STUDENTS PERCEPTION OF THE CLASSROOM LEARNING ENVIRONMENT IN BIOLOGY EDUCATION
Since the first use of a classroom environment, the field of learning environments has seen remarkable development and growth. In a wide range of research applications spanning many countries, the learning environment has been used as a source of dependent and independent variables. This study has resulted in the development of a number of low-cost, reliable, and widely applicable instruments for assessing students’ perceptions of their classroom learning environment.
The study was conducted at Oke-Afa High School in Ejigbo, Lagos, to investigate factors influencing elective science students’ perceptions of their biology classroom environment in Nigerian senior secondary schools with low and high academic achievement.
The Biology Classroom Environment Questionnaire was used to collect data (BCEQ). This came after senior secondary schools that offer elective science programs were divided into low and high academic achieving schools based on their performance in the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination/West Africa Senior Secondary School Examinations over a five-year period.
Two third-year intact classes were chosen at random from four schools in each category. Sample and sample technique are components of data analysis. According to the questionnaire, four factors influence elective science students’ perceptions of their Biology classroom environment.
The findings also indicated that elective science students in both school categories had a negative perception of their Biology classroom environment, but that this perception was significantly different in favor of elective science students in low academic achieving schools in terms of teacher support, cooperation, and communication.
as well as equity The study’s implications are discussed, and recommendations are made.
1.1 THE STUDY’S BACKGROUND
In an educational setting, the classroom environment is defined as a place where learners and teachers interact with one another and use a variety of tools and information resources to pursue learning activities (Fout & Myers, 1998; Mucherah, 2008).
Classrooms are specific areas in schools where educational outcomes, such as understanding and application of knowledge in our daily lives, are expected to be achieved, and these areas have a significant influence on students in terms of achieving these lofty goals (Fraser, 1981).
Creating positive classroom environments should therefore be a top priority for science educators, as evidence suggests that classroom environment influences students’ learning. Perception, as noted by Teh (as cited in Ampiah, 2006), influences human behavior in scientific issues, and this has been discovered to exist globally. A student’s perception of the class as a whole, as opposed to a student’s perception of his or her own role in the classroom.
Males, for example, may find a class easier than females. Even so, when asked for their thoughts on the class as a whole, males and females could agree. Students have a strong advantage in making classroom judgments because they have been exposed to a variety of learning environments and have had enough time in class to form accurate impressions. One of the primary goals of education is the development of a well-rounded personality.
The family is the socio-biological unit that has the most influence on the development and maintenance of an individual’s behavior. School, after home, is the most important experience in a child’s development process. Both environments play an important role in the lives of children and contribute to their development. Students’ second home is the classroom learning environment.
Teachers and parents have a greater responsibility to promote students’ mental health. In times of adversity, the classroom can serve as a substitute for home situations and meet the emotional needs of those who are neglected at home.
Students’ perceptions or attitudes toward the classroom environment have a significant impact on their mental health. Classroom atmosphere includes a positive attitude toward the teacher, co-students, curriculum, teaching method, classroom facilities, and teacher-student interaction.
The classroom learning environment is the most important one in the school system for the transactional business that takes place between the school and the society. The classroom’s uniqueness stems from the type of membership enjoyed by its members. Membership is not only required, but members are also of a similar age and level of achievement.
The classroom group gathers as a work group for the purpose of learning, which is held deliberately and in a planned manner. There is, of course, social interaction in that teaching learning situation. The main theme behind the formation of any group occurs both compelled and uncompelled.
The process of social interaction implies a type of relationship between people in which one person’s behavior serves as a stimulus for the other person’s behavior, resulting in a reciprocal relationship. The classroom is the students’ immediate environment. A classroom is a unique face-to-face group characterized by interpersonal relationships among its members.
These interpersonal relationships primarily consist of the teacher-student relationship and the peer relationship. The general atmosphere in which academic activities take place has an impact on social relationships. In the classroom, two types of social interactions take place. Students-teachers and students-students The first is the most commonly used in educational settings.
However, the interaction between students is equally important from a psycho-social standpoint. Students’ success or failure is also determined by the social climate of the classroom. The classroom learning environment promotes student development and effective achievement.
Socially, the student is a product of his or her surroundings. The type of classroom learning environment is determined by how the majority of students perceive their classroom experiences. These perceptions or experiences can be either positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant.
When the environment is conducive, it is perceived as stimulating, pleasant, peaceful, and exciting; there is a high level of morale, solidarity, or cohesiveness among the students. The students believe they are a part of the class and are recognized by their classmates and teachers.
They are eager to participate in class activities because the communication in the classroom is positive and encouraging. Students are not embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed to speak up in class because no matter what they say, whether stupid, clever, correct, or incorrect, they are made to feel as if they have contributed something.
The teacher is firm in making everyone work when it is time to work, play, and laugh when necessary. Students are encouraged to learn and eager to do so in such a learning environment. When the learning environment is not conducive, it is perceived as hostile, tense, unpleasant, and haphazard.
Students in a tense punitive hostile classroom may learn out of fear of the punishment they may face. Students are not free to express themselves. They are afraid of giving incorrect answers because they will face reprimand from their teachers. Slow learners in such a classroom drop out because they are discouraged rather than encouraged. A democratic teacher creates a conducive environment that is exciting and pleasant, and it stimulates students.
While learning, an autocratic teacher may create a rigid, tense environment with excessive direction, scaring students away from being themselves. The student is more likely to enjoy school if the classroom can create a congenital, pleasant, and favourable learning environment.
A supportive institutional learning environment is more likely to foster a positive attitude and facilitate learning. A hostile environment, on the other hand, is likely to foster a negative attitude and impede learning. It would be preferable to include the development of a positive and healthy attitude in students toward the classroom and learning in order to facilitate effective learning and avoid social problems that may arise as a result of failures.
