Background of the Study:
English Language is the Language Nigerians inherited from the British. Azikiwe
(1998) pointed out that the English Language was introduced in 1842 by the
first batch of missionaries who arrived in Badagry for education and
evangelization. In order to bridge ethno-linguistic barrier .the colonialists
implanted the English Language in Nigeria. Today, it is absolutely an essential
medium of interraction amongst the different ethnic groups in Nigeria that have
no known national language.
It is a
compulsory subject in both primary and post primary schools in Nigeria. The
study and the use of the English Language are taken serious amongst students
and the school authorities of the various higher institutions of learning
through the Use of English Unit –General Studies. Examination bodies such as
the WAEC, NECO, and JAMB recognize the great importance of the English Language
for their candidates and make it compulsory in their examinations.
there are educational, edifying, and recreational writing in the English
Language. These write-ups are popular with the general reading public and in
the prescribed texts of various examination bodies. There are printed and
well-written books in English in fiction, drama, poetry, current affairs and
literary criticism. Above all, the English Language is one of the mediums for
instruction in schools in Nigeria. In fact, it is the Language of communication
– instruction in the classroom, decoding and encoding of prints in texts in
English and media announcements, diplomatic relations as well as in maintaining
contacts with former colonial lords.
countries where the English Language is being studied including Nigeria, it is
common to find parents, teachers, and even the government crying about the
standard of both the spoken and the written forms of the language
amongst the students. This is because a good pass in the English Language
qualifies a candidate to secure admission in school and get good job. It is Nigerians
pertinent to state here that a good mastery of any language is measured by the
standard of the language’s spoken and written form. According to Collier (1987)
without oral and written English Language skills, students are hard pressed to
learn and demonstrate the knowledge of mathematical reasoning, science skills,
social studies concepts and so forth. Students who lack proficiency in English
are at a decided disadvantage in school. The WAEC Chief Examiner’s Reports of
November/December (2002) stated that candidates’ Performance was poor in the
English Language and that generally; the performance of the candidates was not
impressive. In this report, the main weakness observed in the students’ scripts
range from insufficient exposure to the skills of writing, lack of familiarity
with the required formats, construction of loose sentences, transliteration
from mother tongue to the abuse of basic rules of grammar. The report further
advised that candidates should read novels, good magazines, and journals.
Chief Examiner’s Report of May/June, 2003, confirmed a similar observation.
However, this report advised that:
should drill candidates on essay writing skills;
should be encouraged to read literature books for examination purpose as well
as to improve their command of the English Language.
Besides, Ohuche (1992:13) has already pointed out that despite
all the changes introduced in the secondary school English Language
\curriculum, students have continued to perform poorly in the language.
According to him, the greatest shortcomings of these students are in their
inability to express ideas correctly in English. When these students enter
tertiary institutions, many of them do not gain much from the service English
Language lecturers give, for the mere fact that the number of them in a class
makes it difficult for the teacher to handle their individual problems.
The level of academic achievement for students with limited proficiency in
English has lagged significantly behind that of their language majority peers.
One congressionally mandated study reported that these students receive lower
grades, are judged by their teachers to have lower academic abilities, and
score below their classmates on standardized tests of reading and mathematics,
according to Moss and Puma (1995).
From the above reports, it became
pertinent to look into the learning and writing of the English Language essay
of the Senior School Certificate Exam, which often is given much mark
allocation than other parts of paper 1 of the English Language to show the
importance of writing. Writing is invaluable for effective and efficient
diplomatic ties. For the fact that very few students who write the Senior
School Certificate English Language Examination obtain credits or distinctions
make it a thing to worry about.
Many Language teachers often use essay
writing while assessing students literacy development over time since it tests
the ability of the students to use English as an effective means of
communication to express themselves with clarity and coherence in a manner
appropriate to the situation. The process of learning to write clearly and
effectively is not a simple matter of acquiring information or memorizing
rules. It requires a parallel and simultaneous process of learning to read with
more sophistication. Because reading and writing are related activities,
learning to write entails a complex interaction between writer and reader.
Students write; teachers respond. But a teacher’s response must be more than
“correcting” and more than perfunctory grading: Evaluations most involve a
detailed reaction, often in conference with the student; to each piece of
Good teachers want to teach as many
students as they can teach well. But if teachers are forced to respond to the
writing of more than sixty students weekly, they will necessarily oversimplify
their responses. Students will regard their own writing as a mere exercise,
unworthy of careful attention or serious thought. About five and four
essay topics are often set by WAEC and NECO respectively in Senior School
Certificate Examinations. Candidates are required to write on ONE. The topics
cover a wide variety of essay types such as expository, argumentative, and
Exposition is detailed explanation. Expository writing explains a process, an
idea or a feeling (Ukwegbu, C. et al 2004). Experts claim that expository
writing is not a single form of writing but an amalgam of different writing
genres. A good piece of expository writing has the following core features: It
involves analysis of key points; A definition of key concepts; A well-defined
point of view; A logical presentation of details, and an explanation of details
(Otagburuagu, Obah, and Ogenyi, 2001).
