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THE INFLUENCE OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING SERVICES ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND TRANSITION RATE

THE INFLUENCE OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING SERVICES ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND TRANSITION RATE

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the influence of guidance and counselling services on academic achievement and transition rate of Taraba state students into tertiary institutions. Four research questions answered, using mean and standard deviation, and three null hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance using t-test statistics and chi-square guided the study. Population of the study was 1,800 SSIII students in Wukari and Donga education zones of Taraba state. The sample size was 364 students drawn through simple random sampling technique. The study adopted an ex-post-facto research design. The instrument for data collection were students WAEC result to answer research questions 2 – 4 and a structured questionnaire developed by the researcher which was validated by three experts from the faculty of education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to answer research question one (1). Main findings of the study revealed, among others, that guidance and counselling services influence Taraba state students’ academic achievement and transition rate into tertiary institutions. Transition rate of female students in Taraba state is higher than the transition rate of their male counterpart. There was a significance difference in the transition rate of Taraba state secondary school students exposed to guidance and counselling services and those not exposed. Major implication of the findings is that academic achievement and rate of transition of Taraba state students into tertiary institutions will be enhanced, if the government can release more funds for in-service training of school counsellors to upgrade their knowledge and skills. The researcher therefore recommended that, government should as a matter of urgency, employ more school counsellors and also train and retrain the existing ones for maximum output.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

As individuals develop through stages of life and educational attainment, they encounter problems, challenges and conflict situations. These individuals also need to develop value systems, make decisions, set goals and work towards them. All these cannot be achieved without self-understanding and decision-making skills, which are not innate, but need to be developed. The need to address these challenges and to promote educational success and healthy life therefore, call for exposure to guidance and counselling programs by individuals/students. Guidance and counselling is a term usually used together which focus on assisting individuals attain self-understanding and direction, although attempts have been made by various authors to define the term separately. While Ezeji (2001), defines guidance as the help given by a person to another in making choices, adjustment and in solving problems, Denga (2001), sees guidance as a cluster of formalised educational services designed by the school to assist students to achieve self knowledge or self-understanding which is necessary for them to attain full self-development and self- realization of their potential. On the other hand, Okeke (2003), defines counselling as a helping relationship involving the counsellor and the client, in which the counsellor uses his professional knowledge and skills to assist the client attain proper development and maturity, improved functioning and ability to cope with life’s problems. Counselling is also defined according to Eze (2012), as an inter-personal relationship between a professionally trained individual (counsellor) and a troubled individual (counsellee) or individuals (counsellees) whereby the former utilises his professional skills to help the latter to be able to solve his educational, vocational and person social problems. Bark (2003), states that guidance and counselling are the assistance made available by qualified and trained persons to an individual of any age to help him to manage his own life activities, develop his own points of view, make his own decisions and carry his own burden.

Based on various definitions presented above, the researcher sees counselling as a process of utilising professional skills by a person (counsellor) to assist another (client) in a person to person relationship to achieve the resolution of general life problems, in order to attain proper development and functioning. General life problems here, refers to all aspects of the individual’s life which include; personal, social, educational and vocational among others, as no single individual is said to be free from trouble or problem. Guidance and counselling is therefore designed to help individuals/students in their different problems and concerns, so that they grow up well adjusted individuals capable not only of living productive lives, but are also prepared to contribute their quota to the development of their society. Gibson, 2008 states that Guidance and counselling services prepare students to assume increasing responsibility for their decisions and grow in their ability to understand and accept the results of their choices.

There are different aspects of guidance and counselling such as family guidance and counselling, marriage guidance and counselling and pastoral guidance and counselling among others. The researcher’s concern however, is o: ‘ool guidance and counselling. The focus of school guidance and counselling is on three 1 ‘areas namely: educational, vocational, and personal-social. Educational guidance and counselling according to Ifelunni (2003), is aimed at assisting both the students and their parents to develop educational plans that will help them plan their school work such as study habit, examination techniques and how to choose subjects, among others. According to Ifelunni, the planning is such that they benefit from their school work and hence able to progress to the next level of schooling. Ifelunni (2003) also viewed vocational counselling as aiming to assist a person match his personal attributes and his background with suitable jobs and employment opportunities. Personal- social counselling according to Ifelunni (2003), takes care of the problems of the students that may not be educational or vocational such as boy-girl relationship, leisure time activities, personal appearance, social skills, home and family relationship, among others.

