Students Attitude and Learning Interest of Social Studies and Academic Performance in Junior Secondary School
1.1 Background to the Study
Social studies is an essential subject in the curriculum of junior secondary schools as it plays a crucial role in shaping students’ understanding of society, culture, and history. However, students’ attitude and learning interest towards social studies can significantly impact their academic performance. This research proposal aims to investigate the relationship between students’ attitude and learning interest in social studies and their academic performance in junior secondary schools.
Secondary education plays a crucial role in laying the foundation for further education of students. If a good foundation is laid at the secondary school level, students can better cope with the challenges of life and profession with great ease.( Marburger,2016) However, different people have explained different factors responsible for the academic achievement of students. Factors that influence students’ academic achievement at the junior secondary school are not conclusively known and could be multivariate in nature. They might include students ‘attitude towards school, interest in learning, study habit, attribution, self-efficacy, intelligence, and motivation.
Udoh (2005) maintained that academic performance of students is a phenomenon that has educational, psychological and sociological connotation. Thus, students ‘academic achievement cannot be completely accounted for by only one or two variables but a number of them. Attitude towards schooling denotes a positive or negative predisposition towards schooling and every activity in the school environment, which could be cognitive, emotional, or behavior (Bernstein, Penner, Clarke-Stewar & Roy, 2006).
Fazio and Roskes (2004) said that attitudes are important to educational psychology because they strongly influence social thought, the way an individual thinks and social information. Most children come to school ready and willing to learn, how schools can best foster and strengthen their predisposition and ensure that they leave school with the motivation and capacity to continue learning throughout life has remained a matter of great concern.
Without development of the right attitudes, students may not be well prepared to acquire the new knowledge and skills necessary for successful adaptation to changing circumstances and the necessary situation to achieve in their academic pursuit (Kuusinen & Leskinen, 2001).
Students Attitude and Learning Interest of Social Studies and Academic Performance in Junior Secondary School
Fafunwa (1974) observed that the present educational system instead of developing positive values in the society which the African child lives, tends to alienate him from his cultural environment. This was the reason behind the re-evaluation of the educational system and the curriculum of the school and objectives that are relevant to the society.The major ideas and philosophies behind the curriculum innovation in the 1969, National Curriculum Conference according to Akinlaye (2001) were:
- The need to make education more relevant to the needs of the individuals.
- The need to use education for national integration and socio-economic development.
- The need to develop the right societal value and;
- The need to make an individual responsible to the society in which he lives.
This been the case, the National Policy on Education (2004) has in recognition the important role social studies will play towards the achievement of the country’s educational aims and objectives. Thus, social studies was made a core subject.
Hence, there is a greater responsibility for social studies teachers in Nigeria today than the days before independence, this is because the Nigerian youths now live in an environment characterized by social wills and moral decadence which have to be curbed at all cost. The youths therefore need social studies education which focuses on the problems and issues of human beings in their changing environments and seeks to develop desirable habits, values, attitudes and skills, in order to solve them.
Researchers have concentrated much on the cognitive aspect of teaching in our secondary schools because of the importance attached to success in public examinations, however, there is an interplay between the cognitive and affective areas of teaching for example,
Taylor (2001) and Gunsch (2005) have shown that there is a relationship between interest and developments in different school subjects, therefore, it is believed that favourable attitude towards social studies may influence to a considerable extent the uptake of knowledge in social studies. Studies relating to specific aspects of pupils’ attitude towards social studies and other related subjects have been undertaken by several researchers. Jekayinfa (2007) has reported that high grade in social studies at lower forms is a factor that can pull students to history in the secondary schools in Nigeria.
Learning is a process by which behaviour can be initiated for the first time in the life of a person, or an old or existing behaviour can be modified (as when a person is given correction) or an old behaviour is completely changed or wiped out (as in the case of truly born again Christians) (Enang, 2014).
Learning is a purposeful, conscious and complex process which involves a permanent change in character of the learner. An important feature of learning is that it involves a complex interaction between the students and the learning concepts. However, the students occupy the central role for learning to occur as learning cannot be forceful and as such the learners must be ready to learn before they can learn. Nevertheless, due to the important position occupy by students in the teaching/learning process, their attitude towards learning become necessary to be investigated upon.
For students to learn effectively, there must be some interest that motivates the students to learn. Inyang, (2018) sees learning interest as an individual’s inclination or desire to acquire knowledge, skills, or understanding in a particular subject or area of study. It is the internal motivation that drives individuals to engage in learning activities and pursue educational goals.
Learning interest can vary among individuals and is influenced by various factors such as personal experiences, curiosity, intrinsic motivation, and external incentives. However, interest is defined and whether it be described as a cause of attention, an aspect of attention or as identical with attention, its special significance lies in its intimate connection with the mental activity or attention.
