The Influence of School Environment on Student Academic Performance in Public School Taraba State





Human beings are always immersed in social environment, which not only changes the very structure of the individual or just compels to recognize facts but also provides with a readymade system of signs. Two environments home and school 2 share an influential space in child‟s life (Tucker et al., 1979). The school is the most important experience in the process of child development next to home. When the child enters the school area, s/he is presented with new opportunities in terms of socialization and cognitive development. These opportunities are provided in different measures in school and may have a direct impact on cognitive and affective development of students. The concept of organizational climate of an educational institution for the first time came into existence in 1954, when the idea of organizational climate of schools was discussed. It is a concept which describes the role of participants interacting within the sociological and psychological framework of school interaction that take place within the school family. The school is the most dynamic institution which should keep pace with the changing needs of the society. It should also develop in each individual the knowledge, interest, ideals, attitudes, habits, skills and powers, whereby s/he will find his/her right place in the social order and use that position to shape him/her and the society both towards the higher and nobler ends. The attainment of such objectives require proper school environment. The school is a social-psychological system i.e. principal and teachers working in a school constitute socially and psychologically interacting units and through their interactions, school acquires a land of distinct personality or a distinct atmosphere. The school administration should work towards the improvement of school climate, so that a better output from school could be expected. O. Neil (1987) defined school climate as a combination of eight variables:

  1. Clear school mission.
  2. Safe and well ordered learning environment.
  • Expectation for success.
  1. Classroom interaction.
  2. High morale.
  3. Effective instructional leadership.
  • Monitoring of student progress.
  • Positive home school relationship.

 Lindelow (1989) suggested that school climate was defined as the feelings as individual got from experiences within a school system. More specifically, climate was the competitive of norms, expectations and belief characterizing the school social system as perceived by its members. It is an average of perceptions that individual has of their daily work environment (Deer, 1990). Owen (2000) defined organizational climate as the study of perceptions that individuals have of various aspects of the environment in the organization. So, majority of researches considered organizational climate as an attribute of an organizational perceptual in nature which is caused as a result of interaction over a period of time. However, some have used it to denote a combination of physical and psychological climate; very few have considered it as totality of all organizational variables. This is also true to some extent in relation to school. Hence, school environment may be defined as a measure of the quality and quantity of cognitive, emotional and social support that has been available to the students during their school life in terms of teacherpupil interactions. School is that agency of education from which different members of society expect in different ways. The government of any country is always interested in knowing how its investment is utilized effectively in school education. Educational administrators look from the view point of resources. They want to ensure that the available resources are effectively utilized. A parent expects that the school should give good education to his/her child. Students want the schools to be in places where they can enjoy learning. To a person living in a particular locality, the school should be pride to his/her locality. In this way, a school can be considered effective in the functioning to the extent that it satisfies the expectations for various persons concerned. Hence, the factors that affect the quality of education are the education administration system, headmaster, teachers, the teaching-learning process, parents, students, school, and community. A school is said to be effective when it achieves its objectives using the available resources efficiently, economically and sufficiently. It is quiet natural that a school attracts more pupils when it enjoys high academic achievement. Coleman et al. (1966) and Jencks et al. (1971) concluded that schools bring little independent influence to bear upon the development of their pupils. This period has been gradually followed in societies by the emergence of a wide range of effective schools. Five factor theory, generated and popularized by Edmond (1979), Wilson et al. (1994), and Lezotte (1989), gave the characteristics for an effective school, which includes academic goal consensus, safe and orderly climate, strong instructional leadership, high expectation from student achievement, and frequent evaluation of student progress. Brookerover et al. (1979) provided a strong research base that generally supported the five 6 factor theory. By extending it, he proposes seven factor theory. Hathaway et al. (1983) and Barker et al. (2001) have promoted seven correlates as core to schools, where students learn and achieve. They are clear school mission; high expectation for success; instructional leadership; frequent monitoring of students progress; opportunity to learn and student time on task; safe and orderly environment; and home and school relations. Literature describes numerous factors that may enhance the school environment, including effective principal leadership, a safe and orderly setting, engaging extracurricular activities, reductions in the size and impersonality of schools, and educational programs designed to fit the unique needs of specific students and school contexts (Teddlie et al., 1993; Bryk et al., 1989; Comer, 1988; Eberts et al., 1988; Gottfredson et al., 1985; Landers et al., 1978). School environment is often as palpable as the weather. Some schools have a warm, friendly ambience, while others have a cold, foreboding environment that permeates classrooms and offices. School and classroom climate influences student performance (Hill et al., 1990; Fraser et al., 1982; Moos, 1979). Three terms have been used in respect to the type and quality of environment prevailing in home and school. These are authoritarian, democratic and permissive. These terms have been used in relation to both home and school environment and defined in behavioral terms by different authors. Platt et. Al. (1962) stated that, “authoritarian control employed by parents. This continuum stems from parents who are restrictive and coercive, permitting the child little freedom of child or range of activity, to the parents who are lax and ineffectual and unable to control the child. Between these two extremes are the parents who allow the child freedom but who is capable of asserting authority when and where desired.” According to Shah (1982) “Authoritarian parents rely too heavily on ones” means to enforce obedient. For this purpose they use many repressive restraints. They hold a strong concentration that child must obey and that it is the responsibility of parents to mark children to obey their parents. Authoritarian parents take advantage of child‟s weakness to secure complaints even subservience.

