Background of the Study
Many environmental problems or challenges that face humanity are as a result of human activities. These activities occur as humans realized the need to struggle to improve the lot of life and living standards through science and technology. These human actions, according to Ogueri (2004) include over-exploitation, deforestation, mining, the release of harmfulgases into atmospheresuch as sulfur dioxide (S0 2 ), methane (CH4 ), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the hydroxyl radical (OH), and carbon dioxide (C0 2 ).Other sources of environmental problems include natural hazards such as flooding, earthquake and volcanic eruptions (Ezeudu, 2003). These have created unfavorable environmental conditions for living things and have only contributed in weighing down the environment and thereby have resultedto many environmental issues or challenges (Collins &Ertel, 2012).However,these issuessuch asglobal warming, ozone layer depletion, pollution and over-population have provided the necessary justification for human to consciously protect and conserve the environment and the resources in it. Thus, in line with the need for environmental protection and management, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN, 2006) defines environment as a set of natural resources for man’s prudent use. In the view of Nwosu, Uju, Nweze, Nwadinigwe, Abu and Njokuocha (2011), environment means the sum total of all the external conditions affecting the life of an organism or group of organisms. It is made up of all the physical (non-living or abiotic) and biological (living or biotic) factors. However, the environment has lost its aesthetic quality and original make-up due to human mad rush on natural resources. This is detrimental to humans and has posed great threat to life’s existence on earth (NOUN, 2006). In line with the above statement,Ngwoke (2011) warns that the environment is man’s first right and so the absence of a safe environment makes it impossible for man to fight for other rights whether they are economic, social or political. This therefore calls for prompt intervention and action on the part of humans to consciously engage in practices that promote and encourage environmental conservation and sustainability. It is therefore necessarytocreate awareness about the environment and the associated challenges through education.
Education, according to Chukwu (2011) is the transmission of what is worthwhile from generation to generation. It is a process of assisting learners to acquire knowledge, skills and acceptable attitudes and moral behaviours that would make them to become responsible citizens in society. It is also seen as a process of inculcating certain knowledge, attitudes, values, skills and experiences of certain domain to a person or group of persons (Ezeudu, 2003). Hence, such education is required to promote effective teaching and learning of Environmental Related (ER) contents which according to Ezeudu are also referred to as Environmental Education (EE) contents. Environmental Education (EE) is a programme of education that aims at helping students to acquire physical and mental skills as well asattitudes,values and interest required for environmental protection and repair (Nwagu, 2001). Thus, the teaching and learning of Environmental Related contents orEE increases people’s knowledge and awareness about the environment and the associated challenges. It helps learners to develop needed skills and expertise to address the challenges and fosters attitudes, motivations and commitments to make informed decisions in order to take responsible actions (UNESCO, as cited by Dare, 2013). Environmental Education (EE) is also seen as education from the environment, for the environment and about the environment. Education from the environment implies a situation where the environment is seen as a medium for the education of human perception and understanding (Abul, 2007). Hence, the health of the environment is improved through the study of topical environmental issues such as acid rain, flooding, excessive rise in global temperature, ozone layer depletion and pollution (Ogueri, 2004). Thus, in order to create more awareness about the above environmental issues or challenges,Igbogoro (2008) advised that EE sensitization and awareness programs in schools should emphasis on the teaching of environmental education contents through an integrated core curriculum where EE contents (Environmental Related contents) should be taught through different independent subjects such as Geography, Biology, Agricultural science and integrated science. This thereforeis the reason why Environmental Related (ER) contents should be taught through the secondary school Geography. Geography is a science of spatial relationship which focuses attention mainly on the interactions between man and his environment. It is a science of synthesis which seeks to understand a given area in terms of the total integration of various phenomena which characterize it (Abul, 2007). Geography is undisputedly an environmental science that studies all systems of the environment.
Statement of the Problem
It is obvious that students’ poor achievement in Environmental Related contents of secondary school Geography is attributable to many factors such as gender, school location and the use of inappropriate teaching method. Specifically, it has been noticed that one’s subjective feelings of being a male or female contributes greatly in influencing his/her (students’) academic achievement. Thus gender is one of the major intervening variables suspected to have also influenced students’ academic achievement in Environmental Related contents of Geography. On the other hand, school location either at rural or urban area is been suspected to have greatly influenced students’ academic achievement because school location may or may not have a significant influence on students’ academic achievement. Hence, school location is another key intervening variable that is suspected to have also influenced students’ academic achievement in Environmental Related contents of Geography. In addition, the teaching of Environmental Related contents of senior secondary school Geography just like other subjects, is been done with the use of the conventional lecture method. This is a situation where the teacher engages the students in continuous verbal instructions on what he/she (teacher) feels they (students) should know. The use of this method therefore, has been suspected to have killed and reduced students’ interests and has contributed to students’ poor achievement in examination results at the secondary school level. Thus, the lecture method is suspected to be inappropriate for the teachingof Environmental Related contents of senior secondary school Geography since the subject is issues based and likely motivate and challenge students to be actively involved in teachinglearning activities. Therefore, these reasons justify the present attempt in this study to use the reflective inquiry instructional technique in the teaching and learning of Environmental Related contents of senior secondary school Geography. Hence, the problem of this study therefore, put in question form is: What is the effect of reflective inquiry instructional technique on students’ academic achievement in Environmental Related contents of senior secondary school Geography? This study also sought to ascertain whether students’ academic achievement can in any way be influenced by factors of gender and location.