IMPACT OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENT ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN TARABA STATE, NIGERIA
This study examined the Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance of Students in Social Studies in Junior Secondary Schools in Taraba State, Nigeria. Four (4) objectives which include, to determine the impact of classroom building on the performance of JSS students in Taraba State and to determine the impact of the adequate class furniture on the performance of JSS students in Taraba State were formed to guide the study, four (4) research questions and four (4) hypotheses were formulated in line with the objectives. Population for the study comprised twenty five thousand three hundred (25, 3000) JSS students from two hundred (200) public secondary schools in Taraba State. Purposive sampling technique was used to select two renovated and two dilapidated schools. Thereafter, two large sized classes of JSS III were selected from two of the schools, another two small sized classes were selected from the other two schools, giving a total of 4 intact classes and students from these classes formed the sample size of 200 for this study. Quasi-experimental research design involving pre-test, post-test and non-equivalent design group was used for the study. The research instrument used for data collection was Social Studies Achievement Test (SSAT) that contained 20 items and was adopted from Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) conducted in Taraba State between 2008 and 2012. Independent t-test was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance, while mean and standard deviation were used to analyze the research questions. Findings from the study showed that all the hypotheses were rejected. The findings revealed that there was a significant difference in the performances of the two groups (Experimental and Control). This revealed that a classroom building; class with adequate furniture; class with small class population and the use of instructional materials were found to have positive impact on the performance of students in Junior Secondary schools in Taraba State. Based on the findings of the study, the researcher concludes that conducive learning environment is very essential for effective teaching and learning and recommendations were made among which includes, that government and other education stakeholders should make concerted efforts to build more classrooms in secondary schools that would help to reduce problem of overcrowding and create enabling teaching and learning environment; that adequate furniture should be provided and students should be oriented on how to maintain these facilities because most a times students destroy these facilities by themselves.
1.1 Background to the Study
Education is the most important component of human resources development and is accorded a pride of place in many countries‟ developmental activities. There is no doubt that the importance of education cannot be underscored because there is no country that has succeeded without educating its people. Education according to Osokoya (2009) helps to improve security, health, prosperity and ecological balance in the world. It encourages social, economic and cultural progress, tolerance, national and international cooperation. Akomolafe (2009) describes education as a single most effective means of curbing population growth, reducing child mortality, eradicating poverty and ensuring democracy, peace and sustainable development.
Education is an instrument for the acquisition of appropriate skills, ability and competence both mental and physical also as equipment for individual to live and contribute to the development of his/her society (Lawal, 2003). Also, in the views of Usha (2007) it is the process of teaching and training of the child which has to do with imparting and acquisition of skills for a particular trade or profession in which applicable methods are used. From what has been viewed as education by different authorities based on their own perceptions, we can say that education is a process by which an individual acquires physical and social capabilities demanded by the society in which he/she is born into in order to be useful to him/her and contribute to the development of the society at large.
The primary purpose of teaching and learning process is to bring about in the learner desirable change in behaviour through critical thinking. This process however, does not take place in vacuum but in an environment structured to facilitate learning. OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) (2009) described learning environment as a physical space that supports multiple and diverse teaching learning programmes including current technologies, one that demonstrates optimal, promotes effective performance and operation over time; one that respects and is in harmony with the environment; and one that encourages social participation, provide a healthy, comfortable, safe, secure and stimulating setting for its occupants.
Thus, learning environment has also been emphasized as an essential requirement for smooth teaching and learning process to take place (National Teachers‟ Institute, NTI 2008). This is because students‟ study habits are to a large extent tied to it. A good learning environment presents learning as a lifelong enterprise and enables students to discover appropriate value system that can be their compass for self-awareness and national consciousness. The study conducted by Akhtar (2010) on public school in Islamabad Pakistan revealed that teaching through technology based learning environment enhanced the achievement level of the students.
