Relevance of visual instructional materials on the academic achievement in selected contents areas of economics



Background to the Study

Economics is a school subject that has over the years, occupied   important position in the senior secondary school curriculum. The importance of this subject economics, has led to its introduction into the secondary school curriculum by the government of Federal Republic of Nigeria.  The subject equips the learners with critical and problem solving skills which enable them to tackle problems and issues in their economic life. Given that students learn differently and their needs vary, using one instructional strategy is not sufficient, teachers of economics use various strategies to help students learn, know the degree of learning and determine how well a learner has transferred the strategy into personal learning tool. The learning environment must take students beyond rote learning into a level of inquiry, discovery and exploration. Teachers of economics are expected to incorporate into their instructional programmes strategies which will assist students in reaching the academic expectations already stated. Nworgu (2006) asserts that instruction of economics is expected to begin with teacher modeling, then proceed to students’ implementation with corrective feedback, and be followed by the students completing the task independently.

 Ikwumelu and Oleabhiele, (2009) stated that students’ achievement in the Senior School Certificate Examination in Economics has been observed to be consistently poor and the state of affairs has often been attributed to the ineffective teaching strategies, and methods by teachers of economics.  The persistent poor performance of students in economics test has been attributed to the constant use of lecture methods by the economics teachers (Osokoya, 1987). Lecture method only favours the teachers and leaves the students as passive members in the class rather than being active participants.  Inappropriate application of methods or pedagogical and teaching resources is widely reported in literature as an aspect of educational problem (Osokoya, 1988). In view of the foregoing appalling situation, Ikwumelu and Olaebhiele (2009) posit that the concern of economics teaching in recent times is to have economics classrooms that are student-centered and activity-oriented. Terregrossa and Englander (2000), opine that the currently existing  teaching approach which focuses on lecture and text books hurt student with certain type of learning styles and therefore the use of visual instructional material has become paramount in the teaching of  selected content areas of economics in our secondary schools (Asogwa, 2007).

Economics educators and other researchers have conducted researches and  surveys whose results were to enable the researcher come-up with better ways of teaching the

subject to foster students understanding of it. The recommendations of these studies have been implemented yet the problem of teaching some of the content areas of the subject economics which include utility theory, money and theory of production seem unresolved. One of the ways of ensuring that students learn better in economics is to introduce visual instructional materials in the teaching of utility theory, production theory and money, as the use of visual aids in educational instruction will stimulate the interest of learners and as well sustain it throughout the lesson period (Onyejemezi,1998).

Onyejemezi (1998) posits that visual instructional resources generate and maintain students’ interest and provide the teacher with interest-compelling spring-boards which can launch students into a variety of learning activities. Visual instructional aids are any object or picture that relate to the subject being taught, posters, pictures or even the object itself being used ( George (2001) conceives visual instructional aid as something you bring to support whatever project or report you are discussing, it gives the listener something concrete to look at to enable a better understanding of what you are saying, it can be an actual object or graphic or pie-chart.  Visual instructional materials according, to Bowman (1995) are those aids which use sense of vision, they include actual objects, models, pictures, charts, maps, flash cards, flannel board, bulletin board, chalk board, over head projector; slides. Visual aids are used to increase the effectiveness of classroom teaching/ learning process (Joshi, 1995). According to Boyd (2005) visuals help with creating pictures; these can be drawings, photographs, cutaways and props. Reports by George; Sheth; and Sonar in Vissa (1994), it was found that the use of visual aids help better teaching; and variety of teaching aids brought about stimulus variation that is essential to sustain students’ interest. For the success of educational programmes adequate use of visual aids cannot be ignored, ridiculed or undermined; for effective teaching to occur practitioners must be able to select appropriate methods from a variety of options especially innovative teaching strategies and resources (SUBEB/ESUT, 2006). The use of visual aids in education programmes provokes motivation of learners, clarification of concepts, and discouragement of cramming, increase in the vocabulary ability of the learners, it saves time and money, it makes classroom lively and active, it eradicates the dullness among the learners and it provides direct experience to the students (Boyed, 2004).

Van-Damme (2009) posits that Information and Communication Technology explains the combination of computer, video and telecommunication technologies as seen in the use of multimedia computers and the networks and services based upon them. Technology is the catalyst in the process of transforming education, in other words technology is indispensable to the success of the education sector. Michaelis (1980) notes that the use of visual materials is essential to the attainment of unit of objectives, the meeting of individual differences and the achievement of well-rounded learning. Hanna and others (1973) maintain that visual materials are useful in introducing new materials, in helping children to recall a previous experience, in establishing relations, in changing attitudes, in supplying information, in providing an aesthetic experience, in clarifying concepts and ideas in teaching skill. In addition visual aids serve to arouse students enthusiasm and stimulate their thought. Jarolimek(1977;94) notes that television can visually transport pupils to the areas they are studying, and can also show them details they would probably miss if they were actually there. Given the indispensable uses of visual instructional aids in teaching and learning process the researcher got motivated to carry-out research on “effects of visual instructional aids (material) on students achievement in selected content area of economics”. The content areas include: utility theory, theory of production and money. The selected content areas in economics are relatively difficult to the understanding of an average learner. The learner’s understanding of utility concept, production concept and money concept without the aid of printed materials like photographs, models and pictures seem unachievable (Akinsehinde,1998). Ogwo and Oranu (2006) state that the use of visuals are the basic methods/strategies of introducing new manipulative skills to the learner, given that two most important sense organs in communication of seeing and hearing come into play during teaching/learning process. Utility theory as one of the content areas of economics seek to explain the satisfaction level of a consumer at a given period of time, teaching of this content area without printed material such as photographs, model, diagram and real object will make learning cumbersome. Oyedeji (2002) posits that several measures recommended for improving student’s attitudes and academic achievement in secondary school subjects, include appropriate use of teaching methods and visual instructional resources. The concept of production which centres on creation of both tangible and intangible goods and services could hardly be taught to the best understanding of the students without the help of visual instructional aids such as real objects and improvised learning aids. Ajelabi (2000) posits that visual instructional aids have the tendency to make classroom environment lively and interesting. Karrer (2012) stated that the use of visual instructional materials in the teaching of economics in secondary schools enables the students to:

