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1.1 Background of the Study

The high level of moral decadence and insurgencies in Nigerian nation is an indication that there is poor religious teaching in secondary school system. Christian religious studies (CRS) as one of the religious subjects taught in secondary school in Nigerian takes a central position in ensuring moral and spiritual wellbeing of individuals in the society.  The key roles of CRS in equipping the individuals and ensuring high level of morality is made clear in the objectives of CRS at the senior secondary level which include; to provide more opportunities for Nigerian youths to learn more about god and thereby develop their faith in god; to enable the youths to accept Christ as their savior; to help the youths develop Christian attitude and moral values (such as humility, respect, love, and justice, etc); to instill in the youth the spirit of tolerance , reconciliation ,peaceful co existence and non-violence as well as to develop and foster in the youth the spirit of respect for all people and human life (Universal Basic Education Curriculum (UBA), 2013). 

Without effective religious studies Nigerian nation will likely to end up in conflict, religious crisis, insurgencies and social unrest among other things. This is because religious control human actions in both social, political, economical and otherwise (Eluu, 2009). The teaching of CRS dates back to the 19th century with the pioneers of Nigerian education (Banjo, 2003). During the missionary administration because of the moral values it teaches the people. Following the government takeover of schools, Nigerian, secondary school curriculum was reviewed and more emphasis was placed on the studies of science and technological subjects. This shift affected the study and interest of students in CRS in school system leading to poor enrollment in CRS.  Gbenda (2004) stresses that student’s enrollment and interest in CRS could as well be as of result of inadequate provision of teaching aids, fewer professional teachers and lack of incentives among other things. Njoku (2009) equally adduced that poor enrollment of student in CRS could be attributed to teacher’s instructional delivery system and teachers’ personality. CRS is taught in all the senior secondary schools in Nigerian as an elective subject. The elective nature of the subject in senior secondary schools in Nigeria equally reduced the number of students that register for the subject in West African examination council (WAEC) and national examination council (NECO) as well as other internal examination. CRS is a subject that bases its teaching on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ (Ugwu, 2001) as a teaching subject, it is not only geared towards converting people to Christianity, but is necessary for value formation, orientation and reorientation of value system as well as spiritual upliftment of the student. Ali and Akubue in Njoku (2009) observed that, CRS is a subject which aims at developing and fostering in the lives of the students Christian attitudes and values such    as respect to life, obedience to constitutional authority, responsible self, selfless series to God and humanity. To them, CRS is seen as an academic discipline that is designed to provide the leaner with moral and spiritual transformation. This shows that CRS is the study of Christian lifestyles such as love, caring, patience, faith, forgiveness and hope in God as well as good relationship among men. Obanya in Njoku (2004) maintained that CRS like every other subjects has five features. These features are; a set of rational theoretical formulation, inherent capacity for growth, applicable solution to human problems, organized Body of the knowledge and a degree of uniformity with other area of academic activities. In the context of this study, CRS is defined as a social science subject that teaches students good moral behaviour, fearing of God, knowledge and skills that will make them to contribute their quota in socio-economic and moral development in senior secondary schools. The inclusion of sound religions and moral values in the life of students invariably could help in the development of spiritual and moral sound being of the students. These important values attached to the study of CRS in schools cannot be achieved if teachers do not utilized effective teaching method that appeals to all the senses of students in leaning situations.

Teaching method as noted by Agwu (2005) refers to the overall plan for the orderly presentation of content of learning materials. Usually a method is driven by a philosophy or an assumption about how students learn in school. Teaching method is therefore, a general process the teacher adopts in presenting his lesson to the students, such that students learn such as assigning roles to individual students in the classroom. The important index in the teaching and learning process is that the students learn at the end of teaching (Aguokogbuo, 2005). Hence, the use of good teaching method in teaching of CRS plays an important role in harmonizing classroom instruction. Nevertheless, it has been noted with dismay that even a subject as important as CRS is taught using the traditional lecture method (talk and chalk) (Asogwa & Echemazu, 2011). This old method, conventional as it is, appears to have reduced students’ interest and enrollment in the subject each year for both WAEC and NECO. For instance, Abdulhamid (2010) found that lecture method used by teachers have made many student lost their interest in classroom of learning and consequently may reduce students enrollment in some subject areas. He added that the use of lecture method set the teacher as the only active participant in the class while the students are complete observers or admirers through the lesson. The theory of constructivism sees learning as the active participation in various activities within and outside the classroom. Therefore, inability of teachers to use methods that encourages students’ active participation could lead students to laziness, role memorization which even actually kills students’ interest and attitudes towards the learning of CRS. The theory of multiple intelligences holds the view that human being has fine separate intelligences (visual/spatial, verbal and logical, body/kinetic, musical, inter-personal intelligences). Therefore, if educators teach their students using methods that utilizes these intelligences in learning would promote students’ interest in learning process. Asogwa and Echemazu (2011) opines that most teachers rely on lecture method because of their experiences as most of them still regarded the way they were taught in their own days as the best way to teach in this modern times.

