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THE INFLUENCE OF TEACHERS’ CHARACTERISTICS ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background to the Study
Education is globally-accepted as the most viable tool for sustainable human development. It is equally an indispensable tool for enhancing economic growth and national development. Education is seen as the cornerstone of every development forming the basis for literacy, skill acquisition, technological advancement as well as the ability to harness the natural resources of the state.
Participants in the World Conference on “Education for All” in Jomtien (2006) pointed out that education is a fundamental right of all people, women and men of all ages throughout the world. It helps to ensure a safer, healthier, more prosperous and environmentally-sound world. It is an indispensable key for personal and social improvement. UNESCO (2005) has however pointed out that the current provision of education is seriously deficient and that it must be made more relevant, qualitatively improved and universally available. In recognition of the inestimable value of education, the Nigerian Government has adopted education as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. Thus, education is viewed as an instrument for building a free and democratic society, a just and egalitarian society, a united strong and self-reliant nation and a great and dynamic economy (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004).
In order to attain these national aspirations, secondary schools are expected to provide quality instructions that will be oriented towards inculcating values of respect for the worth and dignity of individuals; ability to make rational decisions; moral and spiritual values in interpersonal relationship and shared responsibility for the common good of society, among others (FRN, 2004).
The quality of education of any nation, to a very large extent, determines the development status of that particular nation. Education can be regarded as the heartbeat of any nation. As a man nourishes his heart to be alive, a nation must also cater for her educational system to keep it ‘alive’ technologically, economically, politically, socially and to ensure quality products.
Education imparted through quality instruction is not only for good grades alone but also for the acquisition of the right values, skills and competences to make an individual a useful member of the society. For education to achieve this objective, it must be of high quality, which, as Nwangwu (2000) opined, “it should not only consist of passing examinations (which is usually the first priority) but also include the acquisition of skills (in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains) through improved schools’ ability to facilitate and support the work of teachers and students”.
Secondary education is a very critical level of any educational system. This is because it is the bedrock on which higher education is built as the foundation of whatever a child wants to become in life academically is laid here. It is sad to note that the academic performance of students at this level is very poor in the western part of this country. In Lagos state, for instance, the quality of secondary school leavers has continued to deteriorate. Students look for crooked means of passing their examinations. This is as a result of the fact that success in examination serves as a good motivator to students, teachers, administrators and employers of labour. On the other hand, failure to perform successfully in examination demoralizes all and sundry, especially students. It is the craving to succeed and avoid the frustration and embarrassment associated with failure that makes students engage in examination malpractices which has threatened the very foundation of our educational system (Ijaiya, 2004).
Among the causes of examination malpractices are poor condition of service for teachers and inadequate teaching and learning facilities. These have an adverse effect on the quality of teachers as well as the quality of instruction because no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers (FRN, 2004). The quality of education of any nation determines the development status of that particular nation.
The teacher is the pivot of the education process. The teacher is the key in the entire education programme and he can make or mar the best educational programme in the world. 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 achievement of educational objectives depend largely on teachers.
Ali (2009) observes that there was statistically significant relationship between teacher characteristics and student academic achievement. Adeyemo (2005) notes teacher characteristics influenced teaching and learning in classrooms. Olaleye (2011) establishes that there was relationship between teachers characteristics and pupils performance. It has been stated that the explanations for good or poor student’s academic performance have been quite exhaustive yet controversy still exists among scholars as to what contribute singly or jointly to students’ poor performance. The teacher characteristics found to be dominant in cross-country studies are related to; qualification, experience, attitude and teachers’ in-service training.
The idea of highly qualified teachers is a good one, but compliance has not been widespread. Some states in Nigeria have set low expectations for teacher quality, and sometimes it depends on what school in which a teacher teaches in. the question which begs to be asked is what defines teacher’s quality? If students are asked about a teacher who is highly qualified, they will most likely say that it is the teacher who spend extra time with them and who makes the class content clear and attainable. Conversely, the unqualified teachers are the ones who are boring and don’t connect with the students. Students don’t care about educational certificates or years of experience. Anobi (2006) recognizes that as true educators, teachers are always learning; and teachers need to continue to define the meaning of highly qualified instead of doing as little as possible within the meaning of the law. Teachers need to move from mere competence to excellence in practice.
