The Effect of Geography Literacy Possessed by Secondary School Students on Their Academic Achievement (A Case Study of SS III Students in Enugu East L.G.A. Of Enugu State)
Objective of the study
The primary objective of this study is to investigate the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement. To achieve this, the following specific objectives will guide the research:
- To assess the relationship between geography literacy and the critical thinking skills of secondary school students.
- To examine the association between geography literacy and performance in social studies subjects among secondary school students.
- To explore the contribution of geography literacy to the academic achievement of secondary school students in science-related subjects.
- To investigate the impact of geography literacy on global awareness and cultural understanding among secondary school students and its influence on academic performance.
REVIEWED OF RELATED LITERATURE
Cognitive development is an area of interest found both in psychology and neuroscience, targeting children’s abilities and aptitudes in relation to their learning and behaviour when compared to that of an adult (Piaget, 1969). This theory of cognitive development proposed that learning is a dynamic process where learners create knowledge for themselves, but did not take into consideration the influence of the social context and interaction on learning that the constructivist view of learning promoted. According to John Dewey (1938), significant learning must incorporate an increased involvement and examination of one’s thinking coupled with introspection and, as such, students should be provided with opportunities to think and articulate their thoughts. Reading comprehension is the mental process whereby a reader constructs meaning from text. It is the process of “generating, articulating, negotiating, and revising interpretations and understandings within a community of readers” (Khezrlou, 2012, p. 83). It requires knowledge of reading strategies on the part of the learner and the teacher. O’Malley and Chamot (1990) categorised reading strategies as metacognitive, cognitive, and social/affective. They define a metacognitive learning strategy as one that ‘involves thinking about or knowledge of the learning process, planning for learning, monitoring learning while it is taking place, or selfevaluation of learning after the task has been completed’ (p. 231). Cognitive strategies refer to the steps or operations used in learning or problem-solving, beyond word identification. Oxford (2003) elaborated on the use of cognitive strategies by noting that “cognitive strategies enable the learner to manipulate the language material in direct ways, for example, through reasoning, analysis, note-taking, summarising, synthesising, outlining, reorganising information to develop stronger schemas (knowledge structure), practising in naturalistic setting, and practising structures and sound formally” (p.12). Reading comprehension is affected by background characteristics of the reader, the nature of the text and the ability of the teacher to apply cognitive strategies in the classroom. Lenz (n.d.) noted that the readers’ prior knowledge of the topic, their desire to want to read, knowledge of language structures, how the text is structured, exposure to different genres of writing, reasoning ability, nature of engagement, and their learning style, all affect the reader’s ability to comprehend text. Reading material that is organised, easy to read and suitable for their grade level can appeal to readers, whereas text that is poorly organised, complex and above or below their grade level can dissuade readers from interacting with text. Teachers can also affect reading comprehension as they play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the students and the content they have to learn. (Jordan, n.d). By the application of content enhancement devices or techniques, such as advance organisers, graphic organisers, mnemonic devices and peer-tutoring; and content enhancement routines such as comparison routine, and concept mastery routine (Sencibaugh, 2005) and through direct, systematic instruction, teachers model the process of learning to read. Aarnoutse and Schellings (as cited in Sahan, 2012) noted that there are eight essential strategies that promote effective reading. These are 1) determining a reading objective; activating and using one’s own knowledge with regard to the content of the text; 2) drawing connections or relations between words, sentences and paragraphs, predicting information and creating representations; 3) exploring the nature and structure of different types of texts; 4) discovering the theme and the main ideas in the text along with a summary; 5) posing and answering one’s own questions; 6) planning, steering, monitoring and correcting one’s own reading behaviour; 7) evaluating texts for their value; and 8) reflecting on the reading activities which have been executed and their results (p. 5). The processes of reading and writing can help to enhance learning Geography in a more productive and meaningful manner, as prior knowledge or schema and new knowledge combine to build conceptual relationships (Glynn, 1991). Although relevant prior knowledge cannot guarantee meaningful learning, activation of prior knowledge is definitely a first step of instruction and should not be left to chance. For this, advance organisers have been considered as an effective way to activate it. According to Denham (2018), advance organisers are tools used before classroom instruction, which