A Critical Examination Of Undergraduate Perception Towards Learning Environment In Nigeria Universities

Environmental Education Project and Seminar Material

A Critical Examination Of Undergraduate Perception Towards Learning Environment In Nigeria Universities


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Both learning processes and its outcomes are influenced by the learning environment and how students perceive it. In this regard, Frenzel, Pekrun, and Goetz (2007) posited that numerous research have clearly proven the high correlation exist between the perceived learning environment and student performance. Similarly, Randhawa and Michayluk (1974) attributed most of the significant variation in student performance to the learner’s ability and the educational environment. According to Zhu, Valcke, Schellens, and Li (2009), student learning quality appears to be directly connected to their views of the learning environment.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, there have been an increasing global interest and concern among all educational stakeholders over the role of the learning environment in education, from the most basic levels of learning to the most advanced degrees of higher education in the recent years.

The growing interest in the learning environment is mostly due to the fact that it has multiple consequences for different student learning processes and results. The learning environment has been shown to have a significant impact on students’ motivation and interest in learning, as well as their emotional and behavioral attitudes toward learning, academic performance, and accomplishment (Victorian Institute of Teaching, 2007; Wei & Elias, 2011).

In contrast, the learning environments of private learning institutions are often seen as more favorable than those of state learning institutions (Chandler, Nolin, & Zill, 1993).

Hence, it is possible that attending a private or public university places distinct demands on the undergraduates.

Due to the increased calls for public-private partnerships, particularly in the education sector, as well as calls for increased efficiency in the public education sector and the proliferation of private tertiary institutions in Nigeria, it is critical to understand the extent of the disparities in the learning environment and how students perceive these disparities.


1.2 Statement of Problem

According to Abraham, Ramnarayan, Vinod, and Torke (2008), the quality of the educational environment is critical for effective learning. Most Nigerians, particularly students, want learning institutions to be tidy and well-functioning, hence offering a conducive learning atmosphere. However, the current reality in most Nigerian higher educational institutions falls far short of stakeholders’ expectations, particularly those of parents and students, due to a hostile learning environment and how schools have become hotbeds for violence, antisocial behavior, and other vices, as well as a steady decline in academic standards. In fact, majority of school environments are dismal and demotivating, and as a result, they do not inspire effective and active learning.

While private universities can provide a more pleasant learning environment (due to a small student population that can pay the enormously expensive tuition and associated fees), public universities’ learning environments are a testament of neglect exacerbated by the massive demand on existing facilities by a big and rapidly growing student population.

As a result of the foregoing, better classroom structure, enhanced lecturer-student relationships (due to a higher lecturer-student ratio), and improved dormitory and living circumstances are to be expected in private tertiary schools. In contrast, overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated boards and chairs, a lack of or bad sound systems, and disruptive behavior during lectures define classroom organization in public schools. The majority of dormitories at public tertiary schools are in abysmal and demeaning circumstances, owing partly to increased demand for facilities without commensurate upkeep and growth of physical infrastructure.

The academic settings of public and private institutions are an important part of student experiences during their undergraduate programs. Thus , such a stark discrepancy in learning environments as experienced by students might have far-reaching consequences for students’ learning processes and learning achievements.

current literature on the learning environment, particularly at the tertiary level, represents the opinions of educators (school administrators and lecturers), those literature indicate a teacher-centered vision of the classroom setting with minimal emphasis on the student’s perspective (Khaldi and Khatib, 2014). The aforementioned pattern remains the case for Nigeria, where investigations examining students’ perceptions are rather sparse due to the teacher-centered nature of the educational systems.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The basis of this study is surrounded on the examination of undergraduate perception towards learning environment in Nigeria Universities.

The study will be guided by the specific objectives below;

  1. Investigate whether learning environment of private tertiary institutions are perceived more favourable by students than private tertiary institutions.
  2. Ascertain whether a relationship a exist between undergraduates perception toward learning environment and their attitude towards lectures
  3. Ascertain undergraduates perception on whether learning environment affects their academic performance.
  4. Find out the factors affecting learning environment in Nigerian Universities.

1.4 Research Question

The study will be guided by the following questions;

  1. Is the learning environment of private tertiary institutions more favourable than private tertiary institutions?
  2. Does a relationship exist between undergraduates perception toward learning environment and their attitude towards lectures?
  3. Does learning environment affect undergraduates academic performance?
  4. What are the factors affecting learning environment in Nigerian Universities?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The relevance of this study primarily emanates from its focus on students perceptions as critical components of the teaching-learning process. In this regard, this study adds to the slim body of research literature on the perception of the student group as a reference point for future researchers. Thus, this research work is expected to be of benefit to researchers in similar investigations and analysis.

The significance of this study is further reinforced by its comparative nature involving both private and public institutions of higher learning. This is in view of the fact that students’ perceptions are constantly changing and differ between different groups of students, as a result of diverse personal characteristics and different individual histories that inform individual differences in students’ perceptions.

Also, results and recommendations of the study will form critical inputs for decision makers, policy actors and school administrations in both the private and public sectors, in adjusting existing learning environments as well as developing new learning environments that foster active and meaningful learning among Nigerian undergraduates.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study generally focus on the examination of undergraduates perception towards learning environment in Nigerian Universities. However, the study will further investigate whether learning environment of private tertiary institutions are perceived more favourable by students than private tertiary institutions, ascertain whether a relationship a exist between undergraduates perception toward learning environment and their attitude towards lectures, ascertain undergraduates perception on whether learning environment affects their academic performance, and find out the factors affecting learning environment in Nigerian Universities.

Thus, this study will be carried out in some selected public universities in Anambra State.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Undergraduate Programmes:

It includes all the post-secondary academic programs in various disciplines offered by post-secondary learning institutions, up to the level of a bachelor’s degree in Nigeria.

Students’ Perceptions:

These are the beliefs or opinions that students have or formulate result of result of direct experiences in the educational context. It is the understanding, mental frame of reference or conclusions acquired by students in their interactions within the academic or educational system.

Learning Environment:

The learning environment is the context in which the student works or where learning takes place, consisting of the physical classroom, materials for learning, instructional processes, teacher-student relationships and student-student relationships.


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Frequently Asked Questions


Does academic level /year of study affect students’ perception of learning environment?

Effect of academic level/year of study on students’ perception The students’ perception of their learning environment, in the study, varied according to their academic level. However, their perception did not follow a particular pattern as the students progressed in their studies.

How do students perceive the learning environment in FMUG?

This score indicates that the learning environment in FMUG, overall, is perceived by students as more positive than negative (Table 2). Table 2 The DREEM domains with total and individual scores, mean scores, and interpretations Subscales Mean SD Maximum score of Perception% Interpretation by students’ perception SPL 24

Do students’ perception of learning and perception of teaching differ by semester?

When the total mean domain scores were compared between the groups, the mean scores for students’ perception of learning (SPL) (M=28.5, SD=6.51) and students’ perception of teaching (SPT) (M= 28.82, SD=5.03) were significantly higher for students in Semester 6 than for those in Semesters 2 and 10 (F(2,2455)= 13.14, p <0.001).

Do high achievers’ perceptions of the learning environment differ between students?

High achievers’ perceptions of the learning environment are significantly better than those of low achievers. A significant difference was observed between students in different years of study. The differences in students’ academic performance should be further investigated, targeting specific domains. 

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