Effects of Learning Corners on the Pre-schoolers Learning Outcomes in Early Childhood Education
The purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to explore the use of play corners as a teaching strategy in both public and private pre primary schools. The study also sought to explore whether factors such as type of school, teachers‟ motivation, teachers‟ experience, teachers‟ training status and availability of play corners could influence use of play corners as a teaching strategy.
Objectives of the study
The study focused on the following specific objectives:
- To establish the extent to which teachers used play corners as a teaching strategy in pre primary
- To find out whether type of school, teachers‟ motivation, teachers‟ experience, teachers‟ qualification and availability of play corners influenced the use of play corners as a teaching strategy.
Theoretical and conceptual frame work
Personal Investment Theory (PIT)
According to Maehr‟s (1984) Personal Investment Theory, a person‟s habit towards particular behavior determines the way he/she invests his or her time, talent and energy. The theory contends that the meaning of the activity, for example the meaning of play corners or use of play corners to a teacher, basically determines his/her attitude towards people, situations, objects and actions related to play corners. The theory suggests that a person may have recognized talent/ability in performing a task but may not be interested to exhibit the behavior if the practice is not encouraged by his/her reference group. Thus, when a teacher‟s play corners behavior or other related play corners activities are favored or appreciated by social group(s) for instance, school management, other teachers or parents, the teacher is likely to choose to exhibit the behavior more frequently. Consequently, frequency in a behavior will render to increased investment of her/his additional time, energy and skills in the behavior. In this view the school management may influence teacher‟s use of play corners as a teaching strategy.
Explaining whether extrinsic rewards control a person‟s behavior in a particular situation Maehr (1984) argues that, some people when assured of the means to obtain the rewards, will strive to maximize their chances to get them and in this manner exhibit the rewarding behavior. In the context of this study, when a teacher is assured of enjoying a variety of motivational packages from the school management, she/he will reciprocate by spending more time, energy and skills in play corners related teaching and learning activities. In addition, some teachers may opt to use play corners as a teaching method if they perceive that the action‟s outcome will render them recognition. This theory is relevant in establishing how the motivating school environment influences use of play corners as a teaching strategy in pre-primary schools.
The theory further proposes that a person‟s subjective judgment of his/her ability to perform a task effectively tends to influence the individual‟s choice to exhibit or inhibit a behavior. When a teacher believes in her/his competence and knowledge in Early Childhood teaching practices, she/he will increase her/his investment of skills, energy and talents in use of play corners as a child-centered teaching and learning approach. The theory suggests that a knowledgeable and skilled person in any area of specialty tends to exhibit a professional behavior in autonomous and assertive manner regardless of existence of some impeding factors. This premise offers a base for establishing whether pre-primary school teacher‟s status of training and experience determine his/her use of play corners as a teaching approach. When applied to this study, the theory is relevant as it establishes a relationship between pre- primary school teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy and factors such as the type of school, teachers‟ motivation, teachers‟ training status, teacher‟s experience and availability of play corners.
This chapter presents the design employed by the study, variables and location of the study. It also gives a description of the target population and sampling techniques. The section also focuses on pilot study and the procedures used to ascertain validity and reliability. Finally, the chapter describes data collection and analysis techniques.
The study employed a descriptive survey research design to investigate pre-primary school teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy. The design was appropriate because the researcher sought to get responses on the pre-primary teachers‟ teaching strategies. Information obtained helped describe existing teaching and learning approaches in pre- primary schools. Using the design, information about the teachers‟ perspectives, habits and attitudes on the use of play corners as a teaching strategy was obtained.
The independent and dependent variables are described in this section:-
The independent variables of this study included type of school (public and private pre- primary schools); teachers‟ training level based on attained ECE training (certificate, diploma or degree); teachers‟ motivation in relation to the manner the schools administration stimulate teachers by giving out incentives for the purpose of reinforcing and promoting their use of play corners in teaching; teachers‟ experience with regard to number of years a teacher had spent teaching in pre-primary school and availability of play corners, which entailed establishment of existence of play corners facilities, play corners objects and free activity corners in a school.
The dependent variable in this study was pre-primary school teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy. The frequency at which teachers used play corners for introduction of new and reinforcement of the already taught concepts was investigated. This included the use of play corners corners, songs and play corners in teaching and learning activities.
