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COMPARATIVE EFFECTS OF PROBLEM SOLVING AND DEMONSTRATION TEACHING METHODS ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Financial Accounting is one of the vocational subjects offered at the senior secondary school level in Nigeria. Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016a) defined Financial Accounting as the classification and recording of monetary transactions and presentation of the financial results of the activities of an entity for decision making. Financial accounting is concerned with recording, classifying, selecting, measuring, interpreting, summarizing and reporting financial information of an organization to the users for objective assessment and decision making (Monday and Joel, 2017). It also involves the collection, recording, summarizing, analyzing and reporting in monetary terms, information about a business organization to the users of such information. Knowledge of financial accounting is very indispensable for every individual, particularly those who are involved in business. According to Akpanobong and Asuquo (2015), this is because accounting records help businessmen to evaluate the performance and profitability of the business organization, prevent frauds, monitor the enterprise progress and making economic comparisons.
The National Examinations Council (2010) stated that the objectives of Financial Accounting at the senior secondary school level include, among others, (a) to enable senior secondary school students appreciate the basic roles, functions and principles of accounting and (b) to enable the students understand the basic accounting principles, practice and their applications to modern business activities. The achievement of these laudable objectives of Financial Accounting depends, to some extent, on the teaching method used by the teachers.
Teaching methods are the various ways in which the teacher present the lessons to the learners and engage them in learning the curriculum contents (Ogwo and Oranu, 2006). Teaching methods can also be seen as the various processes and strategies adopted and used by the teachers to present the skills, knowledge and appreciations to the learners in the classroom to facilitate their learning of the curriculum contents. There are several teaching methods used in the teaching of Financial Accounting at the secondary school level. These include, among several others, the lecture method, project method, discussion and demonstration methods. Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016b) noted that the teaching method adopted by the teacher affect the students’ academic performance to a large extent. This source noted that the traditional methods of teaching Financial Accounting such as lecture and demonstration methods seems inadequate to encourage the students to develop a wide range of knowledge and skills that will make them gain and sustain employment. As the number of topics that need to be covered in Financial Accounting continue to increase, the traditional methods of instruction seem to fall short of achieving the intended objectives, hence, the continuous poor examination results. One of the possible strategies that could be used to enhance students’ academic performance in Financial Accounting is problem solving method.
According to Ozalkan (2010), problem solving method is a method of teaching that involves using problems as well as problem solving steps and strategies. The author defined a “problem” as something that usually indicates a challenge, the meeting of which requires study and investigation. The author therefore defined problem-solving as the frame work or pattern within which creative thinking and learning takes place. It is a process of overcoming difficulties that appear to interfere with the attainment of a goal. Preven (2010) maintained that teaching with problem-solving method entails the teaching of strategies, or heuristics, in order to solve problems. It also involves application of critical thinking and reasoning to various kinds of problems encountered in life.
Ozalkan (2010) stated that there are four major problem solving steps that could be used with the problem solving method. These are understanding the problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan and looking back and extend. Understanding the problem involves restating the problem on which the unknown would be decided. Devising a plan entails recollecting the previously learned knowledge and deciding on which calculations or computations will be used. Carrying out the plan entails implementing the plan formerly devised. Ozalkan explained that the last step, looking back and extend involves reconsidering the result and the path that led to it in order to consolidate the knowledge and generalize it to develop an ability to solve other similar problems.
Ozalkan (2010) and Ali, Hukamdad, Akhter and Khan (2010) contended that there are a number of problem solving strategies that are used in the problem solving method for solving problems. These include working backwards, finding a pattern, adopting a different point of view, solving a simpler, analogous problem and considering extreme cases. Others are making a drawing, intelligent guessing and testing, accounting for all possibilities, organizing data, logical reasoning as well as deriving an equation. Four of these problem solving strategies would be applied in the problem solving method in this study for teaching Financial Accounting. These are working backwards, finding a pattern, intelligent guessing and testing as well as logical reasoning.
According to Ali, Hukamdad, Akhter and Khan (2010), working backwards involves solving a problem from the last step to the beginning while finding a pattern entails analyzing the given data or knowledge and looking for a pattern on them. The third problem solving strategy, intelligent guessing and testing entails guessing the solution or the exact value that is asked in the problem and testing to see if it is correct or not while logical reasoning entails analyzing the relationship among the given values or knowledge and using the information to solve the problem (Ozalkan, 2010).
