The differential scholastic achievement of students in Nigeria has been and is still a source of concern and research interest to educators, government and parents. This is so because of the great importance that education has on the national development of the country. All over the country, there is a consensus of opinion about the fallen standard of education in Nigeria (Adebule, 2004). Parents and government are in total agreement that their huge investment on education is not yielding the desired dividend.
Teachers also complain of students’ low performance at both internal and external examination. The annual releases of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination results (SSCE) conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) justified the problematic nature and generalization of poor secondary school students’ performance in different school subjects. For instance, the percentage of failure compared with students who passed English and Mathematics between 2004 to 2007 is shown below.
Purpose of the Study
The study sets out clearly among other things to: finding out whether there is significant difference between methods of teaching and academic performance qualification of teachers and academic performance and students’ environment and poor academic performance.
This research will attempt to answer the following questions: 1. What is the perception of teachers on students’ poor academic performance and teachers’qualifications? 2. What is students’ perception on teachers’ qualification and students’ poor academic performance? 3. What is the perception of teachers on students’ poor academic performance and teachers’ method of teaching? 4. What is students’ perception on their poor academic performance and teachers’ methods of teaching?
The Concept of Poor Academic Performance
Poor academic performance according to Aremu (2000) is a performance that is adjudged by the examinee/testee and some other significant as falling below an expected standard. The interpretation of this expected or desired standard is better appreciated from the perpetual cognitive ability of the evaluator of the performance. The evaluator or assessor can therefore give different interpretations depending on some factors. Bakare (1994) described poor academic performance as any performance that falls below a desired standard. The criteria of excellence can be from 40 to 100 depending on the subjective yardstick of the evaluator or assessor.
For example, a 70% performance of senior secondary 3; students in junior secondary English language examination is by all standard a very good performance. However, a cursory look at the performance and the individual examined and the standard of the examination he or she took could reveal that the performance is a very poor one. On the other hand, a JSS2 student’s performance of 37% in SS3 mathematics can be said to be a poor performance when in actual fact the performance is by all standards a very good one. This shows that the concept of poor academic performance is very relative and this depends on so many intervening variables.
Causes of Poor Academic Performance among Secondary School Students Aremu and Sokan (2003) submit that the search for the causations of poor academic achievement is unending and some of the factors they put forward are: motivational orientation, self-esteem/selfefficacy, emotional problems, study habits, teacher consultation and poor interpersonal relationships. Bakare (1994) also made efforts to categorize factors militating against good academic performance into four principal areas which are:
i. Causation resident in the child such as basic cognitive skills, physical and health factors, psycho-emotional factors, lack of interest in school programme
ii. Causations resident in the family such as: cognitive stimulation/basic nutrition during the first two years; type of discipline at home; lack of role model and Finance
iii. Causation resident in the school such as school location and physical building; interpersonal relationship among the school personnel
iv. Causations resident in the society such as instability of educational policy; under-funding of educational sector, leadership; Job losses.
Family Background and Poor Academic Performance of the Child The family is the primary socializing agent of which a child is a member since it is in the family the child is born. One may rightly say that the family is the informal socializing agent since all its members are blood relations. At this junction, it must be clearly known that families differ vastly in terms of their significance in social order as some have more prestige, dignity, money and power than others. However, despite these differences in families, a child in the family remains exactly alike for the following reasons:
1. The people surrounding the child here are generally adults full of experience
2. The child lives his early life in the family and equally develops his first language.
3. Since they are of the same blood, they all work together to mould him in a way that he will perfectly fit into the society.
4. For the same reasons given above they will not intentionally misdirect him.
5. There is free interaction among the family members which promotes better understanding.
6. There is imposition of the social norm on the child through punishment and praises
7. A child in the family is having his primary exposure to the world and hence he is totally guided by the adults in his family most especially the parents.
8. Finally, a child in the family is immune to all the social ills in the society under normal condition or in an ideal situation.
Factors affecting the Child’s Academic Performance and Socialization Processes in the Family
The factors discussed below have been found to influence learning at home and in the school.
Types of Family and Students’ Academic Performance
Essentially, different types of families have been discussed in the previous chapter. Three major types of family are nuclear or monogamous, compound or polygamous and traditional or extended families. Studies performed by people proved that each type has its influence on the academic achievement of a child. Many research studies have indicated that children from nuclear families perform better in school than children from the compound or polygamous families. (Ajala & Iyiola, 1988). The following reasons are responsible for this:
1. The children have more time for their studies in most cases because there are less people to send them on errands. The reverse is the case in a polygamous family. 2. Children from polygamous and broken homes have tendency to be social deviants due to lack of adequate supervision and care. 3. Since there are more people in a polygamous family, they exert a lot of pressure or influence on the child. If it happens that a lot of such influences are bad then this will adversely affect the child.
Family Size and Position in the Family
Family size refers to the number of children in the reference family. The larger the family the less the attention and devotion of each child by the parents and the more the difficulties encountered by the parents in meeting the needs of the children both physically and emotionally particularly in this austerity period when the prices of food and commodities are skyrocketed. No wonder the federal government of Nigeria is making a move to limit the number of children by a female to four. It is a good move in the right direction although the populace themselves are regulating child bearing due to the present economic conditions. The fewer the family the better is the ‘rule.’ The position a child occupies in a family equally plays a significant role in his development and academic achievement.
