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RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDY HABITS AND ATTITUDES OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS TOWARD EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE
Examination malpractice is a common form of deviant behavior among secondary school students. It is rated as one of the greatest problems that undermine the foundations of educational development in Nigeria. The prime objective of this paper therefore is to examine the relationship between secondary school students study habits and their attitudes toward examination malpractice. The study was conducted ex-post factor under a descriptive survey research design. Stratified random sampling technique was employed to select 300 students from secondary schools in the district II in Lagos State Nigeria. Collected data on students attitude toward examination malpractice and study habits were obtained using two research instruments designed by the researcher. The instruments are Students’ Study Habit Questionnaires (SSHQ) and Students’ Attitudes toward Examination Malpractices Questionnaires (SATEMQ). They have reliability coefficients of 0.68 and 72 respectively. The three hypothesis formulated for the study were tested using Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficient and t-test statistics at .05 alpha level. Findings revealed that there was no significant relationship between students study habit and their attitudes towards examination malpractice. Male and Female students were significantly different in their attitude towards examination malpractice while the two groups were not significantly different in their habits. It was recommended that school counselors should utilize guidance services and counseling techniques in promoting effective study habits and in reducing cases of examination malpractices in secondary schools.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The two possible outcome of an examination are success and failure. Failure is a very touchy issue which sometimes produces conflicts between teachers and students, parents and children, and sometimes between parents and teachers. This is so because failure is usually accompanied by unpleasant consequences, hence students try to avoid it by all means. In an attempt to avoid failure, students are known to exhibit some forms of behaviour ranging from fake complaints of illness to various forms of cheating which are commonly referred to as “examination malpractice”.
One of the major problems confronting secondary schools in Nigeria is examination malpractice. It is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society, and it has become so rampant among students in Nigeria that many of them regard it as a normal process of passing examination.
Examination malpractices have been described as any act of dishonesty that occurs before, during and after an examination or assessment which is intended to obtain or offer an unfair advantage to a candidate or candidates in that examination or assessment.
Incidence of cheating or malpractices in examinations has reached epidemic proportion at all levels of our education system. These unwholesome practices are considered to be inimical to healthy academic development of our youth and there is an urgent need to reduce them to the barest minimum if they cannot be totally eradicated.
At a symposium organized by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in 1992 to mark its 40th anniversary, it was observed that one of the major problems facing the council is cheating during the public examinations which it conducts.
The penalists called for the intensification of efforts to raise the level of public awareness of the havoc done to the image of member countries, the loss of respect for honest academic work as well as the drain on natural resources caused by such dishonest.
The purpose of examination malpractice especially at the secondary level of education is to excel and gain access through dubious means, into tertiary institutions.
The student, the home and even the school have a measure of contribution. This cankerworm has wrecked our academic pride, proliferated grades in tests and removed originality of knowledge, the issue of examination malpractice therefore deserves a measure of academic discourse.
The first reported case of examination malpractice in Nigeria occurred in 1914, when the Senior Cambridge Local Syndicate Examination questions leaked. That was about 38 years before the establishment of the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Subsequent reported cases were the leakage of WAEC questions.
The issue of examination malpractice among students in our secondary schools calls for serious concern and its negative effect on the society cannot be over-emphasized. It has been rated as one of the greatest aspects of indiscipline that undermines the foundation of educational practice in Nigeria today. The magnitude of this social malaise has become a major source of concern not only to the government, but also to teachers, parents and educationalists of all educational problems in Nigeria, none poses a greater threat than the problem of examination fraud. It has remained the most worrisome feature of our educational system. It is regrettable rather than abating, it has assumed an epidemic dimension. The tragic consequences of this social aberration are beginning to manifest.
The governments, examination bodies, school authorities and concerned individuals in the Nigeria society have consistently condemned the occurrence of examination malpractices in Nigeria.
Since 1977, the trend of examination malpractice has been on a steady increase. All examination bodies in Nigeria, such as National Examination Council, West African Examination Council, the Interim Joint Matriculation Board, (Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) and all teacher made tests at all levels of examination have faced one form of examination have faced one form of examination malpractice or the other. In spite of different forms of punishment introduced to curb such malpractices, it has defied such punishments.
