Table of Contents
School Factors and Students Learning
The Psychological Environment
Several factors influence the learning process and the overall performance of human beings. These factors can have either positive or negative influences. According to Okoro (2017), these factors can be classified into three broad categories: the Hereditary and Physiological factors, the Psychological factors, and the Environmental factors. Each of these categories are like tree with many branches, environmental factors for example can be sub-divided into; home factors, school related factors, teacher related factors and societal factors. For the purpose of this paper, discussion will be done exhaustively on how school environments and other related factors affect students’ learning in secondary school.
School Factors and Students Learning
Students between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age are expected to learn in school. It is their primary job in society, and it’s possibly the one thing that will prepare them to become productive members in their adult years. What they learn will also determine the choices they’ll make when they enter the workforce or continue onto higher education. In order for students to learn there are several factors that must be considered. Most of these factors are external; they deal with social or cultural values (WH Magazine, 2020). Also, it may be determined by the school’s environment as well as the teachers and administrators that teach them. Still, another important factor falls upon the student’s ability and willingness to learn.
The condition and availability of resources at a school can play a major factor. A typical example of a classroom I have come across was characterized thus: It was small, cramped and its entrance was through another classroom. On top of that, it was near the train tracks on one side and the wood and metal shop on the side. It was noisy, and students were easily distracted. Teaching in this classroom was equally tough, it is of no-doubt that effective learning cannot take place in this type of classroom. A well-equipped class with space and the least amount of distractions will usually help students – especially those with learning disabilities – to focus on instructions.
Safety, or the sense of feeling safe, can affect student learning. Having taught at a school that was once plagued by riots, student fights, and gang problems, this writer had seen what happened when student safety has been compromised. While some students sought refuge in teachers’ classes during lunch or when these incidents occur, others simply stopped coming to school. If students feel safe, they will not have to worry about conflicts on campus. If they are the target of bullying, afraid of being caught up in an upheaval such as school wide fights or riots, then they will be more worried about these problems rather than what’s being taught in English or Math class (WH Magazine, 2020).
Here are several factors that can affect the way a student learns during these formative years.
Learning is a complex activity that puts students’ motivation and physical condition to the test (Lyons, 2002). It has been a long-held assumption that curriculum and teaching have an impact on learning. However, it is becoming more apparent that the physical condition of our schools can influence student achievement.
School facilities constitute major determining factor toward ensuring quality education. It is one of the yardsticks for measuring the level of educational growth and development. It implies substantial cost of the school system for their establishment, if not properly managed and maintained, it will affect the academic performance of students. School facility is the process of ensures that buildings and other technical systems support the operations of an organization. Programme in Educational Building (PEB), (2008) described school facilities as the practice of co-ordination of the physical workplace with the people and the work of the organization; it integrates the principles of school administration, architecture and the behavioural and engineering sciences. Provision of good quality education require adequate physical facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, human resource in form of teachers and support staff which are acquired based on availability of financial resources in schools. Facilities refers to the entire environment of the school or an organisation, it refers to both the physical and material resources available to the students and teachers in the school to facilitate teaching-learning process. The classrooms; the libraries and the laboratories for sciences are the three main areas of facilities identified in the school system or environment (Onyeji, 2000). Taking library for example, Yeater (2013) states that in terms of the availability of the libraries of the school facilities, a great many of our secondary schools have no functional libraries, and where some libraries are found, there are no new or current books that are relevant to the current secondary school programmes. In effect this has been affecting students learning ability and subsequently affecting their academic performance.
The importance and uses of the library cannot be under-rated. Libraries and books give great assistant assistance to both the teachers and the learners. In a situation whereby our secondary school students are left with no choice to make their text books as the only source of knowledge, the danger of exposing them to obsolete knowledge in old books donated by the British Council several years ago as one normally finds in the old secondary schools should not be overlooked. According to Dada (2004) anyone who is familiar with secondary school classrooms in Nigeria will agree that no meaningful teaching – learning activities can effectively take place in most of them, even if teachers are God-sent and the learners are celestial pack of highly intelligent personalities, the problem is that where there are classrooms, they are overcrowded to the extent that rooms originally meant for between 30 and 40 students, take between 60 and 80 students with a good number of them sitting on windows. In this situation, neither the teacher nor the students can move freely as expected in our secondary school classrooms. This is why many teachers do not give assignments to such large number of students regularly as expected. And this has affected students’ academic performance drastically.
