STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BUSINESS STUDIES IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN UMUAHIA EDUCATION ZONE, ABIA STATE
This research study aimed at validating the strategies for improving teaching and learning of Business Studies in Secondary Schools in Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State. The study was undertaken to address the problem of poor performance by students in business studies. Hence, there is need to identify and validate the strategies for improving the teaching and learning of business studies. The instrument used was the questionnaire and the population comprised 240 teachers and 4,500 students in junior secondary schools. Forty-eight (48) business studies teachers and nine hundred (900) students were randomly selected from 30 secondary schools out of 60 secondary schools. Data collected were analysed using mean, standard deviation and t-test. The major findings include: use of appropriate teaching aids; showing concern for students’ ability; use of demonstration; and individualizing instruction. Problems encountered by business studies teachers include: inadequate provision of equipment and facilities; the absence of special incentives such as in¬service training, study leaves allowance; allocation of insufficient periods. Learning difficulties encountered by students include: inadequate equipment for participation; not acquiring appropriate study materials. The following recommendations are made based on the findings: The government, schools and ministries should provide facilities, equipment and machines to aid in teaching and learning of business studies. Business studies teachers should be motivated through enhanced salaries and allowances.
Background of the Study
The Federal Government of Nigeria since independence has been coming up with laudable educational policies, for instance, the 6-5-4 system of education, the Universal Primary Education (UPE), the Universal Basic Education (UBE), the 6-3-3¬4 system of Education and others. Educational Policies were formulated to ensure that what is taught in schools relates to the national manpower needs of society. However, it was not until 1981 in the National Policy on Education (NPE) that pre-vocational subjects were included in the secondary school curriculum. The National Policy on Education (NPE) which established the 6-3-3-4 system of education states that after the first tier of secondary education which has two tiers – 3 years of junior and 3 years of senior secondary’ (3-3) that school leavers should acquire enough skills to make them easily employable after the first tier.
According to Obi (1998), Business Studies is an integrated Pre-Vocational course taught at the Junior Secondary School (JSS) level. It is made up of Commerce, Book-keeping. Office Practice. Shorthand and Typewriting. Obi pointed out that these Eve subjects are naturally dynamic and their contents respond to the changes in the business world. For example, methods of communication before now included telegrams and excluded emails, fax, and others but today, telegrams are presented only to show the trend in the development of information technology. Also, methods of typing before now, included manual and electric typewriter excluded computer, but today almost everything is computerized. As a result of this dynamic nature of Business Studies, the subject teachers need to review their knowledge and skills regularly if they must remain relevant and also produce school leavers who would meet the needs of the business world.
These five subjects of Business Studies relate specifically to business and distributive operations and they are compulsory in junior secondary schools. Together they are part of vocational education which encourages the use of the head and hands in acquiring specific practical training required in business and industry. They provide valuable skills which put students in line for some of the important professions such as accountancy, banking, secretaryship, and others.
The normal requirement for good performance in these subjects is a good foundation involving clear ideas on their users’ interest and a good grounding in English language and Mathematics. With these and keenness in the technical aspects of education, the sky is the limit when the graduates of secondary schools who learnt Business Studies enter employment from the bottom of the ladder (Majasan, 1995). Majasan stated that, if students show promise early or much interest, say at the end of the junior secondary school, they will acquire a good foundation on which the senior secondary education will be built. Majasan further explained that for any developing nation like Nigeria to curb unemployment among school leavers, she must operate an effective and efficient Business Studies. Odoh (1991) also reported that a nation desirous of economic growth and development need to emphasize Business Studies as one of the educational strategies. Odoh observes Business Studies is the type of education that helps the learner acquire skills and competence required for the basic jobs in both public and private sector.
One of the objectives of the Business Studies is the provision of orientation and basic skill with which to start a life of work for those who may not undergo further training. In spite of this laudable objective, present day students still perform below expectation in the Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) of Business Studies. In Abia State for instance, according to the Chief Examiners Report of 2000 to 2003 sessions, the performance of students who sat for Business Studies in the JSSCE was generally poor. In Umuahia Education Zone, for 2001 session only E258 of the 3,376 candidates were successful. For 2002 session only 1,517 of the 3.350 candidates were successful, and for 2003 session only 1,427 of the 3,574 candidates were successful.
A study carried out by Obi (1989) revealed that the poor performance of students in Business Studies is as a result of the fact that the students are taught by non-business education teachers. Obi observed that many schools were unable to teach Business Studies and most of the schools which offered Business Studies did not teach all the five subjects of the integrated Business Studies due to inadequate number
of business education teachers, and equipments. The poor performance of students in Business Studies especially in the JSSCE has caused concern to many well informed Nigerians (Odoh. 1991; Obi, 1989 and Ulinfun, 1990). Odoh (1991) observed that these observed deterioration in students’ achievement in Business Studies must have been contributed by the methods of teaching students Business Studies. Odoh also stated that many classroom teachers still use teaching methods which do not arouse the interest of the students. Such teaching methods include the lecture method (chalk-talk method), which is not activity oriented and is mainly teacher centred. This method does not motivate the students and do not contribute to the child acquiring the required skills of Business Studies.
