1.1 Background to the Study
Education which is given in group setups to the age of about three as much as five years old kids is called preschool education. It is likewise called nursery, kindergarten outside the US. Preschool education is developed to examine and help the mental, physical, psychological, linguistic, and social upbringing of kids (Justice & Vukelich, 2017). Bibi (2012) described preschool as a methodical programme where children take part before they enter into primary schools that is created to promote children's social, psychological, academic, linguistic, and literacy abilities, and health and most of all wellbeing. According to Wana (2010) and Ernest-Ehibudu and Peter-Kio (2017), preschool is an essential developmental period for kids as they learn and acquire skills that would certainly ultimately help them in academic achievement in school. It is likewise a time that marks fantastic variability in the experiences children have, since some children stay at home with their family members, others go to private child care programmes, and others go to public preschool. While children's development has been a subject of interest for centuries, children were not deemed having specific age-defined requirements up till the late 19th century (Jessica, 2014).
Preschool education is the initial step in a child's educational journey. Early childhood experts have the viewpoint that attending top quality preschool programme aids to promote children's social and emotional development and prepare them for kindergarten and beyond Wana (2010) and (Ikegbusi, 2019). When you walk into a properly designed preschool classroom, you see children and adults collaborating in an efficient surrounding. The kids are constructively involved and teachers busy observing, facilitating, and challenging the children (Adewale, 2012). The environment supports all these by presuming a number of the obligations one generally associates with teachers. It aids the children interact, discover, and prevent ineffective activities, such as running and getting in each other's ways. Therefore, the atmosphere really becomes another teacher in the classroom.
According to Belo (2018) and Ikegbusi (2019), physical setting plays an integral role in any type of activity and makes it more favorable, effective and attainable. Physical facilities are among the stimulating elements that play an essential function in improving academic achievement in the school system (Ikegbusi, Egwu& Iheanacho, 2021). These include; school buildings, accommodation, classrooms, libraries and information centers, furniture, laboratories, recreational centers, apparatus, information and communication technology facilities, multi-purpose halls and performing art spaces, health, conveniences, cleanliness, maintenance culture, aesthetic appeals and various other instructional materials (Ikegbusi, Onwuasoanya & Chigbo-Okeke, 2016) and (Akwara, 2018). Additionally, their availability, relevance and sufficiency impact academic achievement positively (Aslam, 2017).
Pupils' academic achievement is affected by school environment. According to Barrett, Davies, Zhang and Barrett (2015), great classroom arrangement influences and motivates children to quickly communicate with each other and develop different skills consisting of language and social behavior. Poor classroom physical arrangement might influence children's free movement and can result into social behavior problems. Classroom physical environment plays essential role in pupils' educational success. Osagiede (2016) defines physical environment as the physical qualities of classroom. Physical classroom setting consists of various things like size of classroom, floor, walls, desks, lighting, school structure, school climate, computer and so on. Thus, the learning environment continues to be an essential area that ought to be examined and well managed to improve pupils' academic performance. On the other hand, poor school buildings maintenance, overcrowded classrooms, poor lighting, noise, high degrees of carbon dioxide, inconsistent temperatures, inefficient ventilation, absence of appropriate security system, power supply, water, recreational facilities, absence of health facility, absence of furniture, influence academic achievement adversely. For that reason, it is appropriate to state that academic achievement has a close link with the availability of educational facilities (Hussain, 2016) and (Adeyemo & Ejikeme, 2018).
