ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF TRUANCY AMONG PUBLIC SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL TWO (SSII) STUDENTS IN LAGOS STATE
Background to the Study
The school environment is organized to shape a student’s learning behaviour. However, one of the problems associated with schooling is truancy which is a source of concern to the parents and the school authority. Truancy has been identified as a challenge among students in schools globally and in Nigeria in particular (Animashaun, 2002).
Eremie (2015) asserted that truancy is a student’s deliberate irregular attendance at school. Similarly, Osarenren (1996) observed that truancy is the failure of an absentee student to obtain permission from parents and school. Seeley (2006) explained that truancy occurs if a student is absent without an excuse from parent/guardian or school. Truancy is an anti- social behavior of students who stay away from school.
Truants exhibit class disruptive behaviour such as truancy, absenteeism, tardiness, cutting classes that constitute an impediment to a meaningful teaching and learning process. Disruptive behaviour constitutes serious challenges facing the educational sector. Viega, (2008) defined school disruption as the transgression of school rules, troubling learning conditions, and teaching environment by truants. Hence, truancy has a negative effect on the students as it disrupts the classroom management during the teaching and learning process. The refusal of students to attend school regularly without excuse from parents and school is regarded as truancy. The characteristics of truants include laziness, lack of
interest in academic work and being in the company of hoodlums. Stoll (1990) identified three types of truants to include students who are in school but absent from class, students who are neither in the class nor at school but at home and those who are neither in the school nor at home. Truancy emanates from the inter-play of factors traceable to the individual, family, school and the community.
Truancy among students includes lateness to school and class, leaving school before closing time, loitering, dodging lessons and absenteeism (Brooks, 2001). However, absenteeism is a high rate of absence from school by students when regular attendance is needed. Students indulge in truancy as a means of escaping from an unpleasant situation that causes fear or avoiding school to gain freedom. The circumstances at home might include poor parent/child relationship due to lack of affection. In addition, parents’ inability to inculcate good moral values negatively affects their children’s academic achievement. The negative peer influence also contributes to an increase in truancy rate among students.
School engagement is seen as a preventive measure for students’ poor performance in school. The extent to which students, parents and teachers actively engage in educational process predicts how likely the students will graduate (Burrus & Roberts 2012). School engagement also involves students’ active attendance and participation in the school activities. Truants rather prefer to be with their peers unknown to their teachers, parents/guardians at the detriment of their studies.
Parental involvement in schooling enhances students’ academic performance, positive attitude towards school, time spent on homework and regular school attendance behaviour.
If parents however, abdicate their responsibility towards their children to their teachers, the students may become delinquent. Again, parents’ inability to inculcate good moral values may also negatively affect their children’s academic achievement.
Truants see the time they leave home for school as a period of freedom. Cone (2012) observed that truants leave home but do not go to school or escape from school to engage in negative activities that caught their imagination and fancy. Uwakwe (1998) explained that truancy affects the school social environment creating a climate of fear and inhibiting students’ ability to learn. The entrenched truancy culture in the homes, school and society coupled with insensitive response to truancy by those in authority affects students’ attitude to truancy. This is further aggravated by the scarcity of effective techniques to prevent truancy among students by counsellors and teachers.
Emotional disposition of truants show how they feel and perceive their environment. A student who is sad emotionally due to deprivation and rejection would easily vent his anger on peers at the slightest provocation. It would also be difficult for him to concentrate on his studies during the teaching and learning process. Students who are not emotionally stable are not courageous enough to express themselves among their peers. Osarenren (2005) observed that the emotional disposition of an individual plays a significant role in his relationship.
School engagement involves students’ active involvement in classroom tasks and school activities. School engagement also implies the rate at which parents show keen interest in ensuring that their children attend school punctually to prevent being delinquent. In fact,
parents who fail to assist their children in their school work would expect a very poor academic achievement. Furthermore, some parents’ apathy towards their children’s education increases the rate of truancy among students. It is obvious that some parents do not appreciate the value of education for their children because, for them education is not a priority. The construct of parental involvement is defined here in terms of the behaviour directed towards the education of their children.
