Role of continuous assessment in teaching and learning of Economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi state

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

          Educational Assessment as a quality control mechanism and litmus paper for performance filtration is believed to have the capacity to serve as a tool for measuring the degree of measurable objectives attainment. By extension, assessment presents itself as a ready viable option for determining the degree of attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially the second goal, namely, “achieve Universal Basic Education”.

Continuous assessment of the learner is said to be a mechanism whereby the final grading of learners in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning systematically takes account of all their performance during a specified period of schooling (Bahago, 2004). Assessment in education takes different faces and therefore involves far mere than more test administration, it considers the ways students perform a variety of tasks in a variety of settings and contents and the motive behind their performances. Apart from the formal class test, teachers and parents’ observations may be considered as part of the assessment since it is an evaluative, interpretative appraisal of performance relevant for parents, teachers and other school personnel’s decisions regarding the learners they serve.

The national policy on education (NPE) introduced some noble ideas aimed at channelling education to the development of Nigeria’s economic, political, sociological and human resources. One of the innovative ideas in the policy is the liberalization of the Educational assessment and evaluation by using them in part or in whole on continuous assessment of the progress of the individual (FRN, 2004)

One of the functions of a school is the certification of the individual learner under its embrace (Idowu & Esere, 2009). To effectively carry out this role, assessment of one kind or the other is a prerequisite. Assessment is a means whereby the teacher obtains information about knowledge gains, behavioural changes and other aspects of the development of learners (Oguneye, 2002). It involves the deliberate effort of the teacher to measure the effect of the instructional process as well as the overall effect of school learning on the behaviour of students. Assessment covers all aspects of school experience both within and outside the classroom. It covers the cognitive as well as the affective and psychomotor aspects of learning.

          Continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State is yet to be fully harnessed as its role has not been fully discovered. The repeated emphasis being placed on the use of continuous assessment is a clear evidence of its importance in teaching and learning of economics. The National Steering Committee on Continuous Assessment in Nigeria Schools led by Professor Yoloye regards continuous assessment as a method of ascertaining what a child gains from schooling in terms of knowledge, industry and character development, taking into account all his/her performances in tests, assignments, projects and other educational activities during a given period of term, year, or during the entire period of an educational level (Ipaye, 1995). It is also a method of using the recorded performances of each pupil to help him or her improve on his or her achievement through guidance. According to Ezewu and Okoye (2000), continuous assessment refers to a systematic and objective process of determining the extent of a student’s performance in all the expected changes in his behaviour, from the day he enters upon a course of study and a judicious accumulation of all pieces of information derived from this purpose with a view to using them to guide and shape the student and to serve as basis for making important decisions about the child. In other words, continuous assessment should be systematic, comprehensive, cumulative and guidance oriented.

          The economics discipline has recently experienced a marked increase in publications on developing effective teaching and its assessment. Possible drivers for this are, inter alia, a greater intrinsic interest in teaching and its effectiveness; a global recruitment crisis of economics students in the 1980s and 1990s; a growingly competitive global marketplace for students; greater scrutiny and quality assurance from layers of governance, governmental and institutional; and an increasing focus on achieving high scores in student experience or satisfaction (Ekwonye, 2001).

          Reason for the adoption of the strategy of continuous assessment is for a careful analysis of the concept of assessment as an integral part. It is therefore reasonable that the teacher should be involved in the final assessment of the students he or she has taught. The National steering committee on continuous   assessment on the weights to be used in combining school assessment with the final Examination at the end of senior secondary school recommends as follows:

          First year- 10%, second year-20%, third year- 30% and final Exam (WAEC or NECO) – 40%. It is felt that weights should increase progressively so that test taken earlier in the courses carry less weight than those taken towards the end. This is necessary for instance, in order not to unduly penalize a pupil who might be poor at the beginning but has reached a high level of performance at the end of the course. At the same time the system discourages complacency on the part of the initially brilliant students

          Quality education is crucial to the economic development and social stability of a nation as it helps develop crucial humanitarian values like equity, tolerance, and peace. These values lead to sustainable national development, environmental protection, and improved family health, along with responsible participation in democratic, social, and political processes (Durodola and Olude, 2005). It was further argued that the aim of this goal is the quality of what is learned at school (knowledge, skills, values and attitudes) and how well these are learned (levels of competence attained on learning outcomes by pupils). Meanwhile, learners may not benefit much from a system of education unless there are assessments aimed at determining pupil performance levels at different stages of schooling. However, Puhl (1997) claimed that global influences affecting education (such as changes in world economy, information revolution, environmentalism and cross national health threats) and how educators assess them encouraged the move away from the heavy use of the traditional more judgmental approaches to assessment toward an alternative, more inclusive means of determining what learners know and can do. Assessment serves as the barometer by which student instructional achievement outcome can be gauged. Assessment enables the school to achieve an overall objective of having as complete a record of the growth and progress of each pupil as possible in order to make unbiased judgments in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor evaluation in the classroom. Kayode (2003) argues that teachers need to assess students through a classroom mechanism referred to as continuous assessment.

