A few secondary schools have adequate school environment, but many other schools do not have conducive learning environment. This accounts for the poor performance of students in practical examinations in Agricultural Science. It was against this background that, this study was considered necessary to determine the influence of environment on students’ farm work in senior secondary schools in Otukpo, Benue State. A survey research design was employed in the study. A sample size of.402 respondents (390 students and 12 teachers) were selected from 6 different secondary schools within Otukpo Local Government. The data collected was analyzed using simple descriptive statistics of mean and standard deviation to answer research questions whereby a mean cut-off point of 2.50 was used for decision making. The research hypotheses was tested using chi-square test at 0.05 level of significance. The result showed that there exist a significant difference in the mean responses on the influence of school environment and the students’ farm work, the mean response of the availability of facilities for farm work, effect in the mean responses of class size and students’ farm work and the mean responses of school location and students’ farm work in senior secondary schools in Otukpo, Benue State all recorded high level of acceptance. As observed from the research, students from school with adequate farming facilities, good farm location, and favourable farm work environment perform well. Therefore, the research concludes that school environment does influence students’ farm work in agricultural science.
1.1 Background of the Study
The school is a social and learning agent that provides the environment upon which students may be formally educated in order to attain educational goals. Human beings, have unlimited capacity to learn, but may however be limited by the behaviour patterns and facilities that the immediate environment offers. According to Umoh (2006), nature only provides the raw materials in form of potentials, but it is the environment that determines the extent of development. Umoh and Etuk (2003) asserted that a child who wants to learn Agricultural Science and develop desirable attitudes, interest, appreciation, understanding, habits, abilities, knowledge and skills requires a stimulating environment. A stimulating school environment enables the teachers to teach a variety of activities with broad-base ideas about what the students are likely to learn or respond to. This makes it possible for both the teachers and the students to work cooperatively and productively towards attainment of educational goals.
School environmental variables that affect teaching and learning include the following: Science and Computer laboratories, library facilities, adequate classroom facilities, workshop facilities, farm buildings and structures, farm lands and play grounds to mention but a few. Teachers and other personnel to manage and service the physical facilities are the teaching, non-teaching and the administrative staff of the school. According to Etuk (1991), school farm and farming facilities provide the avenue for skill teaching and skill learning in agriculture to complement whatever background knowledge the students must have acquired through classroom discussions in order to develop the entry level skills for agricultural jobs. The Senior Secondary School Agricultural Science Curriculum covers both cognitive and psycho productive (manipulative) concepts. The contents must also be taught at both levels so that learners are exposed to agricultural knowledge and skills.
The school environment, which include the classrooms, libraries, technical workshops, laboratories, teachers’ quality, school management, teaching methods, peers, and others, are variables that affect students’ academic achievement (Ajayi, 2001 and Oluchukwu, 2000). Hence, the school environment remains an important area that should be studied and well managed to enhance students’ academic performance and skills development.
The school farm work inculcate into the students values they could not do or practice by themselves and for themselves. The school farm encourages the use of the head to think, eyes to see and to lay hands on actual operation or techniques to make learning easier and more permanent (Famiwole, 2013). The teacher makes use of different methods and technologies, such as demonstration, observation, imitation, and supervised practice to explain techniques and complement the different learning experience required to teach practicals very effectively (Olaitan, 2001).
The issue of poor academic performance of students in Nigeria has been of much concern to the government, parents, teachers and even student themselves. The quality of education not only depends on the teachers as reflected in the performance of their duties, but also in the effective coordination of the school environment (Ajayi, 2001). School environment which include instructional spaces planning, administrative places planning, circulation spaces planning, spaces for conveniences planning, accessories planning, the teachers as well as the students themselves are essential in teaching-learning process. The extent to which student learning could be enhanced depends on their location within the school compound, the structure of their classroom, availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well-planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students.
Agricultural Science requires a lot of practical activities involving demonstrations and projects to enable learners develop agricultural attitudes and skills, Udo (2008) reported that, there was a significant relationship between availability of farming facilities and students’ performance in Agricultural Science.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A few secondary schools have adequate school environment, but many other schools do not have conducive learning environment. This accounts for the poor performance of students in practical examinations in Agricultural Science. Most urban schools and private secondary schools do not have farming facilities. They rely on classroom instructions. They perform well in theoretical examinations, but very poorly on practical examination due to lack of exposure (WAEC, 2012). According to Olaitan (2010), they lack farm ethics, yet they record success at internal and external examinations in agricultural science. Most students passing out of secondary schools nowadays are “robots”. The situation according to Olaitan would continue to increase the unemployment graph and complicate the problems of youth delinquency because the students are not marketable. They acquire no practical agricultural skills that would make them self-reliant while in school. Hence, rendering them unemployable. Therefore, there is need to identify the causes of decline in the use and operation of school farm to develop saleable skills in the students and for effective teaching and learning of agricultural concepts. It was against this background that, this study was considered necessary to determine the influence of environment on students’ farm work in senior secondary schools in Otukpo, Benue State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of this study are:
i. To examine the relationship between school environment and students’ farm work in agricultural science
ii. To determine the available school facilities for farm work for agricultural science students in senior secondary school
iii. To explore factors such as class size that have been perceived to promote or inhibit students’ farm work in agricultural science
iv. To investigate the extent to which school location influence students’ farm work in agricultural science
1.4 Research Questions
i. What is the relationship between school environment and students’ farm work in agricultural science?
ii. What are the available school facilities for farm work for agricultural science students in senior secondary schools?
iii. What effect does class size has on students’ farm work in agricultural science?
iv. To what extent does school location influences students’ farm work in agricultural science?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of Teachers and Students’ on the influence of school environment and the students’ farm work in agricultural science
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of Teachers and Students on school facilities for farm work in agricultural science in senior secondary schools.
Ho3: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of Teachers and Students on the effects of class size on students’ farm work in agricultural science
Ho4: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of Teachers and Students on the influence school location on students’ farm work in agricultural science
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study provides information on the influence of environment on students’ farm work in senior secondary schools in Otukpo Local Government Area, Benue State. The outcome of this research work will be of great benefit to students in achieving their farm work goals, to class teachers in planning farm activities that will encourage students’ farm work. Also, this research work will help school management in identifying the effect of farm environment and provide possible ways in enhancing students’ farm work outcomes in agricultural science. The results of the study will add to the existing knowledge and in this connection, provide a valuable reference for other schools to reflect upon the school environment as it affect the farm work of agriculture students in senior secondary school.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This research work focuses on the influence of school environment on students’ farm work in some selected schools in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State. This research work covers all public secondary schools students in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State. However, four public secondary schools will be used as case study.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
School: A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students (or "pupils") under the direction of teachers
School Environment: A school's physical environment includes the school building and the surrounding.
Academic Achievement: Knowledge attained or skills developed in school subjects by test scores.
Secondary school: (also "high school") is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place. It follows elementary or primary education, and may be followed by university (tertiary) education.
Farm: Place producing particular animals or crops
Environment: All the external factors influencing the life and activities of people, plants, and animals
Influence: The effect of something on a person, thing, or event
School farm: The school farm is a laboratory, specifically designed and operated, for the purpose of carrying out practicals in agricultural science.