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The study examined the assessment of stress as a factor affecting mass failure of students on Oral English Language at Senior Secondary School level in Mushin local government area of Lagos State. In this study, some relevant and related literatures were reviewed under sub-headings.

The descriptive research survey design was used in this study in order to assess the opinions of the respondents. the questionnaire was used to collect necessary information from the selected respondents, while the subjects for this study were sampled through the adoption of the stratified sampling technique.

A total of 100 (one hundred) respondents were used for this study. They are made of 20 (twenty) teachers and (eighty) 80 students who were randomly selected to represent the population of this study.

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

1.            What are the likely causes of stress on Oral English teacher in the secondary schools?

2.            To what extent does teachers’ methodology affect the failure of students in Oral English?

3.            What is the difference between the academic performance of students in Oral English who were taught by experienced teachers and those taught by non-experienced teachers?

4.            Does stress affect teachers work performance in the schools?

5.            How can unconducive environment cause mass failure of students’ in Oral English?

The results obtained from the questionnaire were analyzed to see if they answer the research questions raised in this study. The data collected were analysed with simple percentage frequency counts.

The results that emerged at the end of the analysis of research questions showed that:

1)            The likely causes of stress among teachers are: Taken their unfinished works to finish at home; having ill feeling or depression about the teaching profession, work overload, sadness about delayed salaries etc.

2)            It was equally found that stress affect teachers’ methodology, which in turn affects the failure or success rate of students in Oral English.

3)            The findings also revealed that students who were taught by well experienced teachers in Oral English differ in their academic performances from those taught by non experienced ones in Oral English.

4)            It was equally found that stress affects teachers work performances in the school.

5)            Finally, the result obtained at the end of the analysis showed that unconducive environment does not favour success in academic careers of students; as it does not favour teaching and learning process in schools.



1.0       Background to the Study

The issue of stress among teachers has become an issue of serious concern in Teacher Education Worldwide. Its implication on the quality of education particularly on Oral English and consequently on national development are obvious and crucial.

A report of the Educational Services Advisory Committee of the Health and Safety Commission U.K. (1990) informs that about 105 of the workforce experience occupational stress. Cooper (1994) submits that teaching is among the stressful occupations.

The issue of stress in teaching and its implications has been a major concern and focus on enquiry for teachers, teachers’ unions and other professional associations (Rees, 1989). Stress is a major behaviooural psychological link to illness, Strausser (2000), Johnny (2001) stress can lead to frustration, discomfort and ineffective performance.

Wynne et al (1991) Johnstone (1993) from their respective researchers on occupational stress have reported that teaching is a stressful job. This situation is observed by the researcher that it must have had a great effect on the Oral English among some secondary school students and mostly likely influence the poor performance of students in the final year West African Examination Certificate (WASC) as recorded over the years.

Also it is observed that the quality of the English spoken by most secondary school students is perceived by some good speakers of English to have been deteriorating over a long period. Such was the complaint of speaker after speaker at a conference on English Language studies in Higher Education held at Kano in September 1984. There were also reported cases of mass failure in Oral English.

Although, there are various factors that could also impede the teaching and learning of Oral English, which could in turn, lead to mass failure. These include: environmental factor, such as the non-availability of teaching and instructional materials, physical factor such as unconducive classroom for learning, psychological factor such as lack of interest on the learning of Oral English by the learners etc.

Teachers stress seems to be the most significant factor that could affect teaching and learning of Oral English which can result in mass failure in Oral English Language at the Senior Secondary School level. It is therefore, as a result of this that researcher decided to carry out this study to survey and observe how can teachers stress influence the performance of senior secondary school students on Oral English with efforts to see how this occurs, so as to offer suggestions on how it could be controlled.

The rate and degree of failure in Oral English by the secondary school students at the external examinations, especially West African School Certificate Examination, seems to be a problem of national concern. Therefore, there has recently been formed a consensus for national conference at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, to look into the causes of mass failure of students in public examinations especially in Oral English. Some researchers such as Ifeanyi et al, (1990) attributed to the mass failure of laziness and lack of seriousness on the parents who exhibit non-challant attitude on the educational career of their children especially, on their spoken English. For example, some parents discouraged their children by keeping them away from attending debate or any speech competition especially if such children are not participants, or key actors. To be a good speaker of English, one needs to watch and listen to good speakers of English language and practice what is learnt constantly, because, practice makes perfect. Again, some literate parents do not complement the efforts of the teachers for not correcting and teaching their children on Oral English at home, even, some use the Pidgin English to communicate with their children.

