1.1 Background to the Study
Development of a nation primarily depends on the education system available in that country. Education is meaningless without teachers playing a pivotal role in ensuring performance in an educational institution. Teacher’s variables play crucial role in student’s learning process and performance (Shannon and Weaver, 2004). Teachers play a basic and dynamic role in the educational system. It is said that good performance of students depends upon effective teaching by their teachers. As professionals, teachers need to be appropriate role models and exhibit to their students a commitment to scholarly values and to life-long learning (Shannon and Weaver, 2004). Without teachers, the education system will be in the state of comatose. The increased importance in teacher’s job performance has made it very important to identify the factors that increase teacher’s job performance, which may enhance students’ academic performance.
Teaching is a highly noble profession and good teachers are always a blessing to the society. The ultimate process of education could be simplified as a meaningful interaction between the teacher and the taught. The teacher thus plays a direct and crucial role in molding a learner towards achieving a life goal. A teacher’s teaching techniques is crucial in motivating the learner to develop interest in the subject and make life choices. A teacher that employs variety of teachings tends to gain the heart of the learners and impart their lives positively (Abiri, 2003).
Academic performance can be seen as the degree of performance by students in their class assessment tests, beginning of term examinations, mid-term examinations, terminal and national examinations. Derek (2001) argues that academic performance is the measured ability and performance level of a learner in a school, subject or particular skills. He also posits performance as action of a person or a group when given a learning task. In education, performance is often presented as synonymous with academic performance or attainment, in carrying out of a task, course or assignment. It is assumed that teachers play significant role in the academic performance of students.
Social studies is an integrated subject connected with all aspects of human beings to enable them live a fulfilled and comfortable life. It is a study of people in relation to social, economic, cultural, physical and psychological lives. It has to do with all round development of human beings to enable them become useful citizens in the society (Lazar, 2012). To Kochhar (2012), Social Studies is concerned with aspects of the Social sciences selected for instructional purposes applied to include anything pertinent to the immediate purpose of learning and adapted to the level of comprehension of the students.
The teacher is the pivot of the education process. A teacher is the key in the entire education programme and he can make or mar the best educational programme in the world (Ayeni, 2011). Education therefore is what teachers make of it. Thus, competent, devoted and professionally-qualified teachers are an essential foundation for a good education system. In other words, the attainment of national objectives for the adequate preparation of students for their examinations and performance of educational objectives depend largely on teachers. Teacher’s competence is paramount to groom the students in mastering a subject matter. One essential competent variable of a teacher is quality. The quality of education depends on the teacher as reflected in the performance of their students (Bober, 2002). 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 teacher’s output. However, the teacher’s characteristics considered in this study include: teacher’s quality, teacher’s good rapport with studentss, teacher’s mastery of the subject matter and teacher’s teaching method.
Teacher’s quality is the crucial driving force for improving students’ mastery of the subject matter and thus promoting a nation’s economic competitiveness in the global society. In addition to the academic qualification, some of the personality traits of the teacher such as initiative, foresight, patience, respect, sympathy, flexibility, firmness, honesty, intellectual curiosity and keenness are qualities required for effective teaching. The importance of teacher quality is also noted in Web information (National Academics, 2007), on its study of ‘Teacher Preparation Programme’ Teacher’s quality is widely recognized by policy-makers, practitioners and researchers alike to be the most powerful school-related influence on a child’s academic performance.
Good teacher-student relationships are associated with students’ intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 2000); a genuine interest in learning, as opposed to extrinsic motivation that is driven by pressures from others or desire for rewards (Deci and Ryan, 2000). Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris (2004) description of three types of school engagement; emotional, behavioural, and cognitive engagement, is useful for understanding why good relations promote intrinsic motivation. Emotional engagement refers to students’ emotional reactions such as interest or boredom (Fredricks et al., 2004). Teacher warmth and attention can contribute to students liking school and feeling a sense of belonging. Such positive emotions drive student motivation (Skinner et al., 2008), and can therefore lead to behavioural engagement, which is when students cooperate by following rules and participating in learning activities (Fredricks et al., 2004). Thus, student engagement might start with liking, leading to participation (Fredricks et al., 2004), maybe because students work harder for teachers they like . In this way, students’ participation can be externally motivated by wanting to please teachers. For example, students might seek teacher approval and attention as a reward; being motivated by ‘feeling special and important’ (Furrer and Skinner, 2003: 149). Students being emotionally engaged can ultimately lead to cognitive engagement (Fredricks et al., 2004), which is when students are intrinsically motivated to learn because they genuinely enjoy learning.
