Students’ attitude towards the study of economics in Nigerian secondary schools
1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek οἰκονομία (oikonomia, “management of a household, administration”) from οἶκος (oikos, “house”) + νόμος (nomos, “custom” or “law”), hence “rules of the house(hold)”. Political economy was the earlier name for the subject, but economists in the late 19th century suggested “economics” as a shorter term for “economic science” that also avoided a narrow political-interest connotation and as similar in form to “mathematics“, “ethics”, and so forth.
A focus of the subject is how economic agents behave or interact and how economies work. Consistent with this, a primary textbook distinction is between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines the behavior of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents (such as households and firms or as buyers and sellers) and markets, and their interactions. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy and issues
affecting it, including unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and monetary and fiscal policy.
Other broad distinctions include those between positive economics (describing “what is”) and normative economics (advocating “what ought to be”); between economic theory and applied economics; between rational and behavioral economics; and between mainstream economics (more “orthodox” and dealing with the “rationality-individualism-equilibrium nexus”) and heterodox economics (more “radical” and dealing with the “institutions-history-social structure nexus”).
Economic analysis may be applied throughout society, as in business, finance, health care, and government, but also to such diverse subjects as crime,[education, the family, law, politics, religion social institutions, war, and science. At the turn of the 21st century, the expanding domain of economics in the social sciences has been described as economic imperialism.
An attitude may be defined as a predisposition to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given attitude object (Oskamp and Schultz 2005). The focus of this project is on school students’ attitudes towards Economics subjects taught in secondary classrooms. The term
‘subjects’ refers to both theory and laboratory classes in secondary school. Thus, the scope of the present study was limited to Economics as experienced by students in secondarys chool rather than out-of-school experiences obtained from external sources such as the media, museums, field trips and friends. Attitude towards Economics or science denotes interests or feelings towards studying Economics or science. It is the students’ disposition towards like or ‘dislike’ science while attitude in science means scientific approach assumed by an individual for solving problems, assessing ideas and making decisions. Student beliefs and attitudes have the potential to either facilitate or inhibit learning (Yara, 2009).Many factors could contribute to student’s attitude toward studying science (Economics). Several studies (including Wilson 1983; Soyibo, 1985;Berg 2005; Adesoji, 2008) report that students’ positive attitudes to science correlate highly with their that, in general, the attitude of Nigeria students towards the basic sciences tend to decrease in the order, Biology, Economics, Physics and Mathematics. Defiana (1995) found that using integrated science environment activities improved high school student attitude toward and awareness about the environment. Armstrong and Impara (1991) in their studies determined that fifth and seventh – grade students using nature score as a curriculum supplement developed more positive attitudes than those who did not. Abimbola (1983) reported that students exposed to a
programmed instruction recorded higher and more favourable attitude towards mathematics. Ayelaagbe (1998) also reported a more positive attitude of studies after exposing them to self learning strategy. Similar results were obtained by Udousoro (2000) after using computer and text assisted programmed instruction and Popoola (2002) after exposing students to a self learning device. Popoola(2008) also reported that students attitudes and interests to sciences, especially Agricultural science correlate highly with their science achievement. Halladyna and Shanghnessy (1982) and Adesoji (2008) have concluded that a number of factors have been identified as related to students’ attitude to science (Economics). Such factors include; teaching methods, teacher attitude, influence of parents, gender, age, cognitive styles of pupils, career interest, social view of science and Scientifics, social implicating of science (Economics) and achievement. The studies thus reviewed suggest that there is a relationship between attitude and methods of instruction and also between attitude and achievement; and that it is possible to predict achievement from attitude scores. What is needed to complement the results of such studies however is the nature of relationship between students’ attitude and factors related to teaching and learning of Economics? Results of these types of study are likely to broaden our knowledge as how we can influence students’ attitude positively towards Economics as a subject in
1.2PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of the study is to investigate the attitudes of students in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State toward studying of Economics as a subject. The study is also designed to make various recommendations for teachers and other stakeholders on how to arouse or improve students attitudes in the subject.
1.3STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Despite the greater number of Economics graduates produced by our tertiary institutions; every year there are numbers of secondary schools where Economics teachers are not competent in the teaching of the subject. Also, the attitude of the students in secondary schools towards Economics as a profession is not encouraging. This makes the teaching of Economics ineffective and inefficient even where there are competent teachers to teach. It is on this premise, that this study is designed to investigate the attitude of students to teaching and learning of Economics in secondary schools.
In order to investigate the attitude of students to Economics, the following questions were raised:
Do the students have positive attitudes towards Economics?
Do their negative attitudes a result of the attitude of their teachers towards the subject?
Do their attitudes towards problem solving result of unavailability of textbook and other instructional materials?
Should Economics be made compulsory for all science students in secondary schools?
1.5SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study was limited to secondary schools in Akure South LocalGovernment of Ondo State only. Based on the time frame and financial constraints in covering all the secondary schools in the Local Government, the study was also limited to the students in Senior Secondary Schools (SS Class)
The names of the schools are:
St.Dominic Grammar School, Akure.
C.A.C.Grammar School, Akure.
Oyemekun High School, Akure.
St.Peter’sUnity High School, Akure.
Fiwasiaye Girls Grammar School, Akure.
1.6SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is aimed at looking at the students’ attitudes towards Economics in some selected secondary schools in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State. The results of the study is hoped to assist Economics teachers to develop new learning experience for the students and reorganize these learning experience in some ways enough to arouse the interest of the students. It would be of good assistance to teachers to create a habit were they would improve on the obsolete teaching methods, use adequate, modern and relevant instructional materials and textbooks at their disposed to the fullest. This study may also assist the students to improve their attitude towards the study of the subject. Finally, the government and parents would benefit from the study of their roles as these would be highlighted at the recommendation column.1.7Assumption of the Study Based on the study, the following
assumptions were made. Secondary school students constitute a valid source of data needed in the study. Also, that the respondents will give valid and unbiased responses to the questionnaire items and that the samples drawn will be representatives of the population
1.8DEFINITION OF TERMS
Economics:- This is a science subject taught in the Senior Secondary Schools.
Learning:– This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Economics among Senior Secondary School Students.
Attitude:– This refers to students’ positive mind to the study of Economics.
Teaching:– Transmission of the knowledge of Economics to Senior Secondary School Students. Instruction
Materials:- These are aids used in teaching and learning of Economics in Senior Secondary School.