The impact of the school environment on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Fundong Sub-Division
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1.1 Background to the Study
(Good, 1973) defines education as the aggregate of all the processes by which people develop abilities, attitudes, and forms of behaviours that are of positive value to themselves and to the society in which they live. Education is also said to be a process of teaching, learning and training, especially in school to develop skills and knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge in an environment in which the school is located and other facilities greatly affect the performance of the students. In order for the students to acquire the best form of education the parents make sure that they carefully choose the best schools; while some parents prefer private schools, others prefer public and mission schools. Many people have attributed the success of schools to factors such as class size, number of students, seats, teachers’ attitudes, playground, libraries, laboratories and even the beauty of the school.
Historically the construct school environment can be traced back 100 years (Perry, 1908); the scientific study of school environment was not undertaken until 1950s with the birth of organizational school environmental research. March and Simon (1958) and Argyris (1958) began to analyze businesses and organizations in an attempt to correlate the influences of an organizational environment to such outcomes as morale, productivity and turnover. Research continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, examining socioeconomic and race differences to explain achievement with mixed success (Coleman et., 1966; Hauser, 1970; McDill, Meyers, &Riugsby, 1967)
By the late 1970s researchers were attempting to associate school environment with students’ outcomes in schools. Brookover and colleagues (1978) examined the environment of the school, defined as the set of norms and expectations that were defined and perceived by individuals within the school, and determined that school environment was positively linked to the difference in mean outcomes between schools, even when adjusting for race, and other demographics. In this study, the greatest indicator of achievement is the way students feel within themselves about the social environment within the school.
In the early and mid-1990s, studies focused on individual classes or teachers (Griffith, 1995; Stockard & Mayberry, 1992). Griffith, (1995) argued that the relationship between the level of study depended on the level at which the students identified themselves in their school environment. Thus in an educational environment where classes are held in different classrooms with different teachers, it naturally follows that the unit of school environment measure is the school as a whole, whereas the individual classroom would be the appropriate measurement unit where students spend all or most of their time with a single teacher. Since the end of the 1990s and continuing today, researchers have attempted to link school environment to different outcomes including school achievement (Hoy & Hannum, 1997); aggression victimization, bonding connectedness and engagement (Libbey, 2004); and health problem (Coker & Borders, 2001).
The school environment, which includes the school size, school location or site, class size, teacher-teacher relationship, teacher-student relationship, libraries, technical workshops, laboratories, teacher’s quality, school management, teaching methods, peers are variables that affect students’ academic performance or achievement. Hence, the school environment remains an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance students’ academic performance.
The issue of poor academic performance of students in Cameroon has been of much concern to the government, parents, teachers and even students themselves. The quality of education does not only depend on the teachers as reflected in the performance of their duties but also in the effective coordination of the school environment. School environment which includes space for conveniences’ planning, accessories planning, the teachers as well as the students themselves is essential in the teaching-learning process. The extent to which students learning can be enhanced depends on their location within and without the school compound, the class size, the structure of their classroom, the relationship between teachers and teachers, teachers and students, students and students, availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well-planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students. According to Dawn (2011), as the number of students in a classroom grows, so do the negative effects on both the teacher and the students. That is a teacher can only devote much attention to one student when he or she has to divide their attention among twenty or more students in a class. As a result, when the number of students in a classroom rises from twenty to twenty-five or thirty to thirty- five, it is impossible to give all students the attention that they need. This is due to limited teaching-learning resources. A school in Fundong Sub Division which is the context in which the researcher is focused on is a very good example.
Relating this study to international occurrences are the assertions Williams, Persuade, and Turner (2008) quoting Marden (2005), which reported that safe and orderly classroom environment (aspect of instructional space), school facility (accessories) were significantly related to student’s academic performance in schools. The three researchers, also quoted Glassman (1994), asserting that a comfortable and caring environment among other treatments helps to contribute to students’ academic performance. The physical characteristics of a school have a variety of effects on teachers, students and the learning process. Poor lighting, noise in classrooms and inconsistent temperatures make teaching and learning difficult. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among students as well as teachers, which leads to poor performance and high absentee rates Frazier (2002), Lyons (2001) and Ostendorf (2001). These factors can adversely affect students’ behaviour and lead to high levels of frustration among teachers and poor learning attitude among students.
Beyond the direct effects that poor facilities have on students’ abilities to learn, the combination of poor facilities which create an uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for teachers, combined with frustrating behaviour by students including poor concentration and hyperactivity, lethargy, or apathy, creates a stressful set of working conditions for teachers. Because stress and job dissatisfaction are common pre-cursors to lower teacher enthusiasm, it is possible that the aforementioned characteristics of school facilities have an effect on the academic performance of students.
Previous studies have investigated the relationship of poor school environment including problems of student-teacher ratio, school location, school population, classroom ventilation, poor lighting in classrooms and inconsistent temperatures in the classroom with student health problems, students behaviour and student achievement Crandell & Smaldino (2000); Davis (2001) ; Johnson (2001), Lyons (2001) ; Moore (2002); Stricherz (2000); Tanner (2000) this study the will examine the aforementioned areas of school environment as it affects students’ academic performance in Cameroon schools especially in Fundong Sub Division.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
School environment as an aspect of educational planning explains that; unless schools are well-situated buildings adequately constructed and equipment adequately utilized and maintained, much teaching and learning may not take place and this will greatly affect students’ academic performance. Yet some educationists still intentionally or unintentionally deny children of these needs. Though some of these educationalists’ may provide what the child needs, they are still cold and passive towards some of the environmental factors that greatly affect students’ academic performance.
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
The general objective of this study is to identify the school environment and its effects on students’ academic performance. In specific terms, the study intends to find out;
The extent to which school location affects students’ academic performance.
The extent to which school classroom quality affects students’ academic performance.
The extent to which classroom size affects students’ academic performance.
The extent to which a teacher-student relationship affects students’ performance.
1.4 Research Questions
To what extent does school location affect students’ academic performance?
To what extent do school facilities affect students’ academic performance?
To what extent does classroom size affect students’ academic performance?
To what extent does a teacher-student relationship affect students’ academic performance