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INFLUENCE OF CLASS SIZE IN EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Since Western education became firmly rooted in Nigeria, it has faced myriads of problems. Most of these problems are hardly lost on the various governments, whether during colonial or post-independence era. It has resulted in the setting up of various commissions (e.g. the Ashby Commission of 1960; the 1969 curriculum conference, etc) to examine Nigeria’s educational problems and make recommendations. These problems pertained to the quantity and quality of teachers, educational facilities, curriculum planning and development, etc. Adaralegbe (1983:16) noted that “a recurring feature in Nigerian secondary school system from its inception about 120 years ago was its poor staffing”. Adesina (1990:76) speaking on the physical facilities also observed “Post-independence Nigeria saw most Nigeria’s primary and secondary school buildings no better than they were during the colonial era”.
In fact, most of them are worse now having suffered from lack of maintenance and weather conditions (e.g. rain-storm). Though the various Governments, military and civilian, have given considerable attention to the provision of more teachers and schools, the reality in most schools today, from the primary to the tertiary levels, confirms that the problems still linger.
The problems of shortage of teachers and classrooms are intricately interwoven and when both combine with large pupil enrolment, the consequence is over-crowded classrooms. This is the sad truth in many Nigerian classrooms especially in the major towns and cities with many classes registering fifty (50) to
one hundred (100) students and above which is clearly above the internationally recommended standard (See Table 1).
The poor state of the physical facilities in the schools confirms Adesina’s (1990 p.76) observation that this aspect of the educational problem has been consistently ignored in educational “plans and reports”. He cited the ‘example of Banjo Commission (1961) in the then Western Nigeria and a similar One in the old Eastern Nigeria which failed to mention ‘inadequate physical facilities’ as one of the fifteen factors considered responsible for failing standard of education. Only the Old man Report on Northern Nigeria gave some attention to buildings and furniture in schools (Adesina, 1990). The consequence as noted by the West Africa study group of the Nuffied Foundation (1952) in their report on educational policy and practice in Tropical Africa is that “… most of the school buildings are poor and made worse by over-crowding…” (Adesina, 1990 p.70).
Ordinarily, the phenomenon of rural-urban drift in an emergent nation like Nigeria normally exerts pressure on the facilities and services such as hospitals, schools, transportation etc. However, the introduction of the Universal Free Primary Education (U.P.E.) first in the old Western Region in 1955 and later in the Eastern Region in 1957 as well as the launching of the U.P.E. Scheme by the Federal Government in 1976 compounded the problems of providing adequate facilities in schools to meet the resultant unprecedented upsurge in pupil enrollment (Akinyemi, 1983). With inadequate planning for the expected population explosion in schools, over crowded classrooms now become a permanent feature of academic setting at all levels of thee educational system.
In addition, Educational planning in Nigeria has always been thought of in terms of quantitative growth, which is usually above the financial capacity of the Government (Adesina, 1990). A recent example is the implementation of the current 6-3-3-4 system of education, which is seriously affected by lack of adequate funding and poor preparation. Even though the Federal and State Governments have shown serious commitment to educational development through their annual budgetary allocation to Education in recent years (allocation to Education sector is second only to Defense), the attention given to physical facilities is far from being adequate. The issue at stake is not how ‘huge’ the allocation is but how ‘adequate’. In a study by Ndagi (1983) on educational financing under military rule (1968-1978) it was found that:
of the financial resources allocated to secondary level institutions, over 80% -went to the personal emolument of staff and the maintenance of students while less than 10% went to the purchase of educational materials and equipment, (p. 195).
And in the case of the State Governments, the same study found out that.
of the resource allocated to secondary level education, on average, over 50% went to the personal emoluments of Staff and over 30% to the maintenance Of students while less than 15% was Used for the purchase of educational Materials and equipment; (pp. 195-196).
In the case of students’ furniture, some state Governments have completely handed off the supply. Students either pay to the school to purchase for them or they bring from home. The latter is more popular. Such furniture now come in all shapes and sizes presenting an ugly sight in the classroom.