serve as a bridge between students’ prior knowledge and what they are about to learn. He went on to state that, theoretically, advance organisers help to increase retention of new knowledge and skills by identifying the most important information, showing connections between concepts, and also help to activate prior knowledge. Two ways whereby skills necessary for literacy and studying can be attained are by direct instruction where literacy skills are taught separately from content knowledge, or by functional instructions where literacy skills are ingrained within the context. According to Vacca (2002), research conducted on functional approaches paved the way for the shift from a skills paradigm to a cognitive paradigm. This action research followed a functional approach in the cognitive paradigm, with emphasis on learning from text using various instructional strategies. In their research on increasing reading comprehension, Guthrie et al. (2004) integrated motivational practices with cognitive practices in a 3rd-grade class. They found that when teachers used a set of instructional strategies for concept-oriented reading along with motivation-supporting practices, their students performed better in reading comprehension, and were more engaged in reading than the class without the integration. The motivation-supporting practices included hands-on activities, giving students choices, providing interesting texts and allowing collaboration in reading. According to Ulusoy and Dedeoglu (2011), content area literacy assumes that all students can be taught to read and write better. The concept of content area reading and writing allows students to comprehend content material by not only reading and writing but discussing, questioning, investigating, exploring, and organising (French et al., 1989).The main idea is to use language parts effectively to maintain high-level learning (Ulusoy& Dedeoglu, 2011). Content area reading and writing includes using strategies in class that model how to think about what is read, previewing content-specific vocabulary words, and asking questions while reading, among others (McGlynn & Kelly, 2018). Thus, collaboration between content area specialists and literacy specialists is key to finding ways to support all students in the content area classroom (Brozo, Moorman, Meyer & Stewart, 2013). Many researchers have implemented literacy strategies in content areas over the years, with varying degrees of success across age groups. In a study conducted in Karachi, Pakistan by Nasir, Naqvi and Bhamani (2013), 39 students of a 5th-grade class were given a baseline assessment to explore pre-intervention writing skills at primary level. The authors shared the view that young students were lacking writing skills and teachers did not seem to be using proper writing processes. They then implemented literacy support strategies for 8 weeks using flash cards, word bank and journals for vocabulary development, after which they administered a post-test to determine if there was improvement in writing skills. The study found that 75% of the students showed the greatest improvement in the areas of vocabulary and grammar as well as structuring. Campbell and Parke (2018) investigated 23 8th-grade students who were taught how to use paragraph writing frames over a 12-week period. At the end of the study, quantitative data gathered revealed a significant improvement in students’ writing in the areas of purpose, organisation, elaboration and evidence. Literacy strategies for content area were researched by Fisher, Frey and Williams (2002), and Ming (2012). Fisher, Frey and Williams at Hoover High School in the United States, implemented seven literacy strategies across content areas including English, Social Studies, Art, Physical Education, Music, and Shop. The strategies selected were read aloud, K-W-L charts, graphic organisers, vocabulary instruction, writing to learn, structured note taking and reciprocal teaching. This school-wide focus on content area reading and writing led to increased student achievement. Ming selected strategies to ensure authentic writing. These were response journals for students to share their thoughts and emotional reactions toward text, and learning logs to keep track of their learning. Anticipation guides were also suggested as an effective strategy to activate reading that was done independently, as pair work or in a small group setting Cavanagh (2005) noted that the scientist reads and writes differently when compared to a historian or mathematician. Therefore, the content area teacher needs to choose the appropriate strategy for the course material. Nevertheless, Billmeyer and Lee Barton (1998) found that there was no significant increase in academic performance despite the use of content area strategies, thereby implying no sound guarantee that the utilisation and implementation of reading and writing strategies will in fact increase academic performance.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitutes of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
This study was carried to examine the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement. SS iii students in Enugu East L.G.A. of Enugu state form the population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of eighty (80) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which only seventy-seven (77) were returned and validated. This was due to irregular, incomplete and inappropriate responses to some questionnaire. For this study a total of 77 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement.