The focus of guidance and counselling in school is to address the needs and concerns of students or learners at different levels of academic or educational development. Braddock (2001), states that the purpose of guidance and counselling in schools is to improve academic achievement, foster positive study attitudes and habit, increase acquisitions and application of conflict resolution skills and decrease school dropouts. The primary mission of a school’s guidance and counselling program is to provide a broad spectrum of personnel services to the students. Denga (2001), referred to these services as “cluster of formalised educational services designed by the school to assist students to achieve self-knowledge or self-understanding which is necessary for them to attain the fullest self-development and self-realization of their potential”. These services include: student appraisal service, information service, counselling service, placement service, orientation service, referral service, follow-up and evaluation service, and research service. Appraisal service involves the use of tests and non-test instruments to collect, analyze and interpret data on students to understand themselves better. It also affords counsellors and significant others, the opportunity of having insight into the strengths and weaknesses of students. Information service is tailored towards equipping students with the necessary information in the areas of educational, vocational and personal social. These information are very important because they assist students to make wise decisions about life. Counselling service is a face to face interaction between the counsellor and the students, through which students are assisted towards overcoming obstacles to their academic, vocational, personal-social progress and other life needs. Placement service is concerned with assisting students to adjust to the next stage of development whether in school or on the job. Orientation service is designed to familiarize fresh students with their environment. It is a process of initiating an individual to a work or learning situation and of instructing him about rules, regulations and responsibilities, as an introduction to a new situation. Referral service affords the school counsellor an opportunity to refer the cases which he cannot handle to specialists like clinical psychologist, medical practitioner and others. Follow-up and evaluation service is designed to ascertain the extent to which the guidance programme previously carried out by the school is meeting the objectives for which it was established and also to monitor the progress of students in their work places. Research service helps the school counsellor to discover relevant information that can improve students learning and understanding. The service should be an on-going process which professional counsellors should embrace and encourage. These services constitute the core of any guidance program and should be organised to facilitate the growth and development of all students from kindergarten through post high school experiences (Erford, 2010; Erford, 2011; Neukrug, 2011).

The most important outcome of a guidance program is desirable change in the behaviour of students, such as improved school attendance, better study habits, better scholastic achievement, fewer scholastic failures, lower dropout rate, better educational planning, and better home-school relations. Effective guidance and counselling programs balance corrective, preventive and developmental functions. In collaboration with parents, school administrators and teachers, the school counsellor can effectively achieve the goals of counselling.

Achievement is an attainment of a given standard in a particular field by an individual. It is an accomplishment of a task which is a source of joy to the individual as a measure of his efforts. Okoro (2008), defines achievement as the state or quality of excelling. In a related definition Njoku (2007), defines achievement as the ability of an individual to accomplish his set goal. Achievement in the school system involves the ability of students to realise their academic dreams in the school. Academic achievement is synonymous with attainment, and has strong correlation with motivation. Ncharam (2005), sees academic achievement as the actualization of the educational standard and appropriate goals as the major objective functions of school in the society. As used in this study, academic achievement is the level of actual accomplishment or proficiency one has achieved in an academic area. Academic achievement of students has been of concern to parents, guardians, students and even the wider society, and it is one of the most important goals of the educational process. The success or failure of the students’ achievement depends on a number of factors such as parental background, study habits and relationship with peers, among others. A good supportive guidance and counselling program cannot only motivate the child, but also enhance his scholastic achievement and hence a successful transition to the next level of education.

Students make many transitions in their lives such as beginning early childhood education and care services, change year levels within a school, transfer from one school to another, from primary school to secondary school, and from secondary school to further education, training and employment (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2010). Cox and Kennedy (2008), viewed transition in education as referring to the three major transitional points in the public education system: when students move from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, and from high school to college. While students experience other “transitions” during their educational journey such as advancing from one grade level to the next, the three “major” transition points are the focus of educators and school reformers. Often, transitioning students often experience significant academic, social, emotional, physical or developmental changes that may adversely affect their educational performance (Cox and Kennedy, 2008). In this study, the researcher refers to school transition as the shift that students make from secondary school into college or university after obtaining good grades in their subject areas.