As has been reported in the literature, it is critical to investigate how students perceive their Biology classroom environment because it has an effect on their achievement in the subject (Taylor, 2004). Classroom environments that are conducive to the development of a positive attitude toward biology tend to lead to higher achievement in it.
The classroom learning environment, which includes classrooms, libraries, laboratories, the quality of teachers, school management, teaching methods, peers, and so on, are all factors that influence students’ academic achievement (Ajayi, 2001 and Oluchukwu, 2000).
According to Asiyai (2006), physical facilities include the entire school plant or educational facilities such as classrooms, staffrooms, laboratories, libraries, audio-visual aids, electricity, water, desks, chairs, tables, storage space, and others that school administrators, teachers, and students may require and utilize for a smooth and efficient classroom learning environment.
As a result, the school environment continues to be an important area that should be studied and well managed in order to improve students’ academic performance.
The issue of student academic performance in Nigeria has piqued the interest of the government, parents, teachers, and even students themselves. The quality of education is determined not only by the teachers’ performance of their duties, but also by the effective coordination of the classroom environment (Ajao 2001).
Classroom learning environments, which include instructional spaces planning, administrative spaces planning, circulation spaces planning, convenience spaces planning, and accessory planning, are critical in the teaching-learning process.
The extent to which student learning can be improved is determined by their location within the school compound, classroom structure, and the availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well-planned classroom will prepare students for expected educational outcomes such as good social, political, and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning processes, and academic performance.
The assertions of Williams, Persaud, and Turner (2008), quoting Marsden (2005), that a safe and orderly classroom environment (aspect of instructional space), and school facilities (accessories) were significantly related to students’ academic performance in schools, relate this study to international occurrences.
The three researchers also cited Glassman (1994), who claimed that, among other treatments, a comfortable and caring environment helped to improve students’ academic performance. Because of the volume of studies completed, the work on the relative effectiveness of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structure stands out (Johnson 1991).
Although many previous studies of student achievement have shown that cooperative learning is more effective than either competitive or individualistic learning, the evidence is not always consistent.
The physical characteristics of the school affect teachers, students, and the learning process in a variety of ways. Teaching and learning are made more difficult by poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in classrooms, and inconsistencies in temperature.
Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems result in poor health among students and teachers, resulting in poor performance and higher absentee rates (Frazier, 2002 Lyons, 2001; and Ostendorf, 2001). These factors can have a negative impact on student behavior and lead to increased levels of frustration among teachers as well as a poor learning attitude among students.
Aside from the direct effects that poor facilities have on students’ ability to learn, the combination of poor facilities, which create an uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for teachers, and frustrating student behavior, such as poor concentration and hyperactivity, lethargy, or apathy, creates a stressful set of working conditions for teachers. Because stress and job dissatisfaction are common precursors to decreased teacher enthusiasm, it is possible that the aforementioned school facility characteristics have an effect on students’ academic performance.
Previous research has looked into the relationship between a poor school environment, including issues with student-teacher ratios, school location, school population, classroom ventilation, poor lighting in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures in the classroom, and student health, behavior, and achievement (Crandell & Smaldino, 2000).
Over the last two decades, there has been a great deal of international interest in the conceptualization, measurement, and investigation of perceptions of psychosocial characteristics of secondary school learning environments. The use of student perceptions contrasts with two other major approaches to assessing and studying the classroom environment.
One method entails direct observation and systematic coding of classroom communication and events using a category system (Dunkin & Biddle, 1974). In contrast to methods that rely on outside observers, the approach described here defines the classroom environment in terms of the students’ and sometimes teachers’ shared perceptions of that environment.
This has the added benefit of characterizing the class through the eyes of the actual participants while also capturing data that the observer might overlook or dismiss as unimportant. Students are in a good position to make judgments about classrooms because they have been exposed to a variety of learning environments and have spent enough time in a class to form accurate impressions.
Furthermore, even if teachers’ day-to-day behavior is inconsistent, they usually project a consistent image of the long-standing characteristics of the classroom environment.
Despite the obvious leadership roles teachers play in the classroom learning environment in terms of achieving educational objectives, the teachers’ work environment in terms of physical facilities has recently remained a serious problem.
The teaching variables available today are neither sufficient nor adequate for positive teaching and learning outcomes. Teachers were sometimes forced to work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, such as dilapidated physical buildings, out-of-date libraries, stinking abandoned classrooms, and broken furniture.
In their studies, Nwachukwu (1988) and Ogundipe (2002) found that poorly motivated teachers are less concerned with creating an effective classroom learning environment, and as a result, school goods and objectives are not fully achieved.
According to Ofoegu (2004), problems caused by inconsistencies and errors in paying teachers’ salaries and other remuneration have severely interfered with teacher classroom activities. To produce a highly effective teacher capable of igniting a spark in the classroom, teachers must be good listeners, available, approachable, a source of information, paying adequate attention to student activities, and trustworthy in performing their roles in any conducive work environment (Maxwell 1998).
According to Adegun (2002), the majority of the persistence issues and complications that plague the classroom learning environment stem from a lack of information or a lack of capacity for information management. There will be confusion and chaos whenever activities are not organized.
Mastery of the subject matter, making the classroom environment conducive to learning, using appropriate teaching methods, provision of physical facilities, information services, motivation teacher-student relationship, and so on are examples of such activities.
According to Afe (1995), teaching taste is done through conscious and deliberate effort, but in order for a teacher to carry out this conscious and deliberate effort known as teaching, he requires a conducive environment.
No matter how good the school performances are, if the necessary resources are not available, the teacher will be unable to perform, no matter how hard they try. Teachers also complain about their students’ poor performance in both internal and external exams.
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