BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Environmental influence before now have not been considered as one of the factors that affect academic performance in secondary schools hence it has little or no attention in educational discourse and consideration. But over the past decade remarkable studies have indicated a correlation between the environment and academic performance of students. Students’ education is closely linked to their life chances, income and well-being (Battle and Lewis 2002). Therefore, it is important to have a clear understanding of what benefits or hinders ones educational attainment. Over the years, authorities have sought to find out the reason for the downward trend in the academic achievement of secondary school students. From biological perspective, the reasons have been attributed to reason of a reflection of these students genetic inferiority. In other words, the inability of most students from rural areas to achieve academic excellence in an inmate deficiency.Undoubtly, it is the failure of some schools to transmit the values and cultural patterns necessary for the students to reach optimal academic performance. Factors affecting a student educational achievement include the culture of school the student attendance, the attitude of the principal and teachers to the students, motivation and the value transmitted by the school in general. The older theory of school improvement held, that is the result of improperly implemented research based educational programs. Environment of both home and school contribute to the development of students. Environment such as the neighborhood, family background, relationship between teachers and students. Research has shown that socio-economic status, parental involvement, and family size are particularly important factors (Major Banks, 2006). Peer influence can also affect student performance, peer pressure and peer conformity could lead to students participating in risk taking behaviours which have been found to have a negative indirect effect on the academic achievement (Santor and Kusumaker, 2000). Next to the home, the school is the most important experience. In the process of the development of the students, the school to which the student attend also influence academic of the student. School environment perceived by student has an advantage of characterizing the setting through the eyes of the actual participants. Learning can also be defined as the process of acquiring more knowledge and understanding in other to be useful to the environment. Munn (2005): defines learning as a more or less permanent incremental modification of behaviour which results from activity, special training or observation. The classroom is a learning environment where interaction occurs among teachers, student and learning takes place. Learning environment needs to be constructive in nature engaging learner in sense making or reasoning. School environment implies a measure of the quality and quantity of the cognitive creative and social support that has been available to the subjects during their school life in terms of teacher-students interaction. The classroom environment consists of teacher support, teaching materials, task orientation, study habits, involvement, disengagement etc. It is therefore necessary to study the academic learning environment of students in these contexts of home and school and trace the casual factor for enhancing the academic accomplishment of students. School environment may consist of both negative and positive characteristic which affects the perception of the student. There is no doubt that conditions of environment also constitute the performance of students across all fields of endeavour. Hence, a good environment enhances qualitative learning. Generally, students from low socioeconomic status attend government schools while students from wealthy families attend private schools or public schools. These two types of schools have major difference in medium of instruction. Environment has been said to have a major influence on students academic achievement, recent decades in many countries especially where violence has been on the increase in some neighborhood where students resides, which are all the physical social and economic factor affecting students academic achievement. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009), the incidence of the environment on academic performance can be linked to stress which students pass through when they are just newly admitted into the secondary phase of the school where these teens find it difficult to adjust to live in the classroom and the environment which they come from. To date, little research has been conducted to systematically examine the relationship the environment has on the academic performance of students. (Daughterty, 2008) Students seem to view their grade as a reflection of the academic achievement they aspire to attain self-worth, forgetting how the environment can impact or influence these achievements. Students who place such contingencies of self- worth on their academic performance may also be at risk for instability in self-esteem (Crocker, 2002)
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Environment plays major role in the life of every individual whether a students, teachers, employer or employee. Though some people are yet to believe that environment brings about better performance. Udoh (1980) in his article “The Environmental Health Problems in Nigeria Schools”, Identified some unhealthy practices in our schools. These include sitting of schools, inadequate facilities, poor ventilation etc. Most of our schools have no light, insufficient facilities, sick buildings and no ventilation. Under these conditions the health of students and teachers according to Udoh (1980) may be adversely affected, which will in turn reflect on students performance. Therefore, for the students to carry his learning effectively and efficiently, it is necessary that learning takes place in conducive environment. Hence it is pertinent to critically look at the environmental factors that influences academic performance of students, measures that can help improve them and make some recommendation because at the very heart of our educational mission is the goal of improving academic performance. Studies have shown that environmental factors to a large extent affect both the physical and psychological potentials of an individuals. This has led to the contention that many students fail to develop their potentials due to inadequate environmental stimulation. However, there are some environmental factors which have contributed to this poor performance of students which are home background, inadequate school facilities, misuse of technology such as internet and school climate such as teacher-student relationship etc. Given this situation, the problem of the study therefore is to find out the environmental factors that affects students academic achievement in selected secondary school in Ukwa West Local Government Area in Abia State.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study examines environmental factors and their influence on student’s academic performance while the general purpose included the following;
i. To ascertain whether educational accomplishment of students in government-owned senior secondary schools is affected by the social and economic status of their parents.
ii. To determine school location/proximity of students of public senior secondary schools to their school determines how they perform in their academics.
iii. To ascertain whether school climate like teacher-student relationship to public promotes students’ educational achievement in public senior secondary schools
iv. To investigate whether inadequate school facilities affects the academic performance of senior secondary students in government schools.
The following research questions were asked to guide this research:
i. Does the social and economic status of their parents affect the educational accomplishment of students in public senior secondary schools?
ii. Does school location/ proximity of students to their school their school determines how they perform in their academics in public senior secondary schools?
iii. Does school climate like teacher-student relationship has any significant effect on public senior secondary schools students’ educational achievement?
iv. Does inadequate school facilities affects the academic performance of senior secondary students in government schools?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this research would help students, teachers, administrators, parents and the government, Students would benefit from this research by understanding how the environment and environmental factors can influence their academic performance in schools. Findings of the study would make teachers understand the environmental factors that can be faced by students and how they can help in tackling such impending problems. The finding can also help the school administrators to be able to provide positive environmental conditions that would assist the students gain more academically. Parents will understand how they can help on bringing out the best of their wards/children academically. The study’s findings will help the government to provide the necessary infrastructural and instructional facilities to nation — building instead of trying to destroy the nation, to make a point.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study are secondary school students that reside in Ukwa West Local Government Area in Abia State. Four secondary schools were randomly selected from the rural and urban towns constituting two schools respectively from each setting.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only selected public secondary school in Ukwa West Local Government Area in Abia State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other ministry in other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Finally, respondent could not return all the questionnaires distributed to the researcher and this has only made the researcher to only work with the ones that got to him. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.