Background of the Study
Economics has been defined by different people in different ways. Economics is the study of ways of making choices and allocating scarce resources to satisfy human wants. It is the study of how people and societies make decisions; allocate and manage scarce resources to achieve their needs. In this view, Hall, (2013) defined Economics as the study of how individuals, firms and whole societies identify their most important needs, allocate and manage scarce resources in such a way that satisfies as many needs as possible. Since resources are scarce while human wants are insatiable, Economics deals with the study of how people utilize scarce resources in face of unlimited wants.
Economics is the study of human attitudes towards satisfying their needs. Economics is concerned with human behaviour such as how people earn their living and make choices between alternatives to satisfy their wants; it focuses on the study of firms and the government whose activities are geared towards the production of goods and services for the satisfaction of human want (Yusuf, 2012). Economics could then be seen as the study of human activities dealing with allocation of resources and production of goods and services for the satisfaction of human wants. It is a social science that studies how individuals, firms and governments make decisions and choices in face of unlimited wants and allocate scarce resources to their most important, pressing and preferred needs.
In Nigeria, Economics is taught in senior secondary school using Economics senior secondary school curriculum. Economics curriculum has to do with all the experiences and
activities provided by the teacher/school to the students in course of handling Economics subject in order to achieve the objectives of the subject (Economics). As documented by the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), (2008) the guiding principle of the Economics curriculum is the need to equip graduates of senior secondary school with the basic knowledge and skills that will enable them to better appreciate the nature of economic problems in any society and adequately prepare them for the challenges in the Nigerian economy.
The objectives of Economics curriculum according to FME, (2008) include enabling students:
Understand basic economic principles and concepts as well as the tools for sound economic analysis.
Contribute intelligently to discourse on economic reforms and development as they affect or would affect the generality of Nigerians.
Understand the structure and functioning of economic institutions.
Appreciate the role of public policies on national economy.
Develop the skills and also appreciate the basis for rational economic decisions.
Become sensitized to participate actively in national economic advancement through entrepreneurship, capital market and so on.
Understand the role and status of Nigeria and other African countries in international economic relationships.
Appreciate the problems encountered by developing countries in their effort towards economic advancement.
Economics is of great importance because it is a subject that has direct utility which prepares a student for a wide range of career options, ranging from business to government such as in industries and other professional areas like Banking, Accountancy, and Planning (Hall, 2013). Therefore, the need for economic literacy is obvious because it is a subject that has relevance to everyday life and could prepare secondary school students for an entrepreneurial career. It helps in equipping secondary school students with entrepreneurial skills to becoming useful citizens even if they do not further their education. According to Finkelstein (2011), high school graduates will be making economic choices all their lives, as breadwinners and consumers, and as citizens and voters and they will need some capacity for critical judgment, whether or not they go to college. Thus, it is of great importance that secondary school Economics curriculum is very interesting, enlightening, revealing and addresses important economic issues in the country for students to gain meaningfully from the experiences, knowledge and skills for real life activities. Whether students have gained meaningfully or not from the experiences, knowledge and skills provided through Economics curriculum can only be determined through the academic achievement of students in the subject matter.
Students’ academic achievement shows the success or otherwise of an
academic/educational endeavour. Students’ academic achievement tends to show the efficacy or otherwise of schools and tends to determine the future of students. Aremu (2001), was of the view that academic achievement is a fundamental criterion by which all teaching-learning activities are measured, using some standards of excellence and the acquisition of particular grades in examinations to measure student’s ability, mastery of the content, and skills in applying the knowledge acquired to a particular situation. According to Ernest-Ehibudu & Opurum (2013), the measure for assessing students’ level of academic achievement is through achievement tests/examinations and observations.
Achievement tests may include tests or examinations given at the end of a lesson, unit, term, session, year or programme such as weekly test, mid-term test, termly examination, first school leaving examination, senior secondary school examination (e.g WASSCE, NECO, NABTEB) and other tests/examinations at different levels and areas of education. For instance, the achievement test to be used in this study is Economics Achievement Test as developed by the researcher. The results/grades gotten from these achievement tests/examinations and observations could be high, average, low or poor.
In spite of the importance of Economics and the government’s provision in terms of instructional materials and qualified teachers (Federal Ministry of Education, FME, 2008), students’ achievement in Economics seems not to be encouraging. For example, the West African Examination Council Chief Examiner’s Report (2008 through 2012) revealed that the achievement of students in Economics at the end of secondary education has remained poor. Ojelabi, (2009) observed that researchers’ concern has risen due to the fact that students’ achievements in the Secondary School Certificate Economics have remained poor. Regrettably, Alaka and Obadara (2013) noted that there has been persistent poor achievement of students in West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). This poor achievement of students in Economics, a subject that aids in developing students’ critical and creative thinking is very disheartening. No wonder the seeming dysfunctional, non-creativity, non-productivity and non-employability of secondary school graduates in the country. Various factors have been adduced for this poor achievement of students in Economics such as teaching methods and gender among others (Adu & Ayeni, 2004; Ewumi, 2009; Olatoye & Adekoye, 2010; Emaikwu, 2012; Idris & Rajuddin, 2012; Ifeanyi-Uche & Ejabukwa, 2013; Jensen & Owen, 2013).