Background to the Study
Quality of geography education is of great concern for stakeholders in education including educators, teachers’ parents, students and the Nigerian community at large. The underachievement of students in geography in Numan educational zone over the years has necessitated a series of workshop for geography secondary school teachers organized by the inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Education.
Geography is one of the activity based school subject. The effectiveness of teaching in school can be measured by examining the method of teaching applied by teacher and the achievement of students in the school examination. In the measurement of students’ academic achievement in geography as a school subject, various tasks are under taken within and outside the classroom, the effectiveness of these activities lie in the instructional methods used by the teacher.
For the students of geography to achieve the best in the subject, teachers are expected to organize field visitation (Excursion ). Educational visits may be organized to suitable places where fundamental concepts, ecological process or events treated in the classroom become clearer to the students with great comprehension. This is because, Excursions generally appeal to the sense of sight, touch and hearing. Organized visits to the river side or any geographical phenomenon make the students to see in practical what was theoretically explained and learnt by them in the classroom. Excursion is an outing by the students to educational places of interest outside the classroom under the guidance of a teacher or an instructor for the purpose of getting firsthand information on people, places and things for purpose of achieving permanency of learning experience.
Excursion strategy is a method of teaching which helps to bring about an effective leaning of geography. Excursion is far from just dishing out points to students as in traditional lecture method, where the teacher simply becomes the expositor and drill master while the learner remains the listener and a store house of facts that can be retrieved when a student hear his name called by the teacher (Oganwu, 2004). This is not to say that the traditional lecture method is completely unproductive but there exists a difference between them. Excursion is activity-based which offers opportunity for learners to get first-hand information on people, places and things in order to concretize their learning experience. In Numan educational zone, it was observed that teachers dwell extensively on the traditional method of teaching without alternating it with other relevant instructional strategies such as Excursions. This has affected the performance of students in both internal and external examinations as revealed by WAEC chief examiners reports (2004-2010).
According to Instructional Strategies Online (2013), a study trip taken outside the classroom to obtain direct experience from the natural setting and to improve student’s interest in learning for collecting data, materials or objects classroom as well as to observe objects or phenomena not possible to bring within the classroom. During Excursions, the entire class visits a point of instructional interest such as Museum, factory, Hill Mountain, inselbergs valleys, river side etc. According to Duvall and Krepel (1981), Excursion is an outdoor or Excursion or learning exercise undertaken by the teacher and the students in certain aspect of subject, particularly in geography so as to give the students the opportunity to acquire knowledge. It is a trip arranged by the school and undertaken for educational purpose in which the students go to places where the concepts for instruction may be observed and studied directly in their functional setting.
NERDC (2007) states that the Basic Technology curriculum reports that real-life experiences through community resource, Excursion, information and communication technology (ICT), learning and instructional materials and so forth, should be used to facilitate teaching and learning. Meanwhile, schools lacking the basic requirement could engage in industrial visitation through community resource persons to share their skills, knowledge and expertise. The adoption of this teaching strategy in Numan educational zone will be of great significance as it will help address the present issue of students’ underachievement and the over reliance of teachers on the conventional method of teaching. Excursion is one of the major constructivist methods of teaching and learning. The teaching strategy is student-centered and students-directed. Teachers simply facilitate the learning task. The method allows the learner to learn through participation and observation in the learning process. Through interaction with others, learners come to understand what is being learned in the permanent way. The attempt is to shift from teacher centered to learner- centered mode of teaching.
Excursion is a trip to places of geographical interest (Ajeagbu, 1972). Such trips may be short or long and they may be within the school environment and locality, and/or they could be considerable distance covering a number of days out of the classroom. Excursion is educationally valuable to geography teacher and students to the extent that it meaningfully relates phenomena observed outside the classroom to the subject matter taught in the classroom. For instance, students who were taught about various geographical phenomena would see it for themselves and appreciate it better and relate issues each time they are taught of geographical concepts. The importance of such a Excursion is made known to the learner for his learning and his future. The particular needs and learning experiences required for Excursion should adequately be provided by the teacher. It is within this premise that the study examined the Effect of Excursion Strategy on Senior Secondary School Academic Achievement in Geography in Numan Educational Zone.
The adoption of Excursion strategy in teaching is however cost expensive. The cost of preparation and taking the students to the site of visits requires funding. With the problem of poor funding of schools that has bedeviled the Nigerian educational system, it could be said that probably, teachers in Numan Educational Zone might have shy away from adopting this strategy due to poor funding. Irene and Baguma (2011) stated that the use of constructivist approach to teaching and learning of geography (such as Excursion strategy) can only be effective if the right learning environment is created and provided with adequate learning facilities.
Nsambugwu (2012) added that infrastructure such as library, laboratory resources, internet facilities and appropriate building and places of educational visits are the facilities that maximize the constructivist learning approach. The inadequacy of these facilities in schools is a serious setback to the proper adoption of learner’s centered instructional strategies. What facilities are available for conducting Excursions in Numan Educational Zone? The study would provide an answer to this question.
The use of Excursion as a method of teaching helps to bring about an effective leaning of geography across gender. Excursion is an interactive strategy of teaching which gives both male and female students equal opportunity to widen their practical and cultural experiences by varying their learning environments. Thus, Amosa (2013) remarked that no evidence of superiority is expected to be noticed in academic achievement based on gender, that is, if both male and female students are exposed to learning experience equally. This study however provides a conflicting report to this assertion.
In Numan Educational Zone, it was observed that the academic achievement of secondary school students in geography in recent times was not encouraging (below averageǼ and so need urgent attention. The W“EC Chief Examiner’s reports have highlighted poor candidates’ performance in SSSCE geography as a school subject continuously. This is so because, probably Geography teachers in Numan Educational
Zone still rely on the lecture method of instruction while neglecting the use of Excursion Strategy. As such, students see geography as a collection of mere ideas presented as facts. They find geographical concepts confusing and unfamiliar. Students therefore, learn geographical concepts in abstract form and are subjected to too much imagination of geographical features instead of learning through practical observation in the Excursion .
Although the learning of geography is not limited only to the classroom activities, not much is researched in areas regarding empirically documented works about the effect of Excursions on the students’ academic achievement in geography in Numan Educational Zone.