Social Studies Education Project Topics

Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance of Students in Social Studies in Junior Secondary Schools

Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance of Students in Social Studies in Junior Secondary Schools

Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance of Students in Social Studies in Junior Secondary Schools

Chapter One

Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of the study:

  1. determine the impact of classroom building on the performance in social studies of students in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  2. determine the impact of adequate class furniture on the performance in social studies of students in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  3. ascertain the impact of small class population on the performance in social studies of students in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  4. ascertain the impact of the use of instructional materials on the performance in social studies of students in junior secondary schools in Lagos



 Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this study is based on the theory of Stimulus -Response as propounded by Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936) and John Watson (1878-1958). Papalia, Feldman and Olds (2007) asserted that Stimulus- Response is a type of learning which is based on the association of stimulus that does not ordinarily elicit a particular response with another stimulus that does not elicit a response. While studying the functioning of the digestive system, Ivan Pavlov encountered an unforeseen problem. The dogs in his experiment salivated not only upon actually eating but also when they saw the food, noticed the man who usually brought it or even heard his footsteps. Pavlov began to study this phenomenon, which he called „conditioning.‟‟ Since the type of conditioning emphasized was a classical one quite different from the conditioning emphasized by other psychologists at the later stage, it has been renamed classical conditioning.

In one of his experiments, Pavlov kept a dog hungry for a few days and then tied it to the experimental table which was fitted with certain mechanically controlled devices. The dog was made comfortable and distractions were excluded as far as it was possible to do so. The observer himself remained hidden from the dog but was able to view the experiment by means of a set of mirrors. Arrangement was made to give food to the dog through an automatic mechanism. He also arranged for a bell to ring every time food was presented to the dog. When the food was put before the dog and the bell was rung, there was automatic secretion of saliva from the mouth of the dog. The activity of presenting the food accompanied with the ringing of the bell was repeated several times and the amount of saliva secured was measured.

After the several trials the dog was given no food but the bell rung. In this case also, the amount of saliva secreted was recorded and measured, it was found that even in the absence of food (the natural stimulus), the ringing of the bell (an artificial stimulus) caused the dog to secret the saliva (natural response).

The above experiment thus, brings to light four essential elements of conditioning process. The first element is a natural stimulus, technically known as unconditioned stimulus (US) that is food. It results in a natural response called the unconditioned response (UR). This response constitutes the second element. The third element is artificial stimulus that is the ringing of the bell which is technically known as a conditioned stimulus (CS). It is substituted for the natural stimulus (food). To begin with, the conditioned stimulus does not evoke the desired response, (CR). The fourth element is the chain of the conditioning process. However, as a result of conditioning, one learns to produce behaviours in the form of a conditioned response to the conditioned stimulus.

The theory of conditioning as advocated by Pavlov, thus, considers learning as habit formation and is based on the principle of association and substitution. It is simply a stimulus-response type of learning where in place of a natural stimulus like food, water etc., and an artificial stimulus like the sound of a bell, sight of light of a definite colour, etc, can evoke a natural response. When both the artificial or natural stimulus (ringing of bell) and the natural stimulus (food) are brought together several times, the dog becomes schooled or conditioned to this situation. A perfect association occurs between the types of stimuli presented together. As a result, after some times, the natural stimulus can be substituted or replaced by an artificial stimulus and this artificial stimulus is able to evoke the natural response.

Supporting Pavlovs‟ ideas on conditioned responses, through his experiments, Waston tried to demonstrate the role of conditioning in producing as well as eliminating emotional responses such as fear. In one of his experiments, Watson took an eleven-month old child named Albert as his subject. The baby was given a rabbit to play with. The baby liked it very much and was pleased to touch its fur. He carefully observed the pleasant responses of the baby. After some times, in the course of the experiment, as soon as the baby touched the rabbit, a loud noise was produced to frighten the baby. The loud noise was repeated every time he tried to touch the rabbit, and this gave rise to a fear response. After some times the baby began to fear the rabbit, even when there was no loud noise hence it touched the rabbit. In this way, the baby learned to fear the rabbit through conditioning.

