fact that some terms in chemistry cannot be observed or be related to the physical activities, makes the teaching and learning of some topics in chemistry very difficult for teachers and students. In other words, the teaching and learning of some topics in chemistry involves mathematical expression and critical thinking.
Physics is the science concerned with the study of physical objects and substances and of natural forces such as light, heat and measurement. As physics is based on exact measurements, every such measurement requires two things; first a member or quantity, and secondly a unit. All branches of it deal inevitably with difficulties whose solution, are often envisaged to benefit humanity. Unfortunately, some students in SS3 hardly register the subject in the SSCE examinations because they find some of its topics very difficult to understand. Many reasons, according to Charles and Chester (2001), might be broadly deduced for students’ poor performance in physics and these included:
Psychological factors like confidence, cognitive styled decisiveness, ideational fluency, intellectual ability attitude, curiosity and so on.
English language is the central subject from the post primary school level because it is the medium of instruction for all other subjects. It is therefore, the servicing subject for all other subjects. According to Anibueze (2007), there are many problem teachers and students encounter in course of teaching and learning English language. Such problems are classifies as:
– The problem in Equivocation: it refers to the problem students and teachers encounter when they read meaning of words, sentences and passages.
– The problem in elocution: it refers to the problems students envisage in their practice of oral delivery or in usage of the English language.
– The problems in transliteration: This is a problem that comes up because of the interference of the mother tongue
– The problem in expression: This is a problem in which people do not falls in a way or takes a process other people will understand and do not show their ideas, opinions, talks, feelings and information very clearly. And others.
Anibueze (2007) says that, there are factors militating against the effective teaching and learning of English language and other subjects. Such factors are:-
– There are the problems of poor development of listening and speaking skill. Teachers have no recorded utterance in Standard English for the teaching of the language. There is no teacher’s model reading for students to listen to in the classroom. No radio or television set has been brought into the class for students are urged to listen to each other in English but most often, they listen to all sorts of corrupt English or English full of errors. Some student’s most often, code-switch or code-mix when using the language. Sometime they pick nonsense varieties of English from home video, radio, television programmers and films, many of what they listen to is awful.
– In speaking-skills their spoken English is influenced by their native speech habit and their linguistic community. In other words, their mother-tongue interferes in their spoken words. They have the psychologist problems too.
– Students are taught without teaching aids or instructional materials. In the library, there are some antiquated materials that are not in any way related to the contemporary issues, syllabuses or scheme of work, which makes teaching and learning difficult.
The efficient use of different methods in the course of teaching helps, in no small measure, in the involvement of the three domains (cognitive, affective and psychomotor), which invariably will lead to the realization of chemistry, physics and English language teaching and learning objectives. Students and teachers also maintained that the topics are difficult because, instructional materials for teaching and learning of the topics are short in supply and the available ones are not properly in use for the teaching and learning of the difficult topics.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In most of our senior secondary school certificate examination, there is always a mass failure in chemistry, physics and English language curricula, both students and teachers of chemistry, physics and English language complain of their difficult in getting on with the subjects. Most problems in teaching and learning of chemistry, physics and English language are:
i. Poor performance of students in senior secondary school certificate examinations in physics, chemistry and English language
ii. Low enrolment of students in physics and chemistry in senior secondary school certificate examination
iii. Lack of qualitative and quantitative instructional material for teaching chemistry, physics and English language.