Organizing for effective teaching of Christian Religious studies is centered on certain factors such as “what to teach”, “when to teach” and “how to teach”. The teacher does not only teach the most relevant, meaningful and useful materials for specific students, he must also recognized and adopted a good and well-researched method of teaching that guarantees better understanding and also stimulates and motivate students’ achievement (Abdukamid, 2010). 

Academic achievement is the degree or level of success attained at the end of an academic endeavour (Omebe, 2005). The yardstick for measuring one’s level of academic achievement is by assessing the academic performance of the individual through test and observation. He further explained that academic achievement has three dimensions such as high, average and low academic achievement. Academic achievement helps in proper evaluation of students and identification of their strength and weakness. However, in the context of this study, academic achievement is the relative change in behaviour of students as a result of effective teaching and learning of CRS in secondary schools.

The issue of high or low academic achievement of secondary school students in CRS has been attributed to some factors such as the school environment, peer influence, the family dynamics, etc (Ekeh and Njoku, 2013). But, of all these factors, the researcher feels that roleplay method of teaching play key role in relation to students’ academic achievement in CRS. Role-play method is a dramatic and innovative training technique which helps students to develop both cognitive and affective components of perception and helps in knowing how people behave and why people behave in different ways (Charturvedi, 2009). Oberle (2004) maintained that role-playing activities introduce students to “real world” situations. He added that feelings as well as avenue for expressing personal and sometimes unpopular attitudes and opinions. This indicates that role-playing is highly motivating as the majority of students enjoys these types of activities and become more inspired learners. Morris (2003) found that the roleplaying helped the students engage in activities at multiple times and places which help them to retain information in their brain always (p.3). In role-playing, the teacher first of all gives students roles to play in a classroom and he directs them on what to do. At the end of students’ participation, he/she summarizes the activities in order for students to understand it clearly. In the context of this study, role play method could be referred to activities engaged by teachers and students in the classroom in order to enhance desirable change in behaviour of learner and maximize their interest and academic achievement in CRS in secondary schools.

The trend of school achievement among secondary school students’ in recent times has not been encouraging. It is in recognition that statistics from the West African Examination Council WAEC Chief Examiners reports in (2005) reveals that, the number of candidates that entered for CRS, for instance has been encouraging over the years while their percentage pass at credit level in the senior school certificate examination (SSCE) has been following a downward trend. In the year 2002, 2003, 2004, for instance, only 48.7%, 49.2%, 39.9% and 47.3% passed CRS at credit level respectively. Currently, the numbers of candidates that enroll in CRS have reduced as a result of shift in emphasis to science subjects and entrepreneurship education. According to WAEC Chief Examiners’ reports in 2012 and 2013, there is low performance of students in CRS in WASCE, 62.03% failed while 37.9% passed. The number that failed is greater than the number that passed. The continuous poor achievement of secondary school students in CRS over the decades could be attributed to poor methods of teaching. Thus employing good method of teaching like role-play could improve students’ interest and achievement in CRS in senior secondary school.

Nevertheless, there has been an endless debate on factors that influences students academic achievement secondary. However, in the context of this study “gender” and interest is considered as variables that could influence students’ interest and achievement in CRS in secondary schools. Gender is a socially constructed concept based on the assumed power and position that group human should possess (Afonga, 2002). Gender in the context of this study simply means the difference between males and females as well as their relative roles perform in CRS in learning process. Ezeadum (2011) found that gender is a significant factor in students’ academic achievement in Agricultural sciences. Other researcher such as Umoh (2001), found otherwise in Igbo and English language respectively. Melton and Serep (2007) found that women perform better than men in French in schools. Asogwa (2011) found that the effect of gender on students’ academic achievement is statistically significant. Gender is a very important variable in this study because personal orientation and thinking style of male and female students could play a crucial role in performance in school. In this study, gender refers to different roles played by male and female students in learning and how it affects their interest and achievement in CRS in secondary schools.

Students’ interest is another factor that determines students’ academic achievement in schools. Interest can be defined as a psychological state of having an affective reaction to and focused attention for particular content and/or the relatively enduring predisposition to re-engage particular class of objects events, or ideas (Omebe, 2005). Dewey in long (2007) defines interest as the formation of a relationship between a person and an object. Interest could also be essentially a function of the perceived likelihood to succeed on a specific group of tasks and the value of a consequence of doing well (Ainley, 2002). The way each person learns depends on interest. For instance, some students prefer to learn complete subject matter by heart while others search for meaning. Students’ differences in learning preferences have often been related to a number of individual factors such as motivation and perception of one’s ability. Interest is very important in one’s educational and life success. This is because ones action towards anything depends largely on one’s interest on that thing. Interest drives one towards action especially when such action benefits one thereby forming a relationship between a person and an object. Adedeji (2007) found that interest of students’ in mathematics affect their academic achievement in schools.

