1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Teaching is a systematic, well-planned and dynamic presentation of facts, ideas, skills and techniques to students and its focus is to acquire maximum learning experiences. Selection of the most functioning teaching strategies is the best condition for successful teaching/learning process. Teaching of social studies requires more specific teaching/learning techniques/strategies because learning concepts and methods involve understanding and conceptual linkage of various representations (Ainsworth, 2013). These teaching/learning techniques must have necessary provision for students’ active engagement with explanatory ideas and evidence so as to enable those makes connection of theories and concepts to real purposes and practices in the world they live (Tytler, 2012). The most recommended strategies for teaching social studies are problem solving, inquiry-based teaching, laboratory-based activities and project-based teaching/ learning. But unfortunately teachers teach classes the same way they were taught, typically using lectures (Mazur, 2016) and this situation is in continuation since long. This stereotype results in learners depending upon rote learning without having deep understanding of social studies phenomenon, concepts and theories. The use of traditional lectures does not foster social studies learning. Consequently students face problems in learning social studies subjects. The improvement in teaching/learning techniques is one remedial measure on the part of teacher that can help to resolve these problems in social studies classrooms. Generally there have been continuous concerns from theorists and experts regarding the development of conditions that will be favourable for learning to take place. For example, Vygotsky (1978) advocated for a social platform in the class where learners perform tasks in groups or collaboration, and Burke (2013) supported for creating opportunity for learners to process information and construct meaning for them. In this connection Bandura (2010) proposed model of group behaviour that could be learned through observation, Kolb (2014) emphasized reflection upon past experiences, and Black and Wiliam (2014) stressed on the alignment of learning objectives, instructional process and assessment techniques. No single teaching method or strategy can encompass all the conditions proposed by experts as prerequisite for learning to take place. Social studies has to do with man‘s interactions with his environment. It’s concerned with the reciprocal relationship between man and his environment. Social studies are the integrated study of the society which help learners develop the ability to adapt to acquisition of relevant knowledge, attitudes, values, practical skills and humanities to promote civic competence (NTI, 2013). According to National Teachers‘ Institute (NTI, 2013), social studies was designed and introduced into the national curriculum of primary and junior secondary schools, to provide functional social education to Nigerian children and youths. The knowledge of social studies is not only important and useful to the learners, but to everyone who seeks to cope with the ever-changing trends of our environment. Many researchers agree that the conventional lecture method does not help students, construct their own understanding and opined that the uninspiring teaching methods adopted by social studies teachers lead not only to low achievement in the social studies but also incapacitates students from developing required skills necessary for creative thinking. Danmole  noted that teachers need to employ different learning methods and strategies to ensure students understanding of scientific concepts. A shift is therefore advocated by researchers to methods that will enable the learner construct their own understanding. Such methods have their roots in constructivism. This trend is learner centred and among these strategies is the integrated group based learning instructional strategy. Integrated group based learning instructional strategy is the deliberate instructional use of heterogeneous small groups of students who work together to maximize each other’s learning. Heterogeneity in grouping can be achieved by combining students of different sexes, academic ability level, ages, religion among others, so that students can get beyond their initial stereotypes and be able to treat each other as other social studies students’ and fellow group members. Integrated group based learning is theoretically based on the work of psychologists like Levi Vigotsky, Jean Piaget among others, who proposed that children actively construct knowledge in a social context. Various researchers have revealed the positive attributes of cooperative interaction among students as follows: more students learn more materials when they work together cooperatively; more students are motivated to learn the material when they work together cooperatively than when they compete with one another, and also, students develop more positive attitudes to social studies when they work together cooperatively than when they work alone. Also researchers do not agree on sex influence on students’ interest in social studies. The likes of Anaekwe  believe that sex has no influence on student’s interest in social studies. While Njoku  and Nwachukwu  opined that there are sex related differences in chemistry interest and performance. A lot has been done to improve social studies teaching in secondary schools in Nigeria, in spite of that, students continue to perform poorly in social studies subjects. Going by interaction the researcher had with students in the course of this study, students in studying social studies complain of poor choice of instructional strategies used by social studies teachers while teaching. These methods, they said, was not capable of arousing and sustaining their interest in the subject. The students during classes also observed some terminologies in social studies as appearing too abstract to them. And just when they are trying to assimilate the previous topics taught, the teachers come up with new ones. This has made their learning of Social studies difficult thus affecting their performance in both internal and external examinations. If these observations are true, there seems to be no glimmer of hope for the future of Social studies in this region. More to this, studies have shown a decline in students’ performance in social studies (Social studies inclusive) and partly, this has been attributed to the fact that strategies used in our classrooms are not very effective. To this end, one may say that the quality of education provided to students is intricately linked to the strategies teachers adopt in passing on knowledge to students in the classrooms. If the method a teacher adopts in teaching; and poor retention of the concepts in Social studies by students are some of the major reasons for the poor performance of students in Social studies, then the questions are; ‘how can we break this circle of failure’? What can we do as teachers to remedy the problem of students in Social studies in the study area? Is there a teaching strategy that could help students to overcome learning problems in Social studies? Mastery Learning Strategy is one of such techniques that could provide remedial to students difficulties in Social studies. Most modern applications of mastery learning stem from the writings of Benjamin S. Bloom; even though the idea of the instructional strategy dated back to earlier years [Eisner, 2000]. Bloom  hypothesized that a classroom with a mastery learning focus as opposed to the traditional form of instruction (lecture method) would reduce the achievement gaps between learners of varying degrees of academic abilities. However, the question still begging for answers in the study area is ‘would the use of Mastery Learning Strategy enhance students’ understanding of concepts and improve achievement in Social studies?’ Abakpa and Iji  opine that mastery learning strategy can provide quality instruction, immediate feedback and remedial lessons for the attainment of lesson objectives. Studies by [Abakpa et al, 2011; Akinsola, 2011] all affirm that mastery learning strategy enhances students’ academic achievement and retention in integrated social studies and mathematics than the conventional method. More recent works by Hussain and Suleman , Lamidi et al , Udo and Udofia  all affirms the superiority of mastery learning strategy over the conventional lecture method. The findings from these works revealed that the students taught using mastery learning approaches performed better than their counterparts taught through the conventional method. Therefore, since mastery learning strategy could improve the achievement of students in the studies highlighted, there is the possibility that it could alleviate students’ difficulties in Social studies observed in the study area. Learning retention in respect to this study is the ability of the students to acquire and comprehend the knowledge of Social studies. Much has been done on the effects of mastery learning strategy on students’ achievement in different subjects and in various localities; there is scarcity of data on the extent it could impact on students’ achievement with specific emphasis on Social studies. To this end, this study was carried out to provide empirical evidence on the Effects of integrated group based Learning models on Students’ Achievement in Social studies.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Integrated group based learning strategy is an instructional method that uses active learning strategies to engage students directly in the learning process, enhance academic performance and promote the development of important learning skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and ability to cooperatively work with each students. Properly implemented Integrated group based learning strategy can lead to increased motivation to learn greater retention of knowledge, deeper understanding and more positive attitudes toward the subject being taught. While teacher-centred comprises of lecture and storytelling, which neglect the students‘ interest, abilities and learning styles, places the teacher as the source of information and knowledge, students are often assessed alone without peer interaction before or after the learning process, it is also inadequate in an attempt to provide for the overall development of learner (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor) domains, this is because the teacher dominate learning climate and provide little or no room for the learner to participate, therefore neglecting the individual differences that exists among the students and also neglecting the spirit of inquiry, creativity, or novelty among the students. Consequently, the teacher centred instruction resulted to weak and slow learners working individually may give up when they get stocked, delay in completing assignment or skip them all together, performing poorly in their continuous assessment and their placement examination and may engage in malpractice during the examination. This problem has been approached from many angles by researchers. In response to the above problems, it was necessary for teachers to improve students' understanding of social studies concepts so that the planned learning objectives can be achieved and conceptualization also increases.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the effects of integrated group based learning models on social studies students’ achievement. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be significant in many ways and also to groups. These include curriculum experts in making adjustment and improvement on the teaching methodology of social studies. If curriculum designers are to continue to provide adequate and relevant social studies curriculum, there is need for a relevant database concerning instructional procedures at the Junior Secondary schools. The teachers would want to know the best instructional procedures for different groups of learners and learning situations rather than trial and error approach.
The findings of the study will open avenue for research on related themes as materials and methodology from other researchers become available. Also some of the existing gaps in the knowledge of methods of instruction in social studies may be filled.
The study will develop in the children the importance of inquiry which will lead to the development of problem solving, reflective and critical thinking, which are the skills required in addressing most anti-social issues of concern in their environment. This will in turn help in solving most of the problems in our society.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the effects of integrated group based learning models on social studies students’ achievement, a case study of Afikpo Education Zone, Ebonyi state.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: The use of integrated group based learning models in social studies does not influence student’s academic achievement.
H02: There is no significant relationship between the uses of integrated group based learning models and students academic achievement in social studies.
H03: There is no significant relationship between the uses of integrated group based learning models and students learning retention in social studies
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Mastery Learning: is an instructional model that presumes all children can learn if they are provided with the appropriate learning conditions.
Learning Ability: is the rate at which an individual can learn and comprehend fact.
Retention of Learning: is the knowledge acquired by learners which they are able to show after an interval period.
Teaching Strategy: is a set of unique activities, which a teacher employs to implement.
Teaching Method: is an approach or a procedure which a teacher adopt to explain a subject matter to learner.
Integrated Group based Mastery Learning Model: is a combination of the theories of Bloom’s and Keller’s model of instruction. It involves the direct application of Bloom’s and Keller’s model to the teaching and learning of social studies in order to enhance students’ achievement in the subject.
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