Student’s Attitude Towards The Study Of Economics In Nigerian Secondary Schools
1.1 Background to the Study
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek οἰκονομία (oikonomia, “management of a household, administration”) from οἶκος (oikos, “house”) + νόμος (nomos, “custom” or “law”), hence “rules of the house(hold)”. Political economy was the earlier name for the subject, but economists in the late 19th century suggested “economics” as a shorter term for “economic science” that also avoided a narrow political-interest connotation and as similar in form to “mathematics”, “ethics”, and so forth.
A focus of the subject is how economic agents behave or interact and how economies work. Consistent with this, a primary textbook distinction is between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines the behavior of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents (such as households and firms or as buyers and sellers) and markets, and their interactions. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy and issues affecting it, including unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and monetary and fiscal policy.
Other broad distinctions include those between positive economics (describing “what is”) and normative economics (advocating “what ought to be”); between economic theory and applied economics; between rational and behavioral economics; and between mainstream economics (more “orthodox” and dealing with the “rationality-individualism-equilibrium nexus”) and heterodox economics (more “radical” and dealing with the “institutions-history-social structure nexus”).
Economic analysis may be applied throughout society, as in business, finance, health care, and government, but also to such diverse subjects as crime, education, the family, law, politics, religion social institutions, war, and science. At the turn of the 21st century, the expanding domain of economics in the social sciences has been described as economic imperialism.
An attitude may be defined as a predisposition to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given attitude object (Oskamp and Schultz 2005). The focus of this project is on school students’ attitudes towards Economics subjects taught in secondary classrooms. The term ‘subjects’ refers to both theory and laboratory classes in secondary school. Thus, the scope of the present study was limited to Economics as experienced by students in secondary school rather than out-of-school experiences obtained from external sources such as the media, museums, field trips and friends. Attitude towards Economics or science denotes interests or feelings towards studying Economics or science. It is the students’ disposition towards like or ‘dislike’ science while attitude in science means scientific approach assumed by an individual for solving problems, assessing ideas and making decisions. Student beliefs and attitudes have the potential to either facilitate or inhibit learning (Yara, 2009).Many factors could contribute to student’s attitude toward studying science (Economics). Several studies (including Wilson 1983; Soyibo, 1985;Berg 2005; Adesoji, 2008) report that students’ positive attitudes to science correlate highly with their that, in general, the attitude of Nigeria students towards the basic sciences tend to decrease in the order, Biology, Economics, Physics and Mathematics. Defiana (1995) found that using integrated science environment activities improved high school student attitude toward and awareness about the environment.
Armstrong and Impara (1991) in their studies determined that fifth and seventh – grade students using nature score as a curriculum supplement developed more positive attitudes than those who did not. Abimbola (1983) reported that students exposed to a programmed instruction recorded higher and more favourable attitude towards mathematics. Ayelaagbe (1998) also reported a more positive attitude of studies after exposing them to self learning strategy. Similar results were obtained by Udousoro (2000) after using computer and text assisted programmed instruction and Popoola (2002) after exposing students to a self learning device. Popoola (2008) also reported that students attitudes and interests to sciences, especially Agricultural science correlate highly with their science achievement.
Halladyna and Shanghnessy (1982) and Adesoji (2008) have concluded that a number of factors have been identified as related to students’ attitude to science (Economics). Such factors include; teaching methods, teacher attitude, influence of parents, gender, age, cognitive styles of pupils, career interest, social view of science and Scientifics, social implicating of science (Economics)and achievement. The studies thus reviewed suggest that there is a relationship between attitude and methods of instruction and also between attitude and achievement; and that it is possible to predict achievement from attitude scores. What is needed to complement the results of such studies however is the nature of relationship between students’ attitude and factors related to teaching and learning of Economics. Results of these types of study are likely to broaden our knowledge as how we can influence students’ attitude positively towards Economics as a subject in Akure, Nigeria.
1.2 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to investigate the attitudes of students in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State toward studying of Economics as a subject. The study is also designed to make various recommendations for teachers and other stakeholders on how to arouse or improve students attitudes in the subject.
1.3 Statement of the Problems
Despite the greater number of Economics graduates produced by our tertiary institutions; every year there are numbers of secondary schools where Economics teachers are not competent in the teaching of the subject. Also, the attitude of the students in secondary schools towards Economics as a profession is not encouraging. This makes the teaching of Economics ineffective and inefficient even where there are competent teachers to teach. It is on this premise, that this study is designed to investigate the attitude of students to teaching and learning of Economics in secondary schools.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to investigate the attitude of students to Economics, the following questions were raised:
- Do the students have positive attitudes towards Economics?
- Do their negative attitudes a result of the attitude of their teachers towards the subject?
- Do their attitudes towards problem solving result of unavailability of textbook and other instructional materials?
- Should Economics be made compulsory for all science students in secondary schools?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study was limited to secondary schools in Akure South Local Government of Ondo State only. Based on the time frame and financial constraints in covering all the secondary schools in the Local Government, the study was also limited to the students in Senior Secondary Schools (SS Class)
The names of the schools are:
- St. Dominic Grammar School, Akure.
- C.A.C. Grammar School, Akure.
- Oyemekun High School, Akure.
- St. Peter’sUnity High School, Akure.