However, the societal expectation of quality outputs from the training institution makes students the primary focus of attention in any instructional programme, and the better the learning environment (school), the better it can meet the goals of education and the society in general. Such goals include equipping students with desirable skills, knowledge and attitudes that will enable them to work and live in the society of knowledge (National Policy on Education, 2004). Teachers are expected to make teaching the learners‟ cantered and create enabling environment for students to interact with learning materials in order to concretize their knowledge and skills so that they can become self-confident and self-reliant, and contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the society.
There is a general believe that the condition of school‟s learning environment including infrastructure has an important impact on teachers‟ effectiveness and students‟ academic performance. The facilities that are needed to facilitate effective teaching and learning in an educational institution include the classrooms, offices, laboratories, conveniences and other buildings as well as furniture items and sporting equipment. Comfortable classroom temperature and smaller classes enhance teachers‟ effectiveness and provide opportunities for students to receive more individual attention, ask more questions, participate more fully in discussions, reduce discipline problems and perform better than students in schools with substandard buildings by several percentage points (Earthen, 2002). According to Mitchell (2008) the environment in which you study can have a big effect on how efficient your study time is. He identified noise, interruptions, lighting, temperature, neatness, comfort, instructional materials, facilities such buildings and equipment to have potential effect on study habits.
However, to determine performance of students in any of the subjects offered in junior secondary schools, a performance test is to be conducted. Singer (2001) described performance test as the type of mental test in which the subject is asked to do something rather than to say something. Again, Drever (2002) mentioned that performance test is the type of test which throws light on the ability to deal with things rather than symbols. Then, for academic performance of students, it can be regarded as the observable and measurable behaviour of a student in a particular situation. For example, the academic performance of a student in social studies includes observable and measurable behaviour of student at any point in time during a course. In social studies academic performance consists of individual scores at any particular time obtained from either a teacher-made test or a standardized test. This statement is synonymous to the views of Simpson and Weiner (2009) who described academic performance as the observable and measureable behaviour of a person and animal in a particular situation usually experimental situation. According to Bruce and Neville (2005) academic performance measures the aspect of behaviour that can be observed at a specific period. This can be obtained with the use of either teacher-made test or standardized achievement test developed for school subjects.
Social studies as one of the core subjects in junior secondary school curriculum in Nigeria represents one of the modern curricular arrangements which focuses on interdisciplinary study that seeks to solve the complex problems of man in totality. The idea of introducing social studies as a subject in Nigeria came up before the civil war, when the social development of Nigerians could no longer cope with the level of colonial destructions. This situation led to indiscipline among youths and adults.
To minimize this and socialize the citizens in such a way as to build a strong, united and discipline Nigeria, the type of education that will help the citizens to know more about the society became very important. Social studies sees the need for students to be given the necessary information for enlightenment, to be taught to have respect for law and order, to appreciate the need to be honest and diligent and to cooperate in their community. NERDC (Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council) (2009) has identified the following as objectives of social studies as to help individuals understand their environment, find out its problems and be able to solve the problems; to help individuals to understand the importance of hard work and honesty within the society; to acquaint individuals with the knowledge to understand the laws of our country and be able to obey them; to help citizens understand the importance of cooperating with our family, peer group and leaders; to help individuals understand the needs of our nation and think of ways in which they can carefully contribute to its growth and development; to help individuals understand the wealth of their culture and find ways in which they can use the past and present experience to plan and improve the quality of lives; to help individuals understand the usefulness of being good citizens in our country (Nigeria); to help individuals learn, acquire useful skills, habits and attitudes towards each other and the nation; to make individuals appreciate and understand the role of races, religions and cultures of the world; to enable individuals acquire desirable skills in order to solve our environmental problems and to train citizens to understand one another, tolerate one another despite their differences.
In a different opinion of Davis (2002), one important purpose of social studies is helping young people to develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizen of culturally diverse democratic society in an independent world. Okonkwo (2000:p.12-13) has identified general objectives of social studies education as creation of awareness in the learners about their immediate surroundings; development of specific fundamental dispositions such as attitudes, values and norms of the society; promotion of effective and active citizens; promotion of understanding of social problems of the locality and finding possible solutions to them; helping the learners to develop the right attitudes towards people in position of authority; creation of understanding of individual roles during election especially on how to discharge his/her duties efficiently; and demonstration of flexibility and willingness to accept necessary changes within a system for the common good of all.