Students Attitude and Learning Interest of Social Studies and Academic Performance in Junior Secondary School
Interest is the focusing of the sense organs on or giving attention to some person, activity, situation or object. It is an outcome of experience rather than a gift. It could either result or cause motivation. It could also be regarded as a predetermining of one’s perceptions that is, what aspect of the world one is mostly likely to see always (McClnermey, Dowson, Young and Nelson, 2005). It could be a temporary or permanent feeling of preference. It could also be viewed as a condition in which an individual associates the essence of certain things or situation with his needs or wants. And it is the level of interest a student cultivate toward learning to pave way to the attitude of students
Attitude is a concept, which arises from the attempt to account for the observed regulations in the behaviour of individual performs, the quality of which is judged from the observed evaluative responses one tends to make. An individual can show positive or negative attitude towards a particular object, subject or idea.
Kind (2007) viewed attitude as having different components which include cognitive (Knowledge, beliefs and ideas); affective (feelings, like, dislike) and behavioural (tendency towards an action). The attitude that one has towards an object is good or bad, harmful or beneficial, pleasant or unpleasant, important or unimportant. Attitude towards learning plays a crucial role in a student’s examination outcome.
The attitude showcased by students towards their learning can be attributed to many factors which include the student’s perception of their school environments, their other factors can be the different challenges in which the child is passing through at home. Epstein (2005) outlined areas in which the family variables can affect students attitude towards learning.
These variables include the family size, which could be large or small, the educational background of parents, and the socio-economic status of parents. All the above mentioned variables can bring about positive or negative attitude in students towards their learning processes.
In addition to personal and mental developments, students’ attitudes analysis is critical for ensuring ones access to social, economic and civic life. In the contemporary Nigerian society, greater emphasis is being placed on industrial and technological development. As a result, students are being encouraged to take up vocational related subjects. One of such subjects that cut across all the areas is Social Studies. In our march towards scientific and technological advancement, we need nothing short of schooling.
Attitude in this study is conceptualized as a mental representation or views of students, apparently constructed as a result of social experiences, mediated through interactions at school, or the influence of parents, teachers, peers or mass media. It also refers to some kind of mental representation of something, originated from past experience as well as associated beliefs, thoughts and conceptions which reflect in the physical behaviour of the students. In this study, the attitudes of the students include lateness to class, absenteeism and truancy.
The students are mandated by the school laws to attend school daily and early but some students after they might have leave the house with the intension of going to school some factors (such as fear of punishment from teachers, joining of bad gangs, hating of a particular teacher or the subject taught by the teacher, fear of reading in the class and engaging in drug abuse outside the school) may cause most students to exhibit certain attitude which may lead absenting themselves from formal school activities.
According to Thomas (2017), the attitude of students exhibited by students include lateness to class activities, absenteeism and truancy which may influence their participation during the teaching-learning process and thereby influencing the students’ academic performance in Economics in secondary schools.
Another variable in this study is truancy which is staying outside the classroom during school hours by students. This attitude of students may result in various behavioural disorders like stealing, violence, drug abuse; examination malpractice, and sexual abuse which have so undermined effective teaching-learning processes that some teachers have become helpless and disorganized in their task of imparting knowledge to the learners (King, 2013).
However, Ma’aruf (2019) asserted that some of the factors that affect students’ attitude in school include: Poor relationship between children and parents; poor physical conditions at home; use of corporal punishment in the house; as well as lack of parental interest in the child’s welfare. Other factors which may exert negative changes in the attitude of the students.
according to Obe (2018) include a boring and boredom classes where the teacher is unable to manage the class or is not using relevant instructional materials during lessons thereby engaging the students in abstraction lessons, harsh teachers who are difficult to be approach by the students, an unconducive school environment, lack of writing materials such as pens exercise books, lack of recommended textbooks, and lack of other materials such as correct uniform and stockings.
Similarly, according to Shyam (2015) some parents due to the nature of their jobs show nonchalant attitudes to their wards and as such the children grow up to be corrupt and aggressive hence the parents getting nothing and giving out nothing from the children afterward.
In school, teachers manage much of students ‘learning. However, learning might be enhanced if students can manage it themselves; moreover, once they leave school, individuals have to manage most of their own learning.
To do this, they need to be able to establish goals, to persevere, to monitor their learning progress, to adjust their learning strategies as necessary and to overcome difficulties in learning (Candeias, Rebelo, Olivera & Mendes, 2018). However, many youths express negative attitude to school as they do not tend to believe that the school and success in it will have a strong bearing on their future. Such negative feelings and attitudes may result in their becoming disaffected with school (Williams, 2000).
They may withdraw from school activities, and in some cases, participate in disruptive behavior and display negative attitudes towards teachers and other students. Attitude to school can be, for some students, indicative of educational success and well-being. As such, this perception deserves to be treated alongside academic performance, an important outcome of schooling.
