ATTITUDE OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF ECCE AND EDUCATION IN FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, PANKSHIN
ATTITUDE OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF ECCE AND EDUCATION IN FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, PANKSHIN
1.1. Background to the Study
In every modern society it is believed that education is the key to national development and there is a need to maintain every level of education especially the pre-primary stage, because it is the bedrock upon which all other educational levels build. Once a child misses the early stage it is usually difficult for the learner to get back to the basics. Pre-primary education is a common practice in most societies; they make provision for early childhood education programs of various types for children below the official school age (usually 6 years) mainly to prepare them for the rigors of primary education and beyond.
It should be noted that not everyone is in support of early childhood education. Robinson and Robinson (1968) hold the view that young children are not mature enough to learn complex task or skills that are required of them in the pre-school programs. They also argue that the love and warmth of a mother is more important than any educational program. On the other hand some research evidence show that early childhood education has a positive influence in children’s affective, conceptual and social development in later years (Baker 1973; Gormley, Gayer, Phillips and Dawson 2005; Rolnick and Grunewald 2003).
Despite the different views on early childhood education by scholars, the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2012) stipulates that it should be included in mainstream of education. Formal education begins from pre-primary education as provided in day-care centers and nursery schools to children aged 3 through 5 years. It is enriched by the informal traditional upbringing given to children from 0 through 3 years which makes them ready for school. Although the government is not directly involved in the establishment of day-care centers and nursery schools, it maintains oversight for the:
1. Provision and distribution of policy guidelines for the establishment and management of pre-primary institutions;
2. Production and development of appropriate national curriculum and textbook in Nigerian languages;
3. Approval of relevant supplementary reading materials and teachers/instructions’ manual;
4. Provision and approval of appropriate certification of work done and training received.
Despite all these the National Policy appears to face some challenges in its implementation and there is need for revisiting these program provisions.
Pre-primary education is the education given to younger learners before the age of entering primary education (6 years). Early childhood education or pre-primary education is defined by the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2012) as education given educational settings for children aged 3 through 5 years in preparing their entry into primary school. It includes “ota akara’’ popularly named in some parts of the country, the crèche, the nursery and the kindergarten. These types of education settings are currently provided by private entrepreneurs. Early childhood education can be traced to the efforts of prominent European education experts like: John Amos Comenius (1590-1690), J. J. Rousseau (1782 – 1788), Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1748-1827) and Friedrich Froebel (1782-1751). These experts championed the right of children to early education. Many educationist and scholars including Maduewesi (1992) and Fafunwa (1967) support and advocate for the views held by these earlier educators that there is need for good early childhood education to help students’ develop their full potentials.
The first pre-primary education was founded in 1816 by Robert Owen. The early experts in childhood education were anxious to see the children of the rich and the poor have the opportunity and privilege to be educated. With the phasing out of infant classes, some parents began to feel the need for nursery schools; the demand for nursery education was however very low in Nigeria until recently. A study for the provision of nursery education in Lagos conducted by Makinwa–Adebusoye in 1981 showed that only 7.7% out of 948 parents send their children to nursery education or a group care center (Nwanekezi, 2011). In a similar study conducted by Orebanjo (1981) and reviewed by Eze (2004) showed that working mothers in Ile-Ife which is a semi-urban area, prefer keeping their children with members of the extended family for childcare rather than sending them to day care centers or nursery schools. This invariably showed that parents at that time did not value pre-primary education. Consequently the need arose for educational administrators, educational planners, policy makers, as the then military governments of Nigeria realized the need for pre-primary education in the country and gave official recognition to it in the National Policy on Education 1977 and revised 1981, 1998; subsequently revised again under elected civilian governments in 2004, 2007, and 2012. The operational objectives of pre-primary education as stated in the National Policy of Education (FRN 2012) include:
i. Effecting a smooth transmission from the home to the school;
ii. Preparing the child for the primary level of education;
iii. Providing adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work;
iv. Inculcating in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature and environment, art, music and playing with toys, etc;
v. Develop a sense of co-operation and team spirit;
vi. Inculcating social norms;
vii. Learn good habits, especially good health habits; and
viii. Teaching rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes, forms etc. through play.
