1.1 Background of the Study
A public school is government-owned institution in which school fees are subsidized to students in a very moderate rate. In public school there are clearly defined goals, it allocates functions, delegates responsibilities, establishes and maintains its own institutional hierarchy through which the activities are co-ordinated.
Nkang (2002) observed that in school young boys and girls full of potentials are moulded and characters refined in order to help them grow steadily until they become mature and well adjusted adults, useful to themselves and to the society at large. Furthermore, she stressed that public schools are made up of the young and old, the dull and intelligent, the normal and abnormal, the emotionally stable and the maladjusted students of varying personality traits and different socio-economic background.
Adeoyin (2009) affirmed that the population of the school be it public or private school is broadly categorized into three groups: the students, the teachers and the non-teaching staff. These groups continuously interact in a web of communication while performing their duties on a daily basis and it is through this network of relationship that learning occurs. Therefore, conducive atmosphere need to be created for effective learning.
An indication of government interest in the public school is seen in government’s action on renovation of schools, employment of teachers, and other personnel as well as provision of facilities.
Granyanpfu (2013) discovered that government cannot guarantee all public schools even distribution of these infrastructural facilities, adequate employment of teachers, renovation of schools. This according to Granyanpfu, affects schools negatively and leads to poor academic performance. In the same vein, Hussain, Ahmed, Suleman and Din (2012) opined that most of our public schools suffer unattractive and old school buildings, cracked classroom walls and floors, lack of toilets, transport facility, proper security, drinking water, power supply, playgrounds, teaching staff, sufficient classroom, educational technology, first aids facility and adequate classrooms. The authors submitted that these inadequacies also affect academic achievement.
Financial Accounting is one of the subjects offered in secondary schools which are beneficial to every individual and business organization. Consequently, the involvement by individuals and organizations explained the need to promote accounting education. Okolo (1980) maintained that the life blood of any business organization, however small is money. The Nigerian Education Research and Development Council – NERDC (2007) recognized accounting as the language and soul of business. It is the language of the business in the sense that it is the mode in which business information is identified, processed, transmitted and received by the relevant parties in the business. The subject deals with recording, classifying, summarizing and interpreting financial transactions. The subject has assumed various descriptions such as bookkeeping, principles of accounting, financial accounting, not until recently when it is known as accounting. The aim of accounting in senior secondary schools is to assist students acquire the required skills and competences in the subject and to build on the aspect of bookkeeping covered in Business studies by students at the junior secondary school.
According to the National Examination Council – NECO (2004) the study of Accounting at senior secondary school aim at enabling students appreciate the basic rules, functions and principles of accounting and help to lay proper foundation for further study of accountancy and allied courses at higher education level. Accounting also enables students to appreciate basic accounting principles, practice and their applications to modern business activities.
The best legacy parents can give to their children is quality education and it is the desire of parents, that their children should get the best education possible. This desire for qualitative education has put a lot of pressure on students, teachers and schools to assume the role of training and producing students for tertiary institutions and manpower for national development and world of work. Udofot (2004) agreed with the above assertion, that children education should bestow upon them the means to live more satisfying lives, get good jobs, become better citizens and contribute meaningfully to the immediate, national and international communities. Hence, the low levels of academic performance of students have become a great concern particularly to schools, educationist, parents and governments.
Academic performance is a key concern for educational researchers because failure in the National Examination spells doom for the students whose lives become uncertain and full of despair. Thus, academic performance in public secondary schools is the benchmark which determines whether such students will perform well in examinations such as Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE), organized by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) to enable them proceeds to University or other tertiary institutions.
Wechler (2005) defined academic performance as excellence in all academic disciplines, in class as well as co-curricular activities. It includes excellence in sporting, behaviour, confidence, communication skills, assertiveness. The author added that academic performance is something one achieves in school, college, universities, laboratory, library or fieldwork. In educational institutions success is measured by academic performance or how a student meet the standard set by the examination bodies. Wilcockson (2006) opined that student’s academic performance is simply what you get out of an activity. Ada (2013) agreed with Wilcockson, that academic performance is the outcome of education and the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goal and this academic performance is commonly measured by examination or continuous assessment. In order to promote academic performance schools must posses institutional variables that will enable students to study effectively and improve their performance. Thus, institutional variables are those variables that emanate from the school in which the school uses to improve their academic standard. This study therefore focuses on those institutional variables which include guidance and counseling, classroom facilities, classroom management, principal leadership style and accommodation type.