For the purpose of this study, interest could be defined a temporary response relative to the effectiveness of method used by CRS teachers in the classroom. This is because, it affects the way students react or listen to the teacher. This could be as a result of the fact that students may come to the classroom with certain interest. It then becomes rewarding if a teacher (s) of CRS discover these interests and build on them especially the use of good methods of teaching that appeal to all senses in learning.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The declined in academic performance of students in CRS in secondary schools generally has been deteriorating yearly. The high rate of students failure in CRS both internal and external examination make a clarion called to investigate the root causes though government attention to educational sector is very poor compared to recommendation by UNICEF. Despite the little efforts made by the federal government, and community in training CRSteachers, employment of professional teachers, expanding secondary schools which extended to ward level, lowering education expenses to improve the education systems, the academic performance is still poor. The academic performance of students in CRS has not been a motivational factors or encouraging. Few studies have investigated the reasons for the poor academic performance of secondary schools students. This is because achievement in the CRS has remained poor over the years and yet no known study has been done on root contributing factor in order to assist policy makers and CRSteachers in coming up with instructional strategies that will give equal opportunity for both male and female students when learning the CRS. The above mention problems necessitated the investigation into the factors responsible for the poor performance of students in CRS in secondary schools in Lafiya Local Government Area of Nasarawa State

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The general objectives of this study, an investigation into the trends of factors responsible for poor performance of secondary schools students in CRS Lafiya local government area are to:

  1. Identify causes of students poor performance in CRS in secondary schools in Lafiya local government area
  2. Assess the influence of instructional materials and instructional strategy on the performance of students in CRS CRS in Lafiya local government area
  • Assess the role of family socio-economic background on students’ academic performance in Lafiya LGA
  1. Find out if students are adequately motivated by their parents to learnt





1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of students’ poor performance in CRS in secondary schools in Lafiya local government area?
  2. What are the influence of instructional materials and instructional strategy on the performance of students in CRS in Lafiya local government area?
  3. What are the roles of family socio-economic background on students’ academic performance in CRS in Lafiya Local Government Area?
  4. Are students adequately motivated to study by their parents in Lafiya local government area?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

  1. Instructional materials and instructional strategy are not the basis for poor performance of students in CRS in Lafiya local government area.
  2. Family socio-economic status is not the basis for students’ poor performance in CRS.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The significance of the study cannot be over-emphasized. It is assumed that at the end of the research work, many people for example, policy makers, society, organizations, library users and students will benefit so much from this research work. It will be significantly important in the following ways

Policy makers will find this study important, as they will reconsider the existing curriculum to see if there is need for restructuring it. Some have complained of the existing curriculum as not meeting the expectation of the present realities.

The study will help teachers to choose the appropriate teaching methods, proper instructional materials. This study will also help them in curtailing the root causes of students’ failure in CRS nationally.

The study will also be significant to government who is the major stakeholder. The falling standard is quite worrisome. Government will have to review the educational policy which include tests and measurement of students’ performance

To the society, it will help them to create an enabling learning environment for effective teaching and learning of students CRS.

The study will be of significance to organization, since it provides the reasons why students perform poorly in school. By so doing, the non-government organizations will help in providing the instructional materials, building of more classrooms and help in employment of more teachers.

The library users, the study will serve as resource materials that will help the feature researchers to access relevant materials for their studies.

Students will also benefits from this study as it will expose the causes of students poor performance. By so doing, it will strengthen students’ reading habits to put more effort to their academic pursuit. 

1.7 Scope and Delimitations of the Study

The study focuses on the factors responsible for poor academic performance of students in CRS. The research work is limited to some selected secondary school in Lafiya Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State. The content scope focuses on causes of poor performance of students in CRS, influence of instructional materials and instructional strategy in CRS, influence of parents’ socio-economic performance of students in CRS, and whether students are adequately motivated to learn by their parents. Any other concept not mention here will not be relevant

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

Problems: these are challenges affecting the academic performance of students in CRS in secondary schools

Education: This is the process of transmitting what is worldwide value through teaching and learning

Academic Performance: This concept focuses on students’ outcome after standardize test or examination

Poor Academic Performance: This dealt with academic performance of below standard

Investigation: This refers to the action of investigating something or someone, or formal or systematic examination or research. It is also a process of inquiring into or follow-up or studying of something.

Factors Responsible: These are circumstances, facts or influence that contributes to have control over something or someone.

Poor: This simply means a law or inferior standard or low quality. Academic Performance: Is seen as the academic achievement which falls within specified standard, especially in school, college or university.

Public Secondary Schools: These are post-primary schools that are funded and operated by government.

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