The Influence of School Environmental Variable on the Academic Performance of Student

The Influence of School Environmental Variable on the Academic Performance of Student in Ado-Ekiti Metropoly


1.0 Introduction

The school is a social and learning agent that provides the environment upon which a child may be formally educated to attain educational goals. Human beings, have unlimited capacity to learn, but may however be limited by the behavior patterns and facilities that the immediate environment offers. According to Umoh (2006), nature only provides the raw materials in form of potentials, but it is the environment that determines the extent of development. Umoh and Etuk (2003) asserted that a child who wants to learn Agricultural Science and develop desirable attitudes, interest, appreciation, understanding, habits, abilities, knowledge, and skills requires a stimulating environment. A stimulating school environment enables the teachers to teach a variety of activities with broad-base ideas about what the students are likely to learn or respond to. This makes it possible for both the teachers and the students to work cooperatively and productively towards the attainment of educational goals.

School environmental variables that affect teaching and learning include the following: Science and Computer laboratories, library facilities, adequate classroom facilities, workshop facilities, farm buildings, and structures, farmlands, and playgrounds to mention but a few. Teachers and other personnel to manage and service the physical facilities are the teachings, non-teaching, and the administrative staff of the school. The availability of those resources and facilities in a given school environment influences the teaching, learning, and performance of both the teachers and the students (Nsa, et al 2012).

1.1 Background of Study

Several factors have been attributed to students’ academic performance at various levels of education. These include, for example, teachers’ working conditions, availability of teaching and learning facilities such as books and laboratories, school and home factors such as type of school and the educational climate at home, student background factors, etc. Recent studies show that high-quality school is the central factor in students’ academic performance. Information is, however, limited on the specific characteristics that constitute high-quality schools (Hanushek and WoBmann, 2007). The effect of school climate on students’ achievement has been confirmed in several studies conducted in different contexts. A survey of the effect of the school social climate on its achievement at Michigan Elementary School 2 revealed a strong positive correlation between several school climate variables, including safety features, teaching and learning environment, interpersonal relationships, and institutional environment (Brookover et al., 1978) and mean school achievement. Another survey involving 1,083 junior high school students in 116 classrooms that investigated the relationship between classroom environment and students’ achievement revealed that specific classroom psychosocial environmental variables had significant effects on students’ affective and cognitive outcomes (Fraser & Fisher, 1982). Thapa and colleagues (2013) reviewed 206 studies including experimental correlation and descriptive studies and literature reviews to examine the effect of safety, relationships, teaching and learning, institutional environment, and the school process (Program implementation at school level including curriculum implementation, assessment process, staff and students communication)on students’ achievement. The results of the review showed that the optimal presence of these different variables contributed significantly positively to several attributes of students’ performance.

It is universally accepted, that education enables individuals to contribute to the development and improvement in the quality of life for themselves, their communities, and the nation as a whole. Primary school is no doubt the foundation of education and has prominently been regarded as a fundamental human right. It is an essential component of human capital and it plays an important role in the economic growth and development of a country. Primary education, therefore, remains an important area that should be carefully managed.

(Ajayi 2001). The extent to which pupils learn could be enhanced depending on what the school environment provides to the learners and the teacher.

It is believed that a well-planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social political and economic emancipation, effective teaching-learning process, and academic performance of pupils.

Relating this study to international occurrences are the assertions of Williams, Persaud, and Turner (2008) quoting Marsden (2005) who reported that safe and orderly classroom environment, school facilities were significantly related to student’s academic achievement in schools.

In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America, teaching and learning may not be affected by similar challenges as in developing countries. As the developing countries talk of awareness and wastage due to illiteracy of the parents, the developed countries have concentrated on funding their education without fear of any wastage or poor enrolment (MOEST: Report on Sector Review and Development, 2003).

In New York, the government has put up measures to ensure all public primary schools have all the required physical facilities, instructional materials among other variables that may lead to an effective teaching-learning process.

Instructional materials are a major component in the process of teaching and learning and textbooks are often the most cost-effective means of improving academic achievement and increasing the efficiency of schools (Psachropoulous & Woodhall, 1995).

In developing countries, poor learning environments have always been identified as key factors that lead to poor performance in public primary schools (UNICEF, 2003). This is due to overstretching of the available resources due to increased enrolment. In Uganda, the physical characteristics of the school have a variety of effects on the teachers, pupils, and the learning process. Poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures make the teaching-learning process difficult. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among the pupils and higher absentee rates among pupils (Frazier, 2002 Lyons, 2001and Ostendorf, 2001). Beyond the direct effects that poor facilities have on pupils’ ability to learn, the combination of poor facilities which creates an uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for the teachers combined with frustrating behavior by the pupil including poor concentration also affects the teaching-learning process. The situation is not any different here in Nigeria where several schools suffer due to lack of or inadequacy of physical facilities and instructional materials (UNICEF, 2003). Unless schools are adequately provided with physical facilities and instructional materials, effective teaching and learning may not take place.

