1.1 Background to the Study
Science teaching in Nigerian secondary schools started when the first grammar schools in Nigeria were established. One of the schools was CMS Grammar School Lagos, established in 1859. There was a dearth of science teachers; hence, Yaba Higher College was established in 1932. Science Education as a degree programme started in 1961 when University of Nigeria, Nsukka, introduced such a degree programme. Other Universities, such as Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (1962), University of Ibadan (1965), University of Lagos (1962) and University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) (1962) followed suit. These Universities are now referred to as the first generation Universities. The second generation Universities are the ones established after the first batch, i.e. between 1975 and 1979. They were eight in number. There are also those ones established after the second generation Universities, from 1980 to 1986. They are called the third generation Universities. They are fourteen in number. Many of the three categories of Universities have Faculties of Education which offer courses leading to the Bachelor of Science Education, Masters in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Mathematics. Holders of the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) are also important in science teaching. Though they were meant to teach in the lower classes of secondary schools, very often they teach senior classes in the secondary schools due to insufficient number of University graduate teachers.
The school factors, which include the classrooms, libraries, technical workshops, laboratories, teachers’ quality, school management, teaching methods, peers, etc are variables that affect students’ academic achievement (Ajayi, 2001 and Oluchukwu, 2000). Hence, the school environment remains an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance students’ academic performance.
The issue of poor academic performance of students in Nigeria has been of much concern to the government, parents, teachers and even student themselves. The quality of education not only depends on the teachers as reflected in the performance of their duties, but also in the effective coordination of the school environment (Ajao 2001).
School environment which include instructional spaces planning, administrative places planning, circulation spaces planning, spaces for conveniences planning, accessories planning, the teachers as well as the students themselves are essential in teaching-learning process. The extent to which student learning could be enhanced depends on their location within the school compound, the structure of their classroom, availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well-planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students.
Relating this study to international occurrences are the assertions of Williams, Persaud, and Turner (2008), quoting Marsden (2005), which reported that safe and orderly classroom environment (aspect of instructional space), School facilities (accessories) were significantly related to students’ academic performance in schools. The three researchers, also quoted Glassman (1994), asserting that a comfortable and caring environment among other treatments helped to contribute to students` academic performance.
The physical characteristics of the school have a variety of effects on teachers, students, and the learning process. Poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures make teaching and learning difficult. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among students as well as teachers, which leads to poor performance and higher absentee rates (Frazier, 2002 Lyons, 2001; and Ostendorf, 2001). These factors can adversely affect student behavior and lead to higher levels of frustration among teachers, and poor learning attitude among student.
Beyond the direct effects that poor facilities have on students’ ability to learn, the combination of poor facilities, which create an uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for teachers, combined with frustrating behavior by students including poor concentration and hyperactivity, lethargy, or apathy, creates a stressful set of working conditions for teachers. Because stress and job dissatisfaction are common pre-cursors to lowered teacher enthusiasm, it is possible that the aforementioned characteristics of school facilities have an effect upon the academic performance of students.
Previous studies have investigated the relationship of poor school environment including problems with student-teacher ratio, school location, school population, classroom ventilation, poor lighting in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures in the classroom with student health problems, student behavior, and student achievement (Crandell & Smaldino, 2000; Davis, 2001; Johnson, 2001; Lyons, 2001;Moore, 2002; Stricherz, 2000; Tanner, 2000). To complement these studies, the present research will examine the aforementioned areas of school environment as it affect students’ performance in Nigerian schools.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Emphasizing the importance of school factors (environment) to students’ academic performance, Oluchukwu, (2000) asserted school environment is an essential aspect of educational planning, he went further to explain that “unless schools are well suited, buildings adequately constructed and equipment adequately utilized and maintained, much teaching and learning may not take place.
The high levels of students’ academic performance may not be guaranteed where instructional space such as classrooms, libraries, technical workshops and laboratories are structurally defective. However, little is known on the influence of school factors on students’ academic performance of Physics students in an urban city like Ikere-Ekiti in Ekiti State.