Environmental Variables and Student’s Academic Performance in the English Language in Public Secondary Schools
1.1 Background of the Study
Throughout the world, leaders in society are asking evermore how can we improve the environment of man. We are deeply concerned about our environment especially when our performances in all ramifications of life are related to our environmental conditions. The problem here is purely narrowed down by the influence of environmental variables on students’ academic performance in the English language in public secondary schools in the Uyo Education zone. Discussions on man’s environment have revealed at least as such diversity in the actual environment which men have tried to fashion out for themselves. Most people agree that all citizens should be given equal educational opportunities. But what are the critical ages for the receptivity to the various kinds of stimuli?
A striking illustration of the profound effects of the environment on human life is provided by differences in the rate of growth under social (different) conditions Japanese teenagers are now taller than their parents and differ in behavior from their pre-war counterparts not as a result of genetic changes but because the environment in Japan is very different from what it was before the world war II (Bernstein and Hedenon, 2000). A similar phenomenon is observed in the Israeli Kibbutz, where the children are given a diet and brought up unsanitary conditions as nearly on the optimum level as can be devised. These complex feedback relationships between man and his environment illustrate the importance of the ecological approach in the study of human problems.
The influences experienced during the very early phases of human development, including the intra-uterine phase, deserve special emphasis here because they profoundly affect the physical, physiological and behavioral characteristics of the adult. Environmental insults to which the organism is subjected to during the formative periods of its development have consequences that persist throughout its life often, indeed the effects of such early influences appear irreversible, hence the need for precise observations and searching experimental studies on the effect of external conditions (environment) on students academic performance in public schools.
Education constitutes a formidable instrument for social mobilization in society. It places a very high premium on the education of the young ones as the gateway to cultural, social, political, economic, and technological emancipation. According to the Nigerian philosophy of education, education is viewed as a means of building a free, just, and egalitarian society, a kind full of opportunities for the citizenry.
Some state governments like Akwa Ibom State go beyond and give direct financial assistance to students in the form of scholarships and bursaries like paying WAEC and NECO fees. Despite this concerted effort, there is a general public outcry over the falling standard of education as particularly observed in external examinations. At some point, we might tend to ask whether the standard of education is falling? We can answer by evaluating our educational system. We have to look into the condition under which children learn including their various homes, is it a rich, stimulating, and motivating environment? Environment as defined by Bello (2004) is the aggregate of all external conditions and influences that affect the life and development of an individual.
The environment includes the physical (air, water, land. Climate) and the social (ethics, economics, aesthetics, and others which affect the behavior of an individual). Children are molded or shaped according to the factors operating in a particular environment. He enunciated that these variables include the quality of the school as well as teachers which might affect the student’s academic performance positively or negatively. Parental rearing style is another factor that encompasses discipline, occupation, etc. School location is another important variable, a peaceful and serene school location and a disastrous school location can determine the academic performance of students. All these variables affect students’ academic performance in the English language.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Parents, teachers, educationists, and society, in general, are becoming worried by the poor performances of our children in their certificate examinations as well as JAMB for entry into tertiary institutions. This situation gives a cause for concern. It is known that environmental variables can affect a learner’s learning either positively or negatively. It is also true that one’s academic achievement can be influenced by variables such as teacher’s quality, parenting style, school location, among others.
Some students are sometimes observed roaming the streets when they are supposed to be in classes receiving lectures. In some remotely located schools, some teachers go to school and leave at will because they feel the location of the school may not attract inspectors. Some schools without qualified teachers are observed not being able to expose their students to the expected curriculum. These lapses may affect the quality of learning by students. It is against this background that the problem of this study is to determine environmental variables and their influence on the academic performance of English language students in public secondary school in Uyo Education Zone.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are;
1. To examine the extent to which the environment affects the student’s academic performance in the English language.
2. To examine the influence of school quality and location on students’ academic performance in the English language.
3. To examine the influence of parental rearing styles on students’ academic performance in the English language.
4. To suggest measures in which some of these variables could be positively used towards achievable goals in the student’s academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions
To guide the study, the following research questions were posed;
1. To what extent does the environment affect the student’s academic performance in the English language?
2. How does the quality and location of schools influence students’ academic performance in the English language.
3 How does parental rearing style influence student’s academic performance in the English language.
1.5 Null Hypotheses
To guide the study, the following null hypotheses were formulated:
1. There is no significant relationship between the environment affecting the student’s academic performance in the English language.
2. There is no significant relationship between school quality and location on students’ academic performance in the English language.
3. There is no significant relationship of parental rearing styles on students’ academic performance in the English language.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study is significant in the sense that it is the first step to the amelioration of students’ academic performance. If nothing is done to the increasingly poor performance of our public secondary school students, the realization of educational goals will be an illusion.
Mead (2001) assures us that “others” are special in shaping our attitudes, but except in the special case of the child, he does not tell us which “others”. Therefore, most of the sociological theories could be seen as an answer to the question “which others”. This study on environmental variables and their influence on the academic performance of public secondary school students will be of immense benefit to several stakeholders;
1. To the Government: This study will be useful to the government while setting up public secondary schools.
2. To the Parents:
i. They will have to understand the psychology of the child under their care.
ii. Spotlight the importance of the environment in the growth and development of the child as well as its influence on the child’s academic performance.
iii. It will also enable the parents to know that the environment a child grows up in and associates with, aids in his/her growth and development, proper usage of the English language, as well as his academic performance.
3. To the Teachers: It will help the policymakers/planners, officials in the teaching service/ministry of education in decision making as regards the teaching approach and methods used in teaching and to motivate teachers to strive to write out extraneous variables as much as they can.
4. To the Students: This study would serve as useful reference material for future research in related fields
1.7 Scope of the study
It was not the intention of the researchers to cover all public secondary schools since such would be too wide. Therefore, the study was on the “influence of environmental variables on the academic performance of public secondary school students in Uyo Education Zone (Uyo, Ibiono, Nsit Ibom) was the focus of the study.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The presence of value influence, human imperfection, personal bias on the part of both the researcher and the respondent may not allow the study to be one hundred percent correct.
Finally, time of running around to get the necessary materials and information and put them into writing was limited. Financial constraints at the time of the research were a serious obstacle to exhaustive and extensive research expected from this important subject matter. However, the problem was solved due to effective time management, consistency, and proper financial providence.
1.9 Definition of Terms
To enhance proper understanding of this work, some terms were defined in the context of this research as follows:
a) Environmental variables: As used in the study, refers to the student’s home as they were brought up by parents, the quality of schools attended by students in terms of teacher quality, facilities, and also the location of schools.
b) Academic performance: This is referred to the educational output of an individual child, be it negative or positive that can be measured. It is measured through scores obtained by the students in the researcher-constructed English achievement test.
c) Parental rearing style: This is used to measure parents’ attitude in bringing up their children.
d) Influence: This refers to the subtle but very potent forces of powers that dominate an environment that can shape somebody either good or bad.
e) Questionnaires: This means a list of questions to be answered by a group of people to obtain facts or information for a survey.
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