Generally, the first child enjoys most particularly among the middle class and the ‘rich’. The parents are excited and determined to give him all he needs. They are generally overprotected and have tendency to become spoilt due to the type of family they come from. Due to some of the facts stated above, some of them that are undetermined achieve low academic excellence. In few cases, particularly among the ‘poor’, they labour seriously to achieve academic excellence and hence pave way for those behind them. The last born are generally ‘rotten’ in that they are adequately provided for not only by their parents but equally by their brothers and sisters. The mere fact that their brother is a lawyer and their sister is a doctor; blindfold them to the extent that they themselves will not work hard. In other words, they are relaxed by their elders’ achievements. However, there are exceptional cases to this.
Family Educational Background and Socio-Economic Status
These two are lumped together because they are related and one may rightly say that they are married and hence should not be ‘divorced’. Kerlinger (2006) opines that socio-class or status could be defined more objectively by using such indices as occupation, income and education. It is assumed that the society is divided into different strata based on the possession of social and economic amenities. The stratum which an individual occupies in this socio-economic stratification represents his social class. Status based on socio-economic factors represents one of the major systems of stratification. Social stratification arises out of the recognition that in all societies, people are ranked or evaluated at a number of levels. Social class is common to most societies, ancient or modern.
Following the idea of Maxweber, socio-economic status is usually determined by wealth, power and prestige. Generally, when comparing and evaluating people we rank those who are wealthy in terms of material possessions, type and size of house, area of residence, and number of cars, quality of clothes etc. Wealth is strongly correlated with education and occupation and when socio-economic status is measured these other factors are usually included. Hence in any society, there is social stratification that is the organization of society in hierarchical order which deals with inequality in society in terms of services, obligation, power and prestige
For the purpose of this study, attempt is made to divide the members of a society into two strata: 1. High socio-economic status (HSES) – consists of upper and middle classes – the ‘rich’. 2. Low socio-economic status (LSES) – consists of lower class – the ‘poor’. In terms of rearing children, middle class parents are probably more permissive that is democratic while the lower class parents are more rigid that is autocratic. Reasons for these actions could be traced to the level of education and nature of work or personal experience.
Socio-Economic Status (SES) and Academic Achievement of Students The value of socio-economic factors for predicting academic achievement seems to be especially supported by research. White (1986) and Morakinyo (2003) indicate the existence of a relationship between socio-economic status and academic achievement. White (1986) in a meta analysis of 620 correlation coefficient from 100 students indicates that a definite relationship exists between SES and academic achievement. He noted that the frequency obtained correlation ranged from 0.10 to 0.70 that is positive relationship which means as one factor increases the other also increases.
Types of Discipline at Home
Research works have shown that nature of parental discipline affect academic output of children (Aremu, 2000). Parents in their bid to discipline their children have been found to be authoritative, democratic or permissive. Children whose parents are authoritative more than not live in constant fear of such parents and may most likely transfer such a fear to significant others in the school environment. Such children have low self-worth, insecurity, and may found it difficult to consult with teachers. Oluwole and Oluwole (2000) found that the degree of self-efficacy and anxiety manifest by learners determine their academic performance.
On the other hand, children from permissive homes are too complacent, unmotivated, and lack personal will to succeed. The democratic style of parenting has been found to be very helpful to teaching-learning situation. Here, children receive punishment that is commensurate with the offence committed. Such children are strong willed and ready for success. Aremu (2000) observes from a study that undergraduates that receive democratic type of parenting perform better than their counterparts from autocratic homes.
Many individuals who might have done this nation proud in different fields have been forced into uninspired careers due to unavailability of finance resources. Such individuals are forced out of school and made to engage in hawking, selling packaged drinking water and the likes so as to save money for their school expenses. Most of the time, they cannot afford instructional materials, and are always at the mercy of examiners during examination period. The persistence of this in the life of an individual student may spell doom for his academic success. Tracy and Walter (1998) corroborate this when they submit that individuals at the lowest economic level are often the list well-served by the school system.
School Location and Physical Building
The importance of these to a successful academic achievement cannot be overemphasized; where the school is located determines to a very large extent the patronage such a school will enjoy. Similarly, the entire unattractive physical structure of the school building could de-motivate learners to achieve academically. This is what Isangedighi (1998) refers to as learner’s environment mismatch. According to him, this promotes poor academic performance.
Interpersonal Relationship among the School Personnel
Healthy interpersonal relationship among the personnel in the school setting will help to promote conducive environment for teaching-learning situation. he healthy relationships will attract and sustain the academic interest of the learners.
Quality of Teaching Staff
Adeyemo (2005) remarks that no profession in Nigeria has suffered reversal of fortune than teaching. This, they submit has affected the commitment expected of the teachers. This then implies that the quality of service rendered by an unmotivated teacher could affect academic achievement of learners. Or how does one explain a situation whereby primary school pupils or secondary school students receive an average of 125hours and 150hours of teaching as against 250 hours and 300hours respectively per term?
