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Learning Enviroment and Its Effects on Student Academic Performance in Integrated Science Essay

In Nigeria, secondary education is the education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage. Consequently, the broad goals of secondary education are geared to prepare the individual for useful living within the society and to progress to higher education (Federal Government of Nigeria, 2004). The school at this level is established so that students can learn in order to be able to transmit knowledge from one generation to another for the continuity and well-being of the society. Learning as a hypothetical construct can only be inferred from observable behavior. Psychologists usually define learning as a relatively permanent change in behavior due to past experience or the process by which relatively permanent changes occur in behavioral potentials as a result of Experience (Gross, 2010)

In fact, secondary school education is an investment and an instrument that can be used to achieve a more rapid economic, social, political, technological, scientific and cultural development in the country. The role of secondary education is to lay a solid foundation for better academic performance of students in their pursuit of university education and in other higher institutions with the aim of producing competent manpower for the growth and development of the nation. Recent trends in this tier of education in Nigeria show poor academic results from our children. The preponderance of mass failure in the final examinations conducted by various examination bodies (WAEC, NECO NABTEB) has led to the hue and cry by all and sundry over students’ poor academic performance. It is clear that this tier of education is now seriously threatened by total near collapse as evident by students’ abysmal performance in 2011 examination results in Nigeria.

Dissenting groups have passed the blame of students’ poor performance on teachers, parents and government policy somersault. According to Aremu and Sokan (2003), and Aremu and Oluwole (2001), secondary school students’ poor performance may be hinged on students because of their low retention, parental factors, association with wrong peers and motivation. Previous research evidence showed that poor academic performance at the secondary school level of education is a product of teacher, school and the home environment. According to Morakinyo (2003), the falling level of academic performance of secondary school students is attributable to teachers’ non-use of verbal reinforcement.

Also the home environment or family background of learners affects their academic performance (Ajila & Olutola, 2007) The sharp decline in the academic performance at various levels of our educational system in Nigeria is largely attributed to the poor conditions in our educational institutions. These include lack of modern instructional technology, poor classroom conditions and lack of adequate training programmes for teachers. Similarly, classroom learning environments and school factors exert some dominant influence on learners, since man is a product of his environment. The importance of learning environment to a successful academic achievement cannot be overemphasized.

The learning environment includes school location and physical buildings, laboratory equipment, library services and materials, instructional aids and effective classroom management. Intelligence is not the only determinant of academic achievement. Learning environment affects the academic achievement of a student. According to Basque and Dore (1998), learning and teaching environment ought to implement six functions: inform, communicate, collaborate, produce, scaffold and manage. They added that conceptually speaking, the learning environment refers to the whole range of components and activities within which learning happens.

Learning environment that is free from barriers or distraction such as noise, gas/smoke pollution and so on, will promote students’ concentration or perceptual focus to learning (Sprinthall, 1987). Similarly, the entire unattractive physical structure of the school building could demotivate learners to achieve academically. This mismatch promotes poor academic performance. Danesty (2004) stated that dilapidating building lacking mental stimulating facilities that are characterized with low or no sitting arrangement, will also affect students’ learning. Class size has also been identified as a determinant of academic performance. Schools with smaller class size perform better academically than schools with larger class size.

Kraft (1994) in his study of the ideal class size and its effects on effective teaching and learning concluded that any class size above forty (40) has negative effects on students’ achievement. Generally, good teaching is best done in classes with small numbers that allow for individual attention. Teachers do make a difference to motivate students in learning, working in tandem with parents who are the first teachers to children. Noordin, Azizi, Jamaludin, Shahrin and Zurihanmi (2010) opined that teachers can make school life miserable or appealing by filling the classroom with excitement and hope. Students will continue in their learning and even search for more knowledge under the leading of enthusiastic teacher (Wlodkowski & Jaynes, 1990). Atkinson (2000) found a positive relationship between teachers’ motivation and the students’ performance.

The availability and use of teaching and learning materials affect the effectiveness of a teacher’s lesson. The use of a variety of media increases the probability that the students would learn more and that young children are capable of understanding abstract ideas if they are provided with sufficient materials and concrete experience with the phenomena that they are to understand. Adu and Olatundun (2007), Adediwura and Tayo (2007), and Star (2002) suggested that effective teaching is a significant predictor for students’ academic achievement. In short, poor academic performance of students has been linked to poor teachers’ performance in terms of accomplishing learning tasks (Ofoegbu, 2004; Asikhia, 2010).

The home environment or family background of students affects their academic performance (Ajila and Olutola 2007; Nzewuawah, 1995; Ichado, 1998). The home environment sharpens the child’s initial view of learning. Parents’ beliefs, expectations and attitudes about education have a profound early impact on students’ conceptions of the place of education in their life. ` Children in poverty often face problems at home and at school that compromises their learning (Ceballo and McLoyd, 2002, Evans and English, 2002). At home, they might have parents who do not set high educational standards for them, who are incapable of reading to them, and who do not have enough money to pay for educational materials and experiences such as books and trips to zoos and museums.

They might be malnourished and live in areas where crime and violence are a way of life (Santrock, 2004). The home environment is as important as what goes on in the school. The home factors include: parental involvement in children’s education, how much parents read to young children; how much television children are allowed to watch; and how often students change schools. Phillips (1998) also found that parental education and social economic status have an impact on students’ achievement.

Students with parents who were both educated tended to achieve at the highest levels. Income and family size were moderately related to achievement (Ferguson, 1991). Thus from the analysis of academic achievement, home environment (including family income) and educational activities, it can be concluded that home environment and educational activities explained the greatest amount of variance (Peng and Wright, 1994; Kamaruddin, Zainal, Aminuddin and Jusoff, 2009)

The performance of secondary school students in science and non-science subjects in NECO, WAEC and JAMB calls for proper investigation. Student low performance in those subject can be traced back to the effect of their learning environment. Although, several scholars have proposed various factors responsible for the poor performance of students, few research have been dedicated to the correlation between student learning environment both at school and home and academic achievement of students. Thus, this study addressed those learning environment factors that hinder student from performing better in integrated science.

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of learning environment on secondary school student academic performance in integrated science. Specifically, the study will; Examine

1.How do secondary school students perceive the quality of learning environment in relation to their academic performance? 2.How do secondary school students perceive teachers’ teaching methods in relation to their academic performance? 3.How do secondary school students perceive parents economic status in relation to their academic performance?

1: How do secondary school students perceive the quality of learning environment in relation to their academic performance? Ho 2: How do secondary school students perceive teachers’ teaching methods in relation to their academic performance? Ho 3: there is no significant difference between class size and student academic performance in integrated science?


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