The Impact of Internet-Supported Instruction on Achievement in Social Studies in Nigerian Secondary Schools

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

There is growing awareness of the role of computers in enhancing students' learning in Nigerian schools. Today, efforts are being made by the government to provide some secondary schools with computers to facilitate teaching and learning. The Federal Government Colleges located in each of the states have a few computers. On the other hand, more than 97% of the public secondary schools under the jurisdiction of state governments do not have computers (Albert, 2003). However, these governments do not relent in their policy statements as indication of intention to make computers available to the schools. All these are perhaps in response to the evolving educational technology that has placed computers in the forefront of teaching-learning process, considering their immense role in involving the learners in the generation of their own knowledge (Vreman-de Olde & de Jong, 2004; Lux & Davidson. 2003; Huppert, Lomask & Lazarowitz, 2002).

The use of the computer has the capacity to provide higher interactive potential for users to develop their individual intellectual and creative abilities. The main purpose of the computer consists just in the development of human mental resources, which allow people to both successfully apply the existing knowledge and produce new knowledge (Shavinina, 2001).

Also associated with the use of computers is Internet in the educational process. Researchers and educators for a number of reasons have acclaimed the use of Internet assisted instruction. Apart from providing rich information sources and effective knowledge-negotiation tools, the Internet offers the students wide latitude of freedom to explore and achieve self-fulfillment (Mbata, and Kio, 2003). According to Chou & Tai (2002), the pedagogy of Internet-based instruction is quite consistent with the philosophy of constructivism. Specifically, the integration of the constructivist thoughts and Internet-based instruction that has often been applied to science education can also be applied to Social Studies education. The emphasis on developing the skills of inquiry and problem solving as one of the goals of Social Studies recognizes the need to help the students construct their knowledge of ideas. concepts and principles from the exploration of real problem situation or project-based learning. The metacognitive and epistemological activities involved in Internet-based learning environments have been recognized by many including Tai (2004, 2001). For example, reflective thinking and critical judgment are inevitable experiences and behaviors of students when navigating in the Internet environments where a variety of materials and information (some of which are conflicting though) exist concurrently. Besides, Internet-based pedagogy helps the students to look beyond the teacher as the ultimate source of knowledge. Their active involvement makes the instructional process democratic (Freire, 1970, Illich, 1970). Though some Internet-based learning activities and assessment systems have been implemented in most parts of the developed countries (Wallace, 2004; Tsai and Chou 2002, Tsai, Lin & Yuan. 2001), not much work has been done in these areas in the less developed countries including Nigeria. For instance, according to Okebukola (2002), the computer is not part of classroom technology in over 90% of public schools in Nigeria.

According to Taju (2004), Nigerian students and teachers are overwhelmed and excited by the inestimable value of the Internet as a rich source of knowledge especially now that most of them do not have access to standard books. In the views of Abdulahi (2003), only a few of the Universities in Nigeria have well stocked libraries. If universities do not have standard libraries, it would be unimaginable for secondary schools to have such facilities. Of the 200 secondary schools sampled across the country in a survey, 6 had libraries with a few shelves dotted with outdated books and periodicals. …