Teachers’ Method of Teaching
The means or strategies employed by teachers in an attempt to impact knowledge to the learner is referred to as methodology. Osokoye (2006) sees teaching method as the strategy or plan that outlines the approach that teachers intend to take in order to achieve the desirable objectives. It involves the way teachers organize and use techniques of subject matter, teaching tools and teaching materials to meet teaching objectives. Sometimes when a teacher teaches and at the end of the lesson, evaluation is carried out and it is discovered that students are unable to carry out the behavioural or instructional objectives what the teacher needs to do is to examine his teaching methods rather than looking at students as the causes. Most untrained teachers point accusing fingers on students rather than on themselves when the students are unable to carry out the expected behaviour at the end of the lesson or in examinations. Therefore, teachers planning should include:
I. Choice of appropriate teaching material
II. Choice of appropriate teaching method
III. Intensive research on the topic to be taught
IV. Determination of the objectives for the lesson
The classroom is that space bounded by the wall and roof, which a teacher houses his pupils/students for the purpose of giving instruction to such pupils/students. In other words, it is a shelter for both teachers and learners so as to engage in educative activities. Management on the other hand, can be seen as the process of designing and maintaining any setting in which people work in groups for the purpose of accomplishing pre-determined goals. The idea of ‘any setting’ equally indicates that management is applicable to all establishments which do not exonerate educational setting.
Adequate well prepared instructional materials determine the amount of learning that can be placed in a learning setting. Good quality materials can motivate interest, maintain concentration and make learning more meaningful. The need for the use of instructional materials by the subject teacher in the modern age cannot be overemphasized; the traditional method of talk and chalk approach can no longer improve the performance of students in secondary schools academically.
The unconducive atmosphere of our secondary schools’ learning environment also contributes to the poor academic performance of students. Our secondary schools are experiencing astronomical increase in population to the extent that some classes use 3-5 registers for a class having up to 250 students. In such situations, teacher student ratio is 1:250. The recommended 1:50 ratio has gone into oblivion. Knowing students by name is no longer in vogue in Nigerian secondary schools. The problems of too large population of students in classroom does not create a good condition for learning which can lead to poor academic performance of students.
Peer Group Influence
Generally, peer group means a group of equals. But sociologists apply it to groups made up of persons who are of the same age and often to groups of children or of adolescents. They play a normal part in the process of socialization as they provide experiences to those who are growing up, a type that are not available in their own families. The adolescents take solace in interacting with their peers and they prefer to keep longer time with them than with their parents. The peer group therefore has tremendous influence on the adolescent’s pattern of behaviour especially on their interests, attitudes, value system, emotional expressions, and interaction patterns and so on.
However, the peer group’s norms/standards in many cases may run foul to that of the community or society at large. Thus, when the adolescent falls into bad groups, his/her home background notwithstanding, the chances are high that his/her social behaviour would change for bad rather than for good. As expressed by Steinberg (1996), these peers whom adolescents look to for approval and supports have been noted as inevitable and necessary.
Implications for Counselling
The enormity and consequence of poor academic achievement call for a serious concern. The more reason why scholars have not ceased to turn their research beam light on the subject matter. A number of scientific and clinical remediation have therefore been proffered in this respect. They are as follows:
1. Parenting enrichment programme: Unarguably, parents play and determine to a very great extent the academic achievement and overall success of their children. They are the prime educators of the children. Thus, they are fundamentally supposed to be equipped and re-equipped with some multi-dimensional skills. Such skills include: equipping them to understand the psychophysiological development of the child and providing psycho and cognitive stimulating environment for the children.
This could be achieved by providing necessary toys and other attractive materials for their children. Parents also need to constantly acquire basic and modern learning skills and transmit the same to their children. In sum, parents should endeavour to imbibe learning-enrichment and achievement – sustaining behaviours to be able to help their wards acquire the same.
2. Psychological Therapy: Some academic underachievements are best handled through psychological therapy. Psychological tests are therefore needed to make the therapy potent and result oriented. Examples of the psychological tests include: study habit inventory (SHI), student problem inventory (SPI), Slosson intelligent test (SIT), Adolescent Personal Data Inventory (APDI), academic performance 5 – factor inventory, and a host of others. Through these tests, some militating causative factors on academic achievement could be diagnosed and necessary clinical remediations made thereafter.
3. Medical Therapy: Not all problems of academic underachievement could be solved through psychological means. Research work and clinical case reportorial studies have shown that some academic malfunctioning require pathological attention. For instance, brain damage is best handled by a neurologist who would administer electroencephalography test (EEG) on the learners. 4. Relationship Networking: Since meaningful academic achievement cannot take place in an emotionally loaded environment, it goes without saying that efforts should be made to foster good and positive interpersonal relationships among the various personnel associated with teaching learning situation. It is therefore recommended that relationship networking skills like: contact formation, starting, sustaining and nurturing friendship, asking for obligation, assertiveness, basic influencing skills, conflict resolution skills, problem solving skills and the likes should be imbibed by all to promote good academic achievement.
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