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This was aimed at assessing Students socio-demographic variables and their English Language Achievement in Secondary Schools in AkwaSouth L.G.A.
In obtaining the data relevant to this research work, questionnaire was utilized, where students were selected using sample random sampling method. The questionnaire was developed by the research based on five-points likert scale of strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, and strongly disagree using three sociodemographic variables, Gender, School Location and Parents Socioeconomic status. The questionnaire was adopted as the research instrument because it facilitate easy collection of data in a survey study of this kind and besides the respondents are literate and can response effectively to the items in the questionnaire.
It was observed from this study that gender is not a stumbling block to good academic performance, as male students do not perform better than their female counterparts. Furthermore, the study indicated that urban students perform better than rural students. The study indicated that students of parents with high SES perform better than students of parents with low SES, as most students struggle academically due to parents’ inability to fully fund their education.
The study concludes that for educators to educate their students effectively so that they may be able to show quality performance in their academics., there is a need to understand better about the sociodemographic variables that may contribute to the academic success of students in English Language.
1.1 Background of the study
In this era of globalization and technological revolution, education is considered as a first step for every human activity. It plays a vital role in the development of human capital and is linked with an individual’s well-being and opportunities for better living (Battle & Lewis, 2002). It ensures the acquisition of knowledge and skills that enable individuals to increase their productivity and improve their quality of life. This increase in productivity also leads towards new sources of earning which enhances the economic growth of a country (Saxton, 2000). The quality of students’ performance remains at top priority for educators. It is meant for making a difference locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Educators, trainers, and researchers have long been interested in exploring variables contributing effectively for quality of performance of learners. These variables are inside and outside school that affect students’ quality of academic achievement. These factors may be termed as student factors, family factors, school factors and peer factors (Crosnoe, Johnson & Elder, 2004). The formal investigation about the role of these demographic factors rooted back in 17thcentury (Mann, 1985). Generally these factors include age, gender, geographical belongingness, ethnicity, marital status, socioeconomic status (SES), parents’ education level, parental profession, language, income and religious affiliations. These are usually discussed under the umbrella of demography (Ballatine, 1993). In a broader context demography is referred to as a way to explore the nature and effects of demographic variables in the biological and social context. Unfortunately, defining and measuring the quality of education is not a simple issue and the complexity of this process increases due to the changing values of quality attributes associated with the different stakeholders’ view point (Blevins, 2009; Parri, 2006).
English Language has been classified as one of the core and School system reflects substantially the vital role it plays in contemporary society and has become one of the compulsory subjects in both the junior and senior secondary (high) school curricular, hence, the importance accorded English language.
In a multi-lingual society like Nigeria, the need for a lingua franca cannot be over-emphasized. Thus, for easy and effective communication, both orally and written, English language has been chosen as a common medium of expression. This has also informed the government‘s decision to make a compulsory credit pass in this subject a prerequisite for admission into most programmes in tertiary institutions in the country.
Several factors such as attitude of students and teachers, study habit, teachers’ qualification, teachingmethods, school environment, government policy, school location, family types have been identified in severalstudies as factors influencing students’ academic achievement (Edwards, 2000; Aremu&Sokan, 2003; Asikhia,
2010; Akomolufe&Olorumfemi-Olabisi, 2011).
Arigbabu and Mji (2004) are of the opinion that in Nigeria, and perhaps the whole of Africa, gender bias is still very prevalent. Abdullahi, Kalejaiye-Matti, Garba and Balogun (2007) agreed that socialization patterns in Nigeria and most African setting, place enormous restrictions on the female gender and from her a higher input of daily domestic labour than from the male. This perception automatically scheme female out from any consideration for serious professional discipline even in cases where the female appears to be more brilliant than their male counterpart is. Raimi and Adeoye (2006) observed in their research on gender differences among college students in integrated science, that there is a significant difference between males and females in their attitude towards integrated science. Oludipe (2012) and Kola and Taiwo (2013) observed in there various studies that there is no significant difference between male and female performance. Students attending rural schools face challenges of higher poverty than those attending urban schools.
In Nigeria, the lingual Franca is English language, which in most cases is not widely spoken in rural schools. What obtains in most cases is the native language of that setting. This can greatly affect students’ performance in English language as it is been taught and assessed in schools. Urban schoolshave main advantages like availability of resources, library, opportunities, good environment, teachers etc.
However, one of the greatest advantages of rural schools is the tendency for smaller classes, which promise increased student evaluation, and provide greater flexibility in teaching strategy. However, Owoeye (2002) found that urban students performed better than rural students in all forms of achievement test used. Kissau(2006) reported that students in urban and rural location performed in a similar manner. Obioma (1989) indicated that most deficient learners were found in major urban centres rather than other locations. Igboegwu and Okonkwo (2012) study indicates a significant difference in students achievement with respect to location of school and education zones. The study showed that urban schools achieved significantly better than students in the rural schools did.