Teacher’s mastery of the subject matter is another crucial factor in the teaching- learning process. The mastery of subject matter is the foundation upon which the education of a teacher is based. The mastery of subject matter is an essential skill that a teacher requires to be endowed with, in the teaching and learning process as it has a direct impact on teaching and learning process in schools (Kamamia,Ngugi, and Thinguri, 2014). Teachers are required to know what they are teaching because understanding of subject matter by a teacher implies that the teachers is able to grasp the main points and teach the learners, and to correct any misconceptions of knowledge, and all this revolves around the teachers understanding of the subject matter . The mastery of subject content by a teacher greatly determines the quality of teaching and subsequent learning. The teacher with good knowledge of the subject matter is able to plan and teach the lesson by way of highlighting the main points of the lesson to the learner while clarifying the knowledge misconceptions (Clark, 2002). This is believed to influence learning and contributes to the quality of teaching and learning. The teacher requires among other things the skill of mastering the subject matter and being able to establish the interrelationships between different subjects.
Teacher’s teaching method enhances students’ understanding and mastery of subject matter. A competent teacher uses as many methods and techniques as possible because, there is no single method which is regarded as the best for every teaching situation. In a single lesson therefore, the teacher can employ more than one method to facilitate learning. The success of every method depends on the caliber of the teacher and his professional experience in the field of teaching (Adunola, 2011). According to Ayeni (2011), teaching is a continuous process that involves bringing about desirable changes in learners through use of appropriate methods. Adunola (2011) indicates that in order to bring desirable changes in students, teaching methods used by educators should be best for the subject matter. Furthermore, Bharadwaj and Pal (2011) agree that, teaching methods work effectively, mainly if they suit learners’ needs since, every learner interprets and responds to questions in a unique way (Chang, 2010). As such, alignment of teaching methods with students’ needs and preferred learning influence students’ academic attainments.
Based on the facts highlighted so far, the researcher is investigating the influence of teacher’s quality, teaching experiences, teacher’s mastery of the subject matter; teacher’s teaching method and academic performance in social studiesamong junior secondary school students in Itu Local Education Committee inAkwaIbom State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has also been observed in the recent past that secondary schools in Nigeria are not living up to expectation in delivering quality education expected of the system. A lot of problems seem to be bedeviling the secondary school system ranging from inadequate facilities, old and dilapidated structures, inadequate instructional materials and unqualified teachers thereby making the system ineffective. Teachers need to be effective so as to be able to deliver the good things expected of the teachers at every point in time.
Teacher’s characteristics play vital role in students’ academic performance. Teacher’s characteristics transcends beyond students passing examinations. It also encompasses students‟ attainment in other domains of learning (the affective and the psychomotor domains). These other domains, apart from having influence on the cognitive performance, also make the beneficiaries of the education system live a fulfilled life and contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.
However, it has indeed, been observed today that there is persistent poor performance of students in both internal and external examinations in social studies. The poor performance of students in public examination has no doubt made parents lost confidence in the ability of the teachers in public schools to produce good products.
The quality of teachers employed in the school can make or mar students’ academic performance. When a teacher is sub-standard in terms of academic qualifications and skills, the outcome on students’ academic performance would be sub-standard. The teaching experiences of a teacher are vital in the teaching/learning processes. An inexperienced teacher is likely to deteriorate in the educational system without further training. The mastery of the subject by the teacher is advantageous to both the teacher and the students, because when a teacher lacks mastery of the subject matter, the lesson taught would be at the periphery and lack substance, which in turn prevents and the students will not be able to comprehension.
Poor teaching can make lessons and learning boring, while a good teaching method brings about clarity and conveys the right meaning. Students are likely to perform poorly if the way and manner the teacher presents the lesson is offensive and lacks credibility.
Therefore, the problem of this study was to investigate the relationship between teachers’ variables and students’ academic performance in Junior Secondary School Social Studies in Itu Local Education Committee of Akwa Ibom State.
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