1.1 Background of the Study

Throughout the world, leaders in the society are asking evermore how can we improve the environment of man.   We are deeply concerned about our environment especially when our performances in all ramifications of life is related to our environmental conditions. The problem here is purely narrowed down by the influence of environmental variables on students academic performance in English language in public secondary schools in Uyo Education zone. Discussions on man’s environment has revealed at least as such diversity in the actual environment which men have tried to fashion  out for themselves.  Most people  agree that all citizens should be given equal educational opportunities.  But what are the critical ages for the receptivity to the various kinds of stimuli?

A striking illustration of the profound effects of environment on human life is provided by differences in the rate of growth under social (different) conditions Japanese teenagers are now taller than their parents and differ in behaviour from their pre-war counterparts not as a result of genetic changes but because the environment in Japan is very different from what it was before the world war II (Bernstein and Hedenon, 2000).  A similar phenomenon is observed in the Israeli Kibbutz, where the children are given a diet and brought up in sanitary conditions as nearly on optimum level as can be devised. These complex feedback relationships between man and his environment illustrate the importance of the ecological approach in the study of human problems.

The influences experienced during the very early phases of human development, including the intra-uterine phase, deserve special emphasis here because they profoundly affect the physical, physiological and behavioural characteristics of the adult.  Environmental insults to which the organism is subjected to during the formative periods of its development have consequences that persists throughout its life often, indeed the effects of such early influences appear irreversible, hence the need for precise observations and searching experimental studies on the effect of external conditions (environment) on students academic performance in public schools.

Education constitutes a formidable instrument for social mobilization in the society.  It places very high premium in the education of the   young ones as the gateway to cultural, social, political, economic and technological emancipation.  According to Nigerian philosophy of education, education is viewed as a means of building a free, just and egalitarian society, a kind full of opportunities for the citizenry.

Some state governments like Akwa Ibom State goes beyond  and give direct financial assistance to students in the form of scholarships and bursaries like paying of WAEC and NECO fees.  Despite this concerted effort there is a general public out-cry over the falling standard of education as particularly observed in external examinations.  At some point we might tend to ask whether the standard of education is falling?  We can answer by evaluating our educational system.  We have to look into the condition under which children learn including their various homes, is it a rich, stimulating and motivating environment?  Environment as defined by Bello (2004) is the aggregate of all external condition and influences that affect the life and development of an individual.

Environment includes the physical (air, water, land. Climate) and the social (ethics, economics, aesthetics and others which affect the behavaiour of an individual). Children are moulded or shaped according to the factors operating in a particular environment.  He enunciated that these variables include quality of school as well as teachers which might affect the student’s academic performance positively or negatively.  Parental rearing style is another factor which encompasses discipline, occupation etc.  School location is another important variable, a peaceful and serene school location and a disastrous school location can determine the academic performance of students.  All this variables affect students academic performance in English language.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Parents, teachers, educationists and the society in general are becoming worried by the poor performances of our children in their certificate examinations as well as JAMB for entry into tertiary institutions.  This situations gives a cause for concern.  It is known that environmental variables can affect learner’s learning either positively or negatively.  It is also true that one’s academic achievement can be influenced by variables such as: teacher’s quality, parenting style, school location, among others.

Some students are sometimes observed roaming the streets when they are supposed to be in classes receiving lectures.  In some remotely located schools some teachers go to school and leave at will because they feel the location of the school may not attract inspectors.  Some school without qualified teachers are observed not being able to exposed their students to the expected curriculum. These lapses may affect quality of learning by students.  It is against this background that the problem of this study is to determine environmental variables and its influence on the academic performance of English language students in public secondary school in Uyo Education Zone.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are;

1. To examine the extent at which the environment affect the student’s academic performance in English language.

2. To examine the influence of school quality and location on student’s academic performance in English language.

3. To examine the influence of parental rearing styles on student’s academic performance in English language.

4. To suggest measures in which some of this variables could be positively used towards achievable goals in the student’s academic performance.

1.4 Research Questions 

To guide the study, the following research questions were posed;

1. To what extent does the environment affect the student’s academic performance in English language?

2. How does the quality and location of schools influence students academic performance in English language.

3 How does parental rearing style influence student’s academic performance in English language.

1.5 Null Hypotheses

To guide the study, the following null hypotheses were formulated:

1. There is no significant relationship of the environment affecting the student’s academic performance in English language.

2. There is no significant relationship between school quality and location on student’s academic performance in English language.

3. There is no significant relationship of parental rearing styles on student’s academic performance in English language .

1.6 Significance of the study

This study is significant in the sense that it is the first step to the amelioration of students’ academic performance. If nothing is done to the increasingly poor performance of our public secondary school students, the realization of educational goal will be an illusion.

Mead (2001) assures us that “others” are special in shaping our attitudes, but except in the special case of the child, he does not tell us which “others”.  Therefore, most of the sociological theories could be seen as an answer to the question “which others”.  This study on environmental variables and its influence on the academic performance of public secondary school students will be of immense benefit to a number of stakeholders;

1. To the Government:  This study will be useful to the government while setting up public secondary schools.

2. To the Parents:  

i. They will have to understand the psychology of the child under their care.

ii. Spotlight the importance of environment in the growth and development of the child as well as its influence on the child’s academic performance.

iii. It will also enable the parents to know that the environment a child grows up in and associates with, aids in his/her growth and development, proper usage of the English language, as well as his academic performance.

3. To the Teachers:   It will help the policy makers/planners, officials in the teaching service/ministry of education in decision making as regards the teaching approach and methods used in teaching and to motivate teachers to strive to write out extraneous variables as much as they can.

4. To the Students:  This study would serve as a useful reference material for future research in related fields

1.7 Scope of the study

It was not the intention of the researchers to cover all public secondary schools since such would be too wide.  Therefore, the study was on the “influence of environmental variables on the academic performance of public secondary school students in Uyo Education Zone (Uyo, Ibiono, Nsit Ibom) was the focus of the study.

1.8 Limitation of study

The presence of value influence, human imperfection, personal bias on the part of both the researcher and the respondent may not allow the study to be one hundred present correct.  

Finally, time of running around to get the necessary materials and information and put them into writing was limited.  Financial constraints as at the time of the research was a serious obstacle to exhaustive and extensive research expected from this important subject matter.  However, the problem was solved due to effective time management, consistency and proper financial providence.

1.9 Definition of Terms

To enhance proper understanding of this work, some terms were defined in the context of this research as follows:

a) Environmental variables:  As used in the study, refers to the student’s home as they were brought up by parents, the quality of schools attended by students in terms of teacher quality, facilities and also the location of schools.

b) Academic performance:  This is referred to the educational output of individual child, be it negative or positive that can be measured.  It is measured through scores obtained by the students in the researcher constructed English achievement test.

c) Parental rearing style:  This is used to measure parents attitude in bringing up their children.

d) Influence:  This refers to the subtle but very potent forces of powers that dominates an environment that can shape somebody either good or bad.

e) Questionnaires:  This means a list of questions to be answered by a group of people to obtain facts or information for a survey.