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FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS AND PERFORMANCE IN SOCIAL STUDIESOF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ITU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Education is the best legacy a nation can give to her citizens especially the youths. This is because education is very important in the development of any nation or community. Education is the process of transmitting what is worthwhile to members of the society. According to Okafor (2001), education embraces all those experiences of the individual through which knowledge is acquired and intellect enlightened. For Nwabachili and Egbue (2003) education is what goes on from one generation to another generation. In this context, education is the process of socializing the child to grow up as a fulfilled member of the society through informal, formal and non-formal process.
Social Studies is an integrated subject connected with all aspects of human existence to enable man live a fulfilled and comfortable life. It is a study of people in relation to social, economic, environmental, cultural, physical and psychological lives. It has to do with all round development of human beings to enable them become useful citizens in the society. To Kochhar (2012), Social Studies is concerned with aspects of the Social sciences selected for instructional purposes applied to include anything pertinent to the immediate purpose of learning and adapted to the level of comprehension of the student.
The family is the first social environment the child finds itself. According to Clifford (2001), the family remains the primary environment of the child. The author emphasized thatfamily environment has more chances of increasing or decreasing the intellectualachievement of the child than any other environment. Akubue and Okolo (2008) defined the family as a small kinshipstructural group with the key function of natural socialization of the child. Similarly,in Okunniyi (2004), family is defined as a primary social group of parents, offspring andpossibly other members of the household.
Family characteristics refer to all the conditions and circumstances in the familywhich influence the child physically, intellectually and emotionally (Muola, 2010).Children coming from different family backgrounds are affected differently by such familyconditions as some children have good family background while some havepoor background. Fleege and Eke (2009) noted that with some families, thebackground vary from time to time for the same individuals.
Family background variables have been of great importance in shaping the performance ofchildren in schools worldwide. This is because academic performance is usually as aresult of motivation that children get from the people they interact with in their initialstages of life. Rouse and Barrow (2006) found out that students whocame from less disadvantaged families had higher average test scores and were morelikely to have never been held back a grade as compared to students from the moredisadvantaged families.
The importance of parental level of education to academic performance of studentscannot be over emphasized. Students from professional occupational backgrounds exhibit higher academic performance (Gary, 2001). In supportof this view, Onochie and Okpalla (2005) opined that educational level of parents whichis an indicator of socio-economic status has direct influence on children’s values and academic performance in the school. They mentioned that children from illiterate familiesmay learn little or nothing from the home that can help them develop interest in academics.This is in contrast to what is obtainable from children of literate families whereparents provide the atmosphere conducive for the formation of good study habits (Qeca, 2000).
Parental occupation is also an important family characteristic. Theoccupation of one’s parents may determine to a large extent one’s opportunity to attendsecondary school or not. Ezeji (2001) noted that parents like their children to take to theiroccupation, such as parents who are lawyers, doctors, musicians among others. Uwaoma (2006) asserted that most vocational students were children whose parents were farmers orcraftmen. In Nigeria most children whose parents cannot afford to pay for high cost offormal education enroll into apprenticeship programmes such as carpentry, brick-laying, andpetting trading, among others.
Families are of various sizes. According to Alio (2005) family size has implicationfor education. The author emphasized that the size of the family determines to a greatextent the relative amount of physical attention and time which each child gets from hisparents.Family size has to do with the total number of peoplein a single family which may include the father, mother, children and even the extendedmembers – all living in one home. Large families are more common among the lower class of the society. Childrenin large families may suffer poverty and lack parental encouragement and stimulus whichmotivate their academic performance (Eamon, 2005). Similarly, smaller family sizes havebeen linked with high academic performance and that students with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention andhave support that leads to better school performance. The family, small or large size,remains the primary environment of every child. The families begin the process ofeducation and provide physical and psychological needs of the child (Majoribank, 2006).
Parents’ motivation is another familycharacteristic which influences the academic performance of students. Eamon (2005) opined that supportive and attentive parenting practices positively affect academic achievement of students. In addition, high parental aspirations have beenassociated with increasing students’ interest in education (Majoribanks, 2006). Okwulanya (2003) opined that motivation from educated parentsstrengthens the academic aspiration and language development in their children toperform better in their academic work.Students under motivated condition, exhibitspurposeful behaviour aimed at achieving academic set goals. The achievement of thesegoals determines the motive.
This study was undertaken to look critically at family characteristics as theyinfluence students’ performance in Social Studies in Itu Local Government Area.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Poor academic performance of students has been of great concern to educationists, parents and government. Despite the declaration of free and compulsory education policy of government and renovation of most secondary schools in the state to improve teaching and learning as well as students’ academic performances, poor performances are still recorded yearly in the state and it has become necessary to find out the cause of such poor performance.
The problem of teaching and learning social studies in secondary schools is caused by many factors. Some of the factors associated with these problems include teachers’ poor attitude to work, poor teacher-student relationship, lack of qualified teachers, poor teaching methods, lack of teaching and learning facilities, family characteristics, students’ attitude towards learning, health of the students, personality trait, students disposition and interest in the subject matter among others.
Problems associated with learner’s interest in learning process cannot be effectively addressed without assessing the role of the family. This is to say that certain characteristics of the family are indispensible for the learners’ interest towards an effective learning to be enhanced. The family is assumed to exert great influence on students’ performance in Social Studies. It is assumed that parents’ level of education, occupation, family size and parents’ motivation can influence students’ learning and mastery of Social Studies. Therefore, the researcher has interest to investigate influence of family characteristics on performance inSocial Studies of secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.