Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Ken...

Ngugi M.N., Mumiukha C.K.

American Journal of Educational Research

Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya

Ngugi M.N.1,, Mumiukha C.K.2

1Department of Curriculum and Educational Management, Laikipia University, Nairobi, Kenya

2Department of Psychology, Counseling and Education Foundations, Egerton University, Nairobi, Kenya

Abstract

The pivotal role played by education to growth and development of an individual cannot be underestimated. In spite of this, some regions in Kenya, Turkana County included, still experience low level of participation in education. Many factors have been attributed to this phenomenon. However, few studies have addressed the teacher factors influencing the level of participation of secondary school students in school. The study therefore focused on establishing this using descriptive survey design. Simple random sampling was used to select a sample size of 200 students from 8 schools in Lodwar, Turkana County. The study established that teacher qualification, personal characteristics and their role in motivating learners to work hard enhance student performance and shape their decisions about the future. However, there was neither gender nor grade level difference in students determining teacher factors contributing to level of participation. The study recommends that the government should encourage the training of teachers to incorporate not only skills related to pedagogy, but also other skills that necessitate them to work effectively and efficiently.

Cite this article:

  • Ngugi M.N., Mumiukha C.K.. Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 4, No. 19, 2016, pp 1300-1306. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/4/19/4
  • M.N., Ngugi, and Mumiukha C.K.. "Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya." American Journal of Educational Research 4.19 (2016): 1300-1306.
  • M.N., N. , & C.K., M. (2016). Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya. American Journal of Educational Research, 4(19), 1300-1306.
  • M.N., Ngugi, and Mumiukha C.K.. "Teacher Factors That Influence Secondary School Student Participation in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya." American Journal of Educational Research 4, no. 19 (2016): 1300-1306.

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1. Introduction

Education plays a vital role in an individual’s success and their personal growth. The more an individual has knowledge the more they grow. Today education is viewed as a necessity. It is seen as a solution to a myriad of problems, as well as promoting good habits, values and awareness. Education is widely regarded as a basic human right, a key to enlightenment, and a source of wealth and power [1]. Since education is critical to industrial and technological development, developing nations aspiring to realize the same status have to put a premium. Most governments in the world are today investing heavily in education. The goal is to have their citizenry gain quality education and in extension be part of the economic development of the country.

Over the years, many commissions and committees have been formed to review the education system in Kenya. It is in this respect that the Government of Kenya in conjunction with other development partners have introduced several strategies and programmes to scale up the provision of quality education and in extension student performance. For the longest period the focus has been on Free Primary Education and the cultivation of quality education in primary education, however, the focus has shifted to include secondary education. The introduction of Free Day Secondary Education fund by the government in 2001 and the establishment of national secondary schools as centers of excellence in each constituency in Kenya was a move to enhance student performance. The government’s funding in secondary schools is also intended to improve infrastructure, teaching, learning and subsequently performance in national examinations. Despite interventions by the government, international organizations and community, students in Kenya still face numerous challenges that stand in their way of realizing optimum performance. In as much as there are concerted efforts to look into well known factors, the teacher related factors, as an influence is rarely focused on.

The provision of quality education is the major concern of every government. In efforts to provide quality education, all education stakeholders focus on learners, subsequently, realising high performance. However, many factors contribute to a student's academic performance. These include the learners’ individual characteristics as well as family, school and neighbourhood experiences. Research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most. The teacher is the single most important resource to a student’s learning [2]. Schools have an impact on student learning, but more importantly, the largest influence on student learning can be traced to teachers [3].

It has been observed that there was statistically significant relationship between teacher characteristics and student academic achievement [4]. Studies indicate that teacher characteristics influence teaching and learning in classrooms [5]. For instance it was noted that there was a relationship between teacher characteristics and pupils performance [6]. Furthermore, the explanations for good or poor student academic performance have been quite exhaustive [7]. However, controversy still exists among scholars as to what contributes singly or jointly to student poor performance. The teacher characteristics found to be dominant in cross-country studies are related to; qualification, experience, attitude and personality. These factors are considered in the current study and discussed in this article.

A study conducted on the instructional behaviours and practices of teachers also sought to determine the best practices that would foster increases in student learning [8]. This research centered on identifying characteristics of successful teacher traits over four levels of effectiveness (high to low) within four domains: instruction, student assessment, classroom management, and personal qualities. In another study [9], it was found out that availability of qualified teachers determined the performance of students in schools. Further, another study indicates that teacher’s attitude contributes significantly to student attention in classrooms [10]. In yet another study, it’s illustrated that student’s attitude was related to teacher characteristics [11]. Therefore, it is clear that the teacher plays a significant role in the shaping and performance of a student. Additionally, it is also apparent that a sizeable number of researchers have concentrated in studying teacher characteristics and how they influence student academic behaviour. However, the students’ views on the characteristics of their teachers are rarely considered in these studies. Therefore, it is important to consider the voice of the student in the evaluation of teacher characteristics and effectiveness.