Some teachers prepare inadequate lesson notes that do not sustain students’ interest which result to poor students and teacher relationship. Nwankwo (2006) stressed that some teachers treat students as if their psychological, emotional and social needs are identical. In the same vein, Makinde (2004) stated that if children are raised in a loving environment, their psychological, emotional and social potentials will develop well. In fact, understanding the individual differences in students depicts a teacher’s high degree of professionalism.
Students who suffer isolation may not have the courage to confront their peers in self- defense. Pelling (2013) stated that some students lack assertiveness skills to confront truants as they may be victims of bullies. Unfortunately, truants do not realize the implication of their action while their peers are busy with their studies. Various attempts are being made in the Western world to curb the incidence of truancy among students. Different anti-truancy campaign strategies are used by government and non-governmental agencies to assist in reducing truancy. Some states in the United States of America require schools to adopt anti-truancy policies such as project for promoting school attendance (Dembo & Gullege 2008). One of such policies is the anti-truancy programme which
promotes regular school attendance in Washington State schools (Jones, 2009). Unfortunately, adequate records on truancy among students are not kept in schools and anti-truancy policy and programme by government are also not prevalent in Nigeria.
Assessment of students’ truancy by the teacher is necessary for early identification of those who are at-risk. The assessment could be done by generating baseline data from the general performance of the students’ activities in the school. Unfortunately, assessment of truancy among students who are at risk has not been given the desired attention. Okoli (2005) observed that the assessment of students’ academic achievement will determine their level of performance. Similarly, if students are assessed by their teachers the rate of class disruptive activities by truants would be reduced. Hence lack of assessment of students’ academic performance would create problem of time and class management to the teacher. Plummer (2005) stated that assessment of students’ academic performance by the teacher would aid decision making.
Managing disruptive behaviour and personal challenges including truancy among students has become imperative. Management of truancy involves the use of adequate counselling intervention to modify the challenges that confront students (Cherry, 2013). Management of truancy provides students with skills for inter-personal relationship and self- management. A study on curbing deviance through peace education by (Jegede, Ememe & Gami (2008) revealed that peace education is an effective tool for transforming deviant behaviour which includes truancy among secondary school students in Lagos State. The study revealed that peace education is a panacea for reducing truancy. Similarly, Oliha (2014) studied the effectiveness of contingency management and cognitive restructuring in
the reduction of truancy among secondary school students. The study showed that cognitive restructuring was more effective in truancy reduction than contingency management.
Gender plays a significant role in the rate of truancy as boys and girls are involved as some of the students do not see the need for regular school attendance. In the United States of America the male students are considered less likely to graduate than the females and the gap is 14% between male and females among African American students (Monrad, 2007. However, Gesinde (2004) stated that boys at any level of education exhibit truancy more than the girls. In their submission, Nwankwo and Onyali’s (2011) survey on truancy and dropping out of school revealed that in Nigeria, both gender exhibit similarities on truancy rate. It is therefore obvious that male and female students engage in truancy in that they share common interest. Some students are involved in truancy because they do not see the need for regular school attendance. The same students avoid the demands of schooling and stay away from school to engage in anti-social activities. The need for supervising violent- prone peers by adult authority in structured school activities to avoid delinquent life style for students becomes imperative. Robinson and Rogstad (2012) stated that girls and boys engage in truancy in the first two years of secondary school. Animashaun (2009) however, argued that boys are more aggressive than girls if caught fighting or bullying. Unfortunately, some of the girls become victims of rape, prostitution and unwanted pregnancy due to the negative effect of truancy. Truancy is a major factor in senior secondary schools thus, must be addressed to improve the standard of living and security of lives.
Managing this endemic challenge of truancy has become imperative. As such efforts are being made all over the world to reduce the rate of truancy among students in the schools. Several intervention programmes have been used to prevent, improve and change the maladaptive behaviour exhibited by students in our society such as lateness to school, absenteeism, truancy, bullying, stealing among others. It becomes necessary to explore a therapeutic intervention that would ameliorate the emotional and psychological problem faced by truants.
Over the years, counsellors have used different counselling strategies to address truancy challenges (Oliha, 2010, Henry, 2007). However, truancy could be better reduced through the use of social learning and cognitive behaviour therapies.
