1.1 Background to the Study
The need for competent and well trained teachers, astute in both content knowledge and general pedagogical practices in their subject areas, is a very pertinent one if any nation is to succeed in developing the required human capital base to foster national development. This is because teachers are the main implementers of educational policies, organized into school programmes in the form of curriculum and syllabi. According to Eisner (as cited in Acquah, 2012, p. 29), the role of the teacher in curriculum implementation cannot be over emphasized. It is “the teacher” who “will have a general guide of topics in a subject field, a sequence among topics, a general set of aims, textbooks, and other instructional resources”, to effectively organize and plan the curriculum to suit that level and background of the learner in the classroom. It is thus very important to ensure that the quality of teachers training institutions churn out year after year possess the professional competencies necessary for them to play their roles as teachers effectively. Teacher training is thus considered a major priority in Nigeria, with public universities, fully charged with the responsibility of meeting the nation’s need for qualified teachers from the primary school level, through the junior and senior high school levels, and even to the tertiary level. In addition to these public universities, there are over 38 colleges of education mandated to train teachers mostly for the primary and junior high schools. Because this study focuses on the training of senior high school Some subject teachers, emphasis is laid on teacher training at the University of Cape Coast as a case. The focus of the study was on the training of Some subject teachers for the senior high schools in Nigeria, because Some subject are considered a very important discipline that provides citizenship education for improved participation of the individual in matters bothering mostly on both the social and economic development of nations. The rationale for the study of Some subject at the senior high school level in Nigeria, as stated in the Teaching Syllabus for Some subject (2008), suggests that people as well as countries have the need for more and better quality goods and services such as better food, clothing, housing, schooling, hospital care and entertainment (Ministry of Education Science and Sport, 2008). These goods and services can only be obtained by the use of resources such as Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship which are scarce relative to the demand for them, and which, therefore, need to be managed. Some subject, indeed, is the study of the management of relatively scarce resources for satisfying the needs of individuals, organizations and countries. As a practical subject, Some subject helps to provide an effective framework for individuals, firms and governments to identify their basic economic problems, and make necessary decisions and policies for raising the living standards of people and societies. For such a positive vision to be realized there is the need for the training of adequate and quality Some subject teachers. Hence the Bachelor of Education programme in the University of Cape Coast provides the opportunity for students who wish to teach Some subject in the senior high school to major in the subject, and they are subsequently trained to become Some subject teachers. A mandatory requirement for the preparation of Some subject teachers in the University of Cape Coast is active participation in a teaching field experience. This is an off-campus teaching exercise where students are required to practice the theories they have acquired in the classroom under the supervision of their lecturers and teachers on the field to further develop their teaching proficiencies. A casual observation and informal discussion with a crosssection of students seem to suggest that some appear not to fully appreciate the essence of the off-campus teaching practice. They appear to regard the exercise as just a requirement for graduation. Is this assertion true? If it is, then such trainee teachers are likely not to take the exercise seriously because it has been established that an individual’s perceived benefit of a phenomenon is believed to influence the person’s general attitude towards that particular phenomenon. For instance, studies have revealed that people’s perceived benefit of gene technology influences their acceptance of such technology (Sparks, Shepherd & Frewer, 1994; Frewer, Howard, & Shepherd, 1995). In a similar vein, one cannot discount the possibility that trainee some subject teachers’ perception of the importance of field experience might influence their general attitude towards the exercise. A positive perception of the importance of field experience to trainee teachers is likely to influence the level of importance they would attach to the exercise and this might affect the general effectiveness of the exercise.
Statement of the Problem
Teaching practice is an important component of becoming a teacher. It grants student teachers experience in the actual teaching and learning environment (Ngidi & Sibaya, 2003:18; Marais & Meier, 2004:220; Perry, 2004:2). During teaching practice, a student teacher is given the opportunity to try the art of teaching before actually getting into the real world of the teaching profession (Kasanda, 1995). Student teachers also know the value of teaching practice and as remarked by Menter (1989:461), they perceive it as ‘the crux of their preparation for the teaching profession’ since it provides for the ‘real interface’ between studenthood and membership of the profession. As a result, teaching practice creates a mixture of anticipation, anxiety, excitement and apprehension in the student teachers as they commence their teaching practice (Manion, Keith, Morrison & Cohen, 2003; Perry, 2004:4). Marais & Meier (2004:221) assert that the term teaching practice represents the range of experiences to which student teachers are exposed when they work in classrooms and schools. Marais and Meier (2004:221) further argue that teaching practice is a challenging but important part of teacher training, especially in developing countries such as Nigeria, where the effectiveness of the teaching practice can be diminished or eroded by a range of challenges, such as geographical distance, low and uneven levels of teacher expertise, a wide-ranging lack of resources as well as a lack of discipline among a wide cross-section of learners and educators.
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