Hart (2014) say that socio-economic status refers tothe level of education, income, and professionalism of an individual or group. He further said that students with a
lowerSocial economic status (SES) often face additional challenges including unavailability of learning resources, difficult learning conditions, and poor motivation that negatively affect their academic performance. Many families in Nigeria are poor; they often struggle with providing academic support for their children. This could affect the academic achievement of students from such home. Okofor (2007) argued that while poverty and students low social economic status background could be considered a concern regarding students’ academic performance, but the strongly determined and motivated students are likely to beat the odds of greater risk of academic failure and perform with distinction in school. Studies have reported that social economic status affects students’ academic achievement (Udida, Ukwayi and Ogodo, 2012; Barry, 2005; and Eamon, 2005). Likewise, studies have also found that social economic status does not significantly influence students’ academic performance (Ogunshola and Adewale, 2012; and Abosede, 2008).
In order to stem the tide of poor performance in this important subject, successive governments, education related agencies in both the public and private sectors have variously made relevant contributions toward the improvement of the teaching and learning of English Language. Efforts in this direction include training and retraining of teachers, improvement of learning environment by building and equipping new classrooms. Despite these concerted efforts, students’ performance is still taking a downward turn. Due to the persistent nature of this problem, educational researchers and even government agencies have tried to unravel the underlying reasons for students’ poor performance in this important subject. This study is one of such efforts.
In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness on the interrelated nature of various variables on humans; thus the need to investigate them collectively and not just looking at individual effects of these variables on the child‘s performance. Non-native English speaking students who started their learning career at an early age usually have higher English language proficiency than students who started at a later age. Those who started at a really early age would normally have a very high English language proficiency that could be compared to native-English speaking students. Non-native English speaking students consider having English language proficiency as an educational goal, which is the academic achievement. Therefore, they get to feel more confident and more belonging because of their achievement and proficiency, which lead them to be more involved in the society.
Despite the new approach to learning and instruction proposed by National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004), English language at the Senior Secondary School level in Nigeria has been plagued with poor results and low achievements. Annual results from West African Examinations Council (WAEC) reveal woeful performances from the students who have made enrolment for English language examinations a yearly ritual. It is worrisome to note too that the performance of these students has continued to deteriorate year after year. It is understood that if the situation in English Language remains like this, it will affect both the economic and technological growth of the Akwa south LGA, the state and the country at large. This is because a good mastery of English language is mandatory on all students in order to perform well in other secondary school subjects. Students who are handicapped in English language are therefore likely to be handicapped in the acquisition of skills in arts and technological related subjects.
It is against this backdrop that this study examines the students’ sociodemographic variables and their English language achievement in secondary schools in Akwa south local government area.
1.2 Statement of problems
The problem of low academic achievement of students in English Language is one of the most challenging problems that faces students as well as teachers. This problem has many causes and it hassociodemographic factors such as educational, social, cultural and psychological dimensions. However, the students’ low academic achievement in English Language can be defined as: Low or weakness of the student’s mark under the normal average in a study subject level as a result of a variety of reasons, including those related to the student himself, or those related to family, social and academic environment. Consequently, this may lead to frequent repetition of failure, despite their abilities that qualify them to get the best marks.
Individual differences play an important role in academic achievement of students in English language. There have been many attempts to address the problem of low academic achievement and some factors have been identified in explaining academic achievement. Among the numerous variables researched, demographic status, intelligence, behavioral characteristics and psychological factors, namely, attitudes, self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-concept, have been used to explain academic achievement. Besides differences in ability, which are not easy to control, students have specific learning styles that may influence their academic achievement in English language. Sternberg (1997) proposed that learning styles are at least in part socialized, suggesting that they can, to some extent, be modified. Thus, being aware of learning styles and their roles in academic achievement is of a great importance for educational psychologists, teachers and researchers.
Based on previous studies, the influence of sociodemographic variables have not beenstabled on students’ academic achievement, this calls for continuous verification of the influence of gender, location and socio-economic status on students’ academic achievement in English language from place to place and from time to time.
Hence, study focuses on examining students’ sociodemographic variables such as gender, school location and parents’ socioeconomic statuson English language achievement in senior secondary schools in Akwa south local government area of Anambra state.
Objective of study
The main objective of the study is to find out the students’ sociodemographic variables and their English language achievement in secondary school. The specific objectives are to:
1.5. Significance of the Study
The study will provide insights to the curriculum developers, teachers, parents, students, counsellors, and policy makers regarding the influence that gender, school location, and socio-economic status of parents can have on students’ academic achievement in English language. The findings of the study will necessitate the stakeholders to advice on what best can be done so that these factors can help to improve student’s achievement in English language. The findings of the study will add to empirical data bank on the students’ sociodemographic variable (gender, school location, and parents social economic status on academic achievement in English language.
1.6. Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The study covers the sociodemographicvariables such as gender, location and parents’ social economic status on students’ academic achievementin English language. It was delimited to gender, location of schools and parents’ social economic status. The study focus on seniorsecondary students in Akwa south local government area of Anambra state.
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