Background to the Study

The art of teaching require several years of teaching experience and pedagogical knowledge to deliver on instruction especially science. In fact, Aristotle once maintained that it is not possible to transform knowledge into teaching until the knowledge is deep enough ( Liedman, 2011). From this perspective, it cannot be expected that pre-service teachers develop into full-fledged professional teachers during their education. Still, it is important to assess pre-services and in-service teachers teaching skills, both in order to track and support their development, as well as to be able to certify that their competencies reach acceptable standards.

Competence is the ability of an individual to do a job properly. A competency is a set of defined behaviors that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviors in individual employees.  The word competence is taken by two common meanings, first is the ability to do a task. The narrow conception of competency standards is lists of particular discrete vocation task of a teacher.

According to Owolabi (2003) described a teacher as an instructor responsible to teach, direct, control, interpret and instruct the learner for better attainment. One of the goals of today’s pre-service and in-service training of teachers is to promote teacher’s competencies. According to the Department of Education, it is a big factor in the academic achievement of the students. Included under teacher competencies are teaching effectiveness, professional recognition and awards, membership and participation in professional organizations, scholarly abilities and creative productiveness.

In the daily life of students, they encounter different kinds of teachers. It is a fact that the various teaching competency levels of their teachers bear different effects upon the students’ learning. Because of this, teachers must be aware of their own level of competency so as to be extra conscious of how their teaching affects the learning of the students. According to Onike (2016), a teacher occupies an important position and is a key element in the operations of the school system. Teacher’s competence, knowledge, interest, devotion, commitment, dedication, professional training, attitude and personality make up matters and largely determine the quality of services provided by the teacher. Muijs and Reynolds (2015) claims that how a teacher teaches becomes a vital key in promoting effective teaching and learning to the students.

Competency means specific teaching skills of biology teachers required for effective teaching of the subject biology in order to produce problem solving abilities in students. It is a fact that our biology teachers are unable to meet international standards of biology teaching. In order to ensure national and international standards of biology teaching in secondary schools, science teachers especially biology teachers should have an ability to individualize text book content according to students‟ needs, ability to apply teaching skills and ability to organize different activities inside and outside the classroom for producing problem solving ability in students. The main objective of biology teaching at secondary level is to produce understanding among students, and ability to apply their knowledge to solve problems by using scientific method

Biology as one of the science subject is bent in making one to be conversant with the environment he/she lives in, appreciate the meaning of scientific life, to develop unbiased mind and to be intellectually homes which serve as ideal to the future citizen. Fortunately, it is a fact that Biology is the commonly chosen science subject of most secondary pupils as confirmed by the West Africa Examination council (WAEC) record.

According to Okeke (2000). Students who did well in biology could have prospects of becoming: Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Dentists, Biology teachers, Medical technologist, Food technologists, Genetic Engineers, Microbiologists, Biochemists, and other science subject.

Biology has its origin from Europe but today all the nations of the world accord priority attention to science and technology in development efforts. The reason for according such priority attention to science and technology being that it carries the promises of great economic improvement and equally serve as a gateway to national development in the age of fast developing technology, has become necessary for all countries of the world especially the developing ones to organize and improve the teaching of science throughout the school stage. It is through science that we get the fundamental bases to develop technology.

Effective teaching of biology is a process by which a biology teacher adopts all the possible method used in teaching in the classroom to make sure that students understand biology and be able to respond positively during assessment or to produce a good result. Teachers’ effectiveness is exhibited in the teaching method, classroom managements, the material as well as the way students are being handled, a good teacher always bear in mind the individual differences of the students while presenting the lesson and frequently check the students understanding of his or her points to make sure that they are getting of understanding his lesson. This also includes the ability of the teacher to answer question asked by the students, having knowledge about his or her subject matter and ability to show students how to conduct appropriate research.


The teacher is seen by Idris (2008) as a significant component of the classroom, positing that male and female teachers differ significantly in several ways. Such differences they observed have relative effects on the classroom environment such that students perceived classes taught by male and female teachers differently. The instructional behaviour of teachers during classroom interactions appears to exert the most pervading influence on gender issues.

Gender inequality in achievement attitude and interest in many fields of studies has remained a contentious issue (Hobson, 2009). Gender is a range of characteristic used to distinguish between male and female, particularly in the cases of men and women, masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them.


