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1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria has been grappling with poor performance of students in secondary school final examinations such as senior secondary school leaving certificate examinations (SSCE) National Examination Council (NECO), NABTEB since the 1980s. This has led the Federal and State governments adopting different strategies and policies to deal with this situation. A survey by the Federal Ministry of Education on the performance of the educational sector in the different geo-political zones and states of the country revealed that there were gaps in the performances with the North West Zone recording the least performance (FMOE, 2001). Another Educational survey which was conducted by the National Population Commission in 2004 indicated a widening gap between Northern and Southern states. Akwa Ibom State being one of the South-South zone recorded the lowest performance in Biology especially in Etinan; worse than it neighboring South-South States.
The Nigerian educational system has continuously experienced an upward trend in school enrolment at all levels since the introduction of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in the 1970s and the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 1994. This may have in turn impacted on the class size in terms of the population of the individual classrooms with more enrolment in the urban than in the rural areas. The national policy on education stipulates that the teacher- student‘s ratio in the secondary schools should be 1:40. Wosayanju, (2005) maintained that large class may pose some teaching challenges such as delayed feedback, resulting in inefficiency, poor quality of students, and reduction in teaching with less assignment so as to reduce the burden of marking, all of which may encourage shallow learning.
The quality of education depends on the teacher as reflected in the performance of their students. Teachers play crucial role in the educational attainment of students because they are ultimately responsible for translating into actions the principles based on practice during interaction with the students. Teacher variables such as qualification, motivation and experience may be contributing factors to their output.
Teacher Qualification entails the basic training acquired by a teacher to enable him practice in the teaching profession. According to the National Policy on Education (2004), Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) is the minimum
qualification for teaching in the primary schools.
Teachers experience entails the number of years a teacher has been practicing the art of teaching. Experience; they say, is the best teacher. An experienced teacher is more likely to be efficient in class control, determination of individual differences and ability to improvise teaching aids A newly employed teaching despite the level of training may find the practice difficult in the first few months, but as he progresses, he gets more confident and may be able to device different methods to deal with different types of class room problem. A study conducted by Olatunde, (2009) on the influence of teachers‘ experience and students‘ achievement discovered that students taught by more experienced teachers achieve higher level, because their teachers possess mastery of the content and acquired classroom management skills to deal with different classroom problems. This is determined by the teachers‘ qualification, experience and motivation. Another study by Chako, (1981) of teacher and student characteristics as correlates of learning outcome in mathematics found out that teacher‘s attitude towards teaching significantly predicts students‘ attitude as well as achievement in mathematics.
There is the tendency for qualified teachers to seek deployment in schools located in urban towns, particularly in the state capitals where more school facilities and services tended to be concentrated. Teachers with the highest training are posted to largest cities, and even more noticeably to the capital. This and more findings abound on the disparity in the quality of teachers in urban schools compared to those in rural areas, which consequently affect student‘s academic performance. Ibukun (1988) in his investigation observed that teachers in urban secondary schools in Ondo State tend to be better qualified pointing out that there was no deliberate government policy supporting such lopsided resource allocation. In his conclusion, he said rural schools probably become progressively poorly staffed arising from personal refusal of teachers to serve in remote locations. In such location, their pattern of school lives are characterized by dilapidated buildings, which form extension to old ones thus forming a sort of patchwork with others, growing too old and no longer viable.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The low performance of the students in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in recent years lends credence to this study. Data collected by the Etinan local government area, Akwa Ibom State Education Resource Centre shows that between 1996-2002, only an average of 2% of public secondary schools students passed their SSCE, the actual figure ranged from 0.81% in 1996 to 1.08% in 2001 and 5.28% in 2002.In the year 2003, about 26000 candidates sat for the examination band only 2,078 or 8.0% candidates passed. In the year 2004, about 25,000 sat the examination with only 557 0r 2.2% candidates being qualified for university entirely. In 2010, only 15.97% candidates passed, 2013 only 9.02% of the candidates passed the SSCE, while in 2014, 12.30% of the candidates qualified for admission into the university.
Therefore, this study sets to find out the interactive influence of class size, teachers variables like qualification, motivation, and experience, school location on students‘academic performance in selected senior secondary schools in Etinan local government area, Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following are the objectives of this work:
1. To determine the difference in academic performance of biology students taught in small class size and large class size.
2. To explore the difference in academic performance of biology students taught by teachers with higher teaching qualification teachers and those taught by teachers with lower teaching qualification.
3. To determine the difference in academic performance of biology students taught by experienced teachers and those taught by less experienced teachers.
4. To investigate the difference between the academic performances of senior secondary school biology students located in rural and urban areas of Etinan local government area, Akwa Ibom State.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are the research questions:
1. Does class size differentiate academic performance of senior secondary school students in Etinan local government area?
2. Is there any difference in academic performance of students taught by teachers with higher qualification and those taught by teachers with lower teaching qualification in Etinan local government area?
3. Does the academic performance of biology students taught by experience teacher defer from their counterparts taught by less experience teacher?
4. Will school location impact negatively or positively on the academic performance of biology of senior secondary school students in Etinan local government area?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were developed to serve as a guide to the researcher:
H01: There is no significant difference in academic performance of students taught in large or small classes in Senior Secondary School in Etinan local government area
H02: There is no significant difference in the academic performance of biology students taught by highly qualified teachers and those taught by less qualified teachers of Senior Secondary School students in Etinan local government area.
H03: There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students taught by experienced teacher and those taught by less experienced teacher of Senior Secondary School students in Etinan local government area.
HO4: There is no significant difference in academic performance of Senior Secondary School students located in the rural or urban areas of Etinan local government area
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is on the influence of class size, teacher variables and school location on academic performance among biology students in Etinan local government area. Findings from this study will be beneficial to the following stakeholders in the education sector:
Teachers are the translators of educational policies into practice. The teachers‘ role in education is very important; without the teacher the whole educational plans will be a total failure. Therefore would -be teachers will be informed of their importance to the educational process; they will be enlightened on their need to consider the students and resolve to put in their best so that students can also be assisted to be at their best.
The policy makers will find the findings of this work useful in that it will enable them to know the relationship between the variables. That emphasis should not be on enrolment but the teacher factor should also be considered in any planning. The parents will find the findings of this work useful as they will be enlightened on the importance of the teacher in the educational sector, those that perceive the teacher negatively will be orientated to view the teacher positively. This can be achieved through sensitization in the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting.
Government would be made to see the need to bridge the gap between the rural and urban schools by providing the rural dwellers the social amenities which will enhance better academic performance of students in their final examinations like the SSCE. The community should assist the government by providing internet facilities, taxis and buses to facilitate movement of teachers and students to their school. Adequate incentives should be provided to rural area teachers to encourage them to put in their best to remain in their duty stations.
1.7 Scope and Delimitation
This study focuses on some selected public senior secondary schools in Etinan local government area, Akwa Ibom State. The study concentrates mainly on students in senior secondary school class two (SSS 2) and teachers of Biology. The study made use of the Biology result only, the reason being that Biology is being offered by all senior secondary school students and it is a prerequisite for the senior Secondary school certificate. This is to enable the researcher get a complete academic result of these students and be sure they would be available in the schools during the research. Students in Junior Secondary School (1) one to Senior Secondary school one(SSS 1) will not be involved in this study
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