INFLUENCE OF CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT AND TEACHERS CHARACTERISTICS ON STUDENTS PERFORMANCE IN BIOLOGY IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN INI L.G.A
Background of the Study
Teachers are essential in the entire educational system of any nation and are pivots on which education wheels revolve. Ashimole (2011) emphasized that teaching and learning depends largely on teachers, and that it is on teachers‟ number, quality and devotion that rest the effectiveness of all educational arrangements, development and growth. Similarly Akinsolu (2010) observed that teachers are vital pre– requisites for students‟ attainment of educational goals and objectives. The Federal Republic of Nigeria in the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2006) also recognized the importance of teachers by stating that no nation‟s education system can be greater than the standard of their teachers. Therefore, teachers remain the major factor in any educational system, and their quality of teaching is undoubtedly one of the most important factors shaping the teaching /learning and achievement of students (Fenstermacher & Richardson, 2005). The teacher is ultimately responsible for translating educational policies and principles into actions based on practice during interaction with the students. Researches abound on contributions of teachers to educational achievements of students (Mushtaq & Kahn, 2012). However, students‟ academic achievement in both internal and external examinations has persistently been reported low and has always been attributed to classroom characteristics of teachers (Ibe, 2013). Teacher characteristics in this study are those attributes, characters and behaviors exhibited by teachers in the classroom and during teaching and learning process. Teachers‟ characteristics examined in this study are teacher‟s Gender, teaching experience, qualification, interpersonal relationship with the students and teachers‟ knowledge of subject matter. The prevailing conditions of these factors would definitely have a negative or positive influence on the instructional quality in schools, which may translate to either good or poor academic achievement of Secondary school students. Orlando (2013) listed nine behaviours/characteristics of an effective teacher which are respect for students, creating a sense of community and belonging in the classroom, warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring, ability to set high expectations for all students, has his own love for learning, a skilled leader, ability to “shift-gears” and flexible when a lesson isn‟t working, collaboration with colleagues on an on-going basis and maintenance of professionalism. Anita (2013) carried out a study on Teacher characteristics and students‟ academic achievement in Biology in schools in Nandi south district, Kenya. A sample of 20 schools and 20 Biology teachers were purposively selected. Data collected were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics (SPSS Version 17). Findings revealed that teachers‟ qualification does not influence students‟ academic achievement. On the contrary, Thomas (2014) conducted a study on effects of teachers‟ qualification on students‟ performance in secondary schools in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti state, Nigeria. A sample of 300 students was selected from 16 schools. Data were analysed using mean, standard deviation and t-test. The findings revealed a significant difference in achievement of students taught by teachers whose highest qualifications were National Certificate in Education (NCE) and Bachelors of Science degree in Education. The author recommended that NCE teachers should strive to further their studies while graduate teachers without professional qualification should be encouraged to proceed on Post graduate Diploma in Education to enhance teaching in their special area. It can be seen that there is a disagreement between Anita (2013) and Thomas (2014) on teacher qualification as a predictor of students‟ achievement. Research on influence of teacher qualification on achievement of students is therefore inconclusive. For this study some teacher characteristics were considered namely teachers‟ gender, years of experience, qualification, inter personal relationship with their students and knowledge of subject matter.