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 Factors that contribute to learning and teaching in School environment made up of the following:

School building

The quality of school building plays a vital role in students academic achievement. Lewis (2000) tried to identify the independent effects of school building quality in a study of text scores and found out that good facilities had a major impact on learning. Edward, (1992) observed that disciplinary incidents increased in schools with better buildings. This may be caused by the strict discipline standards in these schools among other factors. Earthman (1995) supported this when he pointed out that schools with lesser quality of building had fewer disciplinary incidents than schools that are rated higher on the structural components. School buildings that can adequately provide a good learning environment are essential for student success. Old building does not have such features as control of thermal environment, adequate lighting, good roof and adequate space that are necessary for a good learning (NCES, 2000). This may be because they are not functioning due to poor maintenance. Older building do not have the main attribute of modern building that are associated with a positive physical environment conducive to student learning, (Earthman & Lemaster, 1996). Students’ achievement lags in a shabby or inadequate school building – those with no science labs, inadequate ventilation and faulty 28 heating systems, (Stricherz 2000). Clark (2002) quoting Sommer (1969) on his discussion on a school building designed for learning states that: If the recitation and reproduction of lessons is considered the chief aim of teaching, the traditional equipment of the classroom is perhaps sufficient but if teaching is guiding children to do their own thinking, purposing, planning, executing, and appraising, as recent educational philosophy maintains, then the classroom becomes a workshop, a library, a museum, in short, a learning laboratory. (p. 102) The structure of the building has also been viewed as an important factor in school environment which can influence the health, happiness and academic achievement of students