Expository essay is written quite often in the present tense, which involves
the use of the active voice. The present tense is generally preferred because
the process, concept, or idea being explained has relevance not only for a
particular time but for most, if not for all times. (Ukwuegbu, C. et al 2004)
argumentative writing, the audience or the reader is being persuaded to agree
to the writer or speaker’s point of view on a controversial subject matter.
Since there are always two sides to an argument, this kind of writing requires
one to: prove a point present a view point; balance two sides of an argument.
However, most candidates’ argument is often illogical and the conclusions often
do not follow from the reasoning that had gone before. Many candidates lack the
appropriate vocabulary to put across their point of view (Ukwuegbu, C.et al
2004). Meanwhile, a good argument should:
1. Have a
clear statement of what is to be proved in the proposition;
based on good evidence. This consists of facts that are established. It should
not be based on unverifiable information or propaganda.
its evidence directly related to the issues of the argument; it must be backed
by authoritative evidence that is current;
with issues raised in the proposition, not with personalities.
5. Must be
arranged in a logical order in order to make a maximum impression on the
errors in reasoning called logical fallacies such as the following examples:
(it does not follow) and
Hominem (Ogbuehi, 2004.)
Descriptive writing, on the other hand, is another type of
writing which is important because many aspects of life demand a person’s
ability to give accurate descriptions. One may at one time or another be
required to describe a person, a place, a process, a scene and an event. It is
made in such a way that the mental picture of what is being described is
fully registered in the reader’s mind. On this, some candidates may not possess
the appropriate vocabulary to convey their description. The topics are treated
scantily giving rise to lazy descriptions, which do not register any impression
with the reader. According to (Ukwuegbu, 2004) the students’ descriptive
writings are often marred by mother tongue influence resulting in usages that
do not conform to standard English.
Another type of essay writing is narrative. Narration is writing
about a succession of events or story telling. The events may be factual or
imaginary. It usually follows a chronological order of events. Narration
focuses on actions and so involves the use of action words (verbs). But it must
necessarily include description. This is because one probably will not portray
actions or movements very well unless one relates it to the readers, a
description of the people or things participating in those actions.
Letter writing, which is an aspect of writing, is one of the
kinds of writing where students are expected to choose from. It plays an
important role in the social and business life of people in our contemporary
society. Letters are written to give information to people whether they live
with us or live many kilometers away from us. Letter Writing can be categorized
into three major kinds based on the social universe of the product. The
informal letter is one’s private correspondence, while any official letter is
regarded as a formal letter. Formal in this context means ‘organized’
(Otagburuagu 2001:87). The semi-formal letter mixes the conventions of the
formal type with those of the informal.
For the researcher to give this work adequate treatment, the
core part of this work-class size need to be discussed in this background.
Language teaching is an art. It is teaching man to communicate with the verbal
tool in which his uniqueness rests. The formal teaching of a language takes
place in the classroom, even though in the modern computer world, the
electronic media may take teaching outside the conventional classroom. Language
teaching audience could vary from one to several people. This means that a
language class could be
Small (ii) normal (iii) large, (Otagburuagu 1998). Before
the Nigerian Civil War and indeed the oil boom period, which brought about the
Universal Primary Education (UPE), language classes were normal. At the moment,
there seems to be no controversy about normal language class size. But
certainly, some concern has been expressed about large language classes,
Otagburuagu (1996), and Otagburuagu and Enuesike (1998).
The ever-growing world population and the craze for education
means that classes will continue to grow. Ngonebu and Oluikpe (2000) in
the Nigerian Universal Basic Education Journal maintained that the introduction
of UBE into the nation is one of the steps in improving the literacy level of
the Nigerian citizens. This is because UBE is directed towards sustainable and
efficient education of all cadre of the Nigerian populace-the young and the
adults. The broad objective is that there would be increased enrolment in the
school system. In other words, the implementation of UBE will lead to an
astronomical rise in educational enrolment. This rise in the number of school
children will mean an increase in class size, thereby, a rise in the pressure
on the class teacher.
Ngonebu and Oluikpe (2000) stated that a common feature in our
institutions of learning is the large number of students taught by a single
teacher. With such a high teacher-student ratio, the teacher has no option but
to adopt self-help measures, which are in no way ideal or adequate for
appropriate Language learning. This is why; the researcher wants to investigate
the effects of class size in Senior School Students Essay Writing in English
At the University level, the government advocates an admission
ratio of 60:40 in favour of the sciences. This shows that English Language
classes have also witnessed an increased enrollment across all the educational
levels. Otagburuagu (1991) pointed out that the fact that before 1970, English
Language classes at all levels of the educational system in Nigeria hardly
exceeded 40 students per class; but between 1970 and 1990, an explosion
occurred in enrolment in educational institutions without a corresponding rise
in academic staff and materials. The result was that the average class size,
whether for the teaching of English Language or any other subject for that
matter, grew significantly to challenge the managerial expertise of the
Researchers the world over are now showing a growing interest
into the investigation of large class size as it affects learning and
achievement. Coleman (1989) contends that there is a growing need to study the
large class phenomenon as it affects teaching and learning. Consequently, the
present researcher has the need to investigate effect of class size on Senior
Secondary School Students’ Performance in Essay Writing in English Language.