From the above stated objectives of social studies education, it can be said without missing words that the subject can enable learners to become nationally conscious, better informed and effective citizens. It can inculcate national unity; imbibe the right type values and attitudes for self and national survival and the acquisition of necessary skills, abilities and competencies which individuals need in order to be able to contribute to national development.
Meanwhile, social studies is one of the core subjects in Nigerian junior secondary schools education. Thus, secondary education is the pivot around which the development of the nations‟ economy revolves. It is the engine room that provides the input resources into the nations‟ economy and higher (tertiary) education production system. Thus, National Policy on Education (2004) described secondary education as the education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage; the broad goals of secondary education shall be to prepare the individual for: a useful living within the society, a higher education.
However, it went further and stated in specific term that, secondary education shall provide all primary leavers with the opportunity for education of higher level irrespective of sex, social status, religious or ethnic background; offer diversified curriculum to cater for the differences in talents, opportunity and further roles; provide trained manpower in the applied science, technology and commerce at sub-professional grades; develop and promote Nigerian languages, arts and cultural heritage; inspire its students with a desire for self- improvement and achievement of excellence; foster national unity with an emphasis on the common ties that unite us in our diversity; rise a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others, respect the dignity of labour, appreciate those values specified under our broad national goals and live as god citizens and provide technical knowledge and vocational skills necessary for agriculture, industrial, commercial and economic development.
Finally, it is obvious that secondary education is important and necessary for the survival of individuals and the society at large. Broadly speaking, secondary education prepares individuals for useful living within the society and prepares the individuals for higher education.
Therefore, the researcher being a teacher, has been motivated to conduct this research on learning environment because of what is considered as deplorable conditions of the learning environment especially the physical aspects in spite of its unquantifiable roles in facilitating teachers‟ instructional delivery and students‟ academic performance. Thus, this study closely looked at the learning environment especially the physical facilities in Taraba State and seen its impact on the performance of students in social studies in junior secondary schools. However, for the purpose of this study, only the physical learning environment was considered.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been observed in the recent past that secondary schools in Nigeria are not living up to expectation in delivering quality education expected of the system. A lot of problems seem to be bedevilling the secondary school system ranging from inadequate facilities, old and dilapidated structures, inadequate instructional materials and unqualified teachers there by making the system ineffective (Wanjobi, 2011). Schools need to be effective so as to be able to deliver the good things expected of them at every point in time. School effectiveness in this context refers to the extent to which schools are able to accomplish their pre-determined objectives. School effectiveness transcends beyond students passing examinations. It also encompasses students‟ attainment in other domains of learning (the affective and the psychomotor domains) (Bandele, 2002). He further stated that, these other domains, apart from having influence on the cognitive achievement, also make the beneficiaries of the education system live a fulfilled life and contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.
However, it has indeed, been observed today that there is persistent poor performance of students in both internal and external examinations. Researchers such as Yusuf (2002) and Adeyemi (2008) have all shown in their various studies that the extent of poor performance of students in public examination has no doubt made parents lost confidence in the ability of the public schools to produce good products.
Experience has shown that there is a high rate of indiscipline in secondary schools. It has also been observed that lateness to school, absence from school, noise-making, quarrelling, rudeness to school authority, deliberate physical harm to others, forgery, cheating in examination and a host of others, are daily happenings in our secondary Schools. All these tend to make the schools ineffective. According to Oladele (2003) the evidence of students‟ moral paucity are more conspicuously seen as high crime in the society and that of the institutions of learning. He further posited that the root cause of these moral laxities translating in higher crime waves is traceable to the non-teaching of ethics, when the students are at the primary schools.
Adewuyi (2002) submitted that conducive learning environment can have effect on both the attitudes and achievement of students. He further added that a positive learning environment is found to be a very important factor of school effectiveness. Therefore, it is against this background information that the researcher examined the Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance of Students in Social Studies in Junior Secondary Schools in Taraba State
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following are the objectives of the study:
- determine the impact of classroom building on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State.