Defining teacher quality is a question that resurfaces again in the literature on teacher preparation. Does content knowledge in addition to knowledge about teaching make a difference in student achievement? One group believes quality teachers possess content knowledge and have studied instructional ideas and practices that have increased student achievement, while another group believes teachers just need strong content knowledge. Kaplan and Owings (2001) found disagreement in the literature over whether traditional teacher preparation positively affected student achievement. They found that teachers who learn and practice sound pedagogical practices techniques can affect students’ measured achievements and also students whose teachers had strong content knowledge and had learned to work with students came from different cultures or special needs tested higher than one full grade over their peers.
Due to the increasing nature of poor academic performance of secondary school students especially in external examinations like West African Examination Council (WAEC) or Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB), many educationists tend to shift the blame on lack of fund from the government to provide quality textbooks. However, these might not be the main reasons why students perform poorly in examinations. It is clear from all indications that some secondary school teachers are not competent which might lead to poor academic performance of the students.
Akinsolu (2010) asserts that availability of qualified teachers determined the performance of students in schools. There are emphasizes that teachers involved in in-service training were more effective in classrooms as compared to teachers who had not undergone training. Wirth & Perkins (2013) indicate that teacher’s attitude contributed significantly to student attention in classrooms whereas Adesoji & Olatunbosun (2008) illustrates that student attitude was related to teacher characteristics. This therefore meant that teacher’s attitude directly affected students’ attitude. Adu & Olatundun (2007) contend that teachers’ characteristics are strong determinants of students’ performance in secondary schools.
Scholars and researchers generally are in agreement that the school variables, which include teacher administration, perform a critical role in educational achievement than other variables. The important role of the teachers in the learning is unquestionable. Teachers have a lot of influence on their classroom practices. Teachers should have and apply specific abilities without which their influence may not be reflected in their students’ performance in the subject. For students to be able to make connection between what is taught in school and its application in problem solving in real life, the teacher has to be effective in their teaching. There has been no consensus on the importance of specific teacher factors, leading to the common conclusion that the existing empirical evidence does not find a strong role for teachers in the determination of academic achievement. This study therefore sought to investigate the influence of teacher characteristics in influencing students’ academic performance.
The relationship between teachers’ behaviour, knowledge and values with student learning is the key issue need to be addressed. Teachers need to understand their own practice and how it affects student performance. They need an understanding of the developmental nature of the construct areas in which they teach and this must precede or underpin their understanding of the developmental assessment.
The issue of declining academic performance of students in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State has generated much interest among stakeholders in the education sector in Lagos State. The quality of education and performance of students depends on the teachers as reflected in the discharge of their duties. Over time students’ academic performance in both internal and external examinations had been used to determine the effectiveness of teachers and teaching (Ajao, 2001). This was buttressed by Ogunsaju (2004) that the academic standard of students in all Nigerian educational institutions has fallen considerably below societal expectations. Teachers have been known to have important influence on students’ academic performance and they also play a crucial role in educational attainment because the teacher is ultimately responsible for translating educational policies and principles into actions based on practice during interaction with the students (Afe, 2001). Both teaching and learning depend on teachers: no wonder an effective teacher has been conceptualized as one who produces desired results in the course of his duty as a teacher (Uchefuna 2001).
Teachers are the most important school-based factor in affecting student academic performance levels. Knowing what teacher characteristics influence student academic performance levels will help administrators prioritize who to hire, retain, and assign to classes. The purpose of this study is to answer the questions whether teacher characteristics are related to student achievement. A review of teacher quality, teacher mastery of the subject matter, teacher background provides some background of the relationship between teacher characteristics and student academic performance.
Many variables affect student performance. They include family life, community, diet, involvement in extracurricular activities, and the school environment. Teachers, however, have a direct responsibility to shape a student’s academic performance. This is why it is important to examine which teacher characteristics may be related to performance. Every school has a different mix of teacher experience, education, teacher attendance, and student-teacher ratio, among other readily available measures. Considering which teacher characteristics produce the best student achievement at the school level can help the school in identifying unique ways to increase student achievement with the teacher resources available to them.
Examining the relationship between teacher characteristics and student academic performance in the secondary school-level allows this study to look at the school and examine if there are certain teacher qualities that increase the academic performance of students This is important for education administrators because knowing what teacher characteristics influence students’ academic performance will help the school’s administration make adjustments in order to increase student achievement. This does not necessarily mean that all students will benefit, but it will help identify teacher characteristics that are correlated with increasing the school’s overall student academic performance.
Considering governments’ huge investment in public education, its output in terms of quality of students has been observed to be unequal with government expenditure. Consequent upon the observed deterioration in the academic performance, attitude and values of secondary school students in public secondary schools, one wonders if the high failure rates and the failure of the students especially in external examinations is not a reflection of the instructional quality in the schools. Therefore, the ineffectiveness of teachers in classroom interaction with the students could be responsible for the observed poor performance of students and the widely acclaimed fallen standard of education in Nigeria.