Ali, Hukamdad, Akhter and Khan (2010) posited that in the problem solving teaching method, the students’ turn from passive listeners of information receivers to active, free self-learners and problem solvers. It also shifts the emphasis of educational programmes from teaching to learning. Moreover, it enables the students to learn new knowledge by facing the problems to be solved instead of feeling boredom. The author added that problem solving method affect positively certain other attributes such as information acquisition, and information sharing with others, group work, and communication. All these features make the problem solving teaching method very viable for enhancing the students’ academic performance.
Academic performance refers to students’ performance in a school subject as designated by a score obtained in an achievement test (Udoudo, 2011). Academic performance could be high, average or low/poor. Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016a) described poor academic performance as any performance that falls below a desired standard. Several studies such as Udoudo (2011), Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016b) and Akpan and Caleb (2016) have shown that students’ academic performance in various vocational subjects could be affected by the teaching method used.
Five topics in Financial Accounting are relevant to this study. These are cash book, trial balance, journals, income and expenditure account and depreciation account. A cash book is a book which consists of all the cash transactions of the business. In general, it is considered as a book of original entry as well as final entry as it serves twin roles of a ledger as well as journal. According to Frank and Omuya (2008), the cash book is the account which keeps track of all the cash transactions of the business and it is a part of the Ledger. The Trial Balance may be defined as a statement which contains balances of all ledger accounts on a particular date (Frank and Omuya, 2008). Trial Balance consists of a debit column with all debit balances of accounts and credit column with all credit balances of accounts. When the totals of these columns tally, it is presumed that ledger has been maintained correctly. However, Trial Balance proves only the arithmetical accuracy of postings in the ledger. Frank and Omuya (2008) listed the following as the objectives of preparing Trial Balance: To check arithmetical accuracy; to help in preparing Financial Statements, to help in locating errors; to help in comparison and to help in making adjustments.
The Journal is a book of accounts in which all day to day business transactions are recorded in a chronological order. Frank and Omuya (2008) stated that the journal is the book in which transactions are recorded for the first time hence, it is also known as ‘Book of Original Record’ or ‘Book of Primary Entry’. Income and expenditure account is the summary of incomes and expenditures of Not for Profit Organisations for a particular year and is prepared at the end of the year (Soyode, 2006). This account is quite similar to the Profit and Loss Account of the Business Organisations and is prepared in an exact manner.. Income and Expenditure account is prepared with the objective of enabling Not for Profit Organisations to find out the surplus or deficit arising out of current incomes over current expenses (Angus, 2014).
Depreciation is the accounting method for expensing capital purchases over time. It is the systematic allocation of the depreciable amount of an asset over its useful life (Frank and Omuya, 2008). Depreciable amount is the cost of an asset less its residual value. Depreciable amount of an asset is the value which is systematically allocated over the useful life of the asset. The depreciable amount of an asset takes into account the expected residual value of the asset.
It is regrettable to note that students’ academic performance in Financial Accounting has been very discouraging in recent years as pointed out by several scholars in the field such as Akpanobong and Asuquo (2015), Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016a) and Monday and Joel (2017). This problem is largely attributed to the teaching method used by most teachers in the teaching of Financial Accounting. Eze, Ezenwafor and Obidile (2016b) specifically noted that in spite of the advocacy that Financial Accounting teachers should employ student-centred methods in their teaching, yet most Financial Accounting teachers at the post basic level still use conventional methods such as lecture and demonstration in the teaching of Financial Accounting and this has been a contributory cause of students’ failure in the subject.
Odu (2012) stated that the conventional methods such as demonstration and lecture methods which has been the most predominant method of instruction for teaching most vocational subjects, including Financial Accounting in secondary school is characterized by “one-way communication” where the teacher does most of the talking while the students more often assume a passive role. Odu added that to a large extent, the students might be afraid to ask questions and express their opinions. Odu further stressed that this situation is in contrast with modern student centred teaching methods which require less talk on the part of the teacher and more activities on the part of the students. Adieze (2016) pointed out that the challenge of using the conventional demonstration method of teaching is that students’ attention is not ordered as they are not entertained during the teaching process hence, students could not be adequately motivated to engage in the learning activities.
There are many documented literature evidences indicating that the use of problem solving teaching method improve students’ academic performance in many subjects such as Chemistry (Adesoji, 2008) and Mathematics (Ozalkan, 2010; Preven 2010). However, no such study has been found for a vocational subject like Financial Accounting. In view of the numerous limitations of the conventional teaching methods which culminate in the continuous poor performance of students in Financial Accounting and since studies have shown that academic performance of students in vocational subjects can be improved with the use of innovative instructional techniques, there is need to explore the efficacy or otherwise of problem solving teaching method on students’ academic performance in Financial Accounting in Secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State. It is against this background that the present study becomes necessary