Social Learning focused on observation, imitation and modelling (Bandura, 2001). The process involves communication, innovation, determination and perseverance. The techniques are designed to encourage interaction that enhances novel behaviour. It stresses the use of personal and interpersonal skills, to achieve good social skills that will enhance positive relationship among people. The goal of the intervention is to enable students change their attitude by watching models. Also initiating peers is significant in behaviour change as it helps to assist students with skills required for interpersonal relationship. Furthermore, it improves self-expression, respect for others, identify assertive and non- assertive behaviour, thus allowing the students to cope with the challenges of regular school attendance.
Cognitive behaviour entails changing a perception from interpretation to a neutral or positive one, making it less stressful. This process is called reappraisal, rebelling, refraining and attitude adjustment (Serward, 2011). The cognitive behaviour strategies are designed to uncover dysfunctional and maladaptive thinking that often accompany psychological distress and challenges. These strategies are based on the belief that one’s feelings are a direct result of one’s thought. In other words, what and how one thinks determines how that person feels. All behaviour whether deviant, adaptive or maladaptive, appropriate or inappropriate are learned and maintained according to the same principles (Okoli 2002). The goal of the interaction is to unlearn, improve and hopefully change maladaptive cognitions, thus allowing the client to live a far more productive and happy life.
Statement of the Problem
It is worrisome to note that students tend to face a lot of emotional and psychological problems arising from irregular school attendance, lack of personal and interpersonal skills to cope with school work. Truants have negative perception about schooling because it interferes with their freedom as they prefer to spend most of their time with friends. From our cultural perspective when a child fails to attend school, the parents are usually blamed. However, many students struggle with personal issues that relate to lack of personal, interpersonal and problem solving skills, which manifest as behavioural problems that could most likely result to truancy.
Truants suffer from deprivation, isolation, rejection and unassertiveness, which is due to their inability to cope with social, cognitive and problems-solving skills. Some of them are bullied hence they decide to be absent from school unknown to their parents and the school
authority. In addition, some parents neither assist their children in the homework or assignment nor participate in the school programmes Uwakwe (1998). Such parents do not monitor the progress of their children thereby abdicate their responsibility to the school. Also, some students explained that they do not have writing materials such as textbooks, pencil, biros, school bags and sandals, hence prefer to be outside while the lessons are going on. Such students’ cannot benefit from the various programmes that the school offers. In addition, the effects of truancy include low achievements criminal and delinquent activities. Truancy is also a clog in the wheel of progress during the teaching and learning, as the teacher has to contend with adequate class management
Again, some students attend school two times a week as they engage in street trading, motor park touting and graduate to street urchins in order to support their families financially. Truancy among students contributes to low grades in their examinations. Truants engage in manual jobs such as cleaners, guards, gardeners, drivers in order to meet their financial needs.
Other psychological and emotional problems could be lack of parental love, care, poverty, rejection and unassertiveness among peers. The truants also experience mental and physical stress as they are regarded as low achievers. They lack encouragement from family members, peers and their teachers. Furthermore, the absence of peace may affect the society as the truants indulge in different vices such as bullying, juvenile delinquency, hooliganism, alcoholism, armed robbery and sexual abuse. Truants have serious problems in the school with regards to participation in school activities in that they are always in the wrong place at the wrong time. A study on curbing deviance through peace education,
Jegede, Ememe and Gami (2008) showed that 32.13% of truancy rate among the participants, while the control group had 60.87%. Truancy contributes to unemployment and poverty rate of every country due to low academic achievement (American Psychological Association, 2010). The realization of the goals of secondary education as spelt out in the National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria 2013) is not far fetched. It includes raising up a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others and dignity of labour. The goals of the policy therefore cannot be effectively achieved with the menace of truancy ravaging the educational system.
Another problem is absence of policy and programmes on truancy that will promote regular school attendance by the government. Hence, much attention has not been given to the provision of counselling services in schools, as counsellors are yet to perform their responsibility towards students. Again, non-inclusion of counselling as a core subject in secondary school curriculum to enable the counsellors to teach career guidance, personal, interpersonal and problem solving skills.