This study is designed to determine if teachers’ characteristics has significant influence on the academic performance of students in public secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. It was aimed at answering the question: “Does teachers’ characteristics have significant influence on student’s academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State?” In answering this question, the study determined and described the relationship between teachers’ characteristics and the academic performance of students. Therefore, this study is significant because the results will enable the researcher to proffer useful suggestions to the ailing problem of poor academic performance of students.
Statement of the Problem
It appears that teachers' characteristics have a great influence on the academic performance of students in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. The dismal performance and low achievement of students in both internal and external examination has made educational researchers, parents and other stakeholders to be concerned about the causes of this performance. Teachers have a lot of influence on their classroom practices, this study therefore sought to investigate the influence of teacher characteristics on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Objectives of the Study
• To investigate whether teachers’ academic qualifications influence student academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state.
• To examine whether teachers’ teaching experiences influence students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state.
• To find out whether the level of teachers’ in-service training affects students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state.
• To examine whether there is a relationship between teachers’ attitude and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
• Does teachers’ academic qualification influence students’ academic performance in secondary schools Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state?
• Does teachers’ teaching experience influence students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state?
• How does teachers’ in-service training influence students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Main land Local Government Area of Lagos state?
• To what extent does teacher’s attitude influence students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos state?
The following research hypotheses guided this study:
Ho: There is no significant relationship between teachers’ characteristics and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
H1: There is a significant relationship between teachers’ characteristics and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may hopefully contribute to existing literature by extending the stock of knowledge on the influence of teachers’ characteristics on students’ academic performance in the secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The study is expected to serve as reference or guide for the teachers in choosing training and development programmes that will help them to improve their quality, skills, knowledge, mastery of the subject matter and also to adapt to the new innovations in teaching and learning method like the use of ICT, projector etc., all which will lead to better academic performance on the part of the students.
It is hoped that this study will provide information for educational planners, policymakers and school administrators to reflect upon various factors that helps students in achieving their academic goals. In so doing, they can investigate the possibility of introducing those factors to their school, which may consequently lead to enhancing students’ educational outcomes in school. In addition, the fact that this study is conducted in public schools, it shares quite a lot of similarities with many other counterparts. In this connection, this study provides a valuable reference for other schools to reflect upon the school teachers’ characteristics as it affect the academic performance of student in secondary school.
It is also hoped that identification of the teachers’ characteristics as a factor that contribute to academic performance of students in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State, will spark the interest of school leaders and instructional leaders to seek to identify similar attributes that will contribute to the resiliency and academic achievement of students internationally.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study focused on the influence of teachers’ characteristics on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. The study also is concerned only with public secondary schools. Private secondary schools were not included in this study because they were not directly under the control of the state governments.
Definition of Key Terms
The following are the definitions of some of the terms used in this research study
· Academic Performance: Examination result at the end of an academic programme in the school. In this study, the West African Senior School Certificate examination result is used.
· Attributes: a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
• Characteristics: these are features that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably someone or something; a distinguishing mark, quality or trait.
• Counterpart: person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation.
• Deterioration: This refers to the process of becoming diminishing in quality, character, or value.
• Determinants: it refers to determining or deciding something, it is a factor which decisively affects the nature or outcome of something.
• Dismal: this refers to causing a mood of depression, making someone feel unhappy and without hope or enthusiasm
• Enlightenment: the act of enlightening or the state of being enlightened
• ICT: Information and Communication Technology refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. This includes the use of Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.
• In-service training: In this study in-service training means on-the-job training such as correspondence courses, sandwich programmes, distance learning programme, etc. Also, seminars, workshops and conferences constitute in-service training.
• Instructional Materials: teaching materials that enhance or promote students’ academic performance.
• Projector: it is a device designed for displaying video, images or computer data on a screen or other flat surface.
• Productivity: it is the measure of efficiency of a person or resources in converting educational input into useful output.
• Resilience: Resilient children are said to be those who beat the odds or bounce back under adverse circumstances.
• Resources: these are stocks or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.
• Teaching-learning process: a classroom situation where teachers teach the students and the students imbibe whatever the teacher is passing to them.
• Teacher quality: This means a degree of excellence, especially a high degree of goodness and worth of the teachers. In this study, teacher quality refers to teachers’ academic qualification, professional qualification and years of experience.
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