The type of science where emphasis is placed on the fundamental unity of science is referred to as-Integrated Science. This is different from the old-fashioned decompartmentalised science where emphasis is very strictly on divisions into Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Nature, Study and Hygiene, which were the vogue in primary schools and teacher training institutions, have also metamorphosed and changed into integrated science. ‘This is because the contents of such old subject disciplines were not enough to make the products cope effectively with their environmental problems.
More ideas on the definition, philosophy and comparison of integrated science with general science have been given by Bajah (1978,1984). For example, Integrated Science was defined as: An approach to the teaching of science in which concepts and principles’ are presented so as to express the fundamental unity of scientific thought and avoid premature or undue stress on the distinctions between the various scientific fields.
In planning the integrated science curriculum, the spiral (or concentric) approach to sequencing a science course was adopted. In the approach, the concepts to be taught are arranged in such a way that they run throughout the three-year course; in a progressional order of depth as the course matures over the years. This approach is worthy of note as it presupposes in the cognitive development skill that a junior secondary school 3 student will comprehend more than a junior secondary school 1 student. The question may be asked, are the contents really spiral? The topic, nervous system and reproductive system which were not introduced in year 2 features in year 3. The curriculum planners should have introduced them in Year 2 so that the approach to sequencing a science course will be adopted to help the pupils to follow-up in Year 3 when the topics are treated again. All other themes of integrated science, apart from theme one, are arranged in a progressional order of depth.
Aims and Objectives of Integrated Science
According to the Nigerian Integrated Science Project (1970), Integrated principles are intended to produce, among other things a course which:
(a) is relevant to student-needs and experiences;
(b) stresses the fundamental unity of science;
(c) lays adequate foundation of subsequent specialist study; and
(d) adds a cultural dimension to science education.
Based on these objectives and the tenets of integrated science discussed earlier, students should be made to master the following skills:
(i) Observing carefully and thoroughly;
(ii) Reporting completely and accurately what is observed;
(iii) Organizing information acquired by the above processes;
(iv) Generalising on the basis of acquired information;
(v) Predicting as a result of these generalisations;
(vi) Designing experiments (including controls where necessary) to check these predictions;
(vii) Using models to explain phenomena where appropriate;
(viii) Continuing the process of inquiry when new data do not conform with predictions.
Following is a flowchart on a theme “You And Your Environment” which needs the knowledge of all aspects of science.
Unless both teachers and learners are ready to approach it from a unified pattern, it may become difficult to study the environment meaningfully.
SOME PROBLEMS OF INTEGRATED SCIENCE AND WHY IT IS A FAILED DISCIPLINE IN NIGERIA
The planning, introduction and implementation of Integrated Science in schools have initial problems. These problems are not very different from those that are common to all innovations in curriculum projects, such problems are political, social, and pedagogical. At the initial stage there was the continued existence of general science with integrated science. To a certain extent, the two
titles led to confusion among teachers, some education agencies acting as planners and executors, students and even examiners who were responsible for setting examinations to test learners’ knowledge; the situation was so, because while integrated science was introduced at the start in only a few schools with fairly well-informed teachers who have been updated through in-service training, many other schools were left just with the “new” name and uninformed teachers.
There seems to be the perennial argument that integrated science is specialized in either at Nigeria Certificate in Education (N.C.E.) or at degree levels may lead to having shallow knowledge in science. Indeed, the question of “Who is the qualified integrated science teacher?” is yet to be satisfactorily answered. Apart from that, there has been an apparent foot-dragging attitude among the nation’s tertiary institutions to include Integrated Science courses in their programmes of study. This was responsible for the 31st Annual Conference of Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria (STAN) President’s address on the theme “Articulation of Integrated Science Paradigm (Ikeobi, 1990). A call had already been made on the National Commission for Colleges Education (NCCE) and the National Universities’ Commission (NUC) to direct cur Colleges of Education and Universities respectively to introduce B.Ed or B.Sc (Ed) degree in Integrated Science as we already have in Social Studies. If that call is heeded, perhaps the political and social aspects of the problems may be reduced to a manageable level. On pedagogy, a few studies have been carried out by Nigerians.
Problem of integrated science /Learner’s readiness
The state of integrated science teaching /learning is fast deteriorating in our secondary schools. This view is attested to by the abysmally low rate of enrolment of students in core science subjects like physics, chemistry and biology. Consequently, students become disenchanted and apathetic towards science. Some measures must be taken to reverse the negative attitude of our students toward integrated science. It seems that we need to reappraise integrated science curriculum objectives vis-à-vis the intellectual status of the average learner at the secondary school level. Two main pedagogical problems must be considered, viz: reading for learning and english as a medium of instruction.
There are two schools of thought on the issue of readiness for learning. The older school opines that age and level of intelligence should be the determinants of the depth of knowledge that should be imparted to students at any and every stage. But the new school believes in the concept that any topic could be taught to any student at any level provided the subject matter is simplified enough to be easily digested by the students.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Nigerian educational system has gone through various developments and changes viz-a-viz curriculum
issues. The dynamic nature of the curriculum process informed the write-up of this work In this write-up, this work has attempted to review the genesis of integrated science curriculum development to
ascertain its present status. In addition, this work discussed the process of its development and analysed the current curriculum in integrated science. During the exercise, the paper emphasized some of the shortcomings of the design vis-à-vis its implementation in the
classroom. Lastly, this paper identified and discussed some of the fundamental problems in Nigerian science education that are militating against the achievement of our curriculum objectives.
Consequently, the researcher wishes to make the following recommendations:
- It is obvious that the time allocated for the teaching of integrated science in the JSS is inadequate. Therefore, it should be increased so that the pupils will, at the end, develop power to perceive, understand, experiment, discuss, hypothesize and draw conclusions.
- Teachers should, as prescribed in the curriculum, take students out on field trips and excursions. To facilitate this exercise, teachers should be provided with an imprest to cover the cost of transport and other expenses.
- Federal and state ministries of education should ensure that every integrated science teacher attends at least one workshop or seminar every year. Moreover, inservice training should be approved for many unqualified integrated science teachers in our secondary schools.
- Experimentation, enquiry and functionality are the pillars of modern science education. These cannot be achieved without effective laboratory activities. It is, therefore, imperative that all schools should be supplied with functional laboratories and other infrastructural facilities.
- Lastly, the federal and state governments should improve the working conditions of science teachers and upgrade the status of the teaching profession and provide appropriate incentives so as to stem the unfortunate high turnover of experienced and dedicated science teachers.
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Bajah, S.T. (1984). Teaching Integrated Science Creativitely Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.
Balogun, T.A. (1983). Strategies of Educational Change and Implementation of Integrated Science Teaching with Special Reference to Nigeria. Journal of Research in Curiculum. 1(1): 22-40.
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Ikeobi (2005): Science Teaching in Nigeria. Ilorin: Atoto Press Limited.