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IMPACT OF TEACHING METHODS ON ESSAY WRITING ACHIEVEMENT IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

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: IMPACT OF TEACHING METHODS ON ESSAY WRITING ACHIEVEMENT IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL
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Keywords:IMPACT OF TEACHING METHODS ON ESSAY WRITING ACHIEVEMENT IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL


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RESEARCH BODY

ABSTRACT

The choice of teaching method which is the general principles, pedagogy and management strategiesused for classroom instruction is very important to degree of assimilation by the recipient of teaching.

Teaching theories primarily fall into two categories or “approaches” teacher-centered and student centered.

In the former, teachers are the main authority figure in this model. Students are viewed as empty vessels whose primary role is to passively receive information (via teaching and direct instruction) with an end goal of testing and assessment.

This study is aimed at assessing the impact of teaching method on essay writing achievement in Senior Secondary schools in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. The study administered 100 questionnaires to both students and teachers.

It was observed from this study that the combination of teaching methods, instructional materials, as well as adequate supervision by teachers, stimulation of students with the right teaching method and teaching and learning aids enhance essay writing in senior secondary school students.

Furthermore, the study noted that the inactive roles played by students and teachers such as not making materials available in advance, inadequate skills and teaching method in writing essay, teacher’s extreme dependence on text books, inability of school management to organize periodic essay writing competitions as well as not involving students in teaching some of the topics in essay writing leads to poor achievement of senior secondary school students. Also, it shows from this study that the negative attitudes of students to their studies, peer group influences, poor study habit and lack of passion and interest in academics greatly affect students’ essay writing achievement.

Likewise, students who study in groups perform better and help each other towards essay writing achievement, while students that study alone have difficulty in some aspect of essay writing and find it hard to know their deficiencies in essay writing.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY 

Teaching is the art of unleashing the potentials that are inherent in the recipient, so as to draw out knowledge from the student (Jones, 1986). The ability to do this involves making a choice of the most appropriate pedagogical strategy that would ensure optimal assimilation of the instructive materials from the giver. Studies have of course shown that the degree of assimilation of students correlates to the method of instruction (Tennyson, Botwill and Frey 1978, Gardner 1991). Though two main

approaches to teaching; the teacher-centered and student-centered have dominated interaction in classrooms and captures the various methods that students can learn, the important decimal in whatever method of passing knowledge is assimilation by the recipient (Pascarella 1980). This can of course be measured either through formal and informal methods of assessment.

The primary purpose of teaching at any level of education is to bring a fundamental change in the learner (Tebabal & Kahssay, 2011). To facilitate the process of knowledge transmission, teachers should apply appropriate teaching methods that best suit specific objectives and level exit outcomes. In the traditional epoch, many teaching practitioners widely applied teacher-centered methods to impart knowledge to learners comparative to student-centered methods. Until today, questions about the effectiveness of teaching methods on student learning have consistently raised considerable interest in the thematic field of educational research (Hightower et al., 2011). Moreover, research on teaching and learning constantly endeavour to examine the extent to which different teaching methods enhance growth in student learning. Quite remarkably, regular poor academic performance by the majority students is fundamentally linked to application of ineffective teaching methods by teachers to impact knowledge to learners (Adunola, 2011). Substantial research on the effectiveness of teaching methods indicates that the quality of teaching is often reflected by the achievements of learners. According to Ayeni (2011), teaching is a process that involves bringing about desirable changes in learners so as to achieve specific outcomes. In order for the method used for teaching to be effective, Adunola (2011) maintains that teachers need to be conversant with numerous teaching strategies that take recognition of the magnitude of complexity of the concepts to be covered.

As an educator, the researcher has always been fascinated by the relationship between teaching methods and students’ academic performance; especially when it comes to applications in the context of 21st century education. It seems that there is something in teaching that opens the gate of learning. It is true that successful learning depends on various factors that are not all teacher-related, but the methods that a teacher uses continue to play an important role in student learning and in their academic achievement. The challenges that educators face in the 21st century are so diverse that using better teaching methods is more crucial now than ever before.
Gibbs and Jenkins (1992) bring the argument that the context of class and society has changed, but the teaching methods have remained unchanged. Various recent studies attempting to address the issues that affect teaching methods and student learning today include educational technology integration (Abbitt, 2011), teachers’ roles (Webb, 2009), the class environment (Doll et al., 2010), understanding the adult learner (Kisamore, Aldridge, Alexander, & White, 2008), length of the class session (Coskun, 2011), increasing class size in schools (Gibbs & Jenkins, 1992), students’ attitudes (Akkuzu & Akcay, 2011), as well as the increased interdependence of society today (Schul, 2011).

