Student teachers’ views: what is an interesting Life Sciences curriculum?
In South Africa, the Grade 12 ‘classes of 2008 and 2009’ were the first to write examinations under the revised Life Sciences (Biology) curriculum which focuses on outcomes-based education (OBE). This paper presents an exploration of what students (as learners) considered to be difficult and interesting in Grades 10–12 Life Sciences curricula in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase. A sample of 125 first year, pre-service Life Sciences and Natural Sciences teachers from a university responded to a questionnaire in regard to their experiences with the newly implemented FET Life Sciences curricula. The responses to the questions were analysed qualitatively and/or quantitatively. Friedman tests were used to compare the mean rankings of the four different content knowledge areas within each curriculum, and to make cross-curricular comparisons of the mean rankings of the same content knowledge area for all three curricula. All four content areas of Grade 12 were considered as being more interesting than the other two grades. In terms of difficulty, the students found the Grade 10 curriculum themes the most difficult, followed by the Grade 12 and the Grade 11 curricula. Most of the students found the themes under the content area Diversity, change and continuity (Grades 10–12) more difficult to learn than the other three content areas. It is recommended that more emphasis needs to be placed on what learners are interested in, and on having this incorporated into Life Sciences curricula.
Keywords: curriculum; difficulty; interesting; Life Sciences; students; teachers