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Project Topic: Influence of Misconception on Teaching and Learning of Secondary School Biology



Background of the Study

Education has no universally accepted definition. It is referred to as an enterprise, an activity, a concept, an institution a profession, a discipline (Ocho 2005). Education emanated from two Latin words: ‘Educare’ meaning to lead out, to draw or pull out and ‘Educare’ meaning to form something, to shape, to train. These two root words of education have laid to two schools of thought in education deriving education from educare, the idealists define education as drawing or pulling out or leading out the ideals that are innate in the mind of the learner. Education therefore, according to this school of thought consist the process of bringing these ideas out from the mind of the learner and present them back to the learner so that he may become conscious of what he has possess all along. In this line of thought Plato defined education as the process of recollection or reminiscence.

However, the empiricists and realists derived education from educare and conceive education as the process of training or forming the mind of the child. The presupposition here is that the mind of the child is but a receptive blank sheet which waits to be written on by the teacher. John Locke of the empiricist school therefore sees the mind or human mind as tabulurasa. This school of thought sees education as the process of writing on the blank sheet or of forming the formless matter (mind) according to the designed form of education.

Moreover, education is a natural obligation of the adult to the younger generation. The child is born helpless and has to rely entirely on its parents and other older members of society to survive and satisfy its growth needs in all ramifications. Without education, the human being is not different from other animals. It is education that makes man a moral agent capable of living in society. (Ocho 2005). According to Okafor (1987:16) education embrace all experience through which an individual acquire knowledge or ideas, develops his intellect and strengthens his will.

Furthermore, the central purpose of education is virtue or character training. Other purposes of education according to Ocho (1988:28, 29) include the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and physical skills. The individual requires these competencies in order to enable him live fully and contribute to the development of his society. As peters aptly noted, education is a process of socialization, enculturation and transmission of what is worthwhile to those who are committed to it, be they children or adult.

On the other hand, teaching and learning are key concepts in education. Teaching can be referred as an occupation, a profession, an enterprise or an activity. It has been defined as a system of action intended to induce learning intentional transmission of information and learning. However, learning is the most central concept in the definition of education. To be educated is first to have learned something. Learning does not occur on its own. It involves the freedom, choice and intentionality of the learner to learning something or to acquire knowledge. It comes up through interaction with another person or things. It may be intended or spontaneous. Therefore, learning as an aspect of education is characterized by the following:

  1. It is an activity of a human person
  2. It involves acquiring some knowledge
  3. the object learned or knowledge must be in some sense be something new to the learner and
  4. Learning is a conscious and deliberate activity of the learner.

Thus, learning is a continuous process in the sense that it starts from womb and does not cease or stop until one goes to the grave.

Science teaching and learning schools is aimed at developing and promoting the learning of science in order to apply the knowledge acquired in solving societal problems especially on the area of science and technology which is crucial to the development of the National economy. In Nigeria, the core sciences taught in school are: Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The National Policy on Education in the National Curriculum for senior secondary schools volume three science outlined specific objectives to be achieved by each subject curriculum. The main objectives for Biology include:

  1. Adequate Laboratory and field skills in biology
  2. Meaningful and relevant knowledge in biology
  3. Ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matters of personal and community health and agriculture
  4. Reasonable and functional scientific attitudes.

Many students enter the science classroom with already formed ideas, which may be conceived in a wrong way wrongly convert ideas may hinder the achievement of the stated object, students have wrong notion that science subject are very difficult and with this mind-set they avoid studying core science subjects in the school. Observation has shown that misconception is the erroneous understanding, which occurs with relatively high frequency. Misconceptions could arise not only from the nature of the subject but also from other factors like the failure to realize the importance of examining the students prior concepts and the resistance of such conceptions to be modified by conventional teaching, the language of instruction and everyday experience of the material world.

Also, the quality of some Biology teachers in our secondary schools is below standard may because they are unqualified.

Misconception occurs when input is filed through schemas that are over simplified, distorted or incorrect. Its effect on students learning showed that misconceived prior knowledge can lead to misconception. Following the above assertion, misconception is wrong perception about something, a mistaken idea or belief. Misconception about something is a belief or an idea that is not based on correct information, or that is not understood by people; Horby (2006). It also means having view or knowledge about something or concept in a wrong way, “misconstrue idea”, Ezeano (2007). Continuing, she maintained that a misconception is a wrong conception that arises in the course of a science instruction. It arises as a result of how individual views events. In biology, misconception in wrong idea about biological knowledge and findings. In the teaching and learning of biology, if a student misconstrues an idea passed on by a teacher, the student is said to have misconception of that idea. People form their conceptions of the world and nature, which provide some explanation to commonly observed phenomena. Therefore, people interpret the world that is received by their sensorial experiences in a way that makes sense for them. The interpretations may vary from person to person and usually they are simplistic and are not in agreement with the accepted scientific theories; they are called misconceptions.

Dealing with misconceptions in science and specially in Biology is one of the hardest tasks in science teaching. They must be removed as soon as possible, before they create deeper roots into the student’s cognitive structure. The development of strategies to identify and to tackle misconception is a crucial part of a scheme of work (Borich 2004).