Location of the study
The study was carried out in Education district IV which is in Lagos state, in the western part of Nigeria. The district comprises both rural and peri-urban settings. The district is dominated by pastoralists and agriculturalists. The larger community has the perception that pre-primary schools are not very important. Parents regard them costly and time consuming. In such a situation where parents/community has little meaning of pre- primary institutions, teachers might have negative attitude in teaching the young children. This could affect the content and the style of their teaching strategies. In addition, there was a need to ascertain whether the emerging pre-primary school classes, especially public schools were taught as the ECE guideline prescribes.
The target population of the study consisted of all pre-primary school teachers teaching in Education district IV in Lagos state. The district has a total of 83 pre-primary schools and about 95 pre-primary school teachers. Unlike the private schools, very few teachers in public schools have ECE training. In most public schools, the pre-primary classes were taught by the teachers who had never attended any ECE training. Apparently, ECE was accorded little meaning, a situation which made teachers appointed to teach in these classes feel demotivated. Further worsening the situation is most school managers and teachers lacked experience and fundamental ECE training.
DATA ANALYSIS, RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
This chapter presents the analysis, data results and discussion of use of play corners as a teaching strategy. The section also focuses on the factors which influenced teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This chapter includes a summary of the findings, the implications and conclusion. Finally, the section presents recommendations to teachers, head-teachers and school administrators, and suggestions for further studies.
Summary of the findings
The purpose of this study was to establish the use of play corners and identify factors which influenced use of play corners as a teaching strategy among pre-primary teachers in Education district IV, Nigeria. The selected factors were type of school, teachers‟ motivation, teachers‟ experience, teachers‟ level of training, and availability of play corners. The study employed a descriptive survey where both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. In the data collection, a questionnaire and observation checklists were used. Chi square test was used to analyze data. Teachers‟ motivation and availability of play corners influenced teachers‟ use play corners as a teaching strategy. The other factors namely: teachers‟ training status, teachers‟ experience and type of school did not influence teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy. In addition, the study findings established that:
- Despite the stated importance of play corners as a teaching strategy in pre-primary schools about half of the respondents did not use play corners as a teaching
- About three quarters of non-users of play corners as a teaching strategy were from public schools indicating that a considerable disparity in the use of play corners as a teaching strategy existed between public and private
- Majority of schools had a significant shortage of play corners, a situation which was probably the reason for the tendency of some teachers being unable to use play corners as a teaching
- It was found that about two third of the de-motivated teachers did not use play corners as a teaching strategy. Motivated teachers appeared to use play corners more frequently compared to those who were not
- The findings indicate that most of the teachers who did not use play corners as a teaching strategy had few years of experience. The tendency of not using play corners as a teaching strategy diminished with an increase in the number of years of
Implications of the findings
The study as per research objectives yielded the following results and implications:
Type of school and teachers’ use of play corners as a teaching strategy
The study found out that the type of school affected the method of teaching. Despite the fact that there was no significant relationship between type of school and teachers‟ use of play corners as a teaching strategy, the findings on the use of play corners for teaching and learning purposes emerged to differ considerably between public and private schools. This implies that the discrepancy in the use of play corners as a teaching strategy between public and private schools may persist especially if deliberate measures to reverse or mitigate the gap between the two types of schools are ignored. It also suggests that the teaching mode in public schools is not as child centered as it is supposed to be.
Teachers’ level of motivation and the use of play corners as a teaching strategy
The quality of the schools‟ management and the schools‟ environment influenced teachers‟ motivation. This implies that schools‟ management, either consciously or unconsciously were not concerned about their role of ensuring that teachers were motivated. As a result, they may keep on demotivating teachers if the unique skills to merge with play corners with knowledge and skills acquisitions activities are not appreciated.
Teachers’ training status and use of play corners as a teaching strategy
Most of the trained teachers reported to use play corners as a teaching strategy compared to untrained ones. These findings suggest that training does not only result in increased efficiency and skills but it also develops assertiveness to use child-friendly teaching strategies. The implication of these findings is that increasing the number of teachers trained in ECE may scale up the number of teachers using child friendly teaching methods and hence reverse the state of lack of use of play corners as a teaching strategy among pre-primary school teachers.