Douglas, Blanford, Anderson (1972), the teaching of business studies requires application of different strategies or techniques to make it interesting and meaningful. Strategies in this study refer to the teachers’ techniques used in the classroom, his activities, behaviour and/or actions taken to improve students’ interest, participation and performance in his subject. Strategies are unique to subject matter and vary from teacher to teacher. It could be an expertise, talent or trait. Akuezuilo (1989) said that teaching strategies include not only the manner of presentation that the teacher employs but everything that he does in the way of arranging conditions, grouping students, guiding activities, making assignments and providing information to aid learning.
Akpan (1991) defined teaching (strategies) techniques as the practice and refinement of presentation which a teacher uses to make his teaching more (effective) interesting when using a specific method or teaching aid.
According to Ukoha and Eneogwe (1996), strategies are processes adopted by veteran teachers to inject variety in their teaching, stimulate it and maintain the students’ interest in it. Therefore in order to avoid student’s lack of interest in business studies, they need to be well taught and motivated by using different strategies. Hornby (1998) defined strategy as a plan designed for particular purposes or the process of planning something or carrying out a plan in a skillful way.
Nwachukwu (2001). described teaching strategies as decisions about organizing students, materials and ideas to provide learning. That is, ways of approaching the students to get them interested and understand the subject. Therefore every business studies teacher must devise a means or develop strategies, which he can reach out to students to learn and be interested in business studies. This also means that many techniques should be employed for effectiveness of the lesson. Nwachukwu further states that teachers need to vary their teaching strategies in different classroom situations. Etuk (2000) asserted that use of a single approach causes boredom and discipline problems in the classroom.
Offorma (1994) maintained that teachers have to use different resources and teaching strategies to teach students of different abilities and interests. The teachers of business studies should tty to make class activities interesting to the students. This can be done by identifying the needs and interests of the students and thereby incorporates them into the class activities. Making use of a variety of strategies to teach a particular subject matter can help to attract and maintain the interest of the students to take active part in the subject. This will make mastery of the subject easy and successful in examinations. The implication of the use of different strategies in teaching business studies is that it will affect the attitudes and behaviour of students positively.
Narasimhan (1997), has observed that what facilitates students’ understanding and acquisition of knowledge have been found to be dependent on such learning environment, the teacher’s knowledge level and the instructional approaches used. Narasimhan went further to stress that the teacher characteristics, teaching approaches among others, are aspects of the teacher that are considered very important in influencing students’ learning and understanding.
Supporting this, Finch (1997) is of the opinion that the teaching approach of a teacher is the most crucial factor in acquisition of knowledge and in addition to the knowledge of the subject matter and objectives of the topic, the teacher must also use a good teaching approach that will facilitate understanding among his students. It is for this same reason that Ukanwoke (1991) is of the view that a teacher who uses real life experiences and simulation of life situations facilitates students’ understanding of the subject matter being taught.
Teaching has remained a noble profession in the world over, and all over history. Teaching has also been seen as an attempt geared towards assisting the learner to change his behaviour in a specific context. In this sense, it could be a change of attitude, knowledge, idea, skill or appreciation (Pauk, 1997). Therefore, the desire to find effective qualified teachers has persisted. The persistence in finding effective and qualified teachers is the realization that the quality of teachers in proportional to the quality of their pupils and students. The quality of students in any particular country, according to Aina (1990) is proportional to the quality of her citizenry. These are among other reasons why individuals have expressed fears about availability of adequate and effective teachers for the 6-3-3-4 system of education, if it would succeed. Nigeria has realized this fact, hence the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) reported that all teachers in our educational institutions from pre-primary to the University will be professionally trained.
The production of knowledge, progressive and effective teachers noted Uwameiye (1993) will not only teach, but also inspire students to learn. Professionally trained and effective teachers possess the capability to inspire and to develop positive attitudes in their subjects which is conducive to good performance. There is no educational system that can succeed without adequate supply of qualified teachers.
Teachers are the foundation of any good educational programme. If the teachers are poorly prepared, the educational programme no matter how well- structured. would collapse. According to Fafunwa (1976) the most compelling and persistent educational problem in Africa is the training of a competent teacher. He observed that in all social, political and economic spheres of activities there is always the complaint of inadequate or need for trained manpower. Fafunwa. also noted that adequate training cannot take place without competent teachers to handle the programmes.
For the fact that Business Studies subject is more of practical and should be taught practically, the Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC) committee on Business Studies gave a very serious consideration to the issue of materials and equipment. Some of the equipment and materials that CESAC considered as basic for enhancing teaching and learning of Business Studies include: Typewriters, stapling machines, Alarm-Clock, Perforators, Stop-watches, Tape Recorders, File jackets. Ruled Chalkboard and others.
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