The examination bodies such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB (UTME) have also been adopting various punitive measures against candidates who engage in examination malpractices in their examinations.
Some of these measures include, cancelling of results, blacklisting of schools and candidates, e.t.c.
However, these punitive measures seem to have had little impact in deterring candidates from engaging in examination malpractices.
Examination malpractice is not a recent occurrence in Nigeria. It is as old as examination itself and it cuts across geographical boundaries.
Cases of examination malpractice in West African School Certificate Examination were reported in 1963, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1981, 1987 and 1991.
The 1967 and 1977 cases drew public outcry because of the large scale involvement of students in the malpractice. As a result of people’s reactions, judicial tribunals were set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to investigate the causes of examination malpractices and proffer remedies.
Due to rampant cases of indiscipline in Nigeria, the Federal Military Government promulgated a decree covering miscellaneous offences, including examination malpractice, with stiff penalties. For instance, a punishment of twenty-one years of imprisonment was attached to examination malpractice.
This act could be convert or overt, employed by an individual in order to pass an examination.
This may not only be the fault of the student alone because the act may be a reflection of the corruption in the adult society. It may further be a reflection of laziness, lack of self-reliance and dishonesty on the part of the student involved. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) (1992) grouped examination malpractice into seven. These are possession of foreign or unauthorized materials in examination halls, irregular activities inside or outside the examination hall, collusion, impersonation, insult or assault on supervisors or invigilators, mass cheating and other special cases. A special article published by the West African Examination Council (2005) where questions and answers on examination were discussed. The twelfth question is: WHAT IS EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE? Apart from other references made to the West African Examination Council Syllabus, types of examination malpractices are listed as follows:
Candidates bringing books or cribs into the examination hall; insulting or assaulting any supervisor or invigilator; replacing their answer scripts with another one during or after the examination; swooping of scripts in an examination hall; impersonation.
Taking part in mass or organized cheating in the examination hall or around its environ. The ANCOPSS journal volume 5, (1998) further contribute that one of the oldest and commonest method as listed above is the entry into the examination hall with cribs (microchips), having answers written on a piece of paper squeezed and thrown to a colleague, writing on handkerchief/tights, there is also the strengthen of the neck like the giraffe to look at the neighbours work knowingly or unknowingly to the neighbours, influencing the grades with the assistance of a friendly lecturer, copying answers from another student’s papers, sitting arrangement where the bright students is seated in the centre flanked by other members of the groups, having access to live-questions before examination time, and in the Eastern part of Nigeria, the use of hooligans, gaining entry into examination halls by force as examinations are in progress to remove question paper, then escape from the hall and later on throw in answered-pieces (of papers) to their candidates for them to copy.
Despite this effort, the level of students’ involvement in examination malpractices has continued to increase. For example, the percentage of those involved in examination malpractices in West African School Certificate Examination grew from less than 1% in 1985 to about 14% of total number of candidates in 1994. Shonekan (1996) observed that between 1992 and 1995, out of 2,818,679 candidates who sat for May June and November/December School Certificate Examinations conduced by WAEC, 350,902 were involved in examination malpractice.
In 2003, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Registrar caught many JAMB candidates in examination malpractice in Lagos. In the same year out of the 1,099,241 candidates who sat for JAMB examinations, the results of 116,990 (11.5%) were withheld due to one malpractice or the other (Oriola, 2003).
Students, teachers and other stakeholders are also involved in examination malpractice. Tar (1995) reported that 13 teaching staff of Akwa Ibom State Teaching Service Commission were retired for their involvement in examination malpractice. Hassan (1987) noted that some supervisors and invigilators who are supposed to monitor the activities of students also aid students in examination malpractice after being “settled”. Denga (1998) reported that secondary school candidates employ their colleagues in higher institutions to assist them in their examinations. It is also noted that some remedial/tutorial educational centres (popularly known as special centres) purchase live questions in General Certificate Examination (GCE) or JAMB examinations for their candidates in order to maximize their profits. It is also known that mercenaries besiege examination centres to assist candidates in their examinations.
