Strategies For Improving Low Academic Performance In English Language In Secondary Schools In Kaduna State (A Case Study Of Some Selected Secondary Schools In Kaduna Local Government)

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Strategies For Improving Low Academic Performance In English Language In Secondary Schools In Kaduna State (A Case Study Of Some Selected Secondary Schools In Kaduna Local Government)


Abstract


This study examines strategies for improving low academic performance in English language in secondary schools in Kaduna state. Over the years, there has been a consistent decline in students’ performance in English Language. This sordid situation has caused teachers, parents, curriculum experts and evaluators a serious concern. To carry out this investigation, data were collected from thirty eight (38) English language teachers randomly from twenty secondary schools in Kaduna North Local Government Area. Analysis of the data revealed that poorly trained English language teachers, poor instructional delivery, lack of infrastructural facilities, teachers’ attitude toward innovation, and the traditional content/knowledge oriented curriculum were factors associated with students’ low performance in English language. Based on the findings recommendations were made on strategies that will improve the quality of performance in the subject. In this work, data collected in the area of material, facilities and human resources available for teaching the subject, using questionnaire, personal interview and relevant textbooks. Put together, the research questionnaire distributed were forty.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The modern trend in education and the complex nature of learning and instruction have made the role of the teachers more challenging. This new role does not just involve the more transmission of information to students but it involves looking at the problems associated with learning and instruction. The National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) in Nigeria emphasized that our children should be educated properly so that they can acquire skills and competencies that would enable them function well and solve problems in the society. The accomplishment and realization of these important educational goals in Nigeria lies in the new trend in the educational approaches.

These new approaches to learning and instruction expose the students to conceptualize and effectively manage their own learning and thus reinforce their learning and transfer their training in practical situations. Despite the new approach to learning and instruction, English language at the Senior Secondary School level in Nigeria has been plagued with poor results and low achievements. Annual results from West African Examinations Council (WAEC) reveal woeful performances from the students who have made enrolment for English language examinations a yearly ritual. It is worrisome to note too that the performance of these students has continued to deteriorate year after year. It is understood that if the situation in English Language remains like this, it will affect both the economic and technological growth of the state. This is because a good mastery of English language is mandatory on all students in order to do well in other secondary school subjects. Students who are handicapped in English language are therefore likely to be handicapped in the acquisition of skills in arts and technological related subjects.

From the foregoing, therefore, we can conclude that English language is an indispensable language of communication in Kaduna.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

This research as stated above concerns itself with the study of strategies for improving low academic performance in English language by suggesting possible solution to the following questions:

  1. What are the attitude/feelings of the students towards the studying of English language?
  2. What account for the decline in performance in the subject (English language)?
  3. Do they have enough material and human resources for the teaching and learning process?
  4. Do they understand the subject very well?
  5. Does the Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSCE) syllabus have either a positive or a negative effect on the student performance?

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to find out strategies for improving the performance of secondary school student in English language. Specifically it ought to:

  1. To find out the types of facilities available in the secondary schools for teaching English language.
  2. To identify the methods of teaching used in teaching English language.
  3. To identify the extent to which teachers are motivated to teach English language.
  4. To identify strategies for improving the low academic performance of students in English language.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

  1. What type of facilities is available for teaching English language in secondary schools in Kaduna State?
  2. What are the methods of teaching adopted by English Language teachers?
  3. To what extent are English Language teachers motivated?
  4. What are the strategies for improving the low academic performance of students in English Language?

1.6 Significance of the Study

This research work intends to investigate the student achievement in the subject. The research will be significant in the following ways:

  1. The findings of the study will shade light on the nature, contents examination and performance level of the SSCE examination.
  2. The findings of the study will contribute meaningfully to knowledge of teaching and learning English language especially with the role of English in the day-to-day communication.
  3. The findings of the students will also benefit Ministry of Education in Kaduna State by recruiting qualified teachers in order to improve the performance of the students.

1.6 Delimitation of the Study

The study covers strategies for improving low academic performance in English Language in Secondary Schools in Kaduna State. Respondents were drawn from selected secondary schools in Kaduna North Local Government Area.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

In any type of research work, are many hindrances that the researcher must come across in the course of the assignment. The problem encounter in the course of this could be attributed to delays in gathering the relevant data needed for the research work and uncompromising attitude of the people to give the required information. Time is another major limitation as far as the research work in concern. The time needed to implement the work may not be sufficient for logistic reasons. Financial resources may be lacking in carrying out the required work of the project.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Performance:

This relates to the execution carried out or putting into effect the task, job or operation.

Teacher:

A professional trained to impart knowledge to pupils/students.

Assessment:

Evaluation or estimation of the nature, value or quality of something or a subject.

Effectiveness:

It is the ability to determine appropriate objectives, that is, the degree at which School’s goals are met within established resources “doing the right thing.”

Indiscipline:

This can be described as a mode of life not in conformation with rule and non-subjection to contain. The term connotes the regulations capable of obstructing the smooth and orderly function of the school system

Reading:

Is the process of receiving and interpreting information encoded in language form via the medium of print.

Writing:

Writing is the process by which an author uses his mental ability to put words to paper as well as the result of that process.

Speech:

Expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulated sounds.

Mother Tongue:

This is the original and first language of an individual which they acquire from their parents.

L2:

This is language two. This is a second that is learnt as a second language in addition to their mother tongue.

FGN:

Acronym for Federal Government of Nigeria.