Assessment of students is critical in solving the problems of truancy in the schools Barbara (2012). Animashaun (2005) observed that some teachers have been found to avoid classes and are hostile to students put wider their care. In fact, the attitude of such teachers indicated lack of interest in their career; hence their absence encourages truancy among students. Management of truancy is difficult because researches have shown that schools lack data on assessment and management that would facilitate intervention (Bolarinwa, 1996; Hebrum, 2003 and Gesinde, 2005).
Attempts have been made by researchers such as DeSocio, Vancura, Nelson, Hewett, Kitman and Cole (2007) to tackle truancy using some counselling strategies in order to find a lasting peace in the school, home and society. Much of such efforts have not been quite effective especially among senior secondary school students in the educational system. There is a gap in research on how to improve on their irregular school attendance behaviour. Therefore, this study focused on using social learning and cognitive behaviour intervention, as the vehicle by which students could imbibe the practice of regular school attendance and cope with the challenges of schooling.
The study was guided by the following theories:
1. Social Learning Theory by Albert Bandura (1977)
2. Cognitive Behavioral Theory of Learning of Aron Beck (1976)
Social Learning Theory (SLT)
Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (SLT) is based on the idea that people learn by watching others and that human processes are responsible in the understanding of a personality. Three major concepts visible in the theory are observation, imitation and modelling. However, Bandura (1977) observed that most human behaviours are11 learnt observationally through modelling. The theory stipulates that as observed one individual form an idea of anew behaviour and on later occasion this coded information serve as a guide. Furthermore, that human beings are active information processor and think about the relationship between their behaviour and its consequences. He concluded that observational learning could not occur unless cognitive processes were at work. He also stressed that
children observe the people around them behaving in various ways. Bandura (1977) states that certain conditions determine whether or not people learn from observed behaviour. They must pay attention and retain what they have observed and must be motivated to reproduce the behaviour. The effects of observed behaviour are also stronger if the model has characteristics similar to those of the observer.
Bandura (2001) described individuals that are observed as models. In a society, children are surrounded by many influential models such as parents within the family, characters on children’s television, friends within their peer group and teachers at school. These models provide examples of behaviour to observe and imitate such as masculine and feminine, positive and anti-social behaviour among others. Bandura (2001) asserts that as students learn, they self-direct and regulate their environment based on their self-efficiency.
SLT is relevant to this study and justifies the use of SSII students as participants for the intervention. The participants are in the semi-terminal class and will not be involved in any external examinations such as WASSCE and NECO SSCE. In addition, the intervention will be held during the first term of the session and the students have enough time to practice the social skills learnt. These include personal, interpersonal assertiveness and communication skills which will enable them avoid mistakes as they have learnt how to observe, imitate and become models in their own capacity. SLT is suitable for the SSII students because teachers, counsellors peers with whom students interact are their own models, Those mentioned above will teach good social, academic and behavioural skills that will help students who are at risk of truancy to adjust in the school.
The participants will replicate the skills learnt and even develop novel ideas symbolically coded in their mental repertoire, identify the concerns they wish to explore to guide future actions. Furthermore, peer modelling strategies will enhance their self-efficacy in that they can set goals, work in groups and succeed. Social Learning Therapy was chosen for this study because it gives more attention to the existence of human needs and superior to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which was introduced to complement Social Learning Therapy. SLT and CBT embrace both thinking and action as components of change.
Cognitive Behaviour Theory (Aron Beck 1976)
Aron Beck’s Cognitive Behaviour Theory (CBT) (1976) is based on the idea that it is inner thoughts that cause feelings and behaviour and not external things like people, situations and events. Emotional and behavioural reactions are learned and the goal of the therapy is to help clients to unlearn their unwanted reaction and replace them with positive action. CBT clearly states that it is not people’s experiences that make them angry or anxious but the way they think about those experiences. Beck (1976) is concerned with the need for clients to examine their thought pattern in order to replace irrational thoughts with realistic alternatives. Beek (2005) is concerned with the need for clients to examine their thought pattern in order to replace irrational thoughts with realistic alternatives.