Gender is a social construct, it is not biologically determined but a concept equivalent to race or class (Offorma, 2004). This definition suggests that gender is socially or culturally constructed characteristics and role, which are associated with males and females in society. It is different from sex which is a biological distinction in appearance (morphology) and function (physiology) as well as reproductive contributions of men and women. According to Lee (2001) gender is ascribed attribute that differentiates feminine from masculine. The difference in competence of male and female teachers in implementing secondary school curriculum has been reported by researchers. Udeinya (2008) & Okafor (2006) reported that male teachers are more competent than their female counterparts in implementing geography and    mathematics curriculum in secondary while Omoogun (2009) reveals that gender significantly affects teachers competency needs of environmental education concepts. Therefore, this study will investigated gender differences in the teacher instructional competence possess by teachers of biology in secondary school precisely Bosso Local government area of Niger state.

Similarly, there is age long controversy on whether the school location has an impact on teachers’ competency. Location of school connotes an area where a school is situated. It could be urban, rural or semi-urban. As schools play an important role in the intellectual development of children, adequate programme of learning facilities or lack of item may facilitate or hinder teaching and learning. The location of schools comes into play here because it may determine some vital teaching ingredients such as teaching facilities infrastructure, numbers of teachers and the class size. However researcher reports on the achievement and competencies of students and teachers have been associated with location. Omoogun (2009) reported that location significantly affect teachers competency needs of environmental education concept. This present study will examine whether location will influence the methodology competence of teachers in secondary school.

According to Okebukola (2007) that teaching methods could result in poor state of learning and students’ performance in science Subject (Adeyemi, 1990)And a number of international researchers however provide evidence that teachers’ content knowledge has an effect on both the content and the processes of instruction, thus influencing both what and how they teach (Haimes, 1996).

The need to improve the quality of science teaching and learning for citizens so that they develop scientific literacy to cope with the demands of science and technology growth has been the yearning of every nation in this 21st century. Such efforts have been made by researchers in the United States of America (Darling-Hammond, 1997), Australia (Goodrum, Hackling & Rennie, 2001) and the United Kingdom (Millar & Osborne, 1998) by engaging the support of key stakeholders in science education. Recognizing this, the need to involve key stakeholders in science education in making recommendations for improving the quality of science Subject teaching and learning in Nigerian secondary schools as a means of helping citizens to become more scientifically literate, is a task that is widely acknowledged as important.

The quality of education of a nation could be determined by the quality of her teachers. The most important factor in improving students’ achievement in science Subject  is by employing seasoned qualified teachers in all schools (Abe & Adu, 2013). Okuruwa (1999) found that, policy investment on quality of teachers is related to improvement in students’ performance. Specifically, the measurement of teachers’ preparation and certification are correlates of students’ achievement in science Subject. It is further reported that, teachers’ competence such as certification status and degree in area of specialization are very significant and positively correlated with students learning outcomes in science Subject. This report was in line with the findings of Salman (2009).

Abe & Adu (2013) opined that, a teaching competencies or teacher qualification is one of a number of academic and professional degree that enables a person to become a registered teacher in primary or secondary school. Such qualifications include, but are not limited to, the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), The Professional Diploma in Education (PDE), Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE).

In Bosso Local Government teachers who are academically qualified and those that are professionally qualified are engaged to carry out instructional process. (Ahiazu &Prince Will, 2011). Academically qualified teachers refer to those who have academic training as a result of enrolment into educational institution and obtained qualifications such as HND, B.Sc, B.A, and M.A. and so on; while professionally qualified teachers are those who got professional training that gave them professional knowledge, skills, techniques, aptitudes as different from the general education (Edu & Kalu, 2012). They hold degrees like, B.Ed., B.Sc. Ed, B.A. Ed, and M.Ed and so on. On the other hand, studies have found that there is no significant relationship between teacher educational qualification and students’ academic achievement. For instance, Igwe (1990) investigated the influence of teacher’s perception on academic performance of students in integrated science subjects. in Ekiti  State The researcher found that there is no significant relationship between teacher’s qualification and students’ performance. While Adeniji (2009)& Oladele (2009) found out that teacher’s competency contributed minimally to the variance with students’ cognitive achievement and Bilesanmi (1999) & Okonwa (1999) found that teacher’s experience was highly significant on students’ academic achievement in Science Subject Izumi & Evess (2002) teacher quality is the most important among other critical factors like quality curricula, funding, small class size and learning situation. George (2004) attributed poor performance of students in Economics to teacher qualification, inadequacy of materials as well as administrative factors. In teaching economics, Adesina (2002) & Fafunwa (1994) opined that with an exception of holders of minimum of B.Sc in science Subject, many other teachers would be confronted with problem of teaching secondary school   syllabus effectively. Hence, Lussa (2005) argued that no one gives what he/she does not possess. He further said that no matter how good a course curriculum is, if we do not have well trained, qualified and motivated teachers, we may not achieve the desired goals. In view of this, a teacher is someone who has been exposed to a good measure of training in a teaching subject area as well as in professional education such professionally qualified teachers may according  to the Federal Ministry of Education (2004) fall into a number of academic categories. Mkpa (2007) regarded the trained teacher as someone who underwent and completed his education in a formal teacher training institution or in a planned programme of training. Among such areas of training may include principles and practice of education as well as being exposed to an observed period of internship either after or as part of the period of training. People who fall within this category should under normal circumstances be able to fulfill the various functions expected of teachers within and outside the four walls of the classroom.