Attitude is described as “Way of thinking or behaving”. Psychology, the science of Mind and Behavior (Pesser and Smiths, 2007) gives a more elaborate explanation that an attitude is a positive or negative evaluative reaction toward a stimulus, such as a person, action, object, or concept.
Attitude has been a very difficult concept to describe since it cannot be directly observed. Attitudes will affect the choices that a learner makes and be acquired from a variety of sources (Gagne, 2005). Koballa further explained that attitudes; are behaviors that are associated with critical thinking. The effective variables according to Koballa (2005) are: attitude, belief, opinion, value, behavioral intention, and behavior. The interaction of the effective variables helped to determine the attitudes of a student’s performance either negatively or positively.
A classical Roman poet by name Publius Vergilus Maro, more commonly known as Virgil, was once quoted in his poetry saying, “They can…..because they think they can”.
William James once said, ”It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome”(Van Wagner, nd). The researcher has experienced many different outlooks on drama during his Teaching Practice period, many times the research has heard, ”I am not good at drama”, or “I do not like drama”, or “I cannot stand the audience”. Hannula (2002:11) wrote;
The everyday notion of attitude refers to some one’s basic liking or
disliking of a familiar target. A general overview of the development of attitudes throughout school years is documented through surveys and Meta-analysis.
According to Ma and Kishor (2007), the variable ‘attitude’ is one of the most potent factors that relates to achievement. Hannula (2002) further stated that, attitudes can change in a short period of time, and sometimes dramatically. Conversely, student’s performance can influence a students’ attitude as well. Thus, it is important for drama teachers to improve students’ work to make a positive change in their cognitive and affective attitudes toward drama. Many students especially those that are younger and less established students, their attitude toward a particular subject is proportional to their recent success in the class. A good day can sway the attitude to the positive side and conversely a bad day can swing the attitude to a negative side. Although, in Hannula’s research he found that once established, an attitude is fairly stable and only minor changes occur based on successes and failures (2002).
Ma and Kishor (2007) looked at the relationship between attitude and performance as three separate components. The first component they looked at was the relationship between performance and self-concept. The second component is the perception between family support and performance. And the third aspect of the component they looked at is the perception that ECCE is female domain and that, affects performance.
On the other hand, Koballa (2005) summarized three reasons for continuing to study attitudes:
First, attitudes are enduring and to remain relatively stable overtime. Secondly, attitudes are learned (students are not born liking or disliking schooling). And thirdly, attitudes are related to behavior, that is, students’ actions reflect their feelings and performance in learning coupled with the method of teaching and instruction materials used by a teacher, some teaching skills and techniques applied by a lecturer in handling ECCE may not be motivating to the students therefore, students will exhibit some sorts of negative attitudes and the end result will be a poor performance, therefore, lecturers of ECCE need to create dynamic methods of teaching and applications of instructional materials that will enhance and motivate pre-service teachers’ attitude in the learning of ECCE. It is only when the pre-service teachers are motivated that they will get interested and then, exhibits a positive attitude in learning the course and as well have an encouraging performance at the end.
Motivation has received much attention from many researchers with different psychological perspectives in different fields of study, especially Psychology and Education due to its significant effect on students’ learning, persistence and academic achievement. Motivation has been conceptualized from the perspective of different theoretical approaches over the past decades. Maslow (1970) propounds that human motivation is intra-personal and environmental as the driving force that causes people to work towards a goal and is essentially the hierarchy of human needs. Altinok (2004) emphasized that, the features that have an important effect on learning process is students’ attitude towards the lesson. One of the most important factors that lead to his or her goal is the drive. This drive is the motivation that teachers, parents and the curriculum planners needs to figure out that students’ attitude and performance will blend in the learning of ECCE, hence, motivation is the critical element in students’ success and learning. (Zafeiriadou, 2009; Via 1978) as cited in (Barbee, nd) stressed that, it is a general belief that at the heart of every teacher is an individual that yearns to engage their students in productive activity-activity that breaches the standardized testing of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, the cinder-block worlds of traditional pedagogy, and I dare say, METHOD.
It is in respect to the above statement that, the teacher, parents, curriculum planners as well as the Ministry of Education need to create and adopt a motivating way (s) of getting the students interested for achieving a positive attitude and performance in the learning of ECCE.