Curriculum:

Curriculum is the subjects comprising a step by step guide of a course of study in a school.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Re: Statement of Problem

This research work is concern with the study of strategy for improving low academic performance in English language by proffering possible solution to the following questions:

  1. What are the attitude/feeling of the student towards the studying of English language?
  2. What account for the decline in performance of the subject (English Language)?
  3. Do they have enough material and human resource for the teaching and learning process?
  4. Is the subject well understood when taught?
  5. Thus, the SSCE English language syllabus has either a positive or a negative effect on the student.

5.2 Procedure used for the Research

The procedure used in this research work is referred to as the “Purposive sampling (judgment sample). This sampling method is used because the research work is guided by a typical case, which is most likely to provide him with the requisite data or information.


5.3 Discussion of Findings

Findings in the study have pointed out that poorly trained English language teacher and poor instructional delivery are most critical factors associated with student poor performance. This harmful poor performance has being a source of concern to parent and stakeholders in education. This finding agree with the findings of Dabalen et al (2000) who in there world bank report scored Nigeria grade low in English language. They stated that the percentage of unemployment in the metropolitan area in Nigeria is because of poor quality of the graduates, particularly in the communication skills. According to them, this graduate exhibit “poor ability in the oral and written expression in English language”. Therefore, there is need for a serious concern as these poorly trained teachers employed to teach and prepare the secondary school student for the outside world.

Their poor training background also have serious implication for instructional delivery. What do you expect of the students’ performance in English language? Your guess is as good as mine. Of course a woeful performance.
Lack of infrastructural facilities was established to be associated with students’ low performance in English language. Many of the students come from a technologically advanced home where all sort of modern gadgets such as radios, television sets, films videos, satellites exist. These same students find themselves in boring and rowdy traditional classrooms, which hardly have any facilities. The classrooms are usually poorly equipped and in most cases dilapidated. It is not surprising, therefore, that these students perform poorly.

Criticism are made to teachers’ attitude towards innovation. This is because they have failed to take into account the dynamic nature of English language curriculum. One must also point to the fact that teachers have continue to bore students definition and drills in grammar, vocabulary and speech work. The traditional content/knowledge oriented curriculum is still very much practiced.

These teachers have also clung fast to the old-fashioned ways and have refused to embrace the new trend of the total curriculum experience of the modern teacher. Pring (1976) and Onwuka (1985) had criticized the content/knowledge oriented curriculum like the one practiced by the teachers of English language. Such curriculum does not go beyond merely imparting knowledge to the students.

Trifonovitch (1981) had also explained that students are usually placed in a disadvantageous position when they learn a second language. To crown it all, the general students’ apathy in English language may be occasion and worsened by the poorly trained teachers in whose care they are entrusted in the classroom. The unchallenging classroom and teachers poor attitude toward innovation in the instructional delivery process also contributes to the general students’ apathy in the subject, and consequently poor performance in school Certificate Examination in English language.


5.4 Conclusion

The study has examined the factors associated with student low academic performance in English language. The result of the study showed that all the respondents agreed that poorly trained English language teachers, poor instructional delivery, lack of infrastructural facilities, teachers’ attitude towards innovation, the traditional content/knowledge oriented curriculum and the general students’ apathy in English language.

Writing in a second language can and does inform classroom practice. It has focused on the complexity of writing and the interplay of the various issues that must be addressed by teachers and learners who approach writing in a second language. There has been considerable interplay in recent years between research into writing and learning and instruction in writing. Much of the research has direct relevance to the classroom, and classroom practice and observation are the source of many research studies. The rising profile of second language writing and particularly of writing for academic purposes ahs also lead to proliferation of resources aimed at both teachers and students.


5.5 Recommendations

In order to enhance students’ performance in English language, the following recommendations are hereby projected:

  1. Training for English language teachers should be identified. In addition to the pedagogy, teacher trainees should be open to the elements of more content area in English language.
  2. A good teaching of English language should be combination of the use of relevant and adequate instructional facilities that will ensure mastery of English skills.
  3. Government should provide favourable classroom environment and laboratory that will stimulate teaching and learning of English language in our secondary schools.
  4. English language teachers should engage more in diagnostic approach to the planning of educational experiences and activities for their students. Such experience and activities should match students’ interest, motivation and level of understanding. In fact, teachers should make learning of English language meaningful and vivid for the students.
  5. Having also discussed that mother tongue in school contributes or influence student performance in English language should be used as a medium of communication within and outside the classroom. Both teachers and student should endeavour to improve their proficiency level of the language.
  6. Teachers need to do more than teaching theories in the class. Proper method of teaching and appropriate instructional materials should be adopted to compliment teacher’s knowledge this goes a long way in influencing teaching and learning process in English language. Materials selected should be commensurable with grade or maturity level of student.
  7. Good teaching habit and library study should also be developed in the students. Students should be encouraged to approach reading with alertness and critical mind. They should be made to develop taste for books that are significant in the achievement of good result in English language.
  8. Schools should organize debate and essay competition among students within and outside their schools. Student should also be given the opportunity to explain point and the teacher without any intimidation should correct express views in class discussion and any error made, as these will enhance a proper evaluation of learners’ performance or progress in English language.
  9. Provision of well-equipped library should be made in the schools and community. Textbooks that are useful in English language should be of great amount in the library to augment student efforts.
  10. Teachers must continually update their knowledge within their discipline. They must keep information about new methods and materials that will make their teaching more effective. These can be achieved by participating in in-service courses, workshops, participating in and attending professional meetings and embarking on postgraduate program, which can extend their present knowledge as well as expose them to areas within which they have no precious contact.

Above all, if all the recommendations are adhered to, there will be great improvement on students’ performance in English language.


5.6 Suggestions for Further Studies

It is not enough to propose strategies on improving low academic performance but also being able to implement it effectively. Therefore, it is suggested that further research in the area of implementing the strategies for improving low academic performance.


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