Teachers’ experience and use of play corners as a teaching strategy
In this study, teachers with low teaching experience in teaching in pre-primary schools appeared not to use play corners as a teaching strategy contrary to teachers with medium and high experience who demonstrate play cornersful behavior as they teach inside and outside classes. This suggests that the non-use of play corners tendency increased with increase in teaching experience. The data available in this study shows progressive numerical decrease of ECE teachers for the reasons which are not yet established. The implication of having none or a few experienced teachers may lead to sub-standard ECE teaching. Such a situation may expose children continually to unfriendly teaching strategies if school managements fail to retain teachers with medium and long teaching experiences.
- Availability of play corners and teachers’ use of play corners as a teaching strategy Majority of the schools had play corners objects, but most schools did not have indoor and outdoor play corners facilities which teachers and children could freely use to enhance teaching and learning. In addition, observations made during data collection revealed that most of the play corners and facilities were inadequate and in dilapidated condition. This implies that the absence or inadequate play corners may have been the reason that made most teachers find it difficult or be unwilling to use play corners as a teaching approach. The absence or lack of adequate play corners in public schools may imply that play corners in the school are just for sheer fun or recreation purposes but not as essential resources for academic
The study arrived at the following conclusions based on the study findings:
Type of school and teachers‟ motivation appeared to provide a significant background for teachers to work efficiently or vice-versa. The type of school management affected teachers‟ mood, readiness and flexibility in use of play corners as their choice of teaching strategy. Motivation appeared to influence the manner and quality of teaching behavior among pre-primary school teachers. Both teachers‟ status of training and teachers‟ experience showed a relationship with the use of play corners. However, most of the teachers in public schools were untrained.
Play corners and play corners facilities were missing in most schools with public schools turned out having far much less play corners than their counterpart in private schools. In several instances, there were discrepancies between observed and reported use of play corners. Teachers appeared to over report on their use of play corners as a teaching strategy as most of the observed play corners seemed dilapidated.
Based on the study findings, the following recommendations were made:
Recommendations for head teachers and school managers
To improve the use of play corners as a teaching strategy, the following recommendations were made to the school managers and head teachers:
- School managers and head teachers should cultivate a conducive social environment that could promote and motivate teachers‟ behavior to embrace the use of play corners as a teaching
- School managements have a role to play corners in ensuring that teachers teach children as prescribed by the Nigerian ECE guideline. Regular monitoring of teaching methods should be done to ensure that teaching and learning is as play cornersful as
- School managements should have ways in place to orient inexperienced teachers with the child- centered teaching methods especially the use of play corners in
- School managements should arrange teachers – parents meeting to let them know that the ECE teaching and learning ought to be as child centered as possible and that, the use of play corners as a teaching strategy is crucial as it enhances smooth academic progress for
- School managements should consider their prime role in improvising teaching and learning materials from their immediate environments by making sure that the equipments/tools that teachers can use for improvising play corners are within teachers‟
Recommendations for teachers
Teachers should be active and creative in the use of play corners. This is based on the fact that the use of play corners as a teaching strategy helps to simplify instruction, revision, summarizes concepts and captures children’s attention. In this regard, teachers should be aware that play corners is the elementary activity any child does, hence the creative use of this intrinsic behavior which is naturally embedded in children’s improves both teaching and learning activities.
Recommendations for the Ministry of Education and Vocation Training (MoEVT)
The following recommendations were suggested for MoEVT:
- MoEVT should regulate the ECE training programs by ensuring that the training programs and institutions emphasize on the use of appropriate teaching strategies such as the use of play corners. In this regard, ECE teachers training institutions should be compelled to inculcate adequate skills on accessing play corners and ways on how they can be used to facilitate teaching and learning in a play cornersful
- MoEVT should design strategies to effect the ECE guideline as an effective implementation strategy that will make teachers adhere to the stipulated child centered teaching practices, especially the use of play corners which is an effective and rewarding teaching
- MoEVT should sensitize the ECE stakeholders and the entire public on the relevance and harmony that exist between teaching/learning and the use of play corners as a teaching strategy in pre-primary school
Recommendations for further research
- The study findings were limited to Education district IV thus studies on the same topic could be conducted in other districts in urban and rural areas to establish the use of play corners as a teaching strategy since the study findings cannot be generalized to the entire country.
- There is a need to conduct studies on improvisation and accessibility of play corners resources. Such studies will help to establish the nature and trend of availability of play corners and facilities, and the manner and degree in which they are
- A study needs to be undertaken to find out the reason behind the discrepancies in the availability of play corners and facilities between public and private
- Further studies can also focus on determining whether teachers‟ remuneration affects their teaching
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