ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF SOCIAL STUDIES IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background to the Study
Over the years, there have been growing concerns about the attitude of students towards the study of social studies in secondary schools. The need to adapt our education to the needs of the Nigerian society started before and after independence. Many educational elites began to recognize that the functional inadequacies of the educational system inherited from the colonial education failed to develop positive values, attitudes and habits in our society because the social studies they taught was British oriented and has nothing to offer to the Nigerian child.
Fafunwa (1974) observed that the present educational system instead of developing positive values in the society which the African child lives, tends to alienate him from his cultural environment. This was the reason behind the re-evaluation of the educational system and the curriculum of the school and objectives that are relevant to the society.
The major ideas and philosophies behind the curriculum innovation in the 1969 National Curriculum Conference according to Akinlaye (2001) were:
i. The need to make education more relevant to the needs of the individuals and the society.
ii. The need to use education for national integration and socio-economic development.
iii. The need to develop the right societal value and;
iv. The need to make an individual responsible to the society in which he lives.
This been the case, the National Policy on Education (2004) has in recognition the important role social studies will play towards the achievement of the country’s educational aims and objectives. Thus, social studies was made a core subject. Hence, there is a greater responsibility for social studies teachers in Nigeria today than the days before independence, this is because the Nigerian youths now live in an environment characterized by social ills and moral decadence which have to be curbed at all cost. The youths therefore need social studies education which focuses on the problems and issues of human beings in their changing environments and seeks to develop desirable habits, values, attitudes and skills in order to solve them.
Researchers have concentrated much on the cognitive aspect of teaching in our secondary schools because of the importance attached to success in public examinations, however, there is an interplay between the cognitive and affective areas of teaching. For example, Taylor (2001) and Gunsch (2005) have shown that there is a relationship between interest and developments in different school subjects, therefore, it is believed that favourable attitude towards social studies may influence to a considerable extent the uptake of knowledge in social studies.
Studies relating to specific aspects of pupils’ attitude towards social studies and other related subjects have been undertaken by several researchers. Jekayinfa (2007) has reported that high grade in social studies at lower forms is a factor that can pull students to history in the secondary schools in Nigeria. In the study of factors associated with interest in science, Ormerod and Dukworth (2000) have also identified a number of factors like personality, home and other environmental factors among American and British High School students.
Statement of the Problem
The poor attitude of students towards the study of social studies in secondary schools is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and imbalance in the educational sector in particular and the nation’s development in general.
Social studies as a core subject in the junior secondary school level suggest the importance the government, parents and students themselves attach to the study.
The phenomena increase in students’ attitude towards the study of social studies in junior secondary schools should not be allowed to remain for too long unattended to.
The need to motivate stuents to develop positive attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary school and to create a conducive environment for studying social studies is not disputable and cannot be over-emphasized.
The unfortunate thing is that students’ attitude towards the study of social studies in schools is fraught with a lot of problems. There is a general belief that whenever students perform poorly in their courses the teacher has not really taught them well. People hardly look at the problem from the point of view of the student’s attitude towards the courses; the problem of this study therefore is to ascertain why students have poor attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary schools.
1. What is the attitude of students towards the study of social studies in schools?
2. Is there significant difference between the attitudes of male and female students towards the study of social studies?
3. What factors influences students’ attitudes towards the study of social studies?
4. What factors can improve the attitude of students towards the study of social studies?
Only research question 2 was hypothesized for this study.
1. There is no significant difference between the attitudes of male and female students towards the study of social studies.
Purpose of the Study
1. To find out if the attitude of students towards social studies influences their study of social studies in secondary schools.
2. To ascertain if there is any significant differences between the attitudes of male and female studies towards the study of social studies.
3. To find out if there are factors that influences students’ attitude towards the study of social studies.
4. To find out if there are factors that can improve the attitude of students towards the study of social studies.
Significance of the Study
As Nigeria is still a developing nation, it is hoped that the findings of this research will encourage various governments to provide conducive environment, teaching aids and qualified teachers for effective study of social studies in secondary schools.
This study is of educational importance because it is believed that if social studies teachers in secondary schools understand the factors which stimulate the growth of interest in social studies, such knowledge may provide bases not only to make social studies popular but also to make the teaching of social studies humanizing.
Re-orient students with negative attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary schools. Assist the government to identify students’ attitude towards the study of social studies in secondary schools. Serve as a basis for other researchers who are carrying out investigation on similar problems facing the development of education in Nigeria. Help teachers and educational planners to acquire knowledge of solving problems associated with the attitude of students towards the study of social studies in secondary schools.
Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is to ascertain the attitude of students towards the study of social studies in junior secondary schools in Nigeria; a case study of public junior secondary schools in Oredo Local Government Area, Benin City, Edo State was used in this study.
Limitation of the Study
A research of this nature requires adequate time to ensure thorough work, but the time allowed for this study was limited.
Some respondents may not have provided accurate and sincere answers that represent the true situation required for some of the questions in the questionnaire.
The researcher experienced a lot of problems during the process of this study which are as follows:
i. delay in administration of questionnaire due to public holidays.
ii. typing and administration of extra copies of questionnaire because some respondents did not return their copies.
iii. appealing to the principals of some of the schools used for the study due to interruption of lectures.