Studies on teaching methods are not something new in educational research. A large number of studies have been done on this area. Pascarella and Trenzini (2005) have written a compendium of research studies conducted in this area over the past three decades. Even before that, Feldman and Newcomb (1973) mentioned decades of similar research studies in the area of teaching methods. These show both increased interest and knowledge in the area of teaching strategies and learning theories. Svinicki (2000) suggests that these studies on teaching methods conducted in the past decades are so overwhelming that it would be impossible to go over them all in detail. For many decades, the search for better teaching methods to provide the best learning has been the goal of education. However, teaching method is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Flexibility is crucial in adapting teaching methods in the class. Since all teachers are different, the strategies they use, and the way they use them will depend on the context and situation of their class (McCornac & Phan Thuy, 2005), as well as their own personality and biases.

The effect of teaching methods on students’ learning should be the interest of every teacher and student. In the field of education, there have been various studies done in an attempt to measure teaching methods. Robinson and colleagues (1990) conducted a case study on several teaching methods in schools to explore the reasons for their use, and perceptions of effectiveness. The result of their study suggested that various methods do influence teaching effectiveness.

According to Keene (2008), each student learns best using strategies and objectives that reflect his experiences, abilities, aptitudes and interest. Similarly, there is no standard teaching method. The various teaching methods overlap in definition and application; none being mutually exclusive although researchers often delineate several teaching strategies. Demonstration technique is one of the many teaching learning style under the investigative or activity based. It is a method which is capable of improving learning through its diversity effect activity. It has the prerequisite characteristics for individualized instruction and therefore has high potential for making teaching-learning process challenging and rewarding.  Ohuche (1992:13) has already pointed out that despite all the changes introduced in the secondary school English Language \curriculum, students have continued to perform poorly in the language. According to him, the greatest shortcomings of these students are in their inability to express ideas correctly in English. When these students enter tertiary institutions, many of them do not gain much from the service English Language lecturers give, for the mere fact that the number of them in a class makes it difficult for the teacher to handle their individual problems. The level of academic achievement for students with limited proficiency in English has lagged significantly behind that of their language majority peers. One congressionally mandated study reported that these students receive lower grades, are judged by their teachers to have lower academic abilities, and score below their classmates on standardized tests of reading and mathematics, according to Moss and Puma (1995).

From the above reports, it became pertinent to look into the learning and writing of the English Language essay of the Senior School Certificate Exam, which often is given much mark allocation than other parts of paper 1 of the English Language to show the importance of writing. Writing is invaluable for effective and efficient diplomatic ties. For the fact that very few students who write the Senior School Certificate English Language Examination obtain credits or distinctions make it a thing to worry about. Many Language teachers often use essay writing while assessing students’ literacy development over time since it tests the ability of the students to use English as an effective means of communication to express themselves with clarity and coherence in a manner appropriate to the situation. The process of learning to write clearly and effectively is not a simple matter of acquiring information or memorizing rules. It requires a parallel and simultaneous process of learning to read with more sophistication. Because reading and writing are related activities, learning to write entails a complex interaction between writer and reader. Students write; teachers respond. But a teacher’s response must be more than “correcting” and more than perfunctory grading: Evaluations most involve a detailed reaction, often in conference with the student; to each piece of writing.  Good teachers want to teach as many students as they can teach well. But if teachers are forced to respond to the writing of more than sixty students weekly, they will necessarily oversimplify their responses. Students will regard their own writing as a mere exercise, unworthy of careful attention or serious thought. About five and four essay topics are often set by WAEC and NECO respectively in Senior School Certificate Examinations. Candidates are required to write on ONE. The topics cover a wide variety of essay types such as expository, argumentative, and letter writing. Exposition is detailed explanation. Expository writing explains a process, an idea or a feeling (Ukwegbu, C. et al 2004). Experts claim that expository writing is not a single form of writing but an amalgam of different writing genres. A good piece of expository writing has the following core features: It involves analysis of key points; A definition of key concepts; A well-defined point of view; A logical presentation of details, and an explanation of details (Otagburuagu, Obah, and Ogenyi, 2001). Expository essay is written quite often in the present tense, which involves the use of the active voice. The present tense is generally preferred because the process, concept, or idea being explained has relevance not only for a particular time but for most, if not for all times. (Ukwuegbu, et al 2004)

In argumentative writing, the audience or the reader is being persuaded to agree to the writer or speaker’s point of view on a controversial subject matter. Since there are always two sides to an argument, this kind of writing requires one to: prove a point present a view point; balance two sides of an argument. However, most candidates‟ argument is often illogical and the conclusions often do not follow from the reasoning that had gone before. Many candidates lack the appropriate vocabulary to put across their point of view (Ukwuegbu, et al 2004).

Keywords: IMPACT OF TEACHING METHODS ON ESSAY WRITING ACHIEVEMENT IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL


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