The relevance of the theory justifies the use of SSII students as the participants for this study in that the intervention will hold during the first term of the session. They will have enough time to practice the skills learnt up to the first term of SSIII before the on set of eternal examinations such as WASSEC and NECO SSCE. The participants will develop copping skills such as identification of self-defeating talk, distorted thoughts and replace
them with more realistic alternative ideas. Again, the ability of students to practice problem solving skills and embrace home work assignment as an instrument of change in behaviour will reduce emotional and psychological problems. Furthermore, the students will practise regular school attendance behavior by avoiding lateness to school and class, noise making absenteeism and other forms of disruptive behaving among others. The theory focuses on individual belief about self, attitude towards others, values external world as they develop internal resources of strength. Based on the knowledge acquired, students will learn how to establish self- acceptance, self-confidence, self-respect and achieve a new view of one’s self and others. The educational benefit of CBT leads to a long term result as they continue to practise what they have learnt in order to reduce in the rate of truancy. Essentially, the intervention would assist the students to develop skills for solving problems thereby maintaining regular school attendance and academic success.
⦁ School engagement
⦁ Emotional disposition
⦁ Rational assertive ideas
⦁ Social skills
⦁ Less destructive behaviour
⦁ Interpersonal and Personal skills impartation
Cognitive Behaviour To correct
⦁ Faulty thinking
⦁ Wrong perception
⦁ Point of view
Social Learning Therapy
⦁ Lateness to school
⦁ Disruptive Behaviour
⦁ Unassertive Behaviour due to:
⦁ Negative Self talk
⦁ Irrational thoughts
⦁ Lack of problem solving skills
Challenges of Students
Conceptual Framework of the Study
Regular School Attendance
Figure 1: Researcher’s Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework above illustrates the use of social learning and cognitive behaviour to reduce truancy rate. Social learning was used to assist students who are at risk of truancy to imbibe regular school attendance behaviour. This is evident in that the therapy helped to reduce truancy through personal and interpersonal, perseverance and communication skills. It is to uncover dysfunctional unassertive behaviour that often accompanies emotional problems. These strategies are based on the premise that one’s inability to communicate assertively inhibits social relationship. The goal of the intervention is to change the anti-social relationship of learners to make them attend school
regularly. Cognitive behaviour therapy was used to assist the truants to maintain regular school attendance behaviour. This is because the therapy helped in restructuring the negative thoughts they have about schooling. The cognitive behaviour strategies are to uncover dysfunctional negative thinking that often accompanies distress and problems. These strategies are based on the belief that one’s feelings are a direct result of one’s thought. In other words, what and how one thinks determines how that person feels. The goal of the intervention is to challenge and hopefully change deviant cognitions, thus allow the participants to perceive the advantages of regular school attendance.
Purpose of the Study
The study investigated the effectiveness of two counselling intervention on assessment and management of truancy among public Senior Secondary School two (SSII) students in Lagos State. Specifically, the study sought to:
1. determine the impact of social learning and cognitive behaviour on school disruptive behaviour of participants in the three experimental groups;
2. examine the effectiveness of social learning and cognitive behaviour on the participants’ emotional disposition in the intervention and control groups;
3. investigate the impact of social learning and cognitive behaviour of participants on truancy rate in the intervention and control groups;
4. determine the impact of counselling intervention on the perceived level of participants’ parental support and involvement for schooling in the intervention;
5. evaluate the effect of counselling intervention on disruptive behaviour on the basis of gender in the three experimental conditions;
6. establish the impact of counselling on truancy due to gender in the three experimental conditions.
The following questions guided the study.
1. What difference exists in the impact of social learning and cognitive behaviour on school disruptive behaviour among the participants in the three experimental conditions?
2. To what extent would there be any difference in the emotional disposition among participants exposed to the intervention strategies and those in the control group?
3. How would participants’ truancy rate differ among those exposed to the counselling intervention and the control groups?
4. To what extent would there be any difference in the perceived level of parental support and involvement in schooling, among participants exposed to the intervention?
5 What difference exists in disruptive behaviour among participants on the basis of gender in the experimental conditions?
6. What difference exists in the effectiveness of the intervention strategies on truancy due to gender in the three experimental conditions?