The academic performance of students may partly depend on the kind of attitude they put up towards school and the level of success they wish to attain. It is for this reason that this investigation is necessarily embarked on to critically study the relationship and the extent to which students’ attitude towards school can predict their academic achievement. It is on this backdrop that this study seeks to examine students’ attitude and learning interest of social studies and academic performance in junior secondary school in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The mass failure recorded by students in Social Studies in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State has been a matter of concern to parents, guardians, government and even students themselves. To alleviate the performance of students in the subject, the Akwa Ibom State government has provided free and compulsory education and has provided free textbooks in the subject from junior secondary one to senior secondary three to enable the students to read and prepare for external examinations.
According to Lawson, (2017) the poor attitude of students towards the study of social studies in secondary schools is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and imbalance in the educational sector in particular and the nation’s development in general. Social studies as a core subject in the junior secondary school level suggest the importance the government, parents and students themselves attach to the study.
The phenomena increase in students’ attitude towards the study of social studies in junior secondary schools should not be allowed to remain for too long unattended to. The need to motivate students to develop positive attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary school and to create a conducive environment for studying social studies is not disputable and cannot be over-emphasized.
The unfortunate thing is that students’ attitude towards the study of social studies in Schools is fraught with a lot of problems. There is a general belief that whenever students perform poorly hi their courses the teacher has not really taught them well. People hardly look at the problem from the point of view of the student’s attitude towards the courses; the problem of this study therefore is to ascertain why students have poor attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary schools.
However, despites the effort of the government, there have been report of persistent failure of the students in Social Studies and these have cause serious confusion among the stakeholders in education such as the government, parents, teachers and even in the students themselves. These have raised a question “could attitudes of the students (such as lateness, absenteeism and truancy) influence the academic performance of students?”
The quest to answer the above question triggered the researcher to investigate students’ attitude and learning interest of social studies and academic performance in junior secondary school in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study will be to examine students’ attitude and learning interest of social studies and academic performance in junior secondary school in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area. Specifically, the study intended:
(i) examine the influence of lateness on academic performance in Social Studies in junior secondary school students in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area;
(ii) assess the influence of absenteeism on academic performance in Social Studies in junior secondary school students in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area;
(iii) determine the influence of group studying on academic performance in Social Studies in junior secondary school students in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area.
(iv) determine the influence of students’ personal timetable on academic performance in Social Studies in junior secondary school students in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area.
1.4 Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this study shall be useful to the following:
- to school administrators: this study examined and concluded on the effect of students’ attitudes on students’ learning thereby making recommendations which would be of help to school administrators as a vital instrument for effective school administration.
- to parents: the study would give them an insight on how and why their wards fail in schools.
- the study would also be of immense value to graduate and undergraduate students who are studying educational administration as it will give them an insight on how to handle to handle students with different attitudes.
- to counselors: the study would help them in discovery of the fundamental attitude of students that is mostly found among students thereby helping them in providing proper guidance and counseling to the students.
- to teachers: the study would help them in evaluating themselves and making necessary modifications with regards to their relationships with their students.
- to students: the study would help them understand the effect of their behaviours on their academic performance thereby helping them in adjusting or amending their ways.
vii. the study would serve as a source of data for future researchers on related topics.
1.5 Research Questions
The following questions will guide the study in line with the objectives of the study.
- Does lateness influence the academic performance of students in Social Studies?
- How does absenteeism influence the academic performance of students in Social Studies?
iii. To what extent does group studying influence the academic performance of students in Social Studies?
- To what extent does students’ personal timetable influence the academic performance of students in Social Studies?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses will guide the study in line with the objective of the study
- There is no significant influence of lateness on academic performance of students in Social Studies.
- There is no significant influence of absenteeism on academic performance in Social Studies.
- There is no significant influence of group studying on academic performance of students in Social Studies.
- There is no significant influence of students’ personal timetable on academic performance of students in Social Studies
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This research work will be restricted to students’ attitude and learning interest (lateness, absenteeism, group studying and students’ personal timetable) towards the study of Social Studies and their academic performance in junior secondary schools in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area. Only junior secondary two (JS2) Social Studies students in public secondary schools in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area will be involved in the study.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The following terms were defined as used in the study:
Attitude: A settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Student: A student can be defined primarily as a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving employment at desired field.
Social studies: various aspects or branches of the study of human society, considered as an educational discipline.
Academic performance: Academic performance is the measurement of student achievement across various academic subjects
Secondary school: A term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place. It follows elementary or primary education, and may be followed by university (tertiary) education.
Lateness: This is the coming to class after the usual time for the commencement of the lesson when the student has left the house early to school but stops on the way.
Absenteeism: This is the staying away from class without the permission of the teacher or parent after the student has left for school in the house
Personal Timetable: This contains information about the module and programme level activities you should take part in. Most modules have whole class teaching which everyone studying the module attends together, and then group teaching where the whole cohort is split into smaller groups.
Group Study: This is a small group of people who regularly meet to discuss shared fields of study. These groups can be found in a high school or college/university setting, within companies, occasionally primary/junior school and sometimes middle school.