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influence of environmental variables on students academic performance in social studies in junior secondary schools
1.1 Background of the Study
The origin of social studies assumes a duality among scholars who bare their mind on the development of the subject. Scholars such as Ezegbe (1987) and Udo (1989) are of the school of thought that ascribes the origin of social studies to the united state of America. Another school of thought headed by Saxe, an astute American professor of social studies note that the foundation of social studies education had its beginning in Great Britain after 1820s and quickly spread to the United States.
Osakwe and Hedjere (1993) gave credence to the former school of thought when they categorically stated that the concept of social studies first developed in the united state of America and later, the subject find its way into Europe, with particular reference to Britain. The wind of controversy over the origin of social studies in United state of America and Britain did not end abruptly as it also find its way into Nigeria during the importation of the subject. Iyame and Onyesom (1990) are of the view that there would seem to be no agreement among social studies scholars on the origin of the subject in Nigeria. While so many scholars are of the view that the subject found its way into the African continent and Nigeria via America and Britain. Mazieoti (1992) agued that it is axiomatic only to the extent that the social studies was borrowed and that the content of social studies in Nigeria is Nigerian and has been an integral part of the Nigeria indigenous curriculum right from the earliest time except for certain modification to accommodate societal dynamic and international prescription.
The development of social studies was born out of the need to construct a better and ideal society to compensate for the great suffering and wars. Akubue (2008) opined that after the Second World War in 1945, there was the need for a more relevant liberal education that would provide greater understanding of mankind and enable the pupils and adults to become socially conscious and responsible members of the society. Okobia (1984) states that social studies by understanding human relationships aims at producing citizens with skills, competencies, moral values and reasoned judgment to effectively live, interact interrelate and contribute positively to the economic, social, political and cultural development of the Nigeria society. The development of social studies in Nigeria was aimed at divorcing the pursuit of the colonial educational polices which was alien to the cultures and ways of life of the people. Some scholars have argued that the type of education produced. Nigeria in blood with English opinions.
Thus at the verge of independence around 1960 Africans including Nigeria rose up and instituted committees to look into the various school curricula to find ways of indigenizing them (Ezeudu 1996). This led to the initial meeting of Africans leaders at Queen’s college in the Oxford Conference of 1967 organized by the educational development centre, U.S.A and the centre for curriculum Removal and Educational Development overseas (CREDO), England. AT the conference the needs and priorities in Africa curriculum were discussed and participants resolved to prioritize the development of social studies. The oxford conference paved the way for the mobassa (Kenya) conference of 1968 in which the introduction of social studies to all schools in the continent was seriously considered.
In recent times, students; academic performance in social studies has been an area of most concern to stakeholders and other researchers in the field of education (Akintoal, 2001). This has been so because the major objectives of education is to bring about a desirable behavioral changes on the parts of the learner and the learned. It also aimed at producing a well balanced personality to lived according to what the society cherishes. Nigeria is a diverse nation with various ethnic groups, and cultures. In order to maintain unity in diversity, citizenship education becomes inevitable and this culminated in the introduction of social studies into Nigerian school curriculum. Although social studies had always been part and parcel of the school curriculum, its existence as a single subject in Nigeria school came after the National curriculum conference in 1969 (Eboh & Ukpong, 1993) since then, its acceptance by Nigeria educators, students and parents alike appears a difficult task.
It is obvious that student’s performance in social studies is quite dependent upon a number of factors including environmental factors. These factors have contributed immensely to the performance of the students in the subject matter in their respective schools. Most students find school life enjoyable but some do not. The schools provide most children the platform for healthy growth, physically, morally and most importantly emotionally. For physical growth, every school provides students opportunities for games and sports (football, handball, basket ball, lawn-tennis, and athletics), house sports and inter-school competitions, all these give students opportunities for healthy growth as well as creating effects on their performance. Onyia (2002) observed that moral training, religious and moral instructions and practices which are on the school time table as well as school rules and regulations provide the opportunities for training in leadership and in followership.
