Teachers’ pedagogical competencies and A-Level students’ performance in practical Geography in Central Uganda
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The study aimed at assessing the relationship between teachers’ competencies and students’ performance in practical Geography. The study was guided by the following questions; what is the teachers’ knowledge in practical geography? What methods do teachers use in teaching practical geography to secondary school students and how do they assess practical geography performance? The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional survey design. The study population comprised of 744, teachers of practical geography, heads of Geography departments, directors of studies and ‘A’ level students. The specific study sample: 12 heads of department, 6o teachers of practical geography and 672 A-level students. The quantitative data was analyzed using one –way ANOVA to compare the means simultaneously and the t-Test to make inference about the population means from which the samples were selected using the SPSS data analysis (16.0 versions).While the qualitative data was analyzed by using descriptions in themes deciphered in the course of the study. The study made the following revelations; majority of the Geography teachers lacked the requisite knowledge and skills to effectively teach A-level practical Geography. There was a significant relationship between teachers’ mastery of content and students’ performance, and between methods of teaching and assessment and students’ performance. Teachers found difficulties in teaching practical Geography and students’ poor performance in A-level practical Geography was evident in their inability to competently interpret maps and photographs (P250/1), identify and interpret statistical methods (P250/2) correctly and relate what they have learnt from the field studies (P250/3).The study concluded that many teachers and students in both private schools and government schools lack the content knowledge and skills of how to use charts, draw graphs, interpret photographs and map reading while using a variety of teaching and assessment methods. Majority of the teachers use the talk and chalk method to teach practical areas. Majority of the teachers also prefer to use the traditional forms of assessment that is essay to teach practical Geography. There is very little use of the currently recommended methods by teachers of teaching and assessment, including the use of portfolio and field assessment. It also concludes that majority of the students do not have necessary skills required to pass practical Geography. The study recommends that there is need for Geography curriculum developers to put emphasis on and identify the right steps of solving practical areas. This can help the teachers to acquire the content knowledge and skills. There is need to strengthen in-service training focusing on teaching and assessment strategies, provide the teachers with a variety of teaching facilities so as to help them master the content knowledge and carryout quality practical work in Geography. There is also need to encourage continuous professional growth of teachers as a way of experiential learning. There is also need for the teachers to encourage more field trips and continuously expose, interpret and guide the students on how to practically, use maps, charts and other teaching aids to enable them master the content knowledge and skills of practical Geography.