This study was on the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement. Three objectives were raised which included: To assess the relationship between geography literacy and the critical thinking skills of secondary school students, to examine the association between geography literacy and performance in social studies subjects among secondary school students, to explore the contribution of geography literacy to the academic achievement of secondary school students in science-related subjects and to investigate the impact of geography literacy on global awareness and cultural understanding among secondary school students and its influence on academic performance. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from SS III students in Enugu East LGA. of Enugu State. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
In conclusion, the effect of geography literacy possessed by secondary school students on their academic achievement is significant and multifaceted. The research indicates that geography literacy positively influences various aspects of academic performance, including critical thinking skills, performance in social studies and science-related subjects, global awareness, cultural understanding, and reading and language skills.
Geography literacy enhances students’ critical thinking abilities by enabling them to analyze spatial patterns, make informed decisions, and solve problems effectively. It provides a foundation for understanding social studies subjects, leading to improved comprehension of content and higher scores on assessments. In science-related subjects, geography literacy contributes to students’ comprehension of complex scientific phenomena, fostering academic achievement in these disciplines.
Furthermore, geography literacy promotes global awareness and cultural understanding by providing students with a broader perspective on the world and its diverse cultures. This global perspective positively influences academic achievement in subjects such as history, social sciences, and foreign languages. Additionally, geography literacy strengthens reading comprehension skills and vocabulary development, contributing to overall academic achievement across multiple subjects.
Recognizing the significance of geography literacy and its impact on academic achievement has important implications for educators, policymakers, and curriculum developers. It emphasizes the need to prioritize geography education in secondary schools, integrate geography literacy across different subjects, and provide teachers with professional development opportunities to enhance their instructional strategies.
By fostering geography literacy skills among secondary school students, educators can empower them to become informed global citizens equipped with critical thinking skills, a broader perspective, and the ability to navigate and understand the world around them. This, in turn, can lead to improved academic achievement and prepare students for success in higher education, careers, and active participation in society.
Further research is encouraged to delve deeper into specific aspects of geography literacy and its impact on academic achievement. By addressing the limitations and expanding the scope of research, future studies can provide more comprehensive insights into the relationship between geography literacy and academic success, ultimately benefiting students, educators, and educational systems as a whole.
Based on the findings and conclusions of the study regarding the effect of geography literacy on secondary school students’ academic achievement, the following recommendations are put forth:
- Strengthen Geography Education: Policymakers and educational institutions should prioritize and enhance geography education in secondary schools. This can be achieved by allocating adequate resources, developing comprehensive curriculum frameworks, and providing professional development opportunities for teachers to improve their knowledge and instructional strategies in geography.
- Integrated Approach: Adopt an integrated approach to teaching geography by incorporating geography literacy across various subjects. Teachers can infuse geographic concepts and skills into social studies, science, history, and language arts classes, enabling students to make connections and understand the relevance of geography in different disciplines.
- Use Geospatial Technologies: Integrate the use of geospatial technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping tools, in geography education. These technologies can engage students, enhance their spatial thinking skills, and provide opportunities for hands-on exploration and analysis of real-world data.
- Promote Critical Thinking: Implement teaching strategies that foster critical thinking skills in geography education. Encourage students to analyze and interpret geographic information, evaluate multiple perspectives, and solve complex problems. Incorporate inquiry-based learning approaches, case studies, and collaborative projects that promote critical thinking and application of geographic knowledge.
- Cultivate Global Awareness: Emphasize the development of global awareness and cultural understanding through geography education. Integrate case studies, cultural exchange programs, and projects that explore global issues, diverse cultures, and international perspectives. This can broaden students’ horizons and foster empathy, respect, and appreciation for different cultures and perspectives.
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