          For effective assessment, the teacher needs to spend time on each child by helping and observing. The teacher has to teach less number of students per class. By this, the teacher will teach, assess and provide feedback to the children individually. Presently the number of students per class can be more than fifty. This makes it too difficult for teachers to teach and evaluate effectively, even if they have the competency.  While some principals and teachers think that assessments are limited to paper and pencil tests and examination. Teachers can summarize students score, class work and assignments to make up a grade for a given period. Teachers seem to be confused in the amount of material content that should be covered by each test. In other words, should a test cover only the materials taught after an assignment has been made or should the test content be extended to the earlier and related materials taught after the preceding tests. Harbor-Ibeaja and Nworgu (2006) reported that most teachers opined that each test should include the earlier and related materials taught before and after each preceding test.  This is necessary because a test limited in content to the materials taught after the last test would not give the students an opportunity to use knowledge which has been acquired before the last test. Besides, that would not make for an effective transfer of knowledge on the part of the students coupled with the need for adequate vertical integration of the subject content by the teacher.

Statement of the Problem

          There seems to be a strong influence of traditional assessment methods, which sometimes counteracts continuous assessment methods. It is a well-known dictum that change always goes along with fear, resistance and insecurity. Hence, teachers’ beliefs, knowledge, judgments and thoughts have profound effect on the decisions they make, which in turn determine to a large extent what learners learn in their classrooms.

          Educational assessment provides the necessary feedback we require in order to maximise the outcomes of educational efforts. The assessment of learners’ learning provides objective evidences necessary in the decision-making process in education. Hence, good measurement resulting in accurate data is the foundation of sound decision making. There is little doubt among educational practitioners about the special value of assessment as a basic condition for effective learning. The major problems of assessment of learners have been in the approaches or methods.

To this effect, this study is geared towards ascertaining the role of continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Purpose of the Study

          This study is geared towards ascertaining the role of continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Specifically, it sought to:

  1. Find out the extent of teachers compliance with the continuous assessment standards.
  2. Determine the ways of assisting teachers in improving upon their skill in continuous assessment practice in Economics.
  3. Ascertain how continuous assessment procedure facilitates guidance function in the school and in career preparation.
  4. Determine whether continuous assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

Significance of the Study

          The outcome of this study will be of immense benefit to curriculum planners, economics teachers, students, school administrators.

The information gathered would help to identify the possible shortcomings of the continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics and how they could be overcome. It might also help to identify strategies that might be embedded in teacher-training courses and teacher in-service training sessions aimed at empowering economics teachers to effectively implement continuous assessment methods.

          To the curriculum planners, it gives them the opportunity to revise assessment methods. Also, curriculum planners could use the outcomes of this study to make policy decisions and use it to improve assessment strategies employed for learning assessment in schools found in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Thus, the findings and recommendations of this research will enable the curriculum planners to determine what the teachers are doing well and what they must improve with regard to continuous assessment practice.

To the economics teacher, it will add to understanding of their role in teaching and learning process with specific reference to continuous assessment practice. In the end, this could help to make informed decisions on critical areas of intervention that will most likely support the improvement of teaching and learning quality in economics.

To the students, it will help them to put more effort in reading so as to improve in their continuous assessment in economics and also help them to compete favourably with their colleagues.

To the school administrators, it will help them to understand the need of students, through their performance and the type of extra-curricular activity to enhance their learning of economics.

Finally, it will add to existing knowledge on the role of continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Scope of the Study

          This study is set to ascertain the role of continuous assessment in teaching and learning of economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Ezza North is a Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Ebiaji.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. To what extent do teachers comply with the continuous assessment standards in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
  2. In what ways can the teachers be assisted in improving their skill for effective continuous assessment practice in teaching and learning Economics in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
  3. How do continuous assessment procedure facilitates guidance function in the school and in career preparation?
  4. How does the continuous assessment serve as an integral part of the teaching and learning process?
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