Ikpe (2005) stated that each student has his own distinct potential and limitations. The extent of realization of his potentialities depends on the richness of the child’s environment, his initial interaction with his colleagues. Ojo (1997) noted that classroom climate is how learners interact among themselves during the teaching-learning process. Johnson and Johnson (2000) observed that this has not yet received adequate attention by educational researchers, yet the way learners interact among themselves in the learning process has been found to have effect on the outcome of learning.
It is pertinent to note that for over the years there has been an argument among many psychologists and educationists about the determinants of academic performance of students. While some stress the attitude of teachers others attribute to other school environmental factors such as class discipline, student-student relationship, teachers-students relationship, availability of instructional materials in secondary schools. The creation of a conducive learning environment is of particular importance at the secondary level, given the rather tender ages of these learners vis-à-vis our desire to retain them in the school and sustain their interest in the school system. The way teachers structure their classroom environments in terms of how learners interact among themselves during the learning process may have effect on students’ school achievement.
School location is also significant to effectiveness of student’s learning. This is because the distance of a school from students location will determine the consistency and punctuality of students’ attending school lessons. Some students rather will prefer to enroll in a school that is closer to their homes. It would make the students participate actively in school activities as well as improving their performance. Most parents especially with low income who cannot afford transport cost to their children will prefer suburban schools (Onyehalu, 2002).
It is essential to note that class size is one of the important factors that affects student’s achievement at school. If the number of students assigned to a particular class is more than the specific size, it many definitely disrupt effective management of the class by the teacher. According to Witting, (2003), too many students congested in a small classroom will affect negatively the performance of students in that class. It is conjectured that one of the characteristics of a conducive learning environment is a small class size assigned for a teacher at a time.
School type plays a very prominent role in the academic performance of the learners David (2004) noted that School type is a very prominent factor in the academic performance of students in social studies. According to him most private schools are more equipped with upto date facilities not only to motivate and encourage enrolment of many students but also to enhance effective teaching in the interest of the learners.
Considering instructional strategies in any school subject in Nigeria, the teacher represents the most important aspects of the educational system. It is on the teacher that the implementation of the curriculum depends. Improvement in the quality of our educational system is the teachers’ responsibility (Adaralegbe, 1981). Thus, drawing on the literature on the concept of teaching, the centrality of the variables in effective curriculum implementation can be gauged from one of the conclusions of the House of Commons Select Committee Report (1986) which stated that “the skills of diagnosing learning success and difficulty and selecting and presenting new tasks are the essence of teachers’ profession and vital to children’s progress”. The approach takes due account of the role of the learner in mediating and structuring knowledge and places even greater stress on teachers’ competence in subject matter. Several studies have noted the importance of teachers- students’ relationship and academic performance of the students.
The integration of the individual into a sound and effective citizenship and equal education opportunities for all citizens of the nations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels both inside and outside formal school system ( Fed. Rep. of Nig. 1981, p.7). in consonance with the above, the new national policy on education spelt out some aims and objectives of education that may help the individual to develop physically and society, and able to contribute to the national development.
- The inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigeria society.
- The acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competence both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live and contribute to the development of his society.(Fed. Rep. of Nig. 1981, p.8).
These characteristics of the national objectives are fully reflected in the social studies objectives. Social studies apart from imparting knowledge and providing valuable information necessary in life, also aims at helping students to inculcate desirable social habits attitude and values needed for the survival of the individual in the society.
Morriset (1980) opined that social studies has the special focus of positively influencing, modifying and changing pupils’ behaviour in the direction of acceptable norms, values, beliefs, attitudes and practices of the society”. It was believed that social studies emphasized effects and that its contents derive from the multi-various interactions of man in the environment. This makes the new curriculum to give social consideration to man’s various relationships or encounters with other men in and outside his immediate environment, e.g encounters with natural, spiritual, cultural, economic and technological element in the society. Research has shown that schools that have established orderly and enabling learning environments are likely to teach for understanding and meaning.
A positive school environment provides advantageous condition for effective development of good study behaviour, whereas, a hostile environment cause student not to succeed. It is therefore against this background that this research is undertaken to investigate the influence of environmental variables on students’ academic performance in social studies in junior secondary schools certificate in Eket educational zone.