SMASSE in-service education and training is a programme for mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools piloted in Kenya from 1999 to 2003 and rolled out nationally in 2004. It was conceived as an intervention to reduce the effects of factors that were perceived to be contributing to poor performance in mathematics and science, key of which are poor pedagogical skills and negative attitudes of teachers. However, its effect on these aspects had not been evaluated in Rachuonyo South district. This study evaluated the effect of SMASSE on teachers‟ pedagogical skills and attitudes to ascertain its relevance as an INSET programme. A descriptive survey research design was used in this study. The accessible population comprised all the SMASSE trained Biology teachers and the Biology students in Rachuonyo South district. A total of 60 Biology teachers and 300 Biology students formed the study sample. Simple random sampling was used to select the teachers while systematic random sampling was used to select the students. Two questionnaires were used to generate the required data from the teachers and students. Research specialists from the Faculty of Education and Community Studies, Egerton University, validated the instruments. The reliability of the instruments was estimated using Cronbach‟s Alpha coefficient after pilot-testing. Reliability coefficients of Biology Teachers‟ Questionnaire (BTQ) and Biology Students‟ Questionnaire (BSQ) were 0.85 and 0.90 respectively. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analysis. Results indicated that the pedagogical skills scored higher on mean frequencies and effectiveness after SMASSE INSET than before. T-test indicated that the mean attitude scores were significantly different before and after SMASSE INSET at α=0.05. The findings, therefore, show that teachers‟ pedagogical skills and attitudes after SMASSE INSET were better than before the INSET. It is concluded that SMASSE INSET has positively impacted on the pedagogical skills and attitudes of Biology teachers towards teaching Biology. It was however noted that some aspects of student- centred teaching approaches were still weak and irregular in Biology lessons. It is therefore recommended that the INSET be mainstreamed and regularised. It is also recommended that the principles of ASEI-PDSI be introduced in pre-service teacher education curricula. The findings of this study are useful in making teacher education, SMASSE INSET and other future INSETs more effective.

1.1 Background to the Study
Teachers are an important resource in the teaching/learning process. They are the main players in the curriculum implementation. Brown, Oke and Brown (1982) maintain that the greatest single factor in the teaching process is the teacher. Improvement of the quality of education would also require improvement of the quality of teachers (Cheng, Chow & Tsui, 2001). According to Oluoch (2002), educational development projects can hardly succeed if teachers are not equipped to implement them. The training and utilisation of teachers, therefore, require critical consideration. Research has shown that teachers usually teach the way they were taught (Frank, 1990; Fulton, 1989; Goodlad, 1990). The manner in which teacher trainees are taught in universities and colleges must therefore be of importance to any education system.

Rapid expansion of education in Kenya has necessitated an expansion of teacher education programmes (Chege & Sifuna, 2006). Kibe, Odhiambo and Ogwel (2008) posit that human resource development is a top priority for the development of Kenya through education. This calls for a comprehensive training policy that would produce adequate and competent manpower for development. The worldwide boom in information technology is placing new demands on teachers, requiring a dynamic, responsive and well coordinated system of teacher education (Government of Kenya (GOK), 2005b). UNESCO (2008) asserts that teachers should be trained by equipping them with appropriate skills and materials to teach diverse student populations and meet the diverse learning needs.

Teacher education and training refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills required to perform tasks effectively in the school and the classroom (Allen, 2008). According to him, teacher education is divided into three phases; the initial teacher education (a pre-service course), induction (the process of providing training and support during the first few years of teaching), and teacher development or in-service process for practicing teachers. Candidates for pre-service teacher education are secondary school graduates with prescribed levels of achievement. The teacher trainees require both the mastery of the subject matter as well as the necessary pedagogical skills. Okech and Asiachi (1992) argue for more emphasis on acquisition of pedagogical skills in teacher education rather than the accumulation of knowledge of the subject matter.

Sarita and Tomar (2004) reiterate that teacher development is a process, not an event; hence it needs comprehensive growth and support. The teacher training programmes should be in tandem with the learners‟ needs in schools for better learners‟ achievement. This calls for a radical change in the methods of preparing and training teachers (Sharma & Kumari, 2004). This justifies the need for In-Service Education and Training (INSET) for serving teachers. SMASSE is, therefore, an example of such an INSET for science and mathematics teachers.

SMASSE is an acronym for Strengthening Mathematics And Science in Secondary Education. SMASSE project is a joint initiative of the Japanese government through the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) and the Kenya government through the Ministry of Education (MoE). It was conceived as an intervention to upgrade the capability of young Kenyans in mathematics and science in secondary education (SMASSE, 1999). It is therefore an initiative aimed at Strengthening Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education through the institutionalisation of in-service training of serving teachers. Through the project, the government aims at in-servicing mathematics and science teachers as a means to enhance subject mastery levels, pedagogical skills and attitudes (GOK, 2005a).

Biology is one of the science subjects offered in Kenyan secondary schools. It aims at equipping the learners with the knowledge, attitude and skills necessary for preserving and controlling the environment (Kenya Institute of Education (K.I.E), 2003). According to Mwirigi (2011), Biology plays a key role in industrialization and other sectors of the economy. Biology is a practical subject, which equips students with concepts and skills that are useful in solving the day-to-day problems of life. Mwirigi asserts that the study of Biology aims at providing the learner with the necessary knowledge and skills with which to control or change the environment for the benefit of an individual, family or community.

Biology is important in fields such as Health, Agriculture, Environment and Education. It is a precursor of biotechnology which is a tool for industrial and technological development. In view of this, the subject would make a significant contribution to the realisation of Kenya‟s Vision 2030. According to UNESCO (1986), Biology plays a significant role in enhancing the country‟s social-economic development by enabling exploitation of land, animal and other natural and human resources. In addition, it is vital in maintenance of good health and hygiene (Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), 1999).

Pre-service training of secondary school Biology teachers is done at the universities and diploma colleges in Kenya. However, as observed by the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) document of 2005 (G.O.K, 2005a), a majority of graduate teachers from these institutions may be lacking adequate pedagogical skills for effective implementation of the curricula, especially Mathematics, Sciences, English and Kiswahili. This points out to a serious need for regular in-service education and training for practicing teachers. Additionally, Kenya‟s Vision 2030 document (G.O.K, 2008) reveals that the universities and diploma training colleges lack adequate and modern training facilities required for effective delivery of both pre- and in-service teacher education.

The institutions need to be improved and have adequate infrastructure and equipment for pre- and in-service teacher education programmes. Kafu (2011) points out that the issue of facilities and resources for preparing school teachers is critical and adds that the status of current materials for preparing school teachers in Kenya is pathetic. These are inadequate, obsolete, dilapidated and unsuitable for producing a competent teacher who can operate in this century.

The seemingly insufficient teacher preparation has over the years resulted in poor results nationally, especially in mathematics and sciences. There has been public outcry and concern by parents, teachers and educationists in Kenya about poor performance in science subjects and mathematics in national examinations (Mwirigi, 2011). According to him, teachers play a role in this poor performance. Table 1 shows the national Biology Kenya Certificate of Secondary education (K.C.S.E) results from 2000 to 2003.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 102 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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