It is therefore imperative for researchers in education to examine factors that could contribute to proactive actions against examination malpractice other than the present punitive measures. The present research has taken up this challenge. It investigated study habit as a predictor of student’s examination behaviour with a view to establishing a foundation for proactive actions against examination malpractices in Lagos State Secondary Schools. It focused on the relationship between study habit and examination behaviour.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The derogative falling of our educational standard is becoming uncontrollable; the pollution of our education by both stakeholders and students is now pointing towards the wrong direction. Our depending on external technology results from our inability to purge out this menace. Nigerian’s known with our emphasis on certificate orientation (i.e. presentation of certificate for job or employment) is gradually killing our technology development. The certificate qualification orientation unknowingly embedded in us (Our Nation), leads to many acquiring “same” (certificate) by all means positively or negatively. All forms of misconduct and malpractices had and are still been introduced to achieve this eccentric menace (certificate). Our mind, which is part of that, that control our thought, and action are channel toward the easiest way out of achieving this eccentric ‘goods’. The development of our intellectual capacity are derail due to the fact that stakeholders are primarily focusing on the end result of our education (certificate).
The growing menace of examination malpractice in our secondary school is becoming worrisome and disturbing phenomenon day after day. The problem is not peculiar to a particular level of education rather pervaded all educational facets in Nigerian primary, secondary, tertiary or professional institutions of learning. Of all educational problems in Nigeria, none posses a great threat than the issue of examination malpractice in schools. Thus this study was designed to investigate the relationship between study habits and attitudes of secondary school students toward examination malpractice in Lagos State and to make recommendations that would assist counsellors so that the learning institutions and the public at large may not be saddle with the problem of half or ill-baked educated graduates both at the post-secondary and tertiary institutions of learning.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is to investigate the problem of how to effect improvement in the students’ performance through effective study habits and reduce cases of examination malpractices in secondary schools so that the learning institutions and the public at large will not be saddled with the problem of half or ill-baked graduates.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is important at this 21st century period of our educational development where many have become concerned with the quality and standard of education.
Significant to parents, school proprietors and government as the result will educate them on the need to help students who are very successful in their desired career to have good study habits.
The student’s attitudes towards malpractice in examination is not hereditary but learnt, not only from colleagues (peer) but also from significant adults like parents and teachers. Because attitudes are learnt, they can be changed through persuasive talks and attitude changing devices mounted by counsellors and other adults.
The results of the study should be highly informative and significant to school. Psychologists, guidance counsellors, teachers, parents and all those concerned with what can be done to improve students studying pattern especially their attitude toward cheating during examination.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study therefore is to examine the relationship between students study habits and their attitudes towards examination malpractice. The study is expected to enrich the available literature on the variables being studied as well as provide useful guides on effective study habits and ways of curbing examination malpractice in Secondary Schools in Lagos State.
The following five main research questions would be raised for the purpose of the study.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
One of the limitations of this research study is the few samples which would be used to represent the population of the students in the study area. This would make the generalizations of the findings to be too narrow.
Another limitations of this finding is that, the respondents might not be easily accessible and not cooperative. It might take a long time before the questionnaires would be collected and collated for the study. Also, the study may be limited due to financial, time and logistic constraints.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
For clarity of understanding, the following terms need to be defined.
CANKERWORM: Refers to an evil influence that spreads quickly among people and is difficult to destroy.
CONVERT/OVERT: Actions done publicly, without trying to hide anything.
IMPERSONATION: To pretend to be someone else by copying their appearance, voice and behaviour, especially in order to deceive people.
MALPRACTICE: Illegal action by which a person seeks a benefit for himself while in a position of trust.
MENACE: A threatening quality, feeling or way of behaving.
MISCONDUCT: Formal bad or dishonest behaviour by someone in a position of authority or trust.
STUDY HABITS: Refers to the ways of studying on a particular subject.
SWOOPING: A sudden surprise attack on a place in order to get something or take people away.
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