Statement of the problem

The current state of our educational system and particularly the science teaching and learning in Nigeria is an issue of concern to all including the government. Research indicates that many students found science Subject to be difficult, boring and not interesting to them. Insufficient curriculum resources, poor teaching skills and lack of supports for teachers among other factors further limit the quality of biology teaching and learning in Nigerian schools and particularly in Bosso local government area of Niger State. Competent teachers are the most critical piece in improving student performance and closing the achievement gap. The most important difference between a good teacher and the one that are not so good is their competencies. The single most important influence on student learning is the quality of teacher, yet most schools are still face with incompetent teachers. Main while, teaching and learning of science subject most especially biology depends on; to large extent on teachers own knowledge and competency of the content and ability to adequately deliver the instruction to the students.

In view of the above problem the study sought to assess senior secondary school teachers’ pedagogical competencies in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger state.

Aim and Objectives of the study

The aim of this study is to assess biology teachers’ pedagogical competencies in Bosso Local government area of Niger State. Therefore, the following are the specifics intended to be achieved:

  1. To determine the teaching qualification of biology teachers in Bosso local government area.
  2. To find out whether biology teachers prepare adequately for their classroom lesson
  3. To determine whether biology teacher have capacities to initiate a problem and use problem solving strategies.
  4. To find out whether biology teacher have current and broad knowledge of the subject matter.
  5. To determine whether they also have knowledge of their student learning behaviours.
  6. To find out whether they pursue professional competencies and satisfy role expectations.
  7. To determine if teacher teaching method would have influence on senior secondary school biology students


Research Question

The following research questions were  formulated by the researcher to guide the study:


  1. Do biology teachers prepare before the  classrooms lesson?
  2. Do biology teachers posses current and broad knowledge of the subject area?
  3. Do biology teachers have adequate knowledge of their students learning preferences?
  4. Does professional training influence biology teachers competencies?


Significance of the Study

A major concern in schools is to increase student performance one way to do this is to focus on classroom environment with the teacher at the centre which will influence student performance and create the best environment in which to facilitate learning and engage students. The study would therefore be significant for the following reasons:

To the Administrators. The result of this research will contribute to the improvement of secondary schools in Bosso local government area particularly   the biology students. This will be useful in identifying the appropriate qualifications and the competency of biology teachers.

Curriculum Developers. Curriculum developers could also make use of these data as bases for the development of the biology teachers’ resource materials especially with regard to the topics they find very difficult to teach.

To the Students. The teachers will be more aware of their teaching competencies. Thus, students will have more confidence towards their teachers, yielding more learning experiences that are directed towards excellence in academic performance.

To Future Researchers. the results of the study would be a significant addition to the available literature in biology teachers instructional competency in schools and the role played by qualification, experience and gender in the instructional competence of biology teachers in secondary schools. This would form the basis for further research. This study has theoretical significance as it is anchored on competency based approach The future researchers may be able to use this study as a guide if ever they will pursue or consider the same area of interest.

Scope/Delimitations of the Study

 Definitions of Terms

Relative to this study, definitions to the following terms are provided in order to clarify each in the context of the topic:

Academic Achievement- Student performance on state assessments (Cunnigham, 2003). Overall class average will be the measure of academic achievement used.

This term is used interchangeably with student achievement.

Class Size- The number of students in a class, which varies considerably from day to day; and at different times throughout the day because of student mobility, truancy, and absences

Classroom Climate- The classroom environment involving the shared perceptions of the students and the teachers.

School Climate- The shared beliefs, values, and attitudes that shape interactions between students, teachers, principals, and set the tone of acceptable behavior for the school

Student Achievement- Student performance on state assessments. Overall class average will be the measure of academic achievement used. This term is used interchangeably with academic performance.

Instructional Competence- defined as a teacher who has a high overall class average and a high number of posted homework assignments.






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