  • Learn at their own pace.
  • Eradicates dullness among students.
  • Provide direct experiences to the students.
  • Increase the motivation of the learners to learn.
  • Discourages cramming among the students.

Visual instructional materials include graphics, photographs, concept maps, Powerpoint presentations, films, computer and television images, etc. (Düzgün, 2000). Films are powerful visual tools that may visually present different places and events, offer unrivalled experiences, and facilitate learning (Norman, 2000). Another visual material, pictures and photographs are tools that make learning fun, motivate students to learn and enrich their imagination (Werff, 2003; Wright, 1989). DenBeste (2003) states that visual resources such as pictures and videos help the visualization of various situations in the classroom. He also adds that visual materials support written texts in all disciplines. Another visual material, Powerpoint presentations are also an ideal tool for course presentation. They allow teachers to collect important information in one single file and then present it. These interesting presentations teach them key concepts in particular, increase their attention in the lesson and help them learn complex information in depth (Adams, 2006). They are also effective materials in offering students summary information about the topic (Butler & Mautz, 1996). Previous studies also show that courses taught via Powerpoint presentations yield better cognitive outcomes in students than traditional instructional methods (Butler & Mautz, 1996; Christine, 1998; Lowry, 1999; Sugahara & Boland, 2006; Cramer, Collins, Snider, & Fawcett, 2007). Another important feature of Powerpoint presentations is that it is easy to place them within various visual materials to be used in instruction (Bouchlaghem, Wilson, Beacham & Sher, 2002)

From the foregoing, the study is designed to find out the relevance of visual instructional materials on student achievement in selected content areas of economics.

Statement of the Problem

Economics is one of the most important social science subject taught at the senior secondary school level. It is one of the relevant subjects that qualify one for admission into higher institutions. Ogundape (1996) maintains that some of the secondary school students conceive economics as a very complex subject whose comprehension requires a kind of judgment that is beyond their competence.  He further contends that students believe that the subject is meant for those with a high level of intellectual development. This belief often has negative effects on students’ achievement in economics.  Odigwe (2006) notes that despite the increase in students enrolment for economics in our senior secondary schools their performance has not been good and the state of affairs has often been attributed   to the use of ineffective instructional resources by the economics teachers. This study, therefore, is a response to this challenge.

The effectiveness of visual instructional materials as teaching resources is yet to be explored in the teaching of economics. Considering the nature of the subject which is based on abstraction and requires a sound mathematical background, this suggests that the application of visual materials in the teaching process may have a remarkable implication in the achievement of students in economics. In view of the foregoing observation, the research sought to investigate the relevance of visual instructional material on students’ achievement.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to determine the relevance of visual instructional materials on students’ achievement in selected content areas of economics.

Specifically, the study will:

  1. Ascertain the impact of instructional television on students’ performance in selected economics content areas.
  2. Determine the impact of projected media on the academic performance of selected content areas of economics.
  3. Ascertain the relevance of pictures in the teaching and learning of economics.
  4. Determine how the use of charts into printed materials affects the students’ academic achievement.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be useful to the curriculum planners, teachers, students, and government.

           The result of this study will help the curriculum planners to ensure that the curriculum of the subject contains learning experiences that are within the everyday experiences of the students. The curriculum planners will also benefit from the findings because it will provide information on areas of the subject that need review and it will bring to bare the need for providing visual instructional resources in our secondary schools.

 The result will equip the economics teachers in selecting and developing appropriate instructional strategies that will help to enhance students’ achievement in economics. This will minimize the stress and other instructional problems teachers may encounter as they teach economics, given that visual instructional materials attract all the sense organs of human.

The findings of this study will bring to bare the needed ingredient in the teaching and learning of economics in our secondary schools. The result of the study will also serve as an eye-opener to economics educators on the significance of visual instructional aids in the teaching/learning process. From the result of this study great improvement and better academic achievement can also be guaranteed through the use of visual instructional aids.

Finally, the result of the study will be helpful to Ministry of Education in the area of improving teaching and learning process, by coming up with strategies for provision and proper usage of visual instructional materials in secondary schools. There may be therefore the need to review the current instructional materials in use in our secondary schools.

Scope of the Study 

The study is concerned with determining the relevance of visual instructional materials on the academic achievement in selected contents areas of economics. The study will be delimited to senior secondary schools II (SS 2) students in Izzi Local Government Area in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State.

Research Questions

Three research questions will be formulated to guide the study. They are as follows:

  1. What is the impact of instructional television on students’ performance in selected economics content areas?
  2. What are the impacts of projected media on the academic performance of selected content areas of economics?
  3. What is the relevance of pictures in the teaching and learning of economics?
  4. How does the use of charts affects students’ academic achievement?



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