- Fiwasiaye Girls Grammar School, Akure.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study is aimed at looking at the students’ attitudes towards Economics in some selected secondary schools in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State. The results of the study is hoped to assist Economics teachers to develop new learning experience for the students and reorganize these learning experience in some ways enough to arouse the interest of the students. It would be of good assistance to teachers to create a habit were they would improve on the obsolete teaching methods, use adequate, modern and relevant instructional materials and textbooks at their disposed to the fullest. This study may also assist the students to improve their attitude towards the study of the subject. Finally, the government and parents would benefit from the study of their roles as these would be highlighted at the recommendation column.1.7Assumption of the Study Based on the study, the following assumptions were made. Secondary school students constitute a valid source of data needed in the study. Also, that the respondents will give valid and unbiased responses to the questionnaire items and that the samples drawn will be representatives of the population
1.8 Definition of Terms
This is a science subject taught in the Senior Secondary Schools.
This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Economics among Senior Secondary School Students.
This refers to students’ positive mind to the study of Economics.
Transmission of the knowledge of Economics to Senior Secondary School Students. Instruction
These are aids used in teaching and learning of Economics in Senior Secondary School.
Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Summary of Findings
The findings of this study revealed that the negative attitudes of the students are the functions of lack of interest erroneous believed that that economics is volatile and poor motivation by teachers. This is in support of there ports of Cheung (2006) and Cousins (2007). They suggested that students should be motivated always to put in their best to the study of the subject. Eagly and Chaiken (2005) in their works too, concluded that the hatred from some science teachers especially economics, physics and mathematics is an offspring of negative attitude in the subject itself. They advised students to discard the misconception that economics is difficult and volatile. This findings also corroborates the findings of Cheung (2007) who concluded that apart from teachers background that hinders student teachers’ relationship in good academic performances in Senior Secondary School, students can be affected by teachers teaching methods, ability to arouse students interest towards learning topic, poor and shabby orientation to students on the part of the teachers when the teacher is not ready to discharge, when teachers could not motivate their students they are teaching. The study also showed that negative attitude towards the subject is influenced by the parents’ attitudes. In the opinion of Aiyelaagbe (1998) he attributed this problem to the illiteracy idea on the part of the parents. He emphasis on the need of the parents to encourage their wards on the choice of economics as a subject. Lastly, the study showed that teachers did not use adequate instructional materials and students complaint about textbooks not explicit enough for their private study. This attitude of the economics teachers were not in-agreement with ideas of Lang et al., (2005) and Popoola (2008) they believe, that they should use recent/modern and adequate instructional materials to teach their students, by this students interest would be aroused
From the results of the study it was reveals that right or positive attitudes of students is very essential if students want to perform well in economics both theory and practical. It seems we need to concentrate all efforts and energy on improving factors that tend to militate against the positive attitudes. Economics teachers should give intrinsic motivation to the students. They should be given the privilege to attend seminars, workshops and conferences so that they are conversant with the recent developments in chemical and teaching world. The children should be given sound foundation from homes as well as schools being partners in progress. Necessary, modern text books should be provided to learners and teachers. Teachers should employ modern methods of teaching that will facilitate individualized instruction. Government should encourage teaching profession admirable one through prompt payment of living wages (attractive salaries) and allowances to forestall strike actions. They should provide instructional materials to schools and should please find adequate schools to keep them going progressively.
The results of the study showed that the students who found the subject of the study were glaringly opposing economics as a subject. It is believed that their feeling is a reflection of their apathy and frustration created in part by the prevailing conditions surrounding to effect any meaningful change in the present situation economics teaching and learning facilitates must be provided into all schools.
Besides, certain measures must be taken to improve the quality of economics teachers, this include better recruitment, better substantive education of economics teachers in training institutions, retraining programme for young teachers with shallow experience, in-services and long vacation courses, improvement in teachers’ salaries with special allowances for economics teachers and upgrading of the teaching profession. This could be ways by which economics teaching can be made more interesting to the teachers. Teachers should involve all students in practical work as it is known that learners learn fast what they can do on their own. Teachers should assist in improving the attitudes of students towards the theory and practical in order to enhance achievement in school certificate examination.
The following suggestions if well executed would assist students to pass with flying colours.
- Teaching methods: Teachers should realize that no single method is prefect for instruction.
- Selection of suitable books: modern and relevant textbooks should be recommended and should be used in schools.
- Provision of enough exercise: Teachers should endeavour to give substantial work to students to aid mastery of concepts. These must be cross checked, marked and give correction wherever the need arises.
- Practical work: Emphases should be laid on the practical aspects of the subject. This is just to arouse students’ interest and understanding in the subject.
- Motivation of students: Teacher can arouse and sustain students’ interest by giving enough motivation and reinforcement. Encourage groups work by pairing them into groups with regard to sex and brilliant/dull abilities.
- Curriculum: The curriculum should be drawn for continuity of the topic leading to step-by-step known ledge acquisition, it should not be lengthy, but be easily comprehendible by any layman.
- Finally, to the Government and Parents Teachers Association, the necessary instructional materials, equipment and personal needs in schools should be provided or in the alterative be supplemented such as: standard libraries, qualified teachers, textbooks, communal efforts in encouraging and motivating the teachers, encouraging the students towards sound learning and soon. To the general populace, there is no assistance that is too small or big to help our educational standard especially in the area of economics, since for any meaningful advancement in technology and industrial revolution, economics is part of the needed disciplines. If all the recommendations and appeals are followed we should expect positive attitudes and better performance of the students in science education.
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