1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Schooling in all societies purports to teach students the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function as responsible citizens. In a democratic society, schools translate these curricular goals into knowledge of the community, nation, and world. Schooling also translates to the skills required to participate competently within the larger society. It also helps promote and protect one's interests and the democratic attitudes that form the bases for decision making on one's behalf while keeping in mind the larger context of the common good (Parker, 1999). Social studies is a subject which is taught at various levels of education in Nigeria, It is taught at the High school, junior secondary schools and teacher training colleges as core subjects. Even at the lower basic level of education, that is, the primary school, social studies is taught under environmental studies, now known as citizenship education. All these point to the importance attached to the study of social studies in our schools. The National Council for Social Studies divides social studies objectives into four categories: knowledge, skills, values, and participation (Barr, 1977). These four categories of the learning of social studies are also addressed in the objectives declared by the Nigeria Education Service for both elementary schools and junior secondary schools (Nigeria Education Service, 2007). Each of these categories provides the basis of curriculum development for junior secondary schools in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Ministry of Education state that “social studies at the junior secondary school level is concerned with equipping the students with an integrated body of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will help the student develop a broader perspective of Nigeria and the world” (Social studies syllabus for junior secondary schools in Nigeria, 2007). The subject probes the past and provides knowledge for the students to understand his or her society and be able to solve personal and societal problems. The subject has been divided into three sections each of which focus on the environment, government and stability, social and economic development (Ministry of Education, 2007). Social studies curriculum is based on key concepts such as democracy, justice, rights and responsibilities, identity and diversity. Teachers use topical, political and social issues to bring social studies content to life. These content areas develop in student’s key citizenship skills needed for research, discussion as well as debate sessions (Bining&Bining, 1952). The social studies curriculum used in junior secondary schools aims at developing in students the ability to participate in their communities meaningfully and wider societies as informed citizens (Ministry of Education 2007).The purpose of active citizens is to teach students to work together and take practical actions using their knowledge and understanding in social studies to contribute to the better society locally, nationally and globally (Bath, 1983). For example, after learning about human rights, diversity and inequality, students might decide to set up a project to address racism in their school or local community. Among the many agencies available for social studies education are the family, peer group, mass media, the church and the school (Cleary, 1971). Of all these, the school appears to be the most potent force in the Nigerian society driving the course of social studies. For instance, because of the newness of democratic living in the Nigerian system, one cannot guarantee that the various family units can efficiently inset the ideas of our form of democracy in the youth. Similarly, one cannot dispute the fact that most of the youth do not have access to the mass media. The same may apply to the church. On the contrary, almost every youth is expected by law to acquire at least basic education (Constitution of Nigeria, 1999). It is for this reason why Cleary, (1971) suggest that schools (junior secondary schools) are powerful weapon used to ensure that majority of the youth have a taste of social studies education in Nigeria. The past 50 years have witnessed a number of studies that have attempted to understand why students either like or dislike social studies. These studies have tried to identify and measure student’s attitude about social studies and predict what influence their attitudes related to this area of the school curriculum (Corbin, 2011; Curry & Hughes, 2012; Fraser, 2013; Inskeep& Rowland, 1963; McTear&Blaton, 2013; McTear, 2015, 2013). Through the years, ongoing changes in curriculum design, teaching methodology, and administrative practices may have helped to improve students’ perception of social studies (Shaughnessy &Haladyna, 1985). However, most students still perceive social studies classes as dull, boring, and irrelevant to their lives. If the Social Studies curriculum is to continue to have support from school administrators, politicians, and the general public, it is desirable to have positive student attitudes towards the subject matter. This is important because it is quite possible that negative attitudes toward social studies could ultimately result in a sharp decline in the allocation of resources for this subject area. Unfortunately, previous research indicates that young students are not positive about social studies and find it irrelevant for future careers (Schug, Todd, & Beery, 2013). Historically, when elementary and high school students were surveyed, the most dominant negative perception was that social studies was boring and had little relevance to their lives. Femandez, Massey, and Dombush (2013; 2009) conducted one of the earliest surveys regarding student attitudes towards social studies in the San Francisco Public Schools. They found that students in grades 9 through 12 ranked social studies last in importance when compared to other core subjects such as English and mathematics. The participants described social studies as confusing and having little relationship to their future. From the above description of social studies education in both Nigeria and the world at large, one could attest to the fact that, an exploration into student’s attitudes towards the teaching and learning of social studies will be of great relevance to the development of active citizens. It is against this background that this study sought to examine students’ attitudes towards the study of social studies in junior secondary schools.