Library services

 The library is at the heart of the education enterprise. Library as a platform for sharing knowledge is aimed at rejuvenating Nigerian schools through the provision of current books and journals, (FRN, 2004). It is a store house of resources and as such provides many more opportunities to the learner to acquire the knowledge, which facilitates to achieve greater academic performance. It contributes to the total development of the students and enlarges their knowledge. Edoka (2000) sees library as a resource centre where a collection of books, periodicals, book materials are housed for use by teachers and researchers for learning, study, research, recreational activities and personal interest. 29 It has been observed that there is a strong relationship between school libraries and academic performance. Keith (2000) reports that schools with well equipped library performs higher than schools where libraries are less developed. Libraries provide instructional materials to enrich the curriculum and give unlimited opportunities for students’ learning, (Aguolu 2002). An effective school library gives foundation for self education necessary for facing challenges of higher education. The role of the library is also reflected in the National policy on Education (FRN, 2004) which states that libraries constitute one of the most important educational services, proprietors of schools shall provide functional libraries in accordance with the established standard. They shall also provide for training of librarians and library assistants for this service. The quality of school library services makes difference in academic achievement, (Library Research Service, 2000). It promotes the growth of knowledge. A well equipped library is a store house of knowledge. If properly organized and utilized, it encourages students’ interest in reading and learning, hence it is said that library is the centre for balanced diet for a learner. Libraries exist only because of books and people’s desire to read them. It is in line with this that the National Centre for Education Statistics, (2000) reports that the more students read, the higher they will score on almost any measure in any discipline. 30 Mazi (2006), citing Obi contended that the number of books in the library would mean nothing if the books are not used, are out of date, unattractive or inappropriate. Library Research Service, (2000), libraries don’t make difference in learning if they are merely ware houses of outdated stuff, place to drop students when teachers have their planning periods or when staffed only by paraprofessional or clerical staff members.


School location

 The influence of school location on the achievement of students of public secondary schools has been the concern of many educationists. Bello in Ezeh (2008) opined that school locations are known to influence the students learning through quality of teaching staff, class size and availability of infrastructure. The choice and location of school site have been an indispensable aspect of any effective school planning. This is so because it is the site that can influence the type of the school to be built and the quality and quantity of the buildings. A child’s environment that is rural or urban exerts considerable influence on his intellectual development, Okonkwo (1997) pointed out that schools in rural areas is likely to face the problem of poor academic achievement due to the inequality in provision of human and material resources required for positive educational achievement. This in turn will  perpetuate inequality of access to education provision of adequate number and quality of teachers, contents and methods of teaching. An urban child has an edge over the rural ones in terms of “life chances” such as better education and the socialization pattern Ajeh (1990). There are three social classes that exist-higher, middle and lower social classes. The urban, higher and middle classes through improved “life chances are exposed to better environment with access to libraries, adequate space, continuation classes and mass media. The rural children are hardly exposed to those facilities because they are mainly from lower social class. As a result, children from this background have low academic achievement. Uche in Okeke (2003) contends that in terms of facilities and structures, urban schools are worse because of very high enrollment figures. In urban schools, the facilities are grossly inadequate making it necessary to run a sort of shift system especially in primary schools. This has been strongly condemned as it does not make for effective teaching and learning. Stressing the urban/rural inequality, Okon and Anderson in Ajeh (1991) noted that because of lack of social amenities in remote rural area, teacher sent there do not like to stay even if they agree to work, they prefer to live in towns and shuttle to such areas. Ezema (1996) quoting Mood,(1985) said that the teacher is one of the most important factor in the child’s environment that influences his academic performance. Some experts in the field have agreed that rural secondary schools are poorly staffed, with few professionally qualified teaching personnel. This poor staffing of rural secondary schools must have accounted for better performance of urban secondary schools. Broomhall and Johnson (1994) concludes that rural students performs less than that of urban student on standardized test of educational achievement. This may be due to educational expenditure which are smaller in rural areas

