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TEACHERS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN OBIO/AKPOR LGA OF RIVERS STATE

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TEACHERS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN OBIO/AKPOR LGA OF RIVERS STATE

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1 Background of the study

The success or failure of students in secondary schools rests on the quality of instruction received from teachers who are professionally developed and not lack of students’ learning abilities (Mills, 2009). In order to ensure better academic achievement of students through teaching and learning processes, teachers are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the pedagogy in their subject areas to be able to understand the effective ways of organising and presenting subject matter (objective statements, providing the right methods, learning experiences and learning resources), and evaluating teaching and learning activities in consonance with the set objectives (Ayeni, 2010). Ayeni further opined that the educational enterprise involves development of human intellect, technical skills, character and effective citizenship. Consequently, the issue of students’ academic performance in education becomes a matter of interest to government, educational institutions and other stakeholders in order to meet expectations of the society at large.

Academic achievement is described as the relative positions of students learning outcomes to a set objective of a curriculum (Stinebrickner and Stinebrickner, 2009). Hanson (2010) defined academic achievement in terms of the amount of gain in knowledge of students as a result of being exposed and taking part in a curriculum package. In this study, Academic achievement is described based on academic ability level of a student. Ability level is defined in terms of a students’ relative achievement of the curriculum among others in a class. It is often categorized into high and low ability levels. While high ability refers to those that score above 60 percentages in tests, low ability refers to those that score less than the 40 percentile (Hanson, 2010).  Mehta (2006) defined academic achievement as “academic performance which includes curricular and co-curricular performance of the students. It indicates the learning outcomes of students.

Commenting on the importance of teachers in school, Ayeni (2010) opined that teachers are known to be responsible for the translation and implementation of educational policies. These depend on professional practice. Teachers who are deficient in professional practice are not likely to help the students meet the challenges of learning. For instance, Ayeni and Akinola (2008) found that 57% of teachers in secondary schools in Ondo State were not given adequate training opportunities by their principals while facilities to improve their professional competence through in-service training were not adequately provided. This constituted encumbrance to students’ academic achievement in school.

In the opinions of   Ajewole and Okebukola (2000), there are a number of factors that contributes to students’ poor academic achievement in school. Ajewole and Okebukola further stated that a host of these factors include: poor study habits and lack of available resource materials, poor school climate, indiscipline, inadequate facilities and lack of teachers’ professional development leading to their ineffectiveness which is the most concern of this study.

Teachers’ professional development is conceived as the sum total of formal and informal learning pursued and experienced by the teacher in a compelling learning environment under conditions of complexity and dynamic change ( Fullan, 2005). According to Fullan (2005), a common underpinning assertion of the above definitions is continuing learning process, by which serving teachers acquire the knowledge, skills and values to sustain the desired spark of intellectual vitality, which will improve the quality of teaching and students’ academic performance.

Akinwale (2009) identified approaches to professional development such as: seminars, induction courses, workshops, conferences and symposia’s in educational matters. In the same vein, Usoro (2010) agreed that in-service training, seminars, workshops and conferences enable employees to bridge the gap between the skills learnt and the one they are expected to perform. This gives help to boost their job performance as well as enhance students’ academic achievement in school. Conversely, Banjo (2007) asserted that adequate training of teachers in the latest methodology, to a large extent, determines how the learner learns during instructional activities. In the opinions of Maduekwe and Ajibola (2007), in spite of the fact that most of the teachers have teaching qualifications, many of them do not have adequate knowledge of some concepts and they end up imparting the wrong knowledge to their students.

Ayeni (2010) posited that in Nigeria, teachers are expected to have sound knowledge of their subject areas to be able to select appropriate and adequate facts for planning their lesson notes, effective delivery of lessons, proper monitoring and evaluation of their students’ performance, providing regular feed-back on their students’ performance, improvisation of instructional materials, adequate keeping of records and appropriate discipline of their students. Professional development affects students’ achievement through three steps. First, professional development enhances teacher knowledge, skills, and motivation. Second, better knowledge, skills, and motivation improve classroom teaching. Third, improved teaching raises student interest (Yoon, 2008). This implied that if one link is weak or missing, better students leaning may be affected. Yoon, (2008) submitted further that, if a teacher fails to apply new ideas from professional development to classroom instruction, students will not benefit from the teacher’s professional development. In other words, Yoon noted that the effect of teacher professional development on students’ learning is possible through two mediating outcomes: Teachers’ learning and instruction in the classroom.