School transition is a crucial period in the life of the student, where the academic and social demands are higher, and yet it is extremely important because it represents a major shift in the daily context in which children and adolescents interact. For some students, it is stressful as it relates to a variety of behaviour and psychological changes. Researches indicate that across transition, students often experience changes in relationships with peers, parents and teachers. In addition, behavioral problem often become evident after a school transition which is particularly true when students interact with new peer groups after the transition. McGee, Ward, Gibsons and Harlow (2003) found that there was a strong correlation between the extent to which students experienced difficulty following transition, and their likelihood of dropping out from School. Other researches indicate that poor transitions impact on students’ wellbeing and on their achievement in the future. A good supportive school guidance and counselling program can maximise students’ achievement and also support them to make a successful transition which may vary based on gender.

Gender refers to the socially or culturally constructed characteristics and roles, which are attached to males and females in any society. Gender according to Santrock, (2008), refers to the characteristics of people as males and females. In the same vein, Espanol (2002), sees gender as referring to the social attributes and opportunities that is associated with being male and female and it has relationship between men and women, girls and boys. Espanol (2002), viewed these attributes and relationships as being socially constituted and are learned through socialization processes. Gender from the point of view of this study, refers to cultural and social attributes associated with being a male or a female.

The issue of gender disparity in education in Nigeria could best be perceived from a statistical point of view from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report for 2008 on primary school enrolment by gender. According to UNESCO (2008), enrolment by gender in 2008 was 9.5 million in Nigeria, where boys were 6.7 million representing 58.6% and girls 41.4% respectively. Lagos state had 511,174 (61.2%) for male primary school enrolment and 261,228 (48.8%) for females. Sokoto state had 166,700 (74.4%) for males and 57,898 for females (25.6%).

The above statistics show crises of unequal access to education with respect to gender. This disparity in terms of access to education, may not be unconnected with some socio¬cultural factors like belief system, early marriage, poverty and parental background. Some people’s cultural values show that females ought to be subordinated to male and sending them to school would mean putting them on equal status with male. Ogundahunsi (2005), states that the culture and traditions of many ethnic group in Nigeria seem to be obvious sign of gender stereotyping. For Ogundahunsi, education for females from the beginning was designed just to make them primarily effective mothers and housewives. Females are brought up in the traditional family set up to be passive, obedient and always submissive and dependent on males. This shows that the belief system held by Nigerian society is one of the factors which may be responsible for low enrolment of girls in schools.

The situation in Taraba State in general and the area of the study in particular is not far from the above assertions. The cultural and social belief of the people is such that agree with the general Nigeria cultural belief. The people until now, believed that the education of the female “ends in the kitchen”, and it is therefore, needless giving her formal education. This among other things may have been responsible for low female school enrolment in the state over the years when compared to their male counterparts. A comprehensive guidance and counselling program therefore, may address these challenges, support students to appreciate the place of education in their lives and also make a successful transition to the next level of education particularly from secondary level to tertiary.

Tertiary education according to Campbell and Rozsnyai (2002) is any education entered after successful completion of secondary education, which may include vocational post-secondary education, (leading to a certification) and higher education (leading to a degree), even though the designation is often used synonymously with higher education. World Bank (2011), states that tertiary education broadly refers to all post-secondary education, including but not limited to universities. Universities are clearly a key part of all tertiary systems, but the diverse and growing set of public and private tertiary institutions in every country; colleges, technical training institutions, community colleges, nursing schools, research laboratories, centres of excellence, distance learning centres, and many more – form a network of institutions that support the acquisition of higher education. Tertiary institutions in this study, refers to those institutions that embark on studies beyond the level of secondary education which at the end of the study a degree, diploma or certificate is awarded.

Okebukola (2008) states that higher education provides high level human resources for driving the economy and ensuring rapid societal transformation. The greater the opportunity given to the citizenry for higher education, the more expansive the horizon for rapid social and economic development. How much a nation’ progresses is a function of the quality of the educational attainment of its citizens. This implies that the higher the level of educational attainment, the more progressive a nation.