The following hypotheses guided the study.
1. There is no significant impact of social learning and cognitive behaviour on school disruptive behaviour among the participants.
2. There is no significant difference in the emotional disposition of participants exposed to the intervention strategies and control group.
3. Participants’ truancy rate would not significantly differ among the participants exposed to counselling strategies and the control group.
4. There is no significant difference in the parental support for schooling among participants in the intervention.
5. Participants’ school disruptive behaviour will not significantly differ on the basis of gender among participants’ in the experimental groups.
6. There is no significant difference in truancy rate between the male and female participants in the three experimental conditions.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study covered a sample of students (male and female) in the Senior Secondary School II (SSII). The reason for the choice of SSII students was that they were in the semi-terminal class, thus, they were not involved in any external examinations such as WASSCE or SSCE. The students will be able to practice the knowledge acquired during the intervention in their first term of the SSII session, before they are promoted to SSIII. It will be possible to administer screening exercise in order to identify those who are at risk of truancy. Three schools were randomly selected from three public schools from the six Education Districts in Lagos State. The Participants’ ages range from 13 to 19 years. In addition, the study
was restricted to two counseling strategies Social Learning and Cognitive Behaviour Therapies. Hence, the justification of SSII students for the intervention was appropriate; as they will cope with the demands of regular school attendance that in turn reduce the rate of in truancy. The SSI students was not suitable for the intervention pregramme because they are in the first term of the session in that there was no records of absenteeism both in the daily school attendance and subject missed registers. Again, screening the students to identify those who are at risk of truancy. Therefore using the students will not produce the desired result. Furthermore, the use of SSIII students who are involved in the taking their mock examinations during the first term and their preparation for the WASSCE and the NECO SSCE examinations respectively. Hence, the intervention will interfere with the time needed for revision and general study to cover the syllabus for their final examinations.
Significance of the Study
The study will be of immense benefit to the students who are at risk of truancy because they will acquire vital skill for coping with personal, interpersonal, problem solving, self- assertiveness and self-management skills that will ensure emotional and psychological wellbeing. This study would enable the parents to encourage their children by providing pro-social skills such as active participation in their children’s school work. These include assisting the students to complete their assignment, attending Parents’ Teachers” Association (PTA), regular visits to the school to find out about the academic performance of students during the Open Day activities.
This study would be of significant effect to the school, counselor and education administrators by organizing seminars and workshop for regular school attendance behavior. It would also broaden the knowledge of counselors on the use of Social Learning and Cognitive Behaviour Therapies. The study would provide literature for Federal government, State ministries of Education and researchers in Nigeria and other countries for policy formulation. Furthermore, the society will be happy and peaceful in that there will be a reduction in rate of crime and other vices which are the products
Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms as used in this study are operationally defined.
Assessment: Assessment is the process of generating baseline data from the general performance of students’ activities. In this study, it refers to the use of research instruments for gathering data administered to the participants to measure their truancy rate and learning outcome.
Management: It is the use of classroom management techniques during teaching and learning process. In this study, it refers to a set of therapeutic strategies used by the researcher to carry out some reformative procedure on a group of students exhibiting truancy during the intervention.
Truancy: Truancy refers to the students’ absence from school without permission from school and the parents. In this study, the participants were identified using the truancy questionnaire to obtain the baseline data.
Disruptive behaviour: In this study, school disruption is considered as the transgression of school rules. It represents every wrong doing in the school that can be categorized under school indiscipline.
Emotional disposition: It refers to the fear and anxiety experienced by the students. In this study, emotional disposition is the level of unstable feelings that make the participants unable to face the challenges of school work.
Parental involvement: Parental involvement is the level of interest, attention and support given by parents towards their children’s education. In this study, parents’ discussion with their children about the school work, visit to the school and attend school programmes.
Social learning therapy: Social learning therapy means a method of learning by observing, imitation and modelling. In this study, social skills are thought to enable the participants cope with personal and interpersonal skills.
Cognitive behaviour therapy: Cognitive behaviour therapy is used to change a perception from a negative interpretation to a positive one. In this study, it is one of the intervention techniques used in modifying negative thoughts and behaviour..