In Nigeria, the average class size varies from one level of
education to another and at the tertiary level from one discipline to the
other. The National Policy on Education (NPE) recommends a class size of 20 for
the pre-primary level, and 30 for the primary level. The policy was silent on
secondary education, but the practice has been to have a class size of 40. It
then follows that anything in excess of the recommended number is abnormal, and
if the excess is more than 10, the class can be regarded as large.
At the university level today, over 200 students share the same
facility. In the Use of English Course, Classes range from 80 to 500 students
while facilities and classroom arrangements have been for classes whose sizes
would not exceed 40 or 60. The immediate result is that students struggle for
seats and facilities. Otagburuagu (1992) pointed out, therefore, that there are
attitudinal, cultural, political as well as pedagogic considerations
inter-playing to make a particular class size ideal, normal, abnormal, large or
unreachable. He stated further that while it may be outrageous to teach English
in a class of 50 students in some advanced countries of the world, in
Indonesia, such a class size would be regarded as ideal. Harmar (1991)
considers a class of 40 as large since according to her, most of the students
cannot get the chance of participating effectively in language activities.
Virginia Locastro (1989) reports that in Japan, the average largest class size
is 45 and the normal one is 38, while small class size falls between 4 to 7.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Education
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommend 1:30; 1:35
teacher/pupil ratio for primary and secondary schools respectively. From the
present researcher’s perspective, a class in which the teacher is not able to
give enough individual attention to students due to the size of the class can
be considered as large. The incidence of large class negates the principles of
communicative approach to language teaching. Many of the students will not have
the opportunity of practicing the communication skills. This means they can
neither try out their hypotheses of language use nor obtain feedback on their
performance. Learners’ perceptions of difficulties in a large class
reveal that their main problem is the ineffective management of the
class-noise, too much noise, lack of individual attention to learners,
teachers’ feedback on class assignment often is not forthcoming-all these are
problems of management.
Gender is a variable that plays an important role in learning.
It refers to varied socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities,
behaviour and so on that are ascribed to women and men of different societies
(UNICEF) Ashford, Locrory and Lortie (2001) see gender as the social
definitions of male and female. It represents a socially constructed concepts
and not a fact of nature with specific biological imperatives. The studies
carried out by Okoye (2003), Onyegegbu (1999) and Lagoke, Jegede and Oyebanyi
(1995) agree that there is a significant difference between the performances of
male and female academically.
Gender comes into play in essay writing if we remember that
personal orientation and thinking styles play a crucial role in performance.
Personality characteristics also play an important role in learning and
performance. One of the chief aims in studying English is to express one’s
thoughts effectively and in a written examination and this is best shown in a connected
In the light of the above, the researcher intends to investigate
the effect of class size on Senior Secondary School’s students’ Performance in
Essay Writing in English Language in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. This
is as result of the apparent increase in enrolment in schools in the Zone due
to the on-going Universal Basic Education Programme, as well as the new
realization by most people of the need to be educated.
Statement of the Problem:
Languages not only Nigerian’s official Language, but also the medium through
which Nigerians interact with the outside world. It is also the medium of
instruction at secondary and tertiary institutions. This has made it so
important that it has remained a subject of constant examination and analysis.
However, many students fail the English Language examinations because of a
number of reasons. This prompts the researchers choice of effect of class size
on Senior Secondary School Students’ Performance in Essay Writing in English.
philosopher essayist, Sir Francis Bacon, has written: “Reading maketh a full
man, and writing an exact man”. Writing is said to be a highly sophisticated
and individualistic activity. Since writing is a solitary affair, it is likely
to be affected by the writer’s disposition and competence in writing
components. The experience of several teachers suggests that the phenomenon of
large class is widespread, and might have influence on students’ essays.
Researchers the world over are now showing a growing interest into the
investigation of large class size as it affects learning and achievement. The
question, which this study seeks to provide answer for is “What is the effect
of class size on Senior Secondary School Students’ Performance in Essay Writing
in English Language.
Purpose of the Study
general purpose of this study is to determine a workable panacea for the
improvement of students’ performance in the English Language.
Specifically, the study intends to find out if class size has any effect on
students essay writing in the English Language.
this study intends to find out the mean achievement scores of male and female
students in essay writing.
the study stands to verify the effect of interaction of treatment and gender on
students’ achievement in essay writing.