There has been criticism on research for lack of focus on student perceptions of teacher practices and behaviours, noting that educators and researchers were “reluctant to ask students what they think” [12]. This created interest in the need to pave the way for student contributions regarding classroom practice, suggesting that more notice be paid to the ideas and interests of students [13]. A study established that high school students are unaware of their ability to affect change in the classroom, yet students in classrooms today may not be willing to provide their input especially if the classroom environment is not conducive to discussing options for improvement [14]. Therefore, this paper discusses student perceptions on teacher factors that influence participation.

1.1. Problem Statement

The government funding in secondary schools was intended to improve infrastructure, teaching and learning and subsequently performance in national examinations. However, despite interventions by the government, international organizations and community, students still face a number of challenges that inhibit their performance. It is recognized that teachers play a major role in the shaping of students. It is essential to continuously evaluate teacher characteristics and make adequate reforms based on the information collated. The central problem is that student perceptions are rarely involved in these evaluations of teacher characteristics. This study, therefore, sought to establish student views on the teacher factor that influence participation in TurkanaCounty.

1.2. Objectives

The study was guided by the following objectives:

a) To establish student perceptions on teacher factors that influence student participation in secondary schools in Lodwar, Turkana County.

b) To determine gender difference in student perceptions on teacher factors that influence student participation in secondary schools in Lodwar, Turkana County

c) To examine whether there are grade level differences on student perceptions on teacher factors that influence student participation in secondary schools in Lodwar, Turkana County.

1.3. Methodology

The study was conducted in Lodwar Ward in Turkana County, which is located in North-western Kenya in Turkana County- part of Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). Being one of the largest counties in Kenya, Turkana County covers over 68,680.3 Km² and had human population of about 1,036,586 persons in 2012 based on population census projections. It shares international borders with Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the northwest and Uganda to the west. Within Kenya, the county, borders Marsabit to the east, Samburu to the southeast and Baringo (East Pokot) and West Pokot to the south. The County is inhabited by a community whose major livelihood activity is pastoralism [15]. However, famine, droughts, and violent conflict are common hazards in the area. In most instances, the hazards experienced impacts on the people and are exacerbated by poor infrastructure and low access to basic services, in addition to other underlying causes of poverty that are experienced in Northern Kenya [16]. The Turkana community is known to be highly mobile with no fixed residence and have regular pattern of movement that often get disrupted by conflicts and disease outbreaks [17]. This means that formal schooling is a difficult experience for this community. As many as 82% of, Turkana County residents have no formal education. On the other hand, Lodwar Township ward where this study was conducted has the lowest percentage of residents with no formal education (45%) which is 13 % above the county average [18].

The study employed descriptive survey design. The population comprised of 3,756 secondary school students in Lodwar in 9 secondary schools in Lodwar, Turkana County. These include 4 mixed day schools, where the researcher randomly selected 1 school, and the other 5 are boarding schools. Out of the five, three are girls’ schools and two boys’ schools. Hence, the researcher selected 1 girls’ school and 1 boys’ school, randomly. A total of 3 schools were selected randomly for this study. Studies have established that simple random sampling approach is ideal in obtaining the characteristics of a population [1]. The sample size was determined using the following formula:

where n is the sample, N is the population size and e is the level of precision [19]. When this formula is applied to the above sample, we get a sample of 194 when e is 7. A total of 200 questionnaires were administered and the return rate was 100%. The study generated data from 200 students.

2. Results & Discussion

2.1. Student Perceptions on Teacher Factors that Influence Participation

The importance of finding new ways to teach and connect with every student presents a never ending challenge to stakeholders in education. To ensure that every student has access to quality education, it is imperative that reforms are introduced in the education sector. Some of these reforms directly touch on teacher factors. To have a better understanding of teacher factors, it is important to listen to the student’s voice. This study examined student perceptions of the teacher factors that influence participation. The results are summarised in Table 1.

Table 1. Student Perceptions on Teacher Factors that Influence Participation

High learner development and motivation to learn relies on the role played by teachers. Direct instruction, facilitation of understanding and related habits of mind and coaching of performance (skill and transfer) are considered as some of the important instructional goals of a teacher. The students were asked to give responses on whether their teachers play a role in their performance and in shaping their future. Table 1 shows students’ views on teacher factors that play a role in their development within the school. All the respondents agreed that their teachers played a role in enhancing their performance (88.5% strongly agreeing and 11.5% agreeing) and shaping their future (71.5% strongly agreeing and 28.5% agreeing). Whenever student- teacher relationship is positive, the students adjust to school more easily, view school as a positive experience, exhibit fewer behaviour difficulties and demonstrate higher academic achievement [20]. Therefore these findings indicate that the teachers have played a role in enhancing participation in these schools, in their pursuit for enhancing the performance of the learners and shaping their future.

