- Background of the study
Prior to the introduction of formal system of education in Nigeria by the colonial masters, there were methods of teaching or impacting knowledge, skills, facts and principle in our traditional society. These methods were not recognized until the introduction of formal system of education in Nigeria in 1843 (Jekayinfa and kolawole, 2008). This formal education gave rise to school classrooms where students grapple with the realities of the complex teaching situation. To this effect, the importance of teaching as a tool to affect human life has been showing evidence of positive achievements.
Teaching is regarded as the art of imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes to bring about the desired change in behaviour of the person taught. The act of teaching can be traced back to our traditional society where every member had been involved in one type of teaching or the other. That means, a person teaches when impacting facts and knowledge, cultivating habits, instructing in skills acquisition, developing capabilities as well as potentials that awakening peoples interest.
According to Smith, (2011) teaching can be seen as the process of carrying out those activities that experience has shown to be effective in getting students to learn. In other worlds, one teaches when the life of the learner has been academically affected. Similarly, Akubue (1997) defined teaching as a systematic activity deliberately engaged by somebody to facilitate learning of the intended worthwhile knowledge, skills and values by another person and getting the necessary feedback. Therefore, an effective teacher should be able to teach according to system or plan of action by integrating both theory and practical in classroom activities to induce the learner for better academic achievement.
In addition, Olinya (2007) describes teaching as an articulated attempt by the teacher to help students acquire skills, attitude, knowledge, idea to better their worth in life. That means, teachers’ task is to create or influence desirable positive changes in behavior and academic achievement of the students. In view of this, success of any teaching is measured by the degree to which the teacher is able to achieve the desired academic results. Similarly, to achieve the aims and objectives of teaching, the teacher must know the types of learning outcomes expected from the learners and the best methods to employ that will bring about such change in students’ behaviors and academic achievements. Thus act of teaching is the only way to drive home the aims and objectives of science education in Nigeria, through different instructional methods of teaching adopted by science teachers.
Nigeria education is guided by the National Policy on Education which provides for formal as well as non-formal modes of delivery (FGN, 2004). The guiding principles of education in Nigeria is to equip every citizen with such knowledge, skills ,attitudes and value that will enable him derive maximum benefits from the membership of his society, to live a fulfilling life and contribute towards the development and welfare of the community (FGN, 2004). Therefore, education is seen as bedrock of the society which is fostered through teaching.
Moreneo and Duran (2002) describe peer tutoring as a method of cooperative learning based on the creation of pairs of students with a lopsided relationship; that is, the tutor and tutee do not have equal academic ability but they share a common goal. This goal must be achieved through a relationship framework organised by the teacher. Peer tutoring is regarded as an excellent resource for facilitating the mastery of interpersonal competencies. Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, and Martinez (2002) assert that socialisation experiences that occur during peer tutoring can benefit both the tutor and the tutee by encouraging students to learn and increase their social standing among peers. Peer tutoring was found to be helpful in socialisation experience as the level of interaction among students both inside and outside the classroom improved significantly. Peer tutoring is also important for the tutor; that is, learning is encouraged through teaching. Hartman (2010) conducted an evaluation study and reported that peer tutoring increased students’ motivation to learn. This result is supported by Whitman (2012) and Annis (2013) who argue that peer tutoring can be the most intellectually rewarding experience of a student’s career. They found peer tutoring helped students perform better on higherorder conceptual understanding scales than students who read the material simply for study purposes. Topping (2010) also asserts that peer tutoring serves as an effective way to improve self-esteem in students. Peer tutoring aids interaction among peers not only academically but also socially. One of the problems that attracts public concern in Nigeria today is the gender gap in academic performance of students in schools. This observable disparity has been blamed on a number of factors, including social, economic, and cultural stereotyping. Gender is the range of physical, biological, mental and behavioural characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between the feminine and masculine (female and male) population (Adigun, Onihunwa, Irunokhai, Sada, & Adesina, 2015). The importance of examining performance in relation to gender is based primarily on the socio-cultural differences between girls and boys. Some vocations and professions have been regarded as men’s (e.g., engineering, arts and crafts, agriculture, etc.) while others have been regarded as women’s (e.g., catering, typing, nursing, etc.). In fact, parents assign tasks like car washing, grass cutting, and home repair to the boys. Among the researchers who conducted a study on gender disparity inthe academic performance of secondary schools in Ilorin, none of the researchers gave a conclusive answer to the relationship between peer tutoring and gender. The main point of this study is aligned with one of the principles for designing the new Senior Secondary School Curriculum, which is to develop autonomous learning capabilities in students or assist students to learn how to learn by developing their generic skills and interest, as articulated in NERDC (2008) for secondary schools in Nigeria (Awofala & Awolola, 2011). The main purpose of this study was to determine the difference in performance between students taught with peer tutoring and conventional instructional strategy in economics. A second purpose of the study was to investigate whether any difference in the performance of students taught with peer tutoring was a result of their gender, thereby finding out if peer learning favors males over females or vice-versa.