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EFFECTS OF CLASS-SIZE AND FIELD TRIP ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE STUDENTS IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
This research work was conducted to determine the effects of class-size and field trip on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna state. The study raised four (4) specific objectives, research questions and null hypotheses each to guide the study. With and without quasi-experimental design was adopted for the study. The population for the study was 12,370 SS III students of agricultural science. Purposively sampling technique was employed to select 102 agricultural science students in Government Secondary School, Sabon Tasha. The instrument used for data collection was a multiple-choice test consisting of a 20-item Achievement Test in Agricultural Science (ATAS). Mean and standard deviation were used to answer all the research questions, while T-test statistics was used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 alpha value of significance. Null hypotheses 1 and 2 were rejected because their T-values were less than the alpha value (p<0.05). Null hypothesis 3 and 4 were accepted and retained because their T-values were greater than the alpha value (p>0.05). The analysis of the findings revealed that field trip and class size had significant effects on the academic performance of agricultural science students and no significant differences in the academic performance of male and female agricultural science students in a normal class size and those taken to field trip. It was concluded that, normal class size was effective in teaching and learning of agricultural science. Field trip broadens and exposed students to real life context in agriculture. It was also concluded that normal class size and field trip do not affect gender academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools. It was recommended that government should build more classrooms with adequate facilities of agricultural science and curriculum planners should make sure that field trip is made compulsory and relevant in agricultural science curriculum among other recommendations.
1.1 Background to the Study
In Nigerian secondary schools, agricultural science has been recognized as a core curriculum subject because agriculture remains an important sector of the Nigerian economy. It has a high potential for absorbing unemployed and underemployed persons; provides raw materials for industries; provides food and at the same time generates foreign exchange for the country.
Agricultural science is one of the core vocational curricular subjects taught at both junior and senior secondary schools in Nigeria. According to Egbule (2004) agricultural Education can be defined as a process of training learners in the process of agricultural productivity as well as the techniques for teaching of agriculture. Wikipedia (2009) described agricultural science education as a broad multidisciplinary field that deals with the selection, breeding and management of crops and domestic animals for economic production. It is a subject taught in secondary schools as a means for self- reliance and preparation for further studies. Agricultural science is therefore designed to inculcate the necessary skills for the practice of agriculture for effective citizenship and contribution to food security for national sustainability. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2009) outlined the major objectives of teaching and learning of agricultural science to reflect ability to: stimulates students’ interest in agriculture, enable students acquire basic knowledge of agriculture, develop basic agricultural skills in students, enable students integrate knowledge with skills in agriculture, expose students to opportunities in the field of agriculture, prepare students for further studies in agriculture and prepare students for occupations in agriculture.
The number of students in a class is regarded as class size which can vary. Hoffman (2001) describes class size as the number of students per teacher. Adeyemi (2008) defines class size as an educational tool that can be describe as average number of students per class in a school, while Kedney (1999) describes it as a tool that can be used to measure performance of the education system. The number of students in a class has the potential to affect how much is learned in a number of different ways (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran and Willms, 2001). For example, it could affect how students interact with each other. This may result in more or less noise and disruptive behavior, which in turn affect the different kinds of activities the teacher is able to promote. It could affect how much time the teacher is able to focus on individual students and their specific needs rather than on the group as a whole. Since it is easier to focus on one individual in a smaller group than in a larger group, the smaller the class size, the more likely individual attention can be given, in theory at least. Class size could also affect the teacher’s allocation of time and hence, effectiveness in other ways too, for example, how much topics can be covered.
According to the National Policy on Education, for effective teaching and learning, the teacher students’ ratio shall be 1:40 (National Policy on Education, NPE, 2009). But the practice is far from this policy. Cases of a teacher facing a class size of more than 50 students are common (Oafor, 2002). With such a number of students in a classroom much of the instruction time will definitely go into classroom management. If there is any time left for instruction, only a little can be achieved by the teacher. A remedy for this would have been more classrooms and more teachers.