Conference is a teacher professional development variable that educational stakeholders have in recent times expressed concern about especially as it seems to determine students’ academic achievement in school. According to Ojokheta (2000), conference is the process used by many teachers to update their knowledge through sponsorship by their institutions. In the contemporary society, secondary schools hardly sponsor their teachers to attend conferences so as to learn new ideas of things, improve their skills and come back to perform well to the actualization of the school goals. This does not go well with the students as learning of new things is not possible.  Participation in training programmes and sharing the experience to colleagues and conferences do predict academic achievement. Students whose teachers are active, always trying to improve their qualification and share experience has high academic achievement, we can assume that such school culture and healthy environment do empower students for learning (Mzia, Martskvishvili and Aptarashvili, 2011).

Workshop is another variable of teachers’ professional development which seems to influence students’ academic achievement in secondary schools as pointed out by some relevant educational stakeholder in the study area. According to Ojokheta (2000), workshop is a form of training organized by institution of learning for the purpose of making teachers acquires new knowledge, better methods among others for improving their skills towards more effective, efficient and competent rendering of service in various fields and to diverse groups of people. In most secondary schools today, workshops are hardly organized for teachers, thus making them in effective in teaching which tends to influence students’ academic achievement. Essien, Akpa and Obot (2016) found that there exists positive and small relationship between the frequencies of teachers’ attendance at workshops on students’ academic achievement in social studies. Similarly, Okon and Anderson (2002) opined that teachers’ professional development programmes such as: seminars, workshops, help to foster continued professional growth. These help teachers to keep abreast with new developments in their field which help to enhance students’ academic achievement in schools.

Teachers’ professional development is informed by the fact that if teachers are to perform well on their teaching responsibilities, they must have opportunities for continuing professional development programmes, advancement and improvement in their chosen career. This lack of teachers’ professional development may seem to cause set-back in students’ academic achievement. Such developments may have been the case with many secondary schools in Nigeria of which the area of study seems not to be an exception. It is against this background that the researcher deemed it necessary to investigate the influence of teachers’ professional development on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in River state  with particular focus on conferences and workshops.

 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Concern has been expressed by relevant educational stakeholders in the study area on the issue of teachers’ professional development which may have been responsible for poor academic achievement of students in secondary schools. Public observation by concerned individuals in the study area revealed some academic achievement irregularities noticed in students, in continuous assessment, internal and external examinations. Evidence of such can be seen from mass failure of students in such examinations in most secondary schools today.

The researcher also personally observed that most students in secondary schools today in the study area hardly can read and write or speak good English. Some hardly can even give a better direction as to what they want to further in education. In respect to the above, one may ask, what could be the reason behind students’ poor academic achievement in these areas mentioned, is it that principals are not supervising teachers well? Or could it be solely attributed to lack of teachers’ professional development in secondary schools? This study sets out to critically investigate the situation in Rivers State where principals and teachers seem to be largely held accountable for poor and academic achievement of students. Thus, the problem of this study stated in question form therefore is:  In what ways does teachers’ professional development influence students’ academic achievement in secondary school in Rivers States?

 

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to examine the influence of teachers’ professional development on students’ academic achievement in secondary schools in River state  of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Determine the influence of conference on students’ academic achievement in secondary school in River state of Nigeria.
  2. Ascertain the influence of workshops on students’ academic achievement in secondary school in River state of Nigeria.

 

1.4 Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions.

  1. What is the influence of conference on students’ academic achievement in secondary schools in River state of Nigeria?
  2. What is the influence of workshop on students’ academic achievement in secondary schools in River state of Nigeria?

 

1.5 Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. Ho1.  Conference has no significant influence on students’ academic achievement in secondary schools in River state  of Nigeria.

Ho2.  Workshop has no significant influence on students’ academic achievement in secondary schools in River state  of Nigeria.

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