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The advancement of “liberty and justice for all” as envisioned by our country’s founders requires that, citizens have to acquire knowledge, attitudes and values to guard and endorse the principles of constitutional democracy (constitution of Nigeria, 1999). The success of Nigeria’s growth and stability relies strongly on its educational system. Social studies is a major part of the school’s curriculum because it explores morals, values and provides students with the ability to understand the values associated with being a good citizen (Ministry of Education, 2007). The marginalization of social studies education in schools has been documented repeatedly. For instance, in the United States, Lawson, (2003) surveyed hundred tenth grade students and hundred twelfth grade students in order to determine their attitudes towards the various subject areas. In the study, English, mathematics and reading were ranked ahead of social studies. Participants described social studies as boring and far from anything they could relate to in their life. This situation may result in the poor performance of students in social studies. The researchers suspect that this apparent drift may be the result of ineffective teaching and learning of Social Studies content. This study therefore investigates the attitudes students in junior secondary School have towards the teaching and learning of Social Studies.
1.3AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the attitude of students toward the study of social studies in junior secondary school. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the perception of junior secondary school students towards the teaching and learning of Social Studies.
2. To examine the attitudes of junior secondary schools students towards the methods used in teaching and learning of Social Studies.
3. To examine the effect of students attitudes on the studying of social studies in junior secondary school.
4. To examine the factors affecting junior secondary school students attitude towards the study of social studies.
5. To examine the relationship between attitude of students towards the study of social studies and their academic performance.
6. To examine the causes of junior Secondary School students’ attitudes towards the study of social studies.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the perception of junior secondary school students towards the teaching and learning of Social Studies?
2. How are the attitudes of junior secondary schools students towards the methods used in teaching and learning of Social Studies?
3. What are the effects of student’s attitudes on the studying of social studies in junior secondary school?
4. What arethe factors affecting junior secondary school students attitude towards the study of social studies?
5. What is the relationship between attitude of students towards the study of social studies and their academic performance?
6. What are the causes of junior Secondary School students’ attitudes towards the study of social studies?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no impact of effect of student’s attitudes on the studying of social studies in junior secondary school.
H02: There is no significant relationship betweenattitude of students towards the study of social studies and their academic performance.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of the study will contribute effectively to impart knowledge in the area of teaching and learning social studies in junior secondary Schools in Nigeria as a whole, It will help Social Studies teachers to be able to effectively and appropriately impart knowledge to their students because teachers get to know and understand the perception of their students about the subject which provides the opportunity for new knowledge and perceptions The study will also serve as a basic reference for both teacher and educational stakeholders and other related institutions such that they will be able to solve challenges they may encounter in dealing with issues related to the attitudes of students towards social studies. The findings of this work will not only aid players in education to take informed decisions but it will also make them understand the challenges and processes in research.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on attitude of student towards the study of social studies in junior secondary school.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Social studies: Is the study of people as social beings, as they have existed and interacted with each other and the environment, in time and in place (Education Department of Western Australia, 1999).
Society and Environment Learning Area: The Society and Environment Learning Area enable students to understand how individuals and groups live together and interact with their environment. It encourages them to actively explore, make sense of and contribute to improving the world around them (Curriculum Framework, 2013).
Attitudes: Attitude is how individuals behave or respond to a situation or a thing. Due to individual differences, people exhibit different behaviours towards events and circumstances. Attitudes can exert strong influence on behaviour, many powerful forces such social norms and values and specific circumstances can pressure people can act in particular ways.
Teaching and learning: it is the interaction between teachers and learners whereby knowledge is transferred from the teacher to the learners with the aim of changing student’s behaviour towards the set goals.
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