Performance on the other hand is the accomplishment of a given task measured against present known standards of accuracy, completeness, cost and speed. In a contrast, performance is deemed to be the fulfillment of an obligation, in a manner that releases the performer from all liabilities under the contract. Performance can also be seen as an act of doing or completing something, and being successful in it, most especially in a learning environment. A positive performance here, is determine by the teachers and students’ attitude; the teachers use of instructional materials and methods of teaching. According to Ugoduluwa (2005), performance is the process of determining the value and worth of things, it is also the process of measuring and using the results in making relevant decisions. Performance is always seen as an evaluation, interpretive, appraisal of students which provides information that enable teacher and school personnel to make decisions regarding the students. It is also the tool for measuring accuracy in the learners and the teachers as well in their ability in impacting knowledge in the learners. Therefore, the importance of good knowledge and skills for a greater performance highly depend on both the attitude of teachers and students in the learning of ECCE or in a very good learning atmosphere and a convenient environment.
The importance of having positive attitudes toward ECCE education amongst pre-service students has been long recognized. If pre-service students hold positive attitudes towards ECCE education it may allow and encourage practices that will guarantee, to a large extent, better performance of all students (Wilczenski, 2005). Highlighting the need for positive attitudes Murphy (2006) states that if students leave from university with negative attitudes then those attitudes are difficult to change. Positive attitudes can be and need to be fostered through both training and positive experiences with children in Early Childhood Education (Hobbs & Westling, 2008). Specific studies investigating the concerns of educators and in particular pre-service students’ concerns about attitude towards education and their degree of comfort with little children, though, showed that students with positive attitudes towards ECCE have more patience with the children than those who had negative attitudes
It is in light of the above discussions that the researchers have seen the grave need to investigate the attitudes of pre-service teachers towards the study of ECCE and education in Federal College of Education Pankshin.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Over the last few years, lecturers have been concerned with the poor performance of pre-service teachers in ECCE as a course. This large amount of failure could be attributed to the negative attitude of pre-service teachers towards the teaching and learning of ECCE. It is not wrong to say that one’s attitude towards any task will determine whether he will succeed or fail. It is in the light of this that the researchers have seen the serious need to investigate the attitudes of pre-service teachers towards the study of ECCE and Education.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the attitude of pre-service teachers towards the study of ECCE and Education in Federal College of Education, Pankshin.
Other specific purposes include:
1. To determine the attitude of pre-service teachers towards ECCE
2. To find out the effect of attitude on the performance level of ECCE pre-service teachers.
3. To proffer possible solutions to the effects of attitudes on performance of teachers of ECCE.
1.4. Research Questions
In order to have a guide, the researchers have formulated the following questions which will guide them in the course of the research:
1. What are the attitudes of pre-service teachers towards ECCE?
2. To what extent can attitude affect the performance level of ECCE pre-service teachers?
3. What are the possible solutions to the effects of attitudes on performance of teachers of ECCE?
1.5. Significance of the Study
The benefit of this study cannot be underemphasized as ECCE is the foundation which builds an individual academically and if the foundation is poor, then we are bound to face serious problems with our children which in turn endangers the society at large.
The government will benefit from this study as factors that make pre-service teachers develop negative attitudes towards ECCE will be highlighted.
The lecturers will benefit from this study as they are the primary custodians of knowledge which will be imparted on these future teachers. Therefore, they will also discover the roles they play which incite negative attitudes of the pre-service teachers towards the course.
To the pre-service teachers, they will know that attitude is everything and therefore, if they cultivate poor or negative attitudes towards their course of study, they are bound to perform poorly in their academic and poor future ECCE teachers.
1.6. Scope of the Study
This study shall cover the whole of Early Childhood Care Education department in Federal College of Education, Pankshin. The research will be limited to the topic under study which is the attitude of pre-service teachers towards the study of Early Childhood Care Education as a course. However, despite the fact that the study is limited to the selected institution and department, its findings can be generalized or applicable in other parts of the country as well.
1.7. Operational Definition of Terms
For proper understanding of the study, the terms used in the course of the study needs to be defined. These terms include:
Attitude: These are behaviours and outlook towards an event, person or phenomenon. This could be either positive or negative.
Pre-Service Teachers: These are group of individual who receive instructions from a more knowledgeable instructor in order to prepare them for future services as teacher.
Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE): This is a course of study which seeks to impart knowledge to pre-service teachers on how to handle child 0-8year old in and outside the classroom.
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