Implication of Classical Conditioning

In our day to day life, we are usually exposed to simple classical conditioning. Fear, love and hatred towards an object, phenomenon or event are created through conditioning. A father who, when he comes home from workplace, always rebukes and punishes his child without caring to know the basic reasons may condition his child to fear him, or develop anxiety reactions at the time of return to home. The child may further develop a feeling of hatred towards his father or even discontent and a hostile attitude towards his home.

Similarly, a teacher with his defective methods of teaching or improper behaviours may condition a child to develop distaste and hatred toward him, the subject he teaches and even the school environment. On the contrary, affection, a loving attitude and sympathetic treatment given to the child by the parent at home or by the teachers at school may produce a desirable impact on him through the process of conditioning.

Most of our learning is associated with the process of conditioning from the beginning. A child learns to call his father “daddy”, his mother „mummy‟, and his dog „Montu‟ through the process of conditioning i.e. Stimulus-Response association and substitution. As a result of stimulus generalization, he may attribute the name of daddy to all adult males, mummy to all adult females and call all dogs by the name Montu. Gradually, he comes to the stage of stimulus discrimination and then learns to discriminate and recognize and attribute different names to different person, animals and objects. This phenomenon of stimulus generalization and discrimination goes on up to quite a late stage in our life.

Thus, much of our behaviour in the shape of interest, attitudes, habits, sense of application or criticism, moods and temperaments, is fashioned through conditioning. The process of conditioning not only helps us in learning of undesirable habits, unhealthy attitudes, superstitions, fear and phobias through reconditioning. An individual who hates a particular person or object may be made to seek pleasure in their company. Another individual who thinks it is a bad sign if a cat crosses his path can be made to give up his superstitious belief.

Based on the theory of Stimulus-Response, education researches proved the impact of school structural characteristics on the performance in social studies and students‟ achievements. For instance, researchers such as (Brown & Evans, 2002; Neal, 2009; Crosnoe, Johson & Elder, 2004; Earthman, 2002; Dupper & Meyer- Adams, 2002; Goldmith, 2004) through their analysis of students individual behaviour and school structural characteristics, their studies had identified elements shown to have motivational effects on the learners‟ interest and positively affect their academic achievements.

However, investigating individual-level and school structural characteristics that influence academic achievement is important because students spend a great deal of time in school, and therefore schools and school-related activities play key roles in the socialization of students and serve as the primary social setting for students (Brown & Evans, 2002).

Coleman, (2000) argued that it is possible for school context to promote or reduce students‟ performance in social studies. He further states that school attachment, school motivation, school involvement, peer attachment and parental school involvement can influence performance in social studies.

Schneider (2003) found that participation in extra curriculum activities, such as sport, drama, and journalism clubs is associated with increased level of students‟ performance in social studies. It is believed that conducive and positive learning environment can stimulate, promote and facilitate effective learning that will result to positive outcome, safety and conformability of its occupants.





Research Design

A quasi-experimental research design, involving a pre-test, post-test and non-equivalent research design groups was used for the study. This type of research design is appropriate for studying how the peculiarities of a learning environment would affect the performance of different students groups at the secondary school level. In other words, the research design is appropriate to the type of research conducted which is largely an evaluation. The purpose of using this design agreed with Kolo (2003) who says that “experimental is to investigate possible cause and effect as well as relationship between two or more variables by the application of treatment which cannot be resolved by observation or description”. Pp 6




In data analysis, descriptive statistics such as mean and standard deviation were employed to explain the research questions, while inferential statistic such as t- test was used in testing the hypotheses.



This study examined the Impact of Learning Environment on the Performance in social studies of students in  in Junior Secondary Schools in Lagos State. The study comprised background to the study that highlighted variables such as the concept of education, learning environment vis-a-vis performance in social studies, meaning of , meaning of performance and objectives of secondary education. This was followed by statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, basic assumptions, significance of the study, scope and delimitation of the study.

