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Investigating The Influence Of Examination Malpractice Strategies On Student Academic Performance In Senior Public Secondary Schools

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Background to the Study
Teachers at different stages use examination to assess and evaluate the academic achievement of students in the school system. In all teaching and learning situations therefore, it is essential to find out from time to time how much the students are achieving from what they are being taught. In order to do this effectively, Teachers Examination Council, National Teachers Institute (NTI), Classroom Teachers etc. assess the students by administering weekly, termly, end of year test and or final examinations.

The overall aim of education is to shape the behaviour of an individual, so that he or she can perform most effectively within his/her social milieu.
Bearing in mind the role that education plays in nation building, a nation stands the risk of being under developed in terms of accumulation of illiteracy, disease and poverty when its youths rejects the honour of getting sound education and seems to opt for fraudulent activities and deceptive ways in making ends meet as epitomized by examination malpractices thereby negating the philosophy of sound education.

The products of such a system can only grow up to be cynics, unbelievers, insensible, dishonest, ignorant, narrow-minded, myopic, unintelligent, deceptive, close-minded, one sided beings who would be indifferent to the issues of development and powerless to act, create and succeed.
Examination malpractices have a paralyzing effect on the developing nation.

It puts our youth, future leaders and professionals in a situation that leads to a future of social, political and economic insanity and bankruptcy.

Engaging in examination malpractice leads to cancellation of results which means great waste of resources to society and parents, and provides sources of great agony and injustice to innocent students.
The importance of examination or test taking for diagnosis, placement, classification and quality control in Nigerian institutions have been greatly eroded and corrupted with malpractice which constitute one of the most debilitating problems facing our education institutions today, and they are constantly manifested and reported in our schools, colleges and other higher institutions.
Examination malpractice is any activity of a student or group of students whose purpose is to give any of them higher grades than they would likely receive on the basis of their own achievements.

Fatai (2005) defines it as any irregular act exhibited by candidates or anybody charged with the conduct of examination which is clearly a breach of the rules governing the conduct and integrity of the examination.

It is viewed as any act carried out before, during and after an examination, which is against the rules set out for the proper and orderly conduct of the examination, which is clearly a breach of the rules governing the conduct and integrity of the examination.

It has been further described as an action done to gain undue advantage over other candidates which is against the rule and regulations governing the conduct of such examination for personal gain. Ojerinde (2000) revealed that cheating in examinations is motivated by:
i. The desperation to acquire certificate or get placed in a programme or be selected for a position.
ii. Carelessness on the part of the teacher/examiners in safeguarding the examination paper before it is administered.
The National Policy on Education (FGN 2004) stipulates that there is need for functional education for the promotion of a progressive and united Nigeria.

To this end, school programmes needed to be relevant, practical and comprehensive: while interest and ability should determine individual direction in education.
Examination malpractice is any illegal act committed by a student single handedly or in collaboration with others; like fellow students, parents, teachers, supervisors, invigilators, printers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades (Wilayat, 2009).

The West African Examinations Council (1992) referred to examination malpractice as any irregular behaviour exhibited by candidates or officials charged with the responsibility of conducting examination, in or outside the examination hall, before, during or after such examination.

It involves various methods employed by candidates to cheat during examinations.

Similarly, Shonekan (1996) stated that examination malpractice is an act of omission or commission that contravenes those West African Examinations Council’s rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity and reliability of the test and ultimately the integrity of the certificate issued by the Council.

Examination malpractice does not occur in the examination hall alone, it occurs before, during and even after the examination.
Some forms of examination malpractices are copying on sheet of papers, handkerchiefs, desk/chairs; swapping of answer booklets and collusion with other candidates or external agents. Others include leakage of examination questions before the actual examination day.

In some schools, especially, those privately owned, the school authorities sometimes bribe invigilators, supervisors and police personnel drafted to the centres so that they could turn a blind eye when malpractices are being perpetrated.

Electronic gadgets like calculators, organizers, radio walk man and mobile phones are also used to carryout examination malpractices.

Annually, examination bodies give warnings to the candidates to desist from bringing mobile phones into the examination halls but each year, the use of mobile phones to commit examination malpractice is recorded(Onyechere,2007).
Other forms of examination malpractices are bringing books or cribs into the hall, insulting or assaulting supervisor or invigilator, replacement of answer script with another one during or after the examination, impersonation, smuggling scripts written outside into the examination hall, writing on thigh, stretching of neck like the Giraffe to look at the work of a fellow candidate, hooligans gaining entry into the examination hall by force when examination is in progress, to remove question paper, talking, dictation of answers to students, e.t.c.
The over-dependence on certificate, if care is not taken would create a situation where educational products in Nigeria are not able to perform what is expected of them.

Poor economy, with low income to meet the ever growing human wants, could be a factor where teachers and supervisors engage in examination malpractice.

According to Olushola, (2006), examination malpractices could be encouraged as a result of:
1) The desire to pass at all cost: Paul (2012) agreed on the fact that students nowadays are no longer hard working and dedicated towards their academic endeavours. 

They are characterized by a desire for success and wealth without a corresponding emphasis on legitimate means and avenues to be used positively in achieving Success.

The desire to pass at all cost is responsible for examination malpractices.
2) Emphasis on certificate: Nigeria’s education system is largely certificate and good grades oriented. Students, Parents, School management and others tend to push harder to get the certificate and good grades by all means. Believing that this will foster the means to acquire a lucrative job in future.As a result, much value and emphasis are placed on certificate instead of knowledge, skills and competence.
3) Societal factor: Itedjere (2006) sees it from the moral tone of the society: that it is a statement of truth that the school, like any other social institution, does not exist in a vacuum but rather within a geopolitical and socio-milieu. Hence, behaviours are expected to conform and reflect the acceptable societal norms and ethics and regard various functional roles and the executions of duties and services.
Also, Okafor (1990) blamed the society for examination malpractices.

He said: in a country where dishonesty has been enshrined by the adult sector as an idol of worship. Children have learnt to steal with impunity, practice examination malpractices (in all shades and forms) as a simple reflection of the society.
4) The Teacher: The teacher is the main focus of change and the anchor in the teaching-learning process. Paul (2012) opined that teachers are like parents to children while they are in schools. They are to students like a shepherd to cows.

Statement of the Problem
Examination malpractice is one of the social problems that is disturbing the Nigerian education sector and it requires a prompt remedy.

Examination malpractice occurs in all levels of the Nigerian educational sector but the focus of this study is the public senior secondary education level. A lot of failures and anomalies happen in the careers of individuals because of the impact of the scourge of examination malpractice at this crucial level of education.

The more the government, principals, examination bodies and other well-meaning individuals try to find solutions to the problem, the more the perpetrators also device ways to frustrate such efforts.

The problem is becoming more scientific by the day; it is metamorphosing from the era of candidates copying from fellow candidates to using sophisticated electronic gadgets such as cellphones and concealed earpieces.
The problem of examination malpractice has reduced certificates issued in Nigeria into a worthless paper, such that a number of candidates without standing results cannot defend their certificates.

The performances of such candidates might not commensurate to the quality of their certificates.

The problem of the study therefore is to find out the innovative strategies for public senior secondary students academic performance in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of examination malpractice strategies on student academic performance in Senior Public Secondary Schools Ilorin West Local Government.
Specifically, the purposes are to:
i. Examine the factor responsible for examination malpractices among senior secondary school students;
ii. Investigate forms of examination malpractices common among senior secondary school student;
iii. Find out the effect of examination malpractices on senior secondary school student academic performance;
iv. Suggest the various strategies to effectively curb examination malpractices in senior secondary schools;

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