DETERMINATION OF TECHNICAL TEACHERS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NEEDS FOR TEACHING BASIC TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN SOUTH – SOUTH NIGERIA
Background to the Study
Teachers have been recognized as indispensable human resource and indeed the single most vital element in the educational system. This conviction is amply reflected in educational literature and in various government policy documents across the globe. For instance, Awoniyi cited in Etuk (2006) stated that new schools may be built, syllabuses revised, new teaching methods and aids recommended and new textbooks provided but in the end everything depends on the quality and quantity of teachers. Similarly, the Federal Government of Nigeria in recognition of the pivotal role of quality teachers noted in the implementation guidelines of the Universal Basic Education programme that many laudable educational initiatives in the country have failed because proper account of the teacher factor was not taken (Federal Republic of Nigeria, FRN, 2000). It therefore stated emphatically in the National Policy on Education that since no education system may rise above the quality of its teachers, teacher education shall continue to be given major emphasis in all educational planning and development (FRN, 2013).
It is worthy to note that the primary source for producing professional teachers in Nigeria is through teacher education programmes offered in teacher training institutions such as universities and colleges of education. Akpan and Silas (2013) noted that the initial training teachers receive during their teacher education programmes is inadequate to enable them continue for life to perform the changing complex tasks of a teacher for many reasons. First is the inadequacy of most teacher preparatory programmes vis-a- vis the varying standards in facilities, personnel and course offerings. Secondly, the society is continuously undergoing changes in values, attitudes and knowledge as a result of the ever increasing rate of technological advancement. Thirdly, newer and more sophisticated technologies are being developed for use in schools and teachers stand the risk
of being declared redundant and obsolete if they do not avail themselves of opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills in the use of such technologies. In order to address these inadequacies in the initial training of teachers, determination of professional development of teachers becomes imperative.
Ferguson (2013) viewed professional development as the process through which employees gain skills and knowledge to optimise their personal development and job growth. Contextually, professional development refers to the various types of training and retraining programmes given to employees to help them develop their skills and competencies in specific disciplines or occupations. It usually takes place after an individual has started work in an establishment or organisation. Professional development is imperative for every occupation, including the teaching profession. The need for professional development of teachers is acknowledged by Owolabi (2012) who pointed out that given the rapid accumulation of scientific and technological facts and the high rate of change of the existing facts, it is apparent that no matter the efficiency of the pre-service training given to teachers, there would, of necessity, be areas of inadequacies that need retraining.
The Federal Government of Nigeria also acknowledged the need for teachers’ professional development when it stipulated that teacher education shall continue to take cognizance of changes in methodology and the curriculum and that teachers shall be regularly exposed to innovations in the profession (FRN, 2013). Similarly, Schleicher (2012) noted that as teachers around the world are undertaking wide-ranging reforms to better prepare children for the higher educational demands of life and work in the 21st century, the skills that young people demand in the rapidly changing world, and the competencies teachers need to effectively teach these skills in a 21st century classroom are equally changing. Schleicher further pointed out, for instance, that today,
where students can access unlimited contents on search engines and where routine cognitive skills are being digitalised or outsourced, these have serious implications for teacher preparation and continuing professional development.
Moreover, Akpan and Silas (2013) stated that professional development of teachers is imperative because majority of new entrants in the teaching profession did not study education as one of their courses. In addition, the teacher recruitment process is plagued with lack of transparency and extensive application of non-professional criteria, including political patronage. Moreover, teachers are not seriously evaluated and they advance only by seniority. Thus, once recruited, there is no way for the authorities to get rid of even notoriously poor performers. According to Owolabi (2012), this invariably could result in a situation where Nigerian secondary schools are filled with anybody who is willing to teach such that there are non-professional teachers who have adequate subject content knowledge but lack pedagogical skills. There are also professional teachers who are obsolete in knowledge in the light of recent innovations and developments in the technological and educational systems.
Furthermore, Schleicher (2012) noted that globalisation and development in information and communication technology are causing profound changes in the world of work. Schleicher further noted that these changes have profound implications for teachers and the entire education system particularly with respect to the learning processes and necessary teacher competencies, Moreover, the Asia Society (2012) encapsulated the need for retraining of TVET teachers when it stated that “We are trying to teach twenty-first century skills with twentieth-century teachers in nineteenth-century learning environments”. It added that “teacher preparation programmes should prepare teachers with the values, skills, and knowledge not just to keep abreast with the times but also be ahead of their time” (p. 6).