Class size has also been an issue that affects the performance of the student in most schools in developing countries. In Nigeria, since the inception of Free Primary Education (FPE), there has been increased enrolment which leads to overcrowding in classrooms making the work of the teacher difficult since he/she cannot easily move around in the classroom (Wabuoba, 2011) quoted in Chuma (2012)

The school administration is a crucial factor in the success of a school.

The headteacher should be in a position to ensure that all factors within the school that make the school environmental variable for learning be put in place to ensure quality standards are maintained. The Education Act of 1968 stipulates that the headteacher is responsible for the overall management, control, and maintenance of standards in the schools and is accountable for all that happens in the school. He is charged with the duty of planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting (Okumbe, 2001) The headteacher is seen as the first supervisor and therefore should always ensure that effective teaching-learning is taking place in the school. Academic performance can be measured through assessment that is done to pupils using continuous assessment tests (CATS), standardized examinations like the sub-county MOCK and the Nigerian Certificate of Primary Education (NCPE).

Schools’ environmental factors such as availability of instructional materials, availability of physical facilities, class size, and school location are factors within the school that may affect the academic performance of students in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis. Effective and high academic performance may not take place when the rate of repetition, drop out and absenteeism seems to be high in the division and this affects the performance of learners.

It is a long-established and well-documented fact that variables of the natural environment, such as social class, are related to academic achievement and measures of intellectual status.” The importance attributed to these variables is exemplified by Miner’s (1957) book entitled intelligence of the United States, which identified social stratification as the major factor in intellectual differences. From his analysis of the relationships between vocabulary test scores and background variables, Miner concluded that his most striking result was “…that the major differences in mean scores appear on the variables that are related to social stratification, namely, education, occupation, race, and subjective class identification” While such data have social implications such as those associated with the inequality of educational opportunity, the value of this information in guiding intervention strategies is extremely limited, precisely because the variables do not lend themselves to manipulation, and because they are so gross. How does the information that a child’s father had a very limited formal education help us to decide on procedures to improve the child’s educational opportunities? What happens (or fails to happen).

1.2 Statement of Problem

No two schools are alike. Schools, just like the people within them, have different variables. This study attempted to uncover school differences and tie them to student outcomes. The types of school differences explored were areas in which a superintendent or principal may have some policy control, and where policy differences may affect test score outcomes. In this research, a set of descriptor variables was developed and tested; namely, how the learning environment in an individual school is structured and organized. Examples of the types of descriptors developed include a school’s placement policy for special education students, the degree of classroom homogeneity within the second and third grades at the school, and the language environment of the school and classrooms, among others.

The Transitions Evaluation, a study of intensive social and educational services administered in schools serving low-income, ethnically diverse children in a suburban school system is well-suited to identifying differences in school variables and studying the effect of those variables on outcomes. A database developed for the evaluation has multiple measures of student performance in 15 schools across 2 years. While the present data represent only one school system, it was possible to exploit the unique nature of this database to develop a limited set of school variables that differ across the schools and which could be related to the academic performance of the second and third grades children attending these schools.

There is a large literature on the factors that affect school performance. This work relied on previous school effectiveness research but was primarily concerned with developing and testing new measures of school-level activity and its relationship to school performance. The research goals were threefold:

1. To extract features from the data that distinguish schools,

2. To test whether those features affect school performance, and

3. To interpret the reasons for the effectiveness of those features.

This database is well suited for this work because there is variation across schools in test scores. The research problem was associated with linking choice variables under the control of the school with factors that affect test scores. By exploiting the unique nature of the database, the task was to characterize school policies and to determine how these factors affected variation in test score outcomes across schools.

The following items summarize the conceptualization of this project:

1. Schools can be structured in many different ways and are important containers of significant factors of student achievement (beyond the style of the individual teacher, the curriculum, the properties of the individual student);

2. These factors form two general categories: those that are intrinsically school level properties such as building, size, demographics of the neighborhood, communication patterns, morale, resources, the principal, and the variability of ethnic membership; and those that are indirectly school level: mean student achievement, mean age of teachers, mean number of English as a second language per class, et cetera. These are school-level by aggregation.

3. The database available has a few of the kinds of factors described above. The aggregated factors have not been studied very much as ways to differentiate among schools that differ in aggregated school-level achievement.

