Background to the Study
The primary purpose of education is to bring about desirable change in behavior through acquisition of skills, attitudes, competencies, critical and creative thinking. Teaching is a complex and demanding task that requires highly specialized skills, knowledge and instructional materials to impact significantly on student learning. Availability and utilization of instructional materials in an organization is important in the achievement of its goals and objectives. Students learning outcome is influenced by the use of appropriate instructional materials in teaching (Nweke, 2015).
Investing in educational instructional materials is the key to ensuring that schools become institutions where students work together, learn from each other and benefit from a supportive school environment, and consequently maximize student learning so that all students achieve their full learning potential (United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, 2007).
The physical, human and financial instructional materials invested in schools influence not only the education provided to students but also aspects of teachers and student motivation and consequently, the educational outcomes. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows that resource shortages hinder instruction and lower student performance (OECD, 2007). In addition, inequalities in student’s educational performance often reflect disparities in the instructional materials invested in schools (OECD, 2008). In some education systems, there are concerns that schools not only lack the instructional materials to meet the educational requirements of their students, but that schools may have fewer instructional materials with which to provide instruction to their students (OECD, 2008). In schools, there are a wide variety of instructional materials that are directly or indirectly related to educational outcomes.
According to Okorie (2001), student learning outcomes in schools is largely dependent on availability and appropriate utilization of instructional materials, because the students acquire skills using these instructional materials. These instructional materials include buildings, a functional laboratory, furniture, lighting, textbooks and teaching materials, among others. These facilities play a pivotal role in the actualization of the educational goals and objectives by satisfying the physical and emotional needs of the staff and students as well.
Abayomi and Olukayode (2006) states that instructional materials in schools are important in education because learning takes place best through discovery, exploration, and interaction with the internal and external environments. As a result, one of the main emphases in education today is the shift from a teacher centered approach to a more learner centered approach. This involves actually putting the learner’s needs at the centre of activities. To achieve this goal, teachers need to use a wide variety of instructional materials, which can enrich the learning environment. The use of physical instructional materials and teaching materials has been a matter of serious concern to educators.
According to Pearls (2000), though teachers are required to deliver formal teaching in a classroom, much of the day-to-day teaching goes on outside the classroom in the course of interaction between learners and their physical environment. Being able to use the instructional materials available can help to enhance teaching and facilitate learning and thus make a shift to a learner centered approach. A learner centered approach involves enabling students to work with their teachers, with other students and even individually. This is particularly helpful because there are opportunities for learning in virtually every activity that the students carry out; there are not always opportunities for formal teaching events. The appropriate utilization of instructional materials helps teachers make the shift in their approach to facilitating learning rather than delivering teaching.
In teaching Social Studies, instructional materials has radically changed teachers' professional development through constant update of their knowledge on different methods they can use to teach students. Instructional materials have also had tremendous impact on the school social system. It has improved the motivational level of students to learn, to stay and behave better in school and has been a tool in ensuring a safe school environment as improved communication is facilitated among parents, teachers, students and administrators (Nweke, 2015).
Social Studies is a subject taught from primary to secondary schools. The Social Studies content focuses on topics which are central to the development of a citizen to participate actively in the democratic process (Agreement and Ontiretse, 2011). The major objectives of Social Studies education include the inculcation of the desired knowledge, attitudes, interests, values, behaviour pattern, thinking processes and some basic skills such as reading, language study and participation (Felicia, 2010). As a problem solving discipline, Social Studies is designed to assist man proffer solutions to his problems whether, cultural, geographical, sociological, historical, political and psychological, (Igba and Nweke, 2004). This study therefore focuses on the use of instructional materials in teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools in Isu Local Government Area of Imo State.
The effect of inadequate instructional materials for the effective teaching of Social Studies in some selected schools continues to pester the local government area. The situation has led to the rapid decline in student’s interest in the subject. If schools are well equipped with instructional materials, it will mean better teaching by the teacher and student’s interest in the subject will be increased. Conversely if these equipment are lacking, obviously our dream for better teaching and learning of Social Studies would remain a mirage. To advance our knowledge in this area further, this study explores the use of instructional materials in teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools in Isu Local Government Area of Imo State.