Most of the students also felt that their teachers went out of their way to ensure that the syllabus was complete in good time (94.5%) and made sure that they understood course content (99.5%). They were of the view that their teachers motivated them to work hard (99%). Other studies indicate that teachers are more effective when they are grounded in their content knowledge, and when they set high expectations for their students and themselves [21]. Effective teachers have the ability to set achievable goals and present content so that students can learn [14] while building strong relationships with their students in a caring and supportive classroom environment [22]. This shows that in spite of the area of study being known for much wastage in terms of drop out in school due to its geographical and socio-economic orientations, participation in school has been mainly attributed to teacher factors. In a survey on effective teaching [23], effective teachers were identified as those who knew how to challenge and encourage their students, and demonstrate enthusiasm for the content. Through employing of various approaches geared towards syllabus coverage and hard work, such factors may go a long way in enhancing participation of the nomadic pastoralist children in school. Consequently, intrinsically motivated students not only have higher achievement levels, but also, lower levels of anxiety and higher perceptions of competence and engagement in learning than students who are not intrinsically motivated [24, 25].

This study established that majority of the students felt that their teachers were well trained (95.5% agreeing and 4.5% not sure) and enjoyed teaching them (100%) and that they went out of their way to successfully complete the syllabus (94.5%) and ensure that they understood the content (99.5%). The students also indicated that their teachers motivated them (99%) and that they received adequate support and guidance (94.5%) that enabled them to cope with school demands. Furthermore, most of the students (94.5%) felt comfortable while at school. This is in tandem with other studies which point out that there are three generally accepted characteristics of teachers, namely; professional, pedagogical, and personal help in achieving a better learning atmosphere and self-assured students [26, 27]. This study therefore confirms the critical role of a teacher in promoting learner development and achievement which influence their participation in school, from students’ perspective. This has been summed up in another study [28] which points out that teacher quality makes the greatest impact on student achievement, hence showing the need for not only having adequate number of teachers, but also, having specific teacher factors.

The availability of teachers in a school is an important input factor that influences learner development in a school. Hence, when a school has inadequate number of teachers, then this has a direct influence on the student participation in schools. In this study, majority (84%) of the students felt that there is adequate number of teachers in their schools. This is an interesting observation from the students, considering Lodwar has been documented as one of the marginalized areas in Kenya in terms of teacher staffing [29]. However, contrary to this notion, it has been pointed out that there are exceptions for inadequate number of teachers based on accessibility of a school and how rich the school is [28]. Therefore, since Lodwar is relatively accessible, then most of the schools have adequate number of teachers, a factor that has influenced the level of participation of students in education.

In conclusion, this article confirms from the student responses that the general representation of teacher instructional behaviours and practices has led to high participation of children in school. The student responses indicate that their teachers have positive instructional behaviours and practices. This concurs with a study which established that teachers who know and show a personal interest in their students, set high expectations for them and their students and hence make content learnt meaningful and relevant to the future and respect students’ choices[8]. Hence, both teachers’ qualification and such personal characteristics are critical in promoting the level of participation in schools.

2.2. Gender Difference in Student Perceptions on Teacher Factors that Influence Participation

This study further sought to establish whether there were differences in student perceptions on teacher factors that influence perceptions. Perceptions of male and female students were compared to establish the differences.

Table 2. Gender Difference in Student Perceptions on Teacher Factors

This study further sought to establish whether there were differences in perceptions between the male and female students. The students were asked whether their teachers play a role in enhancing their performance and shaping their future. As earlier reported, most of the students agreed that their teachers played a role with 50% of female students and 50% of the male students agreeing. On their teachers being well trained and enjoying teaching them, 48% of the female students and 47.5% of the male students agreed with the statements. The female students (49.5%) and male students (50%) agreed that their teachers went out of their way to ensure that they understood the content within the syllabus. The students, with 47.5% of the female students and 47% of the male students, agreed that their teachers ensured that they completed the syllabus in good time. This study therefore, established that the response did not significantly vary as a function for male and female students. That is, the study generally indicates very limited difference between the female and male students in their responses on whether they felt motivated by their teachers, or whether they got support and guidance to cope with school demands. Moreover, both groups equally felt generally comfortable while in school. Additionally, it is usually expected that there is a difference in female and male perceptions towards teachers. This is contrary to the findings of this study, which indicates similarity in responses.

2.3. Grade Level Differences on Student Perceptions on Teacher Factors that Influence Participation

The third objective sought to establish class level differences on student perceptions on teacher factor that influence participation. This research compared views for form one, two, three and four students.