According to Fisher (1998), some alternative conceptions judged to be erroneous ideas or misconceptions, have the following characteristics in common:

  1. They are at variance with conceptions held by experts in the field
  2. A single misconception, or a small number of misconceptions, tend to be pervasive (shared by many different individuals)
  3. Many misconceptions are highly resistant to change or alteration, at least by traditional teaching
  4. Misconceptions sometimes involve alternative belief systems comprised of logically linked sets of propositions that are used by students in systematic ways.
  5. Some misconceptions have historical precedence that is, some erroneous ideas put forth by students today mirror ideas exposed by early leaders in the field.

Moreover, the growing misconception in science (Biology) education had shown that a student that holds misconceptions will have to unlearn them before he/she can learn things in proper way; this unlearning process is often harder than the learning process itself, (jerry 2001). It continued that unlearning process requires a lot of skill on the part of the teachers to convince students to discard their views of nature and take on his/hers. If students go straight into learning process, without unlearning the misconceptions the experience may be pointless confusing and frustrating. The content will be forgotten soon and the misconception will grow deeper in science education.

(Pozo 2001) suggested that the possible causes of these misconceptions are: the influence of perception, the interference of everyday language and the cultural content, the abstract character of these concepts and their close interrelationship and the influence of curriculum. This, conception influences on teaching and learning had brought about difficulties in explaining certain conceptions to students. The students must have conceived a certain textbook had given about a concept like genetics, osmosis, neuron etc.

Furthermore, the alarming rate of misconception among students in learning of sciences in general and biology in particular account for recurring poor performance in public examinations in core sciences over the years. This poor state of affairs has attracted the attention of all stakeholders in education on how best to improve the teaching and learning of sciences. (Ajaja 2007) aptly noted observation has shown that for objectives of teaching and learning of sciences whether general or specific are only achieved by the teacher through giving the right types of instructions to the science students. No matter how well developed and comprehensive a curriculum is, its success is dependent on the quality of the teachers implementing it (Ughamadu, 2005).

Also, daily observation of Biology teachers in the classrooms indicates that most of the teaching skills biology teachers acquired before certification are not put into practice. The deficiencies in biology teaching range from; non-coverage of contents in scheme of work, non-giving and marking of assignment, non-supervision of instruction, non-organization of extra lessons to cover lost grounds, non-assessment of learning outcomes regularly, non-application of improvisation knowledge in instruction to non taking out of students to field experiences. (Ajaja, 2002). Again, all these tend to suggest that teachers are to be held responsible for growing influence of misconception in teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools in Nigeria which manifested in poor learning outcomes among the students. (Kpanghan et al 2004).

Statement of the Problems

Students’ Performance in Biology in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) have consistently been poor, due to some factors which may include: poor quality of biology teachers, inadequate biology laboratory equipment, limited time allocated to biology in the school timetables, and so on. (This research work seeks to find recipe to this poor state of affairs through a strategic procedure in ensuring efficient and effective teaching and learning of biology in line with international standards to enable the students develop interest in the learning of the subject.

Moreover, Usman and Memeh (2007) rightly observed the factors that negatively affect biology achievement includes students’ background problem; students’ lack of interest and/or negative attitude towards biology; teacher related factor like poor teacher preparation; inadequate qualified biology teachers; inadequate instructional materials and application of poor teaching methods. Hence the aforementioned reasons, give rise to the misconception about biology. Misconception remains a negative taught about any concept, it weakens the learners’ interest to learning any concept in biology. Therefore, this research work “influence of misconception in the teaching and learning of biology in secondary school in “Agbani Education Zone” is intended to fill the gap created by the issues of this conception in biology teaching and learning.

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this work is to investigate the influence of misconception in the teaching and learning of biology in schools. However, the specific purposes of this research work are to:

  1. identify concepts misconceived by biology students
  2. ascertain the causes/sources of misconceptions
  3. find out how misconceptions have influence teaching and learning of biology
  4. find out possible ways of correcting such misconceptions.

Significance of the Study

The following people are to benefit from the findings of this work: Biology teachers, biology students, and curriculum planners.

The biology teachers through the findings of this work may be aware of students’ misconceptions and weaknesses and help them overcome them or clear the misconceptions. Also, biology teachers may be inspired to always prepare adequately for his/her lessons.

Moreso, the students will embrace biology subject and come to have passion for the subject having been cleared of their misconceptions.

Curriculum planners will benefit maximally from this work, as it provides them with insight on how best the curriculum contents will enhance students understanding of biology, such that biology can be appreciated and studied with much enthusiasm by the students.

From the significance of this study, influence of misconception is so crucial to teaching and learning of biology such that it is to help students of biology at Universities, colleges and especially secondary schools to diagnose and there should benefits from influence and ways of correcting misconceptions,

Scope of the Study

This research work is limited to senior secondary school biology. Again this research work will ascertain the causes of students’ misconception in biology, the impact of misconception on students and possible way of correcting the misconceptions.

Research Questions

The following research question guided the study

  • What concepts are misconceived in Biology?
  • What are the causes of students’ misconception in Biology?
  • How does misconception influenced teaching and learning of biology?
  • What are the possible ways of correcting misconceptions in the teaching and learning of Biology?

—This article is incomplete———–This article is incomplete———— It was extracted from a well articulated quality Project, Research Work/Material

Project Topic: Influence of Misconception on Teaching and Learning of Secondary School Biology

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