Professional development is necessary for teachers of every subject, including teachers of Basic Technology. Basic Technology is a compulsory subject in the basic education programme. It is an amalgamation of topics from a wide range of technical subjects such as woodwork, metalwork, electricity/electronics, building technology, technical drawing, food storage and preservation, among others. Udoudo, Udoetuk and Ekon (2012) identified that the purpose of Basic Technology is to include inculcating technological literacy, exposing students to the world of work to match their talents and interests for wise vocational choice and inculcating positive attitudes towards work as a source of human identity, livelihood and power.
The need for professional development of Basic Technology teachers in Nigeria is underscored by Akpan and Silas (2013) who noted that Basic Technology is taught as an integrated subject with one teacher teaching all the components. Akpan and Silas argued that since the teachers were not prepared in all these areas, they may not be able to teach the subject effectively because of their narrow preparation. Similarly, Ogbuanya (2005) noted that Basic Technology being an amalgamation of a number of distinctive technical trade areas should not be taught by teachers most of whom are generally trained in only one or two of these trade areas. This position is shared by Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele (2012) who reported that majority of the teachers employed to teach the subject in Kogi state cannot handle all the components effectively. Udoudo, Udoetuk and Ekon (2012) expressed the fear that this problem might become aggravated with the inclusion of new topics from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the new Basic Education curriculum as these topics may tend to be difficult for some of the teachers to handle effectively.
The implication of this is that the Basic Technology teacher must possess necessary competencies. Selvi (2010) defined competencies as the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, motivations and beliefs people need in order to be successful in a job.
Adodo (2014) viewed competency in teaching as the ability of a teacher to exhibit on the job skills and knowledge gained as a result of training. Several areas of teachers competencies on which professional development should be focused on have been identified in educational literature. These include instructional competencies, professionalism competencies (Roberts, Dooley, Harlin and Murphy, 2006), field competencies, curriculum competencies, emotional competencies and information and communication technology competencies (Selvi, 2010). Others are pedagogical skills and affective work skills (Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele, 2012; Akpan and Silas, 2013), intra- and interpersonal competency (the European Higher Field of Education, 2011), students mentoring competencies (Ekong, 2013a) and laboratory management competencies (Ogwo and Oranu, 2006; Onweh, 2013). This study is centred on five broad areas of teachers’ competencies namely pedagogical competencies, information and communication technology (ICT) competencies, laboratory management competencies, affective work competencies and intra-personal and interpersonal competencies.
Pedagogical competencies involve the ability to plan teaching and learning programme, to execute the interaction or manage the learning process, and also make an effective assessment of students learning (Akhyak and Yunus, 2013). In the context of this study, this competency includes lesson planning and presentation, classroom management as well as students assessment competencies, among others. Information and communication technology competencies relate to the use of tools and technical equipment for teaching, distribution and transferring of knowledge (Selvi, 2010). It includes the use of technology that helps in producing, manipulating, storing, communicating and dissemination of information in the teaching learning process. Laboratory management competencies relate to the teachers’ ability to manage the tools, equipment, space, human and financial resources in the workshop effectively (Onweh, 2013).
Affective work competencies are the socio-psychological characteristics such as work attitudes, values and habits that a person demonstrate at the workplace (Amuka, 2002). Intra- and interpersonal competencies relate to teachers’ knowledge of personal skills and values as well as the way they treat others. Contextually, this is synonymous with emotional competencies which according to Selvi (2010) relate to teachers emotions, values, morals, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties, motivation and empathy. Selvi maintained that teachers’ emotional competencies are very important as it can help students to learn and also help teachers become effective teachers.
According to Abassah (2011), it is however disheartening that there is presently no well articulated and sustainable continuing professional development programme for technical teacher educators in Nigeria after the failure of the erstwhile Technical Teacher Training Programme (TTTP). According to Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele (2012), the observed poor performances of some Basic Technology teachers in Nigeria can be partly attributed to the fact that most of them commence and end their teaching careers with just the basic training received during their pre-service teacher training programmes without updating their knowledge and skills to meet with the changes in their various areas of specialization. Indeed, there are numerous documented evidences on the poor performances of Basic Technology teachers in Nigeria especially in the South-South region,and these justify why they should be retrained to enable them grow professionally and remain up-to-date and relevant.
Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele (2012) reported that a survey on technical teacher production by Aina in 2008 indicated that the teacher quality factor ranks highest out of all the militating factors against the full implementation of the Basic Technology programme in Nigerian secondary schools. This source maintained that the panel observed that majority of the teachers employed to teach the subject cannot handle all the modules in Basic Technology.