A good number of the researchers blame it on the teachers or lack of devotion and effectiveness towards their jobs. Yet, other blame the government for its failure to provide adequate and suitable environment for teaching and learning in the school. For this school of thought, government should be blamed for the inadequacies and ineffectiveness in the teaching and learning of Oral English. According to them, the government has failed to provide an environment that makes teaching and learning friendly, teachers are not paid their salaries and that commensurate with their jobs, their conditions of service is nothing to write home about. Majority of our teachers who specialize in Oral English do not teach with aids, language laboratories and current text books on Oral English. Many English teachers are not specialized in Oral English and lack the skills involved in it, but simply because they teach English, they are expected to teach Oral English.

The above factors made the teachers to teach students with great amount of stress.

What is stress?

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary, defines stress as continuous feelings of worry about work or personal life. Syle (1996) defined stress as a response to a challenging demand of event. According to Syle (1996), the circumstances that placed physical or psychological demands on an individual could be quite stressful, but in spite of this, throughout the life span of an individual, stress is an inevitable accomplishment and influence on human existence. The emotional and behaviour patterns that indicate the presence of stress include:

(a)          Feeling of tension, apprehension and fear

(b)          Reactions that show that one is worried by a particular incidence and

(c)          Physiological and behaviour changes that is associated with anxiety.

Quick and Quick (1986) consider the topic of stress in the teaching profession as being very important because of the health problems and subsequent reduction in the effectiveness in work performance that would likely result from it. Such health problems according to Cooper (1996) can take the form of headaches, insomnia, nervous tension and eventually breakdown of the nervous system, fatigue and many other health hazards, poor job satisfaction, lowered self esteem and absenteeism which in turn lead to poor performance in teaching of Oral English.

Stress in the teaching profession has been found to be a major cause of teacher burn out, a term used by Enever (1988), to describe an individual’s condition of physical and emotional exhaustion resulting from excessive demands on personal resources.

Environmental or work stressors have been examined in various ways in terms of their qualitative and quantitative elasticity as perceived by an individual. When teachers of Oral English Language are faced with stress, it could lead to:

1)            the inability to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours which could enhance the success of the students in Oral English.

2)            poor preparation of lessons which in turn would result in an ineffective learning.

3)            restriction only to teaching from textbooks which in most cases may contain obsolete information and wrong knowledge which the West African School Certificate Examination’s board do not assess. English language students under such teachers have a great deal of disadvantages in passing their examination and a great deal of problems communicating effectively in the society where they live (Ajayi, 1995).

4)            the possibility of teaching what they are not supposed to teach and leaving taught what they are supposed to teach, while a good number of them skip certain areas of the syllabus that they found difficult and time consuming Onwuchekwa (1996).

Therefore, what the Oral English Language teachers teach in such situation is only part of what they are supposed to teach in the given subject. It is difficult to guarantee that the secondary school students in Nigeria are actually learning what they are supposed to learn in Oral English.

One can make an endless list of the inadequacies that can result from stress on the secondary school English teachers. According to Olupade (1996), at this period of rapid changes in the educational structures with attendant psychological problems, coupled with the high standard of works performance expected of teachers, who are themselves faced with the biting effect of inflation in a depressed economy, the teachers are in need of counseling to be able to cope effectively with the stressful situations.

1.1       Statement of the Problem

There is no doubt that English Language is the official language used in Nigeria both in schools and outside of it. It is therefore imperative that students master the subject very well, and speak it clearly and meaningfully. The essence of good speech is to enable them to get along in their daily activities in life e.g. buying and selling, interviews, interactions in the bank, hospitals, parties, shopping centres etc. It also helps self preservation, respect, political relationship with the appropriate use of language in different situations. Good speech with appropriate pronunciation, commands respect and makes any symposium lively, while poor speech results into boring communication which is very common among students today.

Lack of correct and good pronunciation by the students has been observed by the researcher to have led to shyness in public. Some students have chosen to withdraw or keep sealed lips during a discussion both within and outside the school for fear that their colleagues might laugh at their pronunciations. This shows the level of their exposure to learning of Oral English. Therefore, it will be a wrong assumption that the students are being taught by the right type of people under the appropriate condition and environment (Achuzie, 1988).