Guidance and counseling service is one which directs, leads, and helps a student to understand himself and his environment. The goal of guidance and counselling services is to enable each learner in institutions of learning to derive optimal educational benefits so as to actualize his or her potentialities. In secondary schools, guidance and counseling programme for students are designed to address the physical, emotional, social, vocational academic difficulties of students. This is to complement learning in the classroom and also enhance academic performance of student. Denga (2006) stated that major components of guidance and counseling services address student’s needs, challenges and problems.
Classroom facilities are those facilities that are available to facilitate students learning in classroom, availability of classroom facilities enhances quality academic performance of students. Inadequate classroom facilities affect academic performance of students negatively. Ganyaupfu (2013) supported that most institution which lack these facilities is likely results in malfunctioning; hence such schools may not compete academically with those schools that have acquired them. He added that poor and inadequacy of these affect the overall performance of the institutions while sufficiency promotes academic achievement and strengthen the all over institutional performance.
Principal leadership style is a process through which leader intentionally influence others in the attainment of group goals. Chang (2010) noted that leadership involves a guide that directs activities of individuals in a given direction in order to achieve the goal of the organization. He indicated that, there must be a group to be led, a set objective, is conscious attempt to influence the behaviour of others within the group and willingness of the subordinate to carry out the instruction. He concluded that leadership therefore is the abilities to get things done with the assistance and co-operation of other people within the institution.
According to Adunola (2011), classroom management refers to all those decisions that teacher take to facilitate the learning process so as to provide the students with maximum opportunity for learning. He further said that classroom management creates a sound, supportive and friendly environment in classroom where students feel secured, respect, care and safe. This brings about co-operation and sense of responsibility among students. While failure of the teacher to mange classroom effectively may encourage students to suffer from anti-social behaviours.
Boarding schools are those schools that provide accommodation for learners and usually chosen for their academic excellence, individual attention from teachers, diverse curriculum, excellent facilities, a wide range of building such as staff quarters, adequate classroom, recreational facilities etc. These are the reasons parent send their children to boarding school, which is believe to be higher than in non-boarding schools and boarding has a positive impact on academic performance of students.
Okon (2001) defined attitude as an individual perception and reaction to a task which is expected to be carried out or executed individually, in a group, institution, school setting or an organization. Attitude can be said to be positive or high when individual response to the task or programme is favourable. The positive learning attitudes include class attendance, class participation, participation in home work, and assignment and writing of notes. Moreso, when they show commitment to their duties. Students show negative attitude or low when they express a nonchalant response, with regard to what is expected of them in the given situation. The negative learning attitude include loitering during class, absenteeism, lack of concentration in class, neglect of home work, assignment, class participation etc. Without the development of the learning attitudes and skills, individuals will not be well prepared to acquire the new knowledge and skills necessary for successful adaptation to changing circumstances.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A great concern has been expressed by the public over the consistent poor performance of students in public secondary schools examination conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO). The poor performance in these examinations impact adversely on students, parents, governments and the general public at large considering the huge expenditure on education by governments at all levels.
Poor students’ academic performance particularly in Financial Accounting has been attributed to lack of qualified teachers in the subject area, inadequate instructional materials, equipment, facilities and poor learning attitude on the part of the students. The poor students’ learning attitude includes their study habits, irregular class attendance and participation in class activities. A lot of people continue to ask pertinent questions on what might be the cause of students’ failure in Financial Accounting whereas little has been said about institutional variables and the subject (Financial Accounting). This study therefore seeks to determine the institutional variables and their influence on students’ learning attitude in Financial Accounting in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to determine the influence of institutional variables on students learning attitude in Financial Accounting in Public Secondary Schools in Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, the study is designed to: