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The study was on the effect of cognitive restructuring and shaping techniques in reducing lateness among secondary school students. The study was carried out in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State using quasi-experimental design. Two hundred and sixty-five (265) latecomers made up the population of the study, while ninety (90) latecomers made up the sample. An observation guide designed by the researcher was used for data collection. Three research questions were answered using frequency, and six null hypotheses were tested using ANCOVA. Result showed among others that both cognitive restructuring and shaping techniques were effective in reducing both the number of days of lateness to school and the magnitude of lateness of the latecomers. Based on the findings, recommendations were made. These include: (1) School guidance counsellors in the State should organize Parents’ day for PTA members and apply cognitive restructuring on them to enable those of them who are responsible for their wards being late to school to rethink and come to the aid of these children. (2) Physical punishment should be abolished in secondary schools set aside by the school authorities on lateness to give room for more meaningful and purposeful psychological therapies.



Background of the Study

Lateness and punctuality are common phenomena in life activities. They are opposite sides of each other, like opposite sides of a coin. Punctuality entails doing things in time (early). Lateness entails doing things behind time schedule. Lateness is generally what one experiences in everyday activities at home and public life. Evidence abound that people go late to activities, including work. Teachers come late to school; workers in other fields of work attend to their duties late. This has negative effect on both the work and the workers (employees) respectively. The work may be done hurriedly and at the end the output may be less and of poor quality. In the work situation, lateness by the employees without permission from the supervisor in advance will attract him sanction and he may look for an opportunity to work the balance of his scheduled shift as a make-up (Internet Resource, 2008). According to Green (2007) many people possess this sad habit, and there are some who are constantly and consistently late. He finally concluded that millions of people suffer from it.

Daily observations show that many students in different parts of Nigeria come late to school habitually, be it private,


public or mission secondary schools. Between the hours of 9.00am and 10.00am, secondary schools students are seen coming to school which had started by 7.30am or 7.45am. This problem is considered serious enough in the sense that teachers who ought to be in the class teaching between these hours of 9.00am and 10.00am are busy monitoring the latecomers. It is also observed that lateness to school by these secondary schools students is increasing at a tremendous rate all through the country. Ifelunni (1991) equally noted that the rate at which students go late to school is on the increase.

Consequent upon the observed increase in lateness in secondary schools by students, there is a feeling that there are various factors contributing to this problem among students. Thus, one can argue that the extent of lateness a student exhibits depends on these factors, which may be acting singly, or in combination for some students and not others. Adeyemo (1975) outlined these factors to include bad company, keeping late nights and uninteresting method of teaching by the teacher. Oyebanre (2000) suggested that maladaptive behaviour, which includes lateness to school, is caused by poor conditions in homes and environment; and that it is more prevalent among lower-socio-economic population.


Lateness to school has some negative implications for the students. It may lead to the students telling lies`, cheating, keeping malice, quarreling, missing class lessons and failing examinations (Anagbogu, 2002). It may also lead to truancy and dropping out of school (Ogbuvbu, 2008). Moreover, experience shows that students who come late to school are severely punished. For example, they are beaten, flogged and kept under the sun kneeling down for long hours; all in a bid to see if they will either stop coming late to school, or at least reduce the rate at which they come late to school.

Despite such punishment measures as noted earlier, which the school authority uses to check lateness among secondary school students, these students still come late to school. This is worrisome, and one stands to reason that punishment does not help in solving problem behaviour among students. Instead it has lead to increase in undesirable behaviour like aggression. Such punishment strategies as tongue-lashing, prolonged torture, ridiculing and flogging among others, no doubt inflict pains on the late comers. Moreover, they tend to cause more psychological, emotional, social, moral and personal problems than bring about the desired results. Verbal punishment for instance could make a late-coming student lose confidence in himself


or herself since it is ego-deflating. This inhibits the student’s attainment of his or her goals.

Since the various forms of punishments commonly used in secondary schools to address lateness behaviour among students have failed but even have in some cases increased their problems leading to increased lateness, the researcher is motivated to tackle the problem using two counselling techniques of cognitive restructuring and shaping.

Cognitive restructuring is a technique in cognitive therapy developed by Aaron Beck in the 1960s. Cognitive restructuring aims at removing one’s “faulty thinking” and irrational counter-factual beliefs with more accurate and beneficial ones. (Internet Resources, 2007). It is a process by which the individual is made to avoid crooked and irrational thinking and think straight (Essuman, Nwaogu and Nwachuku, 1990). The therapy restructures the already structured irrational thoughts, beliefs and philosophies, which an individual has already acquired by redressing and changing them at the mental level of the person concerned to ensure his happiness and efficiency at school or workplace (Uba, 1989).

Shaping strategy is training the individual to acquire a desired behaviour by reinforcing every response the individual makes which brings him or her closer to the desired


behaviour while eliminating the undesired response by ignoring them through non-reinforcement. It implies using reinforcement to bring about change in behaviour. According to Okoli (2002), the technique is used to teach new behaviour. Invariably, it is necessary to investigate the effect of cognitive restructuring technique and shaping technique in handling lateness among secondary school students.

It is important to note that these techniques have proved effective in handling some problem behaviours. For instance, Chukwunonyem (2001) used cognitive restructuring technique to change pupils’ behaviour in mathematics, and Isaac (as cited in Akinade & Adedipe, 1994) used shaping successfully to reinstate verbal behaviour in hospitalized psychotics. Therefore, it is hoped that the techniques will also be effective in handling lateness among students.

Statement of the Problem

Many secondary school students attend school late everyday of the week. This has led to many of the students attending classes late and in some cases missing classes entirely, especially if the classes come up in the morning hours. This would mean that students do not participate actively in class work; and will thus lead to poor performance of students in tests, assignments and examinations.


Lateness has indeed stood in the way of learning vis-à-vis school success of these students.

The routine method of using punishment to control lteness does not appear to be effective. In fact punishment has failed because it is externally imposed and does not mobilize the willpower and participation of the individual concerned. Against this, it is thus important to find out non-punitive measures to control lateness among secondary school students. Hence the choice of cognitive restructuring and shaping techniques to allow for full participation of the late comers. While the cognitive restructuring technique will change their attitude about lateness, shaping technique will change their behaviour towards lateness. The fundamental problem is how to reduce lateness to school among secondary school students.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to determine the effect of cognitive restructuring and shaping techniques in reducing late-coming behaviour to school among secondary school students.

Specifically, the study is to determine:

1.       How effective cognitive restructuring technique is in reducing lateness among students.


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