Onwucheka (1996) states the following categories of teachers that can be found in the nation’s secondary schools: The Grade II, the (NCE) Nigeria Certificate in Education, (OND) Ordinary National Diploma, (HND) The Higher National Diploma, the graduates without teaching qualification. There are also the NCE, the OND/HND and the graduate with teaching qualifications.

In many states, the N.C.E. teachers are over stretched. They are only trained to teach at the junior levels of the secondary schools, but one finds that they now teach up to the senior secondary schools. Some of them are Heads of English Departments in our secondary schools in some states. This development has watered down the standard of learning Oral English in our secondary schools, as such, teachers lack the ability to cope with the skills that are inherent in English Language, especially in Oral English. Due to the fact that they do not have the wherewithal to teach Oral English effectively, coupled with the poor environment in which learning takes place and the poor conditions of service, these poorly trained and trained and inexperienced teachers teach Oral English with stress, in a manner that students can hardly learn effectively. This has caused dismal performance of students in Oral English in public examinations like West African School Certificate and General Certificate Examinations respectively (WASC) (GCE).

Also, the categories of teachers that are classified to possess teaching qualification are overstressed with other activities in school such as assigning them to teach other subjects that are irrelevant to their discipline, etc.

It is on this assertion that this study seeks to examine various things that lead to teachers stress and the effect on the students’ performance in Oral English at S.S. level in some selected schools in Mushin L.G.A. of Lagos State.

1.2Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study includes:

i)             To evaluate teachers’ role in the mass failure of students in Oral English in some selected secondary schools.

ii)            To find out likely causes of stress in the teacher and whether it affects teachers’ work performance.

iii)           To find out whether there is difference in the academic performance of students who are taught under a conducive environment and those taught under an un-conducive environment.

iv)           To find out whether there is any possible solutions to the problems of mass failure in Oral English by students.

1.3Research Questions

1.            What are the likely causes of stress on Oral English teacher in the secondary schools?

2.            To what extent does teachers’ methodology affect the failure of students in Oral English?

3.            What is the difference between the academic performance of students in Oral English who were taught by experienced teachers and those taught by non-experienced teachers?

4.            Does stress affect teachers work performance in the schools?

5.            How can unconducive environment cause mass failure of students’ in Oral English?

1.4Significance of the Study

This study will be beneficial to the school as it will change their bad attitude and approach towards school organization. The school will have more in depth understanding into the importance of given full support to the teachers towards effective performance, by making provision for instructional materials and teaching aids such as tape recorder, charts, videotapes, languages laboratory, library etc to facilitate the teaching and learning of Oral English, and thereby reduce teachers stress.

Teachers of Oral English will also benefit from this study, as it will enable them to have greater insight in the appropriate methods devoid of stress in delivering Oral English lessons to students, and thereby, overcome the problems identified and enumerated.

Students will also benefit from the findings, as they will have a great insight into the causes of mass failure both internal and external examinations in our country especially at West Africa Examination Council (WASC), General Certificate of Education (GCE), Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB), etc., so as to work harder and reduce the mass failure which is repeatedly recorded yearly in our public examinations. It will enable them to improve on their weak foundations as they are exposed to co-curricular activities such as symposia, talks, impromptu speeches, debates etc.

The external examination bodies such as WAEC, NECO, GCE, etc will also benefit as it will enable them to have an insight and understanding to how, and why students fail mostly the public or externally organized examinations in Oral English, so as to ensure that questions set are relevant to what the syllabus stated.

The society too will benefit, because the society is one of the stakeholders in our educational system. The society should therefore not be kept in the dark concerning the welfare of the students. They will be able to make more useful suggestions and recommendations.

1.5The Scope and Limitations of the Study

The scope of this study covers the evaluation of teachers’ stress as one of the major factors contributing to the mass failure of students in Oral English language.

Due to the limited time available for the research work and limited financial resources, the study is restricted to some selected secondary schools in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.6Definitions of Terms

Operational definitions of terms:

Assessment: This is an act of expressing one’s opinion on the worth of somebody or situation.

Stress: This is the outcome of force or pressure caused by difficulties or various problems in life.

Influential: Power to contribute to one’s change in behaviour either positive or negative change.

Multilingual: Ability to understand and speak fluently two or more official languages.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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