1.1 Background to the Study
The Nigerian policy on education has made provisions to make education of the citizenry both functional and relevant with a view to ensuring all round development. Specific provisions have also been made for different levels of education system so as to ensure effective curriculum delivery in schools. For the benefits of all citizens, the country‘s educational goals shall be clearly set out in terms of their relevance to the needs of the individual and those of the society, in consonance with the realities of the environment and the modern world (Federal Republic of Nigeria, (FRN, 2004). Orji and Uka (2012), argued that in order to actualize this in any society, there is the need of attending to certain unavoidable variables such as teaching materials, methods adopted, curriculum, teacher as well as students‘ interest. With particular reference to secondary education in Nigeria, various subjects have been included in the curriculum to enable pupils acquire knowledge and skills. Certain subjects are categorized as core while others are either vocational electives or non-vocational electives. Geography is found under both core and non-vocational electives categories. This shows the importance of Geography in achieving the national educational goals whose significance cannot be overemphasized.
However, teaching of Geography as
science or social science subject in senior secondary schools is not without
some problems. Poor academic performance of students in all science subjects
and Geography in particular has been documented by many researchers. This has
also been corroborated by high failure in public examinations in the country
such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination
Council (NECO). Studies have shown decline in students performance in sciences
… and this has been attributed to the fact that strategies used in our
classrooms are not very effective (Akinniyi,
Olaleye & Adewumi, 2008). Students‘ academic performance is being used as one of the predictors of overall quality of education system. To this end, Effandi and Iksan (2007), stated that the quality of education that teachers provide to students is dependent upon what the teachers do in the classrooms. Similarly, Awoyemi cited in Linda (2000), attributed the poor performance of students to the low quality of teachers. Alimi and Balogun (2010), showed positive relationship between teachers‘ attributes and students‘ academic performance in Geography.
The foregoing underscores the importance of teacher pedagogical effectiveness in achieving quality education and as correlate of students‘ academic performance. Persistent use of traditional teaching methods such as the lecture in Geography classrooms has been the underlying factor for student‘s poor performance in the subject. Clar and Wareham (2003), observed that Geography has traditionally used a wide range of teaching methods than many other subjects and the range has tended to expand further over the last few years. As a synthesis of other subjects, Geography has a number of recurring themes which distinguish it from other disciplines and help to unite the human and physical aspects of the subject. The nature of this subject calls for paradigm shift from teacher-centred to learner-centred instructional strategies that permit active involvement of learners in the learning process such that a more meaningful learning can be achieved.
EFFECT OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING STRATEGY ON GEOGRAPHY STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN SOKOTO STATE, NIGERIA