Duruji (2014), Ikegbusi (2019) and Ikegbusi, Egwu and Iheanacho (2021) maintained that the learning environment plays an important role in identifying how students perform or react to situations and circumstances about them. This suggested that no society is void of environmental influences. The learning environment determines to a large degree how a pupil acts and interacts, that is to claim that the environment in which one finds him/herself has the tendency to mold his/her behaviour so as to satisfy the demands of life whether negatively or positively (Oleribe, 2016). The author opined that the desire for both qualitative and quantitative education has increased the issue of providing an efficient and favorable learning atmosphere for teaching and learning. In Nigeria, there is an increase in the number of students' enrolment in schools with little or no concerns to improving the learning environment so as to better their performance. Ikegbusi, Egwu and Iheanacho (2021) mentioned that learning environment ought to have great infrastructural development, adequately trained teachers, great leadership and adequate instructional materials to name a few. Do all these qualities have favorable effect on academic achievement of pupils in preschools? Consequently, this study is designed specifically to study the conception of how classroom interest affects the academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The school environment is of paramount value in shaping and reshaping intellectual capability. Nevertheless, supportive and beneficial school atmosphere enriched with sufficient learning facilities and good climate make pupils more comfortable, more focused on their academic activities that lead to high academic performance. The influence of school environment on academic achievement of pupils has been a problem of concern to all stakeholders in education. The school environment is coming to be uninteresting for teaching and learning since instructional materials are inadequately provided, infrastructural facilities are in dilapidated conditions, modern technology such as internet are misused, qualified teachers and facilities that promote teaching and learning are in short fall. The cumulative impact is that a few of the pupils perform poorly in class. Some drop out of school and some do not take part in examination since the materials which would certainly have been used for their education are elusive. It is against this background that this study seeks to assess classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to assess classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria. Therefore, the followings are the specific objectives:
1) To examine the relationship between Classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State
2) To examine the techniques in creating classroom interest for academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State
3) To identify the impact of Classroom interest on the academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State
1.4 Research Questions
Specifically, this study sought answers to the following research questions:
2 What is the relationship between Classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State?
3 What are the techniques in creating classroom interest for academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State?
4 What is the impact of Classroom interest on the academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Of Cross River State?
4.1 Research Hypotheses
The following statements will used as the research hypotheses for this study:
1) There is no significant relationship between learning environment and academic achievement of primary school pupils
2) There is a significant relationship between classroom interest and academic achievement
3) There is no significant impact of classroom physical environment on the academic achievement of primary school pupils
4) There is a significant correlation between teacher-pupil relationship and pupils’ learning behaviour in preschools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State.
4.2 Significance of the Study
Learning environment plays a significant role in academic achievement to preschool pupils. The finding of this study is likely to assist to improve learning environment in academic achievement in preschools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State and in Nigeria as a whole. The findings of the study will also inform the parents, pupils, educators and other education stakeholders to understand the roles of classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils.
The findings of this study can be useful to teachers and the parents in developing programs to upgrade their skills, knowledge, positive altitude and competencies for handling pupils, also very useful in managing education of the learners and to identify the effective learning environment that contributes to the pupils’ academic achievement. Furthermore, the findings of this study will help to encourage policymakers and the community in general to strive to improve the school environment.
4.3 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study was limited on the assessment of classroom interest and academic achievement of preschool pupils in some selected primary schools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria. The study was conducted in five primary schools in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State. The study dealt with classrooms’ facilities, school environment and activities of educational stakeholders.
4.4 Limitations of the Study
The main problem that researcher faced during the study was the issue of confidentiality of information. This was because of researcher was not a part of the member of the schools. Some data were hidden by officials because of their confidentiality. In solving the problem of data confidentiality, the researcher worked honestly with management and made them trust that data provided it will be used for research purpose only, and not be disclosed to anyone who is not concerned.
4.5 Definition of Terms
The following are definitions and explanations of the key terms related to the study:
School Environment: According to Mick Zais (2011), School Environment means the extent to which school settings promote student safety and student health, which may include topics such as the physical plant, the academic environment, available physical and mental health supports and services, and the fairness and adequacy of disciplinary procedures, as supported by relevant research and an assessment of validity.
Academic Achievement: a measure of knowledge gained in formal education usually indicated by test scores, grade, grade points, average and degrees. Here, the achievement level of the student is judged by the marks that the students have scored in the quarterly examinations.
Preschool: refers to the pre-primary education programme intended to introduce young children (age 3-6 years old) to the school environment. It is the foundation for learning and that basic attitudes are laid down during this stage.
Preschoolers: are young children from ages 3-6 years who need to be shown how to control and manage their intrinsic and extrinsic behavior.
Classroom: is a room in which teaching and learning activities take place. The classroom provides a safe space where learning takes place uninterrupted by other distractions.
Environment - is the combination of internal and external physical conditions that affect and influence the growth and development of a preschooler as they learn.
Performance – results obtained by administering oral or written tests after learning activities.