The phenomenon of overcrowded classroom as well as poor quality and inadequate furniture in the classroom due to unlimited expansion has taken its toll on the educational system. Only few people will deny that the quality of teaching and learning is on the decline at all levels of the educational system. The poor result of the Senior Secondary School examination (SSCE) in almost all subjects in recent years is one potent indicator. The increase in examination malpractices cannot be divorced from poor seating arrangement in classrooms. The quantity and quality of interaction in the class are likely to be adversely affected due to lack of space for moving round the class and the over whelming number of students that the teacher has to deal with within a forty-minute lesson. Nolasco and Arthur (1988) also identified five likely problems of large classes:
coping with the noise, persuading the class to use Agricultural science , managing the introduction and setting up of activities, making limited resources go a long way and monitoring the work of individuals within the class (p.5).
These and many other problems inform the decision to conduct this study with the hope that it will help to draw more attention to this ugly situation under which learning is expected to take place and educational objectives are to be attained.
The Health and Physical Education domain provides students with knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to achieve a degree of autonomy in developing and maintaining their physical, mental, social and emotional health. This domain focuses on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and physical activity in the lives of individuals and groups in our society. This domain is unique in having the potential to impact on the physical, social, emotional and mental health of students. It promotes the potential for lifelong participation in physical activity through the development of motor skills and movement competence, health-related physical fitness and sport education. Engaging in physical activity, games, sport and outdoor recreation contributes to a sense of community and social connectedness. These are vital components of improved wellbeing.
Students’ involvement in physical activity can take many forms, ranging from individual, non-competitive activity through to competitive team games. Emphasis is placed on combining motor skills and tactical knowledge to improve individual and team performance. Students progress from the development of basic motor skills to the performance of complex movement patterns that form part of team games. They learn how developing physical capacity in areas such as strength, flexibility and endurance is related to both fitness and physical performance.
Students progress from learning simple rules and procedures to enable them to participate in movement and physical activity safely, to using equipment safely and confidently. Students undertake a variety of roles when participating in sports such as umpire, coach, player and administrator and assume responsibility for the organisation of aspects of a sporting competition. This domain explores the developmental changes that occur throughout the human lifespan. It begins by identifying the health needs necessary to promote and maintain growth and development, followed by discussion of significant transitions across the lifespan including puberty, to gaining an understanding of human sexuality and factors that influence its expression. The exploration of human development also includes a focus on the establishment of personal identity, factors that shape identity and the validity of stereotypes. Students develop an understanding of the right to be safe and explore the concepts of challenge, risk and safety. They identify the harms associated with particular situations and behaviours and how to take action to minimise these harms.
Through the provision of health knowledge, this domain develops an understanding of the importance of personal and community actions in promoting health and knowledge about the factors that promote and protect the physical, social, mental and emotional health of individuals, families and communities. Students investigate issues ranging from individual lifestyle choices to provision of health services by both government and non-government bodies. In investigating these issues, they explore differing perspectives and develop informed positions. This domain examines the role of food in meeting dietary needs and the factors that influence food choice. Students progress from learning about the importance of eating a variety of foods to understanding the role of a healthy diet in the prevention of disease.
1.2 PROBLEM OF THE STUDY
The classroom is the heart of any educational system. No curriculum planning is complete without implementation and evolution, both of which are mainly carried out in the classroom. Most of the class activities take place while students are seated. The seating arrangement is therefore too important to suffer the kind of neglect being experienced by many secondary schools in the country. As rightly observed by Cohen and Manion (1983 p.221) “a careful attention to seating arrangement contributes as effectively as any other aspect of classroom management and control to overall success with a class subsequently”. Adesina (1990 p.13) also affirms that one potent index for evaluating educational standards and quality is an examination of the physical facilities available for learning experiences”.
The seating arrangement can make or mar any lesson. Ideally, in a secondary school, especially in a mixed ability grouping, as found in Nigeria schools, seats should be arranged in rows with a reasonable amount of space between them to allow for proper teacher-student and student-student interactions as well as allow for individual and group work (Cohen and Manion, 1983). To this end, the ratio of teacher to students should not exceed 1:30 or at most 40 judging by the size of the classrooms. But what one finds in many o these classes is between ratio 1: 50 and 1: 150 in certain cases.
