Factors influencing academic performance of students in Geography in K.C.S.E in public secondary schools in Kenya: a case of Kakamega North District, Kakamega County
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The main purpose of this study was to assess the factors that influence the academic performance of students in Geography. Performance of students is expected to be at a maximum of Grade A, which translates to 12.00, yet most schools in Kakamega North are only able to score a mean of between 3.7 and 4.2 which translate to a D+. This poor performance has persisted despite the contribution of the Ministry of Education in provision of funds for purchase oftextbooks and other learning resources. The T.S.C also employs teachers of geography to teach students of this subject. Geography as a subject is not popular amongst secondary students as seen by the low number of students opting for Geography at form three and four level. The target population was 32 schools in Kakamega North. Purposive sampling was used to sample 27 Head teachers and 27 teachers of Geography. The study used descriptive survey method of research. One questionnaire was used, for teachers of Geography. The questionnaire was tested in a pilot study then moderated before the actual data collection. Interview schedule was used for Head teachers. Pre-testing was used to address the element of validity and reliability. Data collected was classified, analyzed using SPSS(Statistical Package of Social Sciences) and then interpreted using descriptive statistical techniques. The study found out that teaching and learning resources have a great influence on the performance of students in Geography in secondary schools in Kakamega North District. All the schools under study did not have Geography resource rooms. Schools also lack other teaching and learning resources like climatic maps, geography journals, and internet. The study also established that despite the fact that teachers of Geography are qualified, they do not attend in-service courses to update their knowledge in Geography which is a dynamic subject. The study also established that school policies on selection of subject may have an influence on students' performance in Geography. In majority of the schools, Geography lessons are offered at the same time when History lessons are being offered to other students. A student has therefore to take either Geography or History Students perceive Geography as a difficult subject and avoid it. The findings also established that institutional factors like parental economic status influence the performance of students in Geography. Students' attendance was poor and this affects the flow of concepts. Parents cannot pay extra money to enable students go for field trips and therefore fieldtrips despite being important in Geography is not conducted. Geography should be given serious attention like other sciences since it is also a social science. This will improve its performance. The study recommends that efforts should be made to establish Geography resource rooms in all secondary schools and also purchase more teaching and learning material. The study also recommends that the Ministry of Education should review the policy on selection of subjects for K.C.S.E award in secondary schools. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education, Provincial Education. District Education office should organize seminars to update teachers of Geography with skills and knowledge required in teaching Geography.