Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

John C. Carlisle


John C. Carlisle


Jefferson N. Eastmond


This study is concerned with the teaching of biology in Utah secondary schools. It is based chiefly on analysis of: (1) the teaching procedures used by thirty-five teachers of biology in Utah who were designated by their principals as being outstanding teachers, and (2) the facilities and equipment these teachers think are essential.

As long as schools exist there will be need for studies concerning teaching methods, facilities, and equipment. Man's ever-widening knowledge about science and the wide range in abilities of pupils in our schools make such studies in science particularly important. Perhaps the following will serve to emphasize this point of view.

Major (9, p. 95) pointed out in his thesis that the objectives of biological sciences have changed significantly in the last fifty years. By inference teaching procedures should also change.

Rivlin (15, p. 109) has discussed this relationship as follows:

There is so close a relationship among the goals of education, the content and organization of the curriculum, the methods of teaching, that major changes in educational goals should be reflected in corresponding changes in the curriculum, and changes in the curriculum demand changes in methods of teaching.

Hoff (5, p. 115) has written:

There is no royal road to learning, but there are techniques of imparting information and of effecting growth of pupils which are more efficient than other methods. It behooves those in the field of education to employ the methods which have been found to be more efficient in the light of our scientific studies in teaching procedure and educational psychology.

The Committee on the Teaching of Biology (14, p. 36) found that teachers want more and better special methods courses. The areas where they wished further emphasis were:

  1. Improving laboratory and demonstration techniques.
  2. Courses in observation and practice teaching.
  3. Training in techniques for schools which have little equipment and material.

Stiles and Dorsey (17, p. 69) summed up the situation as follows:

When the procedures of evaluation are focused upon teaching rather than the pupil, several glaring weaknesses are revealed. Teachers use poor methods. Teachers and laymen are little concerned about methods. Institutions preparing teachers have failed to provide opportunities for prospective teachers to observe the use of democratic methods in laboratory schools.

In view of the recognized importance of methods, facilities, and equipment to successful teaching of science, it was decided to undertake a study to see what the situation is in Utah secondary schools with respect to these matters. At the outset, consideration was given to conducting some kind of evaluation of the teaching of biology in every high school or junior high school in Utah in which the subject was taught. Since this seemed to be impractical, an alternative procedure was agreed upon. This was to devise a way of selecting a sampling of teachers considered to be especially successful, and then to have the study included only this particular group of teachers.

In order to select these teachers a letter was sent to each high school principal in Utah and to the principals of thirty-three junior high schools in which biology was taught. These letters indicated the general nature of the study and asked the principal to nominate a teacher to be included if he so desired. By this process thirty-nine teachers were named. It is recognized that this procedure may not have produced the best teachers, but it did provide a list of teachers which were highly regarded by administrators.

Some consideration was given to making a personal visit with all teachers named. As a subsequent part of the study, a few such visits were made. To obtain the main body of data for the study, however, it was decided to construct a questionnaire which would seek answers to three main questions: (1) What teaching procedures or methods, and what physical facilities, both supplies and equipment, are being used by successful teachers of biology? (2) Assuming optimum conditions, what methods, supplies, equipment, and classroom facilities do these teachers recommend? (3) What are the reasons for any discrepancies which occur between teacher practices and recommendations?

In order to interpret these data some information about the teachers was also needed. Accordingly, the first section of the questionnaire was designed to gather specific information about the individual teacher.

Questions for the remainder of the questionnaire were obtained from a review of the literature as indicated in the next chapter of this report. A complete copy of the questionnaire is included in the appendix.

Chapter III deals with the presentation and analysis of the data, chapter IV with the summary and conclusions, and chapter V with the recommendations.



Included in

Education Commons