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Perspectives of students and lecturers towards stimulating citizenship education through social studies (a case study peki college of education, ghana)

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background Of The Study

Education for citizenship is important because every society needs people to contribute effectively, in a variety of ways, to the future health and well being of communities and the environment, locally, nationally, and globally. Fostering active and responsible citizens contributes to the process of developing a healthy and vibrant culture of democratic participation. Moreover, people are more likely to understand the reasons for policies and procedures, and therefore genuinely subscribe to them, when they have been actively involved in determining them. In spite of the generally accepted goal of Social Studies as a citizenship education, the form it takes may differ from one society to another. For instance, the form citizenship education takes in an authoritarian society is to indoctrinate. Patrick (1980) saw citizenship education as an inculcation of political attitudes and roles, and the glorification of national heroes. This might not be accepted in a democratic society. This makes conceptions of the good citizen range from the passive, compliant member of the local community and the nation to the well-informed, active person who criticizes constructively. Though Social Studies, with its ultimate goal of citizenship education, has become a major part of the Ghanaian curriculum, it looks as if the benefits are not being felt. The situation appears similar to what Patrick (1980) described. He was of the view that citizenship education generally suffers from neglect and routine treatment. He continued to state that the connection between education and citizenship studies is not as secure in the school curricula as it should be.A look at indigenous Ghanaian society shows that in Ghana, when communities were small and self-sufficient, the system of education was informal and non-literate. However, citizenship education was very prominent.According to McWilliam and Kwamena-Poh (1975), the Ghanaian communities prepared their members for citizenship education through the informal system of education. The responsibility of training did not only rest with the father and mother, but also with the blood relations. In fact, each and everyone in the community had a share in the training, since a good citizen was an asset to the community. The training sought to inculcate good character and good health in the young members of the community. It also sought to impart knowledge of their history, beliefs and culture to enable them to function effectively in society. It could be realized from the discussions so far that citizenship education, that is, the training of the individual to function effectively in society, is not a new concept and has always been a part of human society dating back to the ancient Greek period_3000BC (Pecku,1994). To achieve this, social studies was introduced into the Ghana curriculum.

Social studies as a subject to promote citizenship education became well grounded in the Ghanaian education system in 1987 with the introduction of the Junior Secondary School concept, which made Social Studies a compulsory subject. In terms of definitions, Social Studies has been defined in various ways by different scholars in the subject. Banks (1990) defined it as that part of the elementary and high school curriculum which has the primary responsibility of helping students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values needed to participate in the civic life of their local communities, nation, and the world. He went on to state that while the other curriculum areas also help students to attain some skills in a democratic society, Social Studies is the only area which has the development of civic competencies and skills as one of its goals.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The opportunities for learning that are provided in schools make important contributions to the process of educating for active and responsible citizenship. At the same time, the contributions of formal education need to be seen alongside and in interaction with other influences. These include the influence of parents, the media and opportunities for community-based learning. Broadly speaking, the citizenship that formal education should seek to promote and foster needs to be thoughtful and responsible, rooted in and expressive of a respectful and caring disposition in relation to people, human society generally, the natural world and the environment. It should also be active, in the sense of people being able to act and participate in various communities wherever it seems to them desirable or appropriate to do so. There are important implications for schools and early education centres of this view of citizenship.Approaches to all aspects of education for citizenship in the classroom or in the wider life of the school or community should be informed by the awareness that citizenship is best learnt through experience and interaction with others. In short, learning about citizenship is best achieved by being an active citizen. Citizenship education is therefore established in the curriculum, but its impact is not manifested in the behaviour, attitudes and actions of 6 students. For example, the media often report an increase in the number of students’ unrest, a rise in examination malpractices, a rise in occultism in schools, and the stealing and use of hard drugs by students. All these are indications that citizenship education, which is to help students to actively and responsibly participate in civic activities and to make them acceptable in society, is lacking. Could it be that teachers and students do not fully understand what citizenship is? Do teachers and students understand citizenship education? Do teachers and students understand Social Studies and what it is purposed to do as a school subject? These questions point to the need to find out the views of tutors and students of colleges of education on how the teaching and learning of Social Studies can help achieve the goal of promoting citizenship education.

1.3 Objective of Study

The main focus of this study is to examine the perspectives of students and lecturers towards stimulating citizenship education through social studies. Specifically the study seeks:

  1. To examine if student understand the subject of citizen education
  2. To investigate if teachers Social Studies and what it is purposed to do as a school subject.

iii.      To find out the views of tutors and students of colleges of education on how the teaching and learning of Social Studies can help achieve the goal of promoting citizenship education.

1.4 Research Question

  1. Do students and tutors in colleges of education understand citizenship?
  2. Do students and tutors in colleges of education understand citizenship education?

iii.      How do students and tutors in colleges of education understand Social Studies?

  1. In what ways do students and tutors in colleges of education think the teaching and learning of Social Studies can develop good citizens?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

HO1: Teaching and learning of Social Studies cannot develop good citizens education

H1:Teaching and learning of Social Studies can develop good citizens education

1.6 Significance of the study

 Findings from the study will be relevant to policy makers, administrators, and education planners who want to know the importance of Social Studies in the Ghanaian school curriculum. This is based on the fact that the findings of the study will reflect the views of both tutors and students on what Social Studies is to do to promote its goal of citizenship education. Furthermore, the participation of tutors in the study would make them think about identifying and clarifying their understanding of the major goal of Social Studies and, as such, help in determining ways to improve the teaching of the subject in their colleges.Finally, findings from the study will serve as reference material as well as be relevant to students and other scholars who wish to conduct a study in a related field.

1.7 Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on the perspectives of students and lecturers towards stimulating citizenship education through social studies. The study is however delimited to Peki College Of Education, Ghana.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

During the course of this study, the researchers encountered a few factors that posed a constraint. This includes lack of time to cover all the colleges of education where social studies are taught. Hence, the researcher resorted to using one college of education, which is Peki College Of Education, Ghana.With financial limitations, not all personnel of the division could be reached because of the huge expenses involved in making arrangements to meet a large sample within the Peki college of education in Ghana. Moreover, a study of this nature should have covered all the colleges of education in Ghana so as to make generalization to the entire community possible. However, owing to the problem of accessibility, the researchers concentrated on only one college in the Eastern Region.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Social Studies: Social Studies is an integration of knowledge, skills and processes. It is a subject that “provides powerful learning in humanities and social sciences for the purpose of helping children learn to be good problem solvers and wise decision makers

Citizenship Education: Citizenship education gives people the knowledge and skills to understandchallenge and engage with democratic society including politics, the media, civil society, the economy and the law.

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