Review of related literature was carried out to provide the practical basis for data interpretation and major findings of the study. The review was on the following sub-headings: introduction, theoretical framework, concept of learning environment, relevance of learning environment, component of learning environment, concept of performance in social studies, learning environment and performance in social studies, how to evaluate performance in social studies, empirical studies and summary.

A quasi-experimental research design involving pre-test, post-test and non- equivalent group design was used for the study. Purposive sampling technique was used to select two renovated schools and two dilapidated schools. Thereafter, two large sized classes of JSS III students were selected from two of the schools and another two small sized classes from two other schools given a total of 4 intact classes. Students from these classes formed the sample size of 200 from the population of 25,300 in 200 public secondary schools in Lagos State.  Achievement Test (SSAT) that contained 20 items was used as instrument for this study which was adopted from Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) conducted in Lagos state between 2008 and 2012. 8 weeks lesson plan was prepared and both experimental and control groups were taught for 4 weeks each by the researcher. Pre-test was given to the two groups under the same conditions before the commencement of the teaching and post-test was given after the teaching period. The results of the test were collected with the help of research assistant and analyzed. Descriptive statistics were employed to answer the research questions, while t-test statistic was used for hypotheses testing. The analysis and the interpretation of data confirmed some aspects of the theoretical work as highlighted in the literature review.

The findings revealed that all the four hypotheses tested were rejected.

However, based on the findings, the following were obtained:

  1. That class buildings have positive influence on the performance in social studies of students in in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  2. that class with adequate furniture impacted positively on the performance in social studies of students in in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  3. that class with small class population has positive impact on the performance in social studies of students in in junior secondary schools in Lagos
  4. that use of instructional materials in teaching has impacted positively on the performance of junior secondary schools in Lagos


This study has shown a positive and significant relationship between the physical characteristics of the school such as classroom buildings, furniture, instructional facilities and students‟ performance in social studies in junior secondary schools in Lagos State. This is an indication that these facilities in secondary schools should be a prime concern of the education stakeholders in the state and the nation in general. However, the extent to which students‟ learning could be enhanced depends on the structure of their classroom, availability of the classrooms, instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that conducive learning environment with available school facilities will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process as well as academic achievements of students.

Hence it has been established that facilities are potent to greater academic achievement of students. Therefore, it requires prompt attention on the part of the education stakeholders in Lagos State and the nation in order to improve the poor condition of learning environment and academic situation of secondary schools from its present state. Moreover, there are some facilities that can be improvised by the teachers in order to facilitate teaching and learning, hence such facilities should be improvised by the teachers.


Based on the conclusion drawn, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Government and other education stakeholders should make concerted efforts to provide adequate classroom building and renovate the existing dilapidated structures in public secondary schools. This would help to reduce the problem of school overcrowding and it would go a long way to create enabling teaching and learning
  2. Education stakeholders should endeavour to provide adequate class furniture (chairs and lockers or desk) in public secondary schools and students should be oriented on how to maintain these facilities because most a time‟s students destroy these facilities by
  3. Small class population should be maintained in public secondary schools and the population of students admitted into public schools should depend on the available space and facilities. Because, there is need to make the number of students to be taught in the class to be moderate, so that the teacher would be able to manage the class effectively and give individual attention to students where
  4. Adequate instructional materials should be made available in public secondary schools and teachers should be encouraged to be using instructional materials in the course of presenting their lessons and they should be made to update their knowledge and skills in improvisation of instructional materials through seminars, workshops and conferences organized by government and professional

Contributions to Knowledge

The study contributes to knowledge in the following areas:

  1. Positive learning environment encourages students‟ motivation to learn and improve in their academic
  2. Conducive learning environment helps teachers to achieve their instructional objectives
  3. Recommendations were made for a more proactive approach that would facilitate provision of adequate facilities in our public secondary schools in Nigeria and Lagos State in
  4. The study had revealed the picture of poor condition of facilities in public schools and urgent attention is needed to put it in proper condition or else it gets to total


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