Background of the Study
Geography is a branch of environmental sciences. According to Adekanjo, (2002), Geography plays a vital role in providing knowledge of relevant concepts, environmental and natural phenomena, like; why we have day and night, the reason for rainfall, the ozone layers, avoidance of over exploitation of the natural environment and most importantly, protecting our environment for the future generation. It helps to develop environmental process skills like; classification, description, observation, inference and measurement David, (2000). All these importance of geography notwithstanding, students perform poorly in Geography Dakun, (2001). The West African Examination Council Chief Examiner’s reports (2006) indicates that many students lack the expected geographical knowledge. According to the same source, this contributed to their poor achievement. This poor achievement in geography among secondary school students has made a number of geography educators to study the problem empirically with the hope of finding causes and plausible solutions. Some of the causes identified according to Grossman, & Adam, (2000) are poor background, lack of teaching and learning materials, poor method of teaching, lack of experienced and qualified teachers, insufficient supply of laboratory equipment and teacher behaviour.
In addition to these factors listed above as responsible for poor achievement of students it is suspected that student’s classroom-learning environment may contribute immensely to poor achievement especially in geography. Researchers False; (1990), Talton, and Simpson, (2007) pointed to some environmental factors such as; home and the school environments as some of the major factors that influence students outcome in the subjects. Learning has been known to be influenced by the type of environment, in which an individual learns Osewaren, (2006). Randhawa, and Michayluk, (005) found out that the inclusion of environment as a variable makes a major difference in the prediction of human characteristics such as general intelligence and school achievement.
In the same vein, Keeves, (2004) suggested an education pattern where an educational outcome is a function of the type of environment in which an individual learns. There are different types of learning environment such as school environment, home and classroom environment. School environment according to Walberg, (2001) refers to teacher or students perception of the school moral or social-psychological environment that affects learning. In order words, it is the external condition and influence in the school that can influence the academic achievement of students irrespective of their intelligent quotient, while the home environment is seen as behaviours and processes on the part of parents to provide intellectual and emotional stimulation for their children.
The classroom is a basic structural unit of our educational system Talton, and Simpson, (2007). It is a miniature community in which members’ interest influences the behaviour of others. Classroom environment is therefore the type of environment created as a result of subsequent interactions that occur in the classroom during teaching and learning process Hawkros, and Panick, (2003). In the Nigeria setting the classroom environment appears to be static, not changing with changes in time.
The classroom environment of a school is an embodiment of the physical, sociological, psychological and psychosocial conditions. The physical classroom environment has to do with the age of the classroom building, colour, level of available furniture, desks and seats, ventilation, lighting, roof, ceiling and floor Akubue, (2001). The sociological classroom environment or climate refers to the feeling, which the teachers and the learners are able to generate in making the classroom morale high or low Akubue, (2001). The psychological classroom environment refers to the level of the speed of teaching, cohesiveness, distractions, interests, motivations, anxieties, confusion and difficulty of the classroom learning activities Haertel and Walbeg, (2004).