On science laboratories, Olarewaju (2004) claims that only few schools has science laboratories which are well equipped to carry out scientific experiments in courses such as Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. A good number of schools teach biology or chemistry as if they are non-science subjects without laboratory. Some other schools teach the three branches of science without laboratories in the hope that they would use other schools’ laboratories during their examination or compel students to contribute money for purchase of science equipment through the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). It should be noted that the greatest failure rate in the sciences because our schools lack the essential science materials but rather, resort to the theoretical science without the use of laboratory. The contention is that the nation has been unfair not only to students in our secondary schools but also to herself. This is because no nation can develop technologically through theoretical teaching of science subjects, under poor educational facilities, no meaningful teaching and learning can take place, and the normal refrain in the educational circle is that all is well with our secondary schools.
The Psychological Environment
This refers to the kind of atmosphere under which the individual interact with the other persons in the school. High quality learning will take place in a classroom where the teachers’ relationship with his students is nonthreatening, cordial and loving (Okoro, 2017). Learning in such an atmosphere will definitely be better than learning in an atmosphere where the teacher abuses, ridicules, humiliates, or even brutalises the students. Learning is also adversely affected where there is aggressiveness, envy and jealousy among the students. A situation where the senior students are allowed to maltreat the junior ones does not create a healthy environment for learning. In a good learning environment, the learners should have respect for one another. There should also be healthy competition and cooperation among the students.
Another critical factor, some may say the most important one – is the student’s willingness to learn. If a student is eager, motivated, or goal oriented, the likelihood is that student will learn. If not, the student may regurgitate the education given to him or her but not retain it. Student learning is a multi-faceted system. A student may prosper when several of these factors are in play. Even if one factor is missing, he or she will be able to learn. However, in the long run, the willingness to learn may trump all other factors, for it is up to the individual to overcome difficulties and reach the educational goal that he or she wants. Also, learning disabilities can affect the way a student learns. A disability may affect a student’s ability to either learn visually or audibly. Also, a student’s memory, attention and capacity to retain information can be greatly affected.
Student interest in a topic holds so much power. When a topic connects to what students like to do, engagement deepens as they willingly spend time thinking, dialoging, and creating ideas in meaningful ways.
Making learning contextual to real-world experiences is a key learning technique with differentiating for student interests. Often the core content and concepts are represented in the world beyond the classroom or school building -- in ways that students cannot see, as if they're walking through life wearing a blindfold. When teachers plan for content, processing, and product, differentiating by interests helps remove the blindfold so that learners can see those invisible concepts made visible (McCarthy, 2014). The author stated further that, factoring for student interests works well with instructional planning based on readiness and learning profiles. Readiness combined with interest leads to students doing work at a respectable complexity level with the familiarity of a topic that they relate to. For example, students could write persuasive reviews about games or items that they know intimately, or they might explore science concepts through LEGO Robotics. Matching learning profiles with student interest allows learners to process understanding of concepts through different modalities based on their own experiences. One example is students watching videos, listening to speakers, and journaling to make comparisons between social injustices from the past and forms of bullying that occur in today's schools and communities.
According to McCarthy, 2014, many students may share common ground, which means that there's often something for everyone. For individuals with serious disengagement issues, the benefit is that disengaged students will make the connections they need, and the others get to see the learning target from a new perspective. Differentiating products are a common place to embed interests. A higher level of activating interest is to have students propose their own ideas for products and activities. This constructivist approach engages students to do more complex work and spend more time on the task than they normally would. It also terrifies some teachers for how to quality control the vast variety of products that students could develop.
In another development, Mondal (n.d) asserted that learning is selfinitiated, but it must be aided by motives so that the learner will persist in the learning activity. A definite motive is valuable in all work, as motives make for readiness. The greater the readiness, the greater will be the attention given to the work on hand and the sooner will the desired result be achieved. It is important to attempt to get the learner into a state of readiness for it increases the alertness, vigor, and wholeheartedness of learning. In trying to achieve some end, the more acute the readiness, the more satisfying the reaction. The activities which are futile become annoying. One sure means of putting the law of effect into operation is to assist the learner to achieve ends and purposes which he is zealous to attain. The real problem in motivating schoolwork is to discover values strong enough to stimulate the pupils to effective effort.
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