School facilities

 School facilities are the corner stones of education system. They are essential ingredients in the effort to realize effective teaching and learning outcome. Hinum (1999) asserts that the quality of facilities has impact not only on educational outcomes but on the well being of students and teachers. Adeboyeje (1994) and Ayodele (2004) have pointed out that the availability of adequate chairs, desks and other facilities are necessary for the accomplishment of any educational goals and objectives. They revealed that effective management of school facilities brings about development of educational programmes and facilitates educational process. It also results to boosting of the morale of teachers and students and enhances the usefulness in the determination of the worth of a school. In the same vain, Hinum (1999) also report that 33 there is a significance relationship between students achievement and the condition of the built environment. The report of primary education in Nigeria by FGN/UNICEF/UNESCO/UNDP (2000) shows that chalkboard and chalk were the only materials reported as being adequately available in the schools. The introduction of Universal Basic Education (UBE) has increased enrolment in primary school from 17.9 million in 1999 to 19.2 million in 2000 and 19.4 million in 2001, (FME, 2003). This increase translates to demand for more places at secondary schools resulting to overstretching of the existing physical facilities. Investment in education entails the provision of the necessary infrastructure and facilities that could lead the system to the desired goals and objectives, (Umoru-Onuka 2004). Adegboyega (2002) observed that little attention is paid to education in terms of funding and this money is spent on recurrent expenditure leading to the deterioration of the existing facilities. The general conditions of infrastructure as well as instructional materials in some public secondary schools are poor, (Oredein, 2000). These prevailing condition would definitely show negative influence on the instructional quality which may translate to poor academic performance. Adequate infrastructures are quite essential for conducive and productive learning. There is an indication that the public secondary school in Enugu State cannot function successfully without adequate provision of facilities. This is because students need desks and chairs, teaching staff needs offices and instructional materials if learning must be effective.

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Concept of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is influence that a peer group, observers or individuals exert to encourage others to change their attitudes, values or behaviours and conform to the group norms. Peer pressure is the influence of a social group on an individual. Bobbies and Elhaney, (2005) indicate that peer pressure refers to the way the people of the same social group act or believe in order to influence one another, often in negative ways. Peer pressure is something everybody has to deal with at sometime in ones life. How successful one handles peer pressure depends to a great on the 18 individual’s self concept and position in the world (Hardcastle, 2002). Peer pressure is defined as when people of one’s age encourages or urges him to do something or to keep off from doing something else, irrespective of the person’s desire to or not to (Ryan, 2000 in Uche, 2010). Peer pressure comprises a set of group dynamics where by a group in which one feels comfortable may override personal habits, individual moral inhibitions or idiosyncratic desires to impose a group norm of attitudes or behaviour. Peer pressure is emotional or mental force from people belonging to the same social group (such as same age grade or status) to act or behave in a manner similar to themselves. Peer pressure has a great influence on adolescent behavior and reflects young people’s desire to fit in and be accepted by others (Bern, 2010). Peer pressure is also known as peer influence, and it involves changing one’s behavior to meet the perceived expectation of others (Burns and Darling, 2002) In general, most teens confirm to peer pressure like music, clothing or hair styles. When it comes to important issues like moral values, parents still remain more influential than the peer group (Black, 2002). Peer pressure may have a positive influence and help to or motivate us to do our best. Peer pressure may also result in people doing things that may not fit with their sense of what is right and wrong (Black, 2002). Peer pressure may be influence in a number of ways: fashion choice, alcohol and smoking and other 19 drugs use, decision to have a boy friend/girl friend, choice of who our friends, organizing and extending parties. Peer pressure may be pressure in the work place, at school or within the general community. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Research such as peer cluster theory (Danish, 1993) has shown that peer pressure has a much greater impact on adolescent behavior than any other factor. A teenager spends more of his/her time with peers than with family members. The interaction of peer is direct, and more powerful than the influence of teachers and other authority figures. Peer pressure tends to have more of an effect on children with low self esteem. If a child feels compelled to fit in, the teen may do things that go against his /her beliefs simply to be part of the group (Kirk, 2000). Peer pressure can lead to experimentation with drugs and alcohol, sex, skipping school and various high-risk behaviour. If there is a sudden change in a child’s appearance, clothing and attitude, especially if accompanied by secretive behavior, he or she may be succumbing to the influences of peers (Kirk, 2000) Parents should be especially alert to sudden changes in the friends that make up their core peer group. An unexplained change in the type of friends your child associates with, would indicate that the child is vulnerable to new influence that may not be positive. As a result parents need to stay alert to all kinds of peer pressure.




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