Field trip involves any activity carried out by a group of learners outside the classroom under a close supervision of the teacher (Sanders, 2015). It involves taking students outside the classroom setting to have first-hand experience of what happens in the environment or real life situation. Aliyu (2008) observes that field trip involves taking
students out of the classroom to places where they can see concrete illustration of classroom theories. It also offers direct observation and interpretation of the substance in their natural surroundings. Field trip on the spot requires the use of basic scientific skills that include observation, identification, classification and manipulation of substance in the natural surroundings. Field-trip provide real life context for the material being learned. Studies also conducted by Urulor, (2000) showed that a greater percentage of what is heard, seen and touched during field trip is remembered than what is merely heard. Field trip provides outdoors experiences and observations from which the students learn. It could cover a few hours and could last as long as a couple of weeks.
Field trip could mean visit from the school to farms, wildlife parks, zoos, agro-allied and agro-based industries or public places of interest such as the kings' palace, railway station, airport and post-office, all within the neighbourhood. Experiences acquired during field trip are usually long lasting and cannot be easily forgotten by the students. According to Olayinka (2012), field trip provides opportunities for direct observations and develops the skill for keen observation in the students; it helps to generate and sustain student interest in the subject and help the student to develop interest in certain professions. However, it is time consuming; it could be expensive and disruptive especially when the field trip lasts several days.
Academic performance is an important parameter in measuring success in students. Students’ academic performance refers to students’ achievement in the topic taught based on the stated objectives. Edinyang and Ubi (2012) define academic performance as the outcome of education which reveals the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved educational goals. Academic performance or achievement is commonly measured by examinations or continuous assessment (Abdulhamid, 2013).According to Denga (2002), learning is says to occur if there is a positive change in behaviour or performance which is a
result of experience and practice and which makes individuals face later situations differently. Hence, an individual is assumes to have learnt techniques and skills if there is a remarkable change in his academic performance during and after the course of his programme (Camilus, 2011). Academic performance is an outcome of interest to both researchers and professionals within the field of education and is generally an outcome desired by many parents, stakeholders, educationist and youth. An important question that is raised by educators, parents and often society is how high academic performance in students can be promoted and what factors or contexts have an influence on academic performance throughout a child’s development.
There are several micro and macro contexts that have an impact on students’ academic performance and one of the contexts that have been studied is the classroom context. Kounin and Gump (2005) add that the classroom context has distinctive forces or “signals” different to other contexts which pull events and participants along with them. A lot of argument had gone on the impact of class size and field trip on academic performance of students. Wosyanju (2005) maintains that large classes pose some teaching challenges such as difficulty in student control during field trip, delayed feed-back provided to students¸ no high quality individual feedback resulting in inefficiency and poor quality of students, reduction in teaching, less assignment so as to reduce marking and avoiding assessment which encourages shallow learning.
Class size as one of the sub-variables of school quality exerts significant influence on teachers’ task performance in terms of field trip, assessment of students’ academic performance and classroom management. Small class size enhances academic performance.
Despite the fact that there are those against the notion, mainly due to the financial implications, most professionals in the field believe that smaller classes are conducive for effective learning which makes students to have a better study environment and lead teachers to teach more effectively.
Teaching large classes affects the morale motivation and self-esteem of teachers. When teaching large classes, teachers spend more time in organizing class activities, field trips and not enough time on meeting students need individually. Field trip when conducted in a proper process can improve students’ performance in several ways by motivating their learning activities. Considering these relationship between the variables, the researcher examined the “effects of class size and field trip on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.”
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Agricultural science is a practical subject that requires to be taught in conducive classroom and practically by making teaching situation as real as possible. Despite the importance placed on agriculture it is very disappointing to note that students’ performance in the subject at both internal (terminal school examination) and external (WASSCE and NECO) examinations has remain consistently poor (Okafor, 2002). The large class size of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools is not encouraging (Blatchford, Bassett and Brown, 2011). Pedder (2006) observes that most students in large class size classrooms do not copy notes because they think that since the class is large the teacher might not notice them. He also adds that noise making is much and setting up of activities; making limited resources go a long way is tedious; making most students to be unserious with their studies.
