Abstract: The study investigated School Environmental Factors and Academic Performance of Biology Students. All biology students in all the public secondary schools was the population of the study. One hundred and twenty students were used as the sample size. Biology Achievement Test was the instrument for data collection and independent t-test was used in analyzing the data. Findings showed that there is a significant difference in academic performance among Biology students in schools with adequate physical facilities and those in schools without adequate physical facilities and that there is a significant difference in academic performance among biology students in normal class size and those in large class size.
Based on the findings, it was recommended that the community and other philanthropists should be encouraged to support the development of schools to improve the facilities such as the library and laboratory facilities to improve the teaching-learning process and the government should carryout effective supervision of schools to ensure adequate utilization of available materials for effective teaching of biology.
School Environmental Factors and Academic Performance of Biology Students
1.1 Background to the study
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. Secondary school is no doubt the foundation of education and has prominently been regarded as a fundamental human right in Akwa Ibom State for every child. It is an essential component of human capital and it plays an important role in economic growth and development of a country. Secondary education, therefore, remains an important area that should be carefully managed.
A study conducted by Kitetu and Sunderland (2000) at the Lancaster University found out that five or more years of a farmer’s Secondary education led to increased farm productivity, reduced size of farm labour and increased use of yield augmenting inputs. This means that by acquiring Secondary education one can increase one’s earnings (Kitetu, 1998) in Mege (2014).
The school environment refers to factors within the school that influence the teaching-learning process. The school environment includes classrooms, library, technical workshops, teachers’ quality, teaching methods, peers, among others variables that can affect the teaching–learning process (Ajayi 2001). The extent to which Students 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 Students. Relating this study to international occurrences are the assertions of Williams, Persaud and Turner (2008) quoting Marsden (2005) which reported that safe and orderly classroom environment, school facilities were significantly related to students academic achievement in schools. In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the Unites States of America, teaching and learning may not be affected by similar challenges as in the developing countries. As the developing countries talk of awareness and wastage due to illiteracy of the parents, the developed countries have concentrated in funding their education without fear of any wastage or poor enrolment (MOEST: Report on Sector Review and Development, 2003).
In Akwa Ibom State, the government has put up measures to ensure all public Secondary schools have all the required physical facilities, instructional materials among other variables that may lead to 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 Mege (2014).
In the developing countries, poor learning environments have always been identified as key factors that lead to poor performance in public Secondary schools (Lyons, 2001). This is due to overstretching of the available resources due to increased enrolment. The physical characteristics of the school have a variety of effects on the teachers, Students and the learning process. Poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in classrooms and inconsistent temperatures make teaching-learning process difficult. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among the Students and higher absentee rates among Students (Frazier, 2002 and Ostendorf, 2001).
According to Ashikai (2013), education at secondary schools level is supposed to be the bedrock and the foundation towards higher knowledge in tertiary institutions. It is on investment as well as an instrument that can be used to achieve a more rapid economic, social, political, technological, scientific and cultural development in a country. School can only carry out such function when the environment of the school is made conducive for such role. Udom (2004) noted that environment of the learners is one of the strong determinants in learning. This is due to the fact that there exist sonic interplay between the learning process and the learning environment. She opined that factors within the school environment should be put together to ensure effective learning in any given subject. This shows that learning environment should be conducive for effective learning to take place. Facilities needed within the school environment include classroom, libraries, laboratories, staff offices among others.
School Environmental Factors and Academic Performance of Biology Students
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Government of Akwa Ibom State commitment to education is noted from Akwa Ibom State Child Right Law (2008) in Lazarus (2014) which guarantees every learner the right to free quality and relevant primary to secondary education. The government has invested in education especially in public schools through the introduction of Free Primary and Secondary Education. The State’s provision of Free Education is an effort to increase access and retention of pupils/students in schools. The development of Akwa Ibom State Education Sector is based on the rationale of the overall policy goal of achieving Education For All and the Government’s commitment to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as stipulated in National Policy on Education (2013).
Despite efforts made by the Akwa Ibom State Government to ensure every child attends school by providing Free Education, there are children who still fail to attend school on a regular basis (Lazarus, 2014). Effective teaching-learning process may not be guaranteed when the rate of absenteeism, repetition and dropouts is high. If teaching-learning process is not improved, then the states will lag behind both in social and economic development.
Anyango (2012) found that teachers’ attitudes and adequacy of teaching and learning resources led to poor performance in secondary schools. However, no study known to the researcher has been conducted in the study area on how the school environmental factors can influence the teaching-learning process. The researcher therefore intended to find out if there is a relationship between school environmental factors and the academic performance of students in Biology and make recommendations on how to improve them to ensure quality standards are maintained.