Guidance and counselling programs in Nigeria were established to assist students develop competencies needed to overcome academic, career and personal challenges, (Federal Government of Nigeria; NPE, 2004). The situation in Taraba state seems to present some lapses in the implementation of this important educational policy. Out of the 201 functional public secondary school in the state, only 70 schools have trained guidance counsellors. The situation is indeed pitiable as it may have been responsible for the educational challenges of the state among other things. Evidences from the tables of result summary for West African Examination Council (WAEC) from 2009 – 2013 (See Appendix A page 70), indicate that the state had continued to record a mass failure in these important terminal examination that qualify students for transition to tertiary institutions. As a result, the academic achievement and transition rate of students in the state have continued to decline. This is an ugly situation that needs to be halted. It is therefore, based on this that the researcher tries to investigates the influence of guidance and counselling services (as practiced in the state), on the academic achievement and transition rate of the students into tertiary institutions.

Statement of the problem

The Federal Government of Nigeria, in its National Policy on Education (2004), has mandated every state to include guidance and counselling programs in the school curriculum. Yet one wonders with dismay the slackness with which Taraba State Government has taken the implementation of this important education policy. This is evident in the fact that, of the 201 public secondary schools in the state which are supposed to have professional guidance counsellors, only 70 out of this number have. This has consistently affected the academic performance of the students. No wonder the state’s general performances in the external Examination of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), over the years have been low, and consequently the rate of transition of students to tertiary institutions. This then raises the following question: Does the provision of Guidance and Counselling services have influence on the academic achievement and transition rate of the students in the state? This was the issue the researcher intended to investigate.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of guidance and counselling services on academic achievement and transition rate of Taraba state secondary school students into tertiary institutions. Specifically, the study sought to:
1. Ascertain the provision of guidance and counselling services in Taraba state secondary schools.
2. Find out the influence of guidance and counselling services on students’ academic achievement.
3. Find out the influence of guidance and counselling services on transition rate of Taraba State students to tertiary institutions.
4. Find out the transition rate of male and female students to tertiary institutions.

Significance of the Study

This study has both practical and theoretical significance. Theoretically, the study was based on Carl Rogers Client Centered theory and Erikson psychoanalytic theory of development. However, the study was hinged on Erickson psychoanalytic theory of development because of its premise that an individual’s life course is influenced by the era, area and arrangement into which such an individual is born. Also, much subsequent development depends upon where, when, and how much other persons respond to the ever developing individual.

Practically, the findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the government, school administrators, parents, school counselors, students and researchers.

The findings of the study will provide a guide for the government for adequate plans and budgetary allocations for effective guidance and counselling services in secondary schools. It will also help them to recognize the need for training and recruitment of more professional counsellors into the schools.

To the school administrators, the findings of the study will enable them appreciate the importance of guidance and counselling services in the schools thereby giving the counselors all the necessary support they need to discharge their counselling duties effectively.

The findings of this study will encourage parents to ensure that their wards are exposed to school guidance and counselling services for greater academic achievement.

The results of this research work will encourage students for greater participation in guidance and counselling and other school-based programmes for maximal academic performance and self fulfillment.
The findings will also help school counsellors to be proactive in the discharge of their counselling duties. It will as well create greater opportunities for them to be sent by government on further trainings.

Findings and recommendations from the study will no doubt provide materials that will stimulate other researchers to widen the frontiers of knowledge in this area.

Scope of the Study

The study was delimited to senior secondary students three (SS3) in Wukari and Donga Education zones of Taraba state. The study aimed at examining the influence of guidance and counselling services on academic achievement and transition rate of Taraba State students into tertiary institutions. It was therefore delimited to the ascertainment of the types of guidance and counselling services being offered, the influence of these services on students’ academic achievement and whether the provision of these guidance and counselling services affect rate of transition.

Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1. What is the guidance and counselling services provided in Taraba state secondary schools?
2. What is the influence of guidance and counselling services on students’ academic achievement in Taraba state secondary schools?
3. What is the influence of guidance and counselling services on transition rate of Taraba state secondary school students into tertiary institutions?
4. What is the transition rate of male and female secondary school students into tertiary institutions?

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.
1. There is no significant difference in the academic achievement of Taraba state secondary schools students who have been exposed to guidance and counselling services and those not so exposed.
2. There is no significant difference between the transition rate of secondary school students exposed to guidance and counselling services and those not so exposed.
3. There is no significant difference between the transition rate of male and female students in Taraba State Secondary Schools.

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