4. Aggregated school level achievement is very important these days as an accountability indicator.

5. This project looks at the relative power of a few examples of these two kinds of school-level factors to predict differences in aggregated school-level achievement.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study was to examine the influence of environmental variables on student academic performance and overall achievement. Also, to assess the relationship between the school environmental factors and students’ academic performance by establishing the following minor objectives.

1.  To establish how class size influences the academic performance of the student in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis.

2.  To determine how school environmental variable affects the academic performance and achievement of students in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis.

3.  Assessing the impact of quantitative and qualitative variables of secondary schools on examination performance.

4.  Critically examining and documenting why secondary schools in Nigeria are in their current condition.

5.  Providing achievable recommendations for strengthening and improving performance in secondary schools in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The study sought to answer the following research questions;

1.  How does class size influence the academic performance of students in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis?

2.  In what ways do environmental variable affects the academic performance and achievement of students in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis?

3.  What effects do the quantitative and qualitative variables have on secondary schools on examination performance?

4.  What is the factors that brought secondary schools in Nigeria to their current condition today?

5.  What possible recommendations can be given to strengthen and improve performance in secondary schools in the Ado-Ekiti metropolis of Nigeria?

1.5 Statement of Hypothesis

The researcher formed some of the hypotheses which will be tested and will be tested using 0.5 error significance. Specifically, the hypotheses for this work were

1. Student population variables at the school such as the predominant ethnic environment, the language environment, and the presence of concentrations of students with similar abilities affect test score gains of individual students.

2. Explicit school policies such as school size and classroom composition variables affect test score outcomes for individual students.

3. School-level variables such as special education placement policy, teacher turnover, student attrition affect test score outcomes for individual students.

The hypotheses tested addressed the effects of school variables on test score gains made between second and third grade on the Metropolitan Achievement Test.

1.6 Signification of the Study

It is hoped that the findings of the study may help school administrators reflect upon various variables that influence the academic performance of students. In so doing, they could investigate the possibility of introducing those variables to their schools which may consequently lead to reducing absenteeism, dropouts, repetition, and consequently high academic performance. These findings may also help the government through the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MOEST) to provide more funds for schools through the FPE kitty for instructional materials and repair and maintenance of the available physical facilities, thus improving and standardizing the schools variable to a favorable out most sphere where learning will be effective and high performance will be the outcome of the students. Parents may also use findings from this study to help improve the school facilities by organizing fundraisers for instance to construct a classroom, laboratory, library among other facilities. Policymakers would use the findings to help them make decisions in developing strategies towards the improvement of academic standards.

The findings of this study are therefore expected to provide new knowledge about the factors behind good or poor student academic performance concerning school environmental variables. In addition to that, the findings of this study will help to encourage policymakers and the community, in general, to strive to improve the school variable to affect student performance in academic.

Future researchers would use the study in identifying priority areas and gaps on which to carry out more research about Nigerian schools.

1.7 Justification of the Study

I want to justify this research work based on the objectives and the significance of this research work, what is within its coverage, this research work is with no doubt necessary to be carried out. Because if done will greatly highlight the influence of environmental variables on high academic student performance.

1.8 Scope of the Study

This research work covered fifteen schools from the Ado-Ekiti metropolis and worked with two years of statistical reports of each school performance sheet. More to that, this research work will be considering three school environmental variable and three research hypothesis which is tested in light of the study, a descriptive method of data analysis will be was employed in the study.

1.9 Limitations of the Study

According to Best and Khan (1993), limitations are conditions beyond the ability of the researcher that may place restrictions on the conclusions of the study and their application to other situations. The first limitation was on the part of obtaining information from the pupils where some were not willing to give information regarding their behavior for fear of victimization by their teachers. Efforts were made to assure them of confidentiality on their identities. The other limitation was on the part of the researcher to research the whole of Ado-Ekiti metropolis as the topic suggests. The researcher researched sampled schools.

1.10 Basic Assumptions of the Study

This study was based on the following assumptions;

1.  That the pupils answered questions correctly and willfully.

2.  That all the respondents are were conversant with the English language and were able to respond to the instruments with ease.

1.11 Definition of Terms

Some of the terms that will be used frequently would be defined to have a broad and clear understanding of the topic.

The following terms are defined within the context of this study.

Class size refers to the number of pupils in a class.

Influence refers to the effect that the school environmental factors have on the teaching-learning process.

Physical facilities refer to the movable and immovable objects in schools that bring comfort to the learner. They include classrooms, laboratories, offices, toilets, desks.

Instructional materials refer to those materials that a teacher uses in class to facilitate teaching and learning. They include textbooks, exercise books, revision books, chalk, wall maps and charts, atlas.

School environmental factors are those aspects within the pupils’ surrounding at school that influence the academic performance of the student.

School location refers to where the school is situated, that is the site.

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