1.1 Background to the Study
It is interesting to note that researchers in education and other stakeholders have contributed immensely towards improving academic performance of learners in the teaching-learning process. Researchers have conducted researches mostly on environmental factors, teacher related factors, home and parental factors, use of instructional materials and school locations among other variables while students’ variable seem to receive or attract less touch.
Students’ variable according to Meador (2013) includes those behavioral patterns that either foster or inhibit the students’ performance at school. He listed some of the positive students’ variables to include asking questions, hard work, regularity at class, class participation, seizing opportunities, trustworthiness and being a problem solver. Young (2012) identified the variables of good students to include being attentive in class, consulting with instructors, promptly turning in assignment and making good use of extra credit hour opportunities.
Students’ Variables and Academic Achievement in Social Studies
Students’ variable is a compound concept that encompasses the learner’s age, experience, interest, health, beliefs, gender, motivation and previous learning and intelligence (Fakeye, 2012). Apart from the afore factors mentioned earlier which have received much researcher’s touch, Cohen (2013) argued that students’ variables may even impact highly on academic performance considering the fact that they learn what is of interest to them.
According to the researcher, “as a teacher, you can only create the learning environment needed, explain the concept as supposed, use necessary material to facilitate the learning but cannot force the learner on what, how when and where to learn, he learns what is of his satisfaction depending on his personal attitude. Many researchers have come to argue that learning should be learners-centered. This obviously is a pointer to the fact that students apart from being mere learners but listeners, their variables may go a long way in determining the extent to which they can progress academically.
In Nigeria, in spite of the enormous role that has been set in their respective places to enhance the academic performance of the students, many factors has contributed to this ugly and unwholesome situation. These factors include students’ health, lack of interest, gender inequality and students’ study habits. Researchers have identified a number of factors that may have impact on students’ interest in specific subjects, researches has been carried out on students’ variable and interest in social studies, basic questions till now are open how to make students’ variables toward arts and science more favorable and how to increase their interest in the subject, interest has many applications for studying and learning.
It is particularly note worthy that a variety of research also found significant gender difference in attitude towards an interest in social studies with girls losing interest faster than boys in secondary schools. It is also likely a point of interest to note that gender difference were most likely to be connected with a number of variables related to classroom experiences including pedagogical variables. This implies that gender is a very good predictor of performance in arts subjects at secondary school level. It is against this backdrop that, this study is designed to investigate those factors associated with learners particularly in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State because the earlier we identify those good and bad students’ variables and properly address them, the better the academic performance of students in social studies and at large and all other life subjects.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Students’ variables have been found to have a considerable influence on pupils’ interest in learning and academic achievement. Accordingly, the school system has put in place several rules and regulations to guide the pupils. For a smooth academic progress in school, students’ are expected to be law abiding, respectful of school authorities and school staff as well as being regular and punctual to class. Other variables expected of the students includes, respect for one another, honesty, hard-work commitment to class tasks and attentiveness in class.
In Nigerian educational system, policy keeps collapsing from time to time and this has generated much concern from several quarters of the nation. For instance, social studies which initially was a compulsory subject in all Nigerian primary schools in now an elective subject. Again, children are sent to school some at a very tender age while some at their advanced age, quite unlike what was obtained in those days. As if this is not enough, parents now let their wards to jumps certain classes claiming that the children are of high intelligence.
Students’ Variables and Academic Achievement in Social Studies
It has been noted that pupils who exhibits positive variable like regularity in class, active class participation and prompt response to assigned tasks were more committed to learning than pupils with negative variable which includes; poor study habit, irregularity in class, truancy, fighting, disobedience, examination malpractice, lateness to school and general indiscipline; others include; students abstaining themselves from school and classes using unnecessary excuses such as being sick when they are not, fake suspension by the school authority or teacher, some of these variables are common among the students who perform poorly in their test and examination.
At this point, one would stop to ask, where is the foundation to a healthy living by the society when social study has become an optional subject in our foundational schools? Having young, average and advanced ages in the same class? Should children be allowed to jump classes all in the name of high intelligence? What is its impact, if at all there is?
The growing number of failure in social studies in both external and internal examinations in primary schools has become alarming and also a cause of concern because of this nagging issue. Educators have been forced and motivated to conduct series of research study with the view of finding a lasting and better solution to the problem of learning social studies. This study seeks to investigate the possible answers to this problem.