Table 3. Grade Level Differences on Student Perceptions

This study also sought to determine whether there were any differences in perceptions between form one, two, three and four students in Lodwar. As presented in Table 3, it is clear that there were no significant differences in perceptions between the four groups. For instance, all the respondents (25%) of each group felt that their teachers played a role in enhancing their performance, shaping their future and in encouraging them to work hard. Similarly, all the respondents (25%) of each group felt that their teachers enjoyed teaching them. It was further established that 24.5% of form ones, 25% of form twos and fours and 24% of form threes felt that their teachers motivated them to work hard.

These findings are contrary to common expectation of differences in perceptions within the four groups. It is expected that the different groupings of students would have differences in how they viewed their teachers based on the difference in the length of time the students have stayed in the school. Arguably, form ones would be unsure of how they viewed their teachers compared to the other groups of students. This is because they have spent the least amount of time with the said teachers. Perceptions are believed to become more solid as students experience their school and teachers at different levels and within a prolonged period of time. However, in spite of this region being said to be marginalised in terms of the level of access to education [30], the level of student participation in school has been improved. This study is indicative that for those who embrace education, in spite of their grade or the length of time that they have been in school; their perception towards teachers is similar.

These findings therefore concur with another study which asserts that students who had positive teacher relationships demonstrated positive adaptation to school, regardless of their gender or grade level [31]. It is also in tandem with another study [32], which emphasized that students demonstrate better attendance and score higher on assessments, which translates to high school graduation rates, when students perceive that teachers are supportive. Hence, their perception of teachers could be attributed to positive relationships, which translates to better attendance and performance, a predictor to their participation in school.

Table 4. Further Comparison of Teacher Factors Based on Year of Study

Similarly, when asked about their views on “whether their teachers enjoy teaching them”, all the respondents in all the four grades agreed to this view (25% of each grade of those involved in the study). In addition, when it came to the view of whether they “go out of their way to make sure they understand course content”, the respondents in all the three grades agreed to this view (25%), except for grade four which agreed at 23.5% which is very close to the other three. Hence, this study concludes that the students’ perceptions of their teachers based on grade level on instructional approaches, did not have any significant difference. Pertaining to the motivation to work hard, majority of the respondents in all the four grades agreed to it that grades three and four ( scoring 24%) and the other two grades (at 25%), is indicative that almost all the respondents involved in this study were in agreement that this indeed took place. This, however, contradicts another study which points out that children in Turkana County continue to drop out of school in large numbers due to lack of motivation and interest in school activities [33].

This study confirms that students in schools especially in Lodwar township ward are motivated by their teachers and hence find school conducive for learning, which may counter dropout cases. However, the earlier on mentioned [33] study was based on Early Childhood Centres and Lower Primary school grades, while this study was conducted at the secondary school levels, whose respondents are in higher grades and have managed to go through the primary school. Therefore, for the early grades of a student’s life in school, the level of motivation is very different from that of high school grades, and may imply that dropout cases in high school are minimal.

The sample size and the locality of the study may have limited ability of this study to find differences between the two categories of groups, unlike what would have been the case in a larger sample and in a larger geographical scope. This study has however, presented some interesting findings about teacher factors that influence the level of participation of nomadic pastoralist children in school. Consequently, the study recommends further studies on larger scope and sample in order to determine if these results are robust.

3. Conclusion and Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, it could be concluded that teacher factors that contributed to the participation of students in secondary school level in education in Lodwar include teacher qualification and personal characteristics; the role the teachers play in motivating students to work hard; enhance their performance and in shaping their future. However, gender of the student was not a determiner of the teacher factors that contributed to the level of participation of students in education. Moreover, grade of the student is also not a determining factor portraying the teacher factors that enhanced the level of participation of students in education. Conversely, the gender and the grade of the student do not determine the teacher factors that promote participation of students in secondary school education in Lodwar, Turkana County.

Additionally, the findings of this study signify that the Government should adequately ensure that their teachers receive adequate training and other skills that are necessary for them to work effectively and efficiently in the profession. This will enable them to establish positive relationships with their students, give them the necessary support to guide them perform well in school and get quality education. Moreover, teachers should also give the students the necessary support that may contribute to their overall development and ensure that their students are able to cope with school demands. Since gender and grade of students does not have a significant influence on the way they perceive their teachers, then teachers’ characteristics have an influence on all students’ level of participation in school.

Finally, although Turkana County in general is an ASAL region (Arid and Semi Arid Areas) where participation in schools has been generally low due inadequate teachers, the government should look for ways of making teaching in such areas more attractive, thereby improving teacher population, which will consequently lead to improved participation in secondary school. Therefore, since Lodwar Ward has relatively high participation in education in comparison to other parts of the county, then with qualified teachers and appropriate quantity of teachers and attractive working environment, high participation in secondary education is achievable in educationally marginalised areas.

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