Field trip involves taking students out of the classroom to places where they can see concrete illustration of classroom theories. Thus, individual differences among the students will be addressed since they are able to see, touch and do. Urulor (2000) observes that few teachers of agricultural science take their students on field trips in senior secondary schools. Throughout the researcher’s four years of experience as an agricultural science teacher, the researcher was never opportuned to take students to areas of agricultural interest for studies.
The increase in examination malpractices cannot be separated from poor seating arrangement in classrooms due to large number of students (Pedder, 2006). The quantity and quality of interaction in the classroom and during field trip are likely to be adversely affected, due to lack of space for moving round the class, difficulty in controlling a large number of students during field trip and the overwhelming number of students that the teacher has to deal with and manage within a forty-minute lesson (Pedder, 2006). It is based on these problems that this study is carried out to determine the effect of class- size and field trip on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State with a view to making solutions that could help alleviate the problem.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to determine the effects of class-size and field trip on the academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
The specific objectives were to:
- determine the effect of class size on students’ academic performance in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- determine the effect of field trip on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- ascertain the effect of normal class size on the academic performance of male and female students in agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- ascertain the effect of academic performance of male and female students taken to field trip in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State
The research work is expected to provide answers to the following specific research questions:
- What is the effect of class size on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State?
- What is the effect of field trip on academic performance of agricultural science students in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State?
- What the effects of normal class size on academic performance of male and female students in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State?
- What is the effect of academic performance of agricultural science male and female students taken to field trip?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated and were tested at the significant level of 0.05.
- There is no significant difference between students’ academic performance of normal class size and large class size in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- There is no significant difference between academic performance of students taken to field trip and those not taken to field trip in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- There is no significant difference between academic performance of male and female students in normal class size in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in Kaduna State.
- There is no significant difference between academic performance of male and female students taken to field trip in agricultural science in senior secondary schools in
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of importance to educational planners, government, teachers, students, parents, agricultural farms, agricultural industries and researchers.This research study will provide useful data and recommendations to educational planners and government as they make decisions in the future to restructure the agricultural science curriculum to make more rooms for field trips in the senior secondary schools. It will provide support for government to maintain the status quo of normal classes in many of the senior secondary schools.
Secondary schools teachers will benefit in this research work in terms of having recommended class sizes to teach and will encourage them to use field trip for difficult concept in agricultural science. It will also provide teachers of agricultural science with information regarding the usefulness of field trip in supplementing theoretical lesson done in the classroom.
The study will encourage the active participation of students in the classroom and field trip which will help in meaningful learning. It will also minimize the high failure rate of senior secondary school students in agricultural science.
Parents will benefit by seeing the importance of the knowledge of field trip on their children/ wards and therefore encourage them to pay for them to go on field trip. The study will provide agricultural farms and industries knowledge on the importance of field trips in teaching and learning of agricultural science and as a result may not hesitate in hosting students who are interested in visiting their farms or industries.
The findings of this research work will lead to further in-depth study on the impact of class size and field trip on the academic performance of students in Nigeria as it will serve
as a contribution to knowledge in the subject area. In this regard, it will be useful for other researchers who might want to carry out research in related areas
1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
The study assumed that:
- class size influences students’ academic performances.
- field trip influences students’ academic performance.
- most schools have large class size.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The study was delimited to only SSS III agricultural science students because these set of students had been exposed to agricultural science subject for a long period of two years. It was delimited to public senior secondary school Kaduna State because students from different backgrounds were involved. It was delimited to class size and field trip because students learnt faster when they are exposed to real life context of what is taught theoretically in class. It was delimited to livestock diseases common in the area because they can see the physical signs and symptoms of the diseases when taken out on field trip.