This study was therefore interested in identifying the major problems caused by over-populated classes in Nigeria growing towns and cities with a view to making suggestions that could help to alleviate the problems. The popularity of class-size reduction may make it difficult for policymakers to increase class size across the board in order to sustain other investments in education during a period of budget reductions. In that context, state policymakers should consider targeting CSR at students who have been shown to benefit the most: disadvantaged students in the early grades, or providing a certain amount of funding for CSR but leaving it up to local school leaders on how to distribute it.
In settings where state mandates on maximum class size are relaxed, policymakers need to bear in mind that the effect of any increase in class size will depend on how such an increase is implemented. For example, a one-student increase in the pupil/teacher ratio in the NIGERIA. would reduce the teaching workforce by about 7 percent. If the teachers to be laid off were chosen in a way largely unrelated to their effectiveness, such as seniority-based layoffs, then the associated increase in class size might well have a negative effect on student achievement. But if schools choose the least effective teachers to let go, then the effect of increased teacher quality could make up for some or all of the possible negative impact of increasing class size.
The national policy on education revised in 2010 stipulates that the maximum teacher –student ratio is one teacher is to thirty students. The obvious reason for this standard is to ensure that the teacher not only controls the class but also to ensure that he understands the learning capabilities of each of the learner in the classroom. Ozochi (2008) affirms that there is a limit to which a teacher can effectively control, anything more than that according to him will affect the school objectives.
However, in most of our secondary schools today the teacher –student ration has gone far beyond the stipulation of the national policy on education. Students stay more than fifty in each class, seating arrangement altered, thereby making teaching and learning difficult. Educational planners in Nigeria have attributed the over bloated class size due to the explosion of the population of children of school age. Recently the Enugu State Government through her agently spliced most of the secondary schools located within the metropolis in order perpherps to expel the agony of overcrowded classroom.
Agricultural science, like all other health science is an activity based subject, a situation whereby the learner is exposed mainly to the practical learning process under the guide and supervision of a teacher. Maduagwu et al (1998) opines that effectiveness of a classroom management results when the teacher and student achieve the purpose of which either are together in a class under an overcrowded classroom environment like what obtains in most of our schools today it becomes pertinent to ask, how effective is teaching and learning particularly in subject area that requires close monitoring of the learner by the teacher.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
2.To develop students’ motor and games skills and equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to pursue and enjoy a physically active and healthy lifestyle.
To findout ways class size affects teaching and learning of agricultural science in Senior secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
2.Can agricultural science help to develop students’ motor and games skills and equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to pursue and enjoy a physically active and healthy lifestyle?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: The is no significant relationship between class seize of students and effective teaching and learning of agricultural sciencein Senior secondary schools.
H1: The is a significant relationship between class seize of students and effective teaching and learning of agricultural sciencein Senior secondary schools.
H0: Over-crowded class has negative implications on students assimilation and understanding of agricultural science.
H1: Over-crowded class has positive implications on students assimilation and understanding of agricultural science.
H0: It is impossible to evaluate the level of competency and proficiency of teachers in teaching agricultural science in Senior secondary schools.
H1: It is possible to evaluate the level of competency and proficiency of teachers in teaching agricultural science in Senior secondary schools.
H0: The are no challenges faced by teachers in teaching, controlling and monitoring a large crowd of student in agricultural science.
H1: The are challenges faced by teachers in teaching, controlling and monitoring a large crowd of student in agricultural science.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.7 SCOPE/ LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is on the effect of class seize in effective teaching and learning of agricultural science in Senior secondary schools. This study is limited to government Senior secondary schools located in Enugu North Local Government Area.
Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project. Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:
iii. INFORMATION CONSTRAINTS: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencies. Teachers in government Senior secondary schools Enugu North Local Government Area find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy.
Although these problems placed limitations on the study, but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.
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