Moreover, Adodo (2014) reported that most teachers of Basic Science and Technology lack knowledge of basic principles and skills in producing simple classroom tests for evaluating students learning outcome. In addition, Umunadi (2009) reported that most TVET teachers lack adequate skills in developing and utilizing contemporary instructional materials, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment in instructional delivery. Consequently, the quality of instruction offered by most teachers are poor and the delivery systems are made abstract because teachers teach without the relevant instructional materials. This partly contributes to students’ poor performances in technology subjects in both internal and external examinations in recent years.
Adodo (2014) reported that there had been public criticism and disappointment over the students’ performances in science and technology subjects in WAEC examinations and the recent Chief examiners’ report attributes these failures to poor teaching and assessment practices by teachers. This researcher has observed that the trend in students’ performances in Basic Technology in the Basic Education Certificate Examinations conducted by the National Examination Council (NECO) in South-South Nigeria is similar to the above. It is obvious that the low competency level of the Basic Technology teachers could hamper their teaching effectiveness. Agreeably, where the teacher lacks the basic knowledge and skills, their students are likely to become ill-equipped to enter and progress meaningfully in employment. This seems to be the situation in most secondary schools in Nigeria today especially in the South-South region. Obviously, this is a clear indication that the Nigerian education system is at risk as a result of the low competency level of the Basic Technology teachers.
In view of the fact that teacher quality is a strong predictor of students’ quality, the poor performances of students in Basic Technology calls for the upgrading of the skills and competencies of Basic Technology teachers through appropriate retraining programmes.
This position is shared by Ayonmike (2010) who noted that the presence of new technologies have given rise to the demand for training and re-training in new skills in the existing and new occupational areas in order that people might fit into today’s and tomorrow’s world of work. Similarly, Umunadi (2010) noted that training and retraining of workers, including teachers, is necessary because of the changes occasioned by technological development and globalization.
It is pertinent to note that training and retraining for skills upgrading requires needs assessment. According to Wikipedia (2012), needs assessment is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or “gaps” between current conditions and desired conditions or “wants”. It explained that the discrepancy between the current condition and desired condition must be appropriately measured in order to identify the need. It is equally important to note that since only professionally competent teachers could bring about the much desired high quality education and since it is the professional skills possessed by teachers that qualify them as competent teachers, there is need to identify those areas where Basic Technology teachers, particularly those in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria should update their knowledge and skills to enable them become professionally competent teachers. Moreover, since studies have shown that the teaching performance of teachers is dependent on their gender (Afolabi, 2009; Antewil, Eren and Ozbeklik, 2012; Robert, Owiti and Ongati, 2013), as well as their academic qualification and years of experience (Akinsolu, 2010; Musau and Abere, 2015), there is need to determine how the professional development needs of Basic Technology teachers vary according to their gender, academic qualifications and years of teaching experience. It is in view of the forgone challenges that the present study becomes imperative.
Statement of the Problem
It is widely acknowledged that teacher quality is a strong predictor of students’ quality (Cannon,Kitchel,Duncan and Arnett, 2011). Regrettably, students’ performance in Basic Technology in the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) has not been encouraging in recent years, particularly in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria. This is partly attributed to teachers’ poor performance as indicated by numerous literature evidences (Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele, 2012; Akpan and Silas, 2013; Adodo, 2014). This calls for upgrading of their competencies through appropriate retraining programmes.
Studies have shown that most teachers of vocational education subjects, including Basic Technology, may be deficient in pedagogical skills (Atsumbe, Raymond and Mele, 2012; Akpan and Silas, 2013), affective work skills (Amuka, 2002; Atsumbe and Saba, 2008), information and communication technology skills (Umunadi, 2009), laboratory management skills (Onweh, 2013) and intra and inter-personal skills (Udoudo and Maigida, 2013). Odu (2013) also reported that most teachers of Basic Technology may lack adequate skills in developing, improvising and utilizing contemporary instructional materials in instructional delivery, especially those related to the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment. This creates a condition known as skill obsolescence which, according to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (2012), occurs when professionals lack the up-to-date knowledge and skills necessary to maintain effective performance in their current or future work roles. Obviously, skills obsolescence can only be remedied through retraining which itself is dependent on the result of needs assessment.
Many studies from different states in Nigeria have indicated poor performance of students in their junior secondary examination in Basic Technology (Nwoji, 2000, lenga, 2001).This poor performance could be the result of poor teaching methods However, there is no ample evidence that previous studies have clearly identified areas of deficiency of the Basic Technology teachers in South-South Nigeria so that they can be retrained appropriately. In addition, previous studies have not attempted to compare the professional development needs of the Basic Technology teachers with respect to their gender, academic qualification and years of teaching experience, and to delineate the influence of these demographic variables on the professional development needs of the Basic Technology teachers. These need to be ascertained. The foregoing therefore constitute the major problem to which this study is addressed.
Purpose of the Study