- determine the impact of adequate class furniture on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State.
- ascertain the impact of small class population on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba Stata.
- ascertain the impact of the use of instructional materials on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions are raised with regard to this research:
- what is the impact of classroom building on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State?
- what is the impact of the provision of adequate class furniture on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State?
- what is the impact of small class population on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State?
- what is the impact of the use of instructional materials on the performance of students in junior secondary schools in Taraba State?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following are the research hypotheses:
- there is no significant difference in the performances of students taught social studies in classroom buildings and those in dilapidated buildings in Taraba State.
- There is no significant difference in the performances of students taught social studies in class with adequate furniture and those without furniture in Taraba State.
- there is no significant difference in the performances of students taught social studies in a small class population and those in a large class population in Taraba State.
- there is no significant difference in the performances of students taught social studies using instructional materials and those taught without instructional materials in Taraba State.
1.6 Basic Assumptions
The following assumptions are raised with regard to this research:
- classroom building can stimulate and facilitate effective learning and help to improve students‟ performance.
- classroom with adequate furniture can create a conducive condition for students to learn and can positively influence their performance.
- classroom with small population creates undistracted and noise free environment that allows effective learning to take place which in turn can improve students‟ performance.
- use of instructional materials such as picture, map, chart and so on can positively affect students‟ performance.
1.7 Significance of the Study
Over the years, environment of Nigerian secondary schools have suffered neglect in consideration of issues of renovating dilapidated classrooms, construction of new classroom buildings and provisions of other necessary facilities. This is obvious in the way that students in some secondary schools are learning in dilapidated classrooms or under the tress with little or no seats, no instructional facilities with unqualified teachers among others. Therefore, this study will be of great importance in providing relevant information that can be used by government at whatever level (federal, state and local) who is seen as the principal actor in terms of educational development in the society to provide adequate facilities and maintenance strategies in secondary schools. Secondly, findings of this study will be of relevance to students because it will provide insight into the problems whose solutions might help in taking specific actions which will efficiently and effectively address the poor performance of students as a result of poor nature of our secondary schools in Nigeria today.
Again, findings of this study are of relevant to teachers who are the
principal agents of curriculum implementation because it provides recommendations that would help them to make appropriate utilization of learning environment to create conducive atmosphere that would enhance effective teaching and learning. It is a fact that people work better in places where they feel comfortable and it is believed that the results of this work offered recommendations on how to better up poor conditions of schools thereby creating enabling environment for teachers‟ job satisfaction which no doubt will have positive effect on students‟ learning outcome. The work is of great advantage to non-governmental organization such as United Nation Children and Education Fund (UNICEF), United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other related agencies to see the poor conditions of secondary schools in Nigeria and intervene where necessary.
Also, in a situation where government has been incurring a lot of expenditure in her budget in order to enhance educational programmes for individual and national development and for the attainment of educational goals in general. But, only to discover that her efforts have not been yielding the desired results. This kind of situation is usually not a healthy one hence calls for immediate solutions of which the results of these findings might be of help to government to compare its allocation of resources to education and what is obtainable in reality and adjust where necessary.
The work made recommendations that would help school heads (principals) on how to maintain facilities of learning environment appropriately in order to create enabling and friendly environment for the purpose of enhancing learning process and realization of educational objectives. The study also added to Curriculum developers and school plant planners would hopefully benefit from the outcome of the findings of this study because both the school plant planners and the curriculum developers need information about the current state of learning environment especially the physical aspects either for the purpose of developing new school buildings or for reviewing or developing a new curriculum. However, it is essential to take into consideration the available instructional materials, facilities and equipment of the physical learning environment before reviewing or developing a new curriculum.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The study was conducted to examine the impact of learning environment on the performance of students in social studies in junior secondary schools in Taraba State. Thus, the study used JSS III students of Government Day Junior Secondary School, Wukari, Yakasen Government Junior Secondary School, Wukari, Government Junior Technical Training School, Wukari and Government Day Junior Secondary School Central, Wukari.
IMPACT OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENT ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN TARABA STATE, NIGERIA