The study assessed perceptions of institutional stakeholders regarding the role of university environment on the teaching and learning processes in the University of Cape Coast. The descriptive survey design was used for the study. The population for the study was all lecturers and administrators in the University of Cape Coast. The simple random sampling technique was used to select 125 lecturers and 98 administrators for the study. Four research questions guided the study. A 42-item questionnaire was used for data collection. The Cronbach’s coefficient alpha for the questionnaire for lecturers and administrators were 0.73 and 0.78. Frequencies, percentages, means, standard deviations and one sample t-test were used to analysed data. The results showed that, to a great extent, lecturers and administrators perceived physical facilities such as university library, size of lecture halls, laboratories to affect teaching and learning process. Lecturers and administrators indicated that, class sizes affected teaching and learning processes. Lecturers and administrators also reported that university location affected the process of teaching and learning. It was found out that the emotional state of a lecturer, an administrator and motivation affected teaching and learning processes. It is recommended that government resource allocation for physical facilities should be improved. Additionally, the university management should put students into smaller class sizes. Furthermore, government and communities are to ensure that students have access to the institutions near to their areas of residence. Incentive packages by university authorities should be given to motivate lecturers and administrators.

Background to the Study
It is generally accepted that education enables individuals to contribute to the development and improvement in their quality of life, their communities and the nation as a whole. Higher education prepares graduates for a vision of the local and global society one aspires to become. Education also focuses on advancing social progress and is equitable, interdependent, sustainable, innovative, and economically secure for the welfare of all. This new vision of society which calls for equipping diverse students with the values, skills, and knowledge to become complex thinkers and ethical decision-makers in a society is currently plagued with conflict and inequality (Alvarez, Konkle & Brady, 2009).

As post-secondary institutions enter this era of “evidence-based” practice, and take greater responsibility for monitoring student outcomes, one must aim to assess the context of diverse learning environments that impact these outcomes (Mege, 2014). When one does not assess diverse learning environments, it would be difficult to tell the extent to which learning environments impact student outcomes. The institution environment refers to factors within the institution that influence the teaching-learning process. The institution environment includes: Instructional materials classrooms, library, technical workshops, teachers’ quality, teaching methods and peers (Ajayi, 2001).

The general condition of our schools, colleges and universities are a matter of great concern to the nation. It plays a significant role in the development of the personality of the students. As the students spend most of their lives at school, the institution environment is highly responsible for the inculcating high values into them. For example, the Kothari Commission (1964-1966) cited in Ajayi (2001) posited that “The destiny of Indian is now being shaped in her classroom” (p.2). This quotation indicates the significant role an institution environment plays in a student in particular and the nation in general. Therefore, as education is the backbone of every nation, students’ wellbeing so long as institution environment is concerned is needed to support them to perform well.

It is believed that a well-planned higher institution will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching-learning process and academic performance of students. Relating this study to international occurrences are the assertions of Williams, Persaud and Turner (2008) citing Marsden (2005) reported that safe and orderly lecture hall environment, institution facilities were significantly related to students’ academic achievement in higher institutions. The extent to which students learn could be influenced positively or negatively depending on what the higher institution environment provides to learners and lecturers.

Studies have shown that a hostile or discriminatory psychological environment negatively impacts students’ transition to college and sense of attachment to the institution (Cabrera, Nora, Terenzini, Pascarella & Hagadorn, 1999; Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson & Allen, 2000). Research has established that perceptions of a hostile climate are associated with a lower sense of belonging among both students of colour and white students, in addition to informing how successful students of colour feel in managing the academic environment in the first year of university (Locks, Hurtado, Bowman, Oseguera, 2008; Hurtado, Han, Sáenz, Espinosa, Cabrera & Cerna, 2007).

Nora, Barlow, and Crisp (2005) introduced a new model of student integration that includes student perceptions of the campus climate, sense of belonging, validating experiences from faculty and peers, family support and environmental pull factors, financial assistance/need, academic development, and interactions in the social and academic environment. In effect, they have extended the integration concepts of Tinto’s (1993) model of student departure based on research on minority, low-income, and non-traditional students that document psychological, behavioural, and environmental factors that influence persistence in university. These studies and new models highlight the social and psychological context for learning, retention, and success among students in the universities.

In the developing countries, poor learning environments have always been identified as key factors that lead to poor performance in public universities (UNICEF, 2003) due to overstretching of the available resources as a result of increased enrolment. In Ghana, physical characteristics of the universities have a variety of effects on the lecturers, students and the learning process (Adams, 2000). Poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in lecture theatres and inconsistent temperatures make teaching-learning process difficult (Adams, 2000). Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health and higher truancy rates among students (Frazier, 2002; Lyons, 2001; Ostendorf, 2001).

Class size has also been an issue that affects the teaching-learning process in most institutions of higher education in the developing countries (Adams, 2000). Zainul-Deen, (2011) cited Ankomah et al. (2005) that education quality is much higher and improves students’ achievement when the student-teacher ratio is much lower in class. A study conducted by Beebout (1972) cited in Adams (2000) on class size in Malaysia colleges proves that, fewer students per teacher in a class improves the quality of interaction and for that matter raises accomplishment. In Ghana, it appears that most institutions of higher learning do not have adequate lecture theatres. Some students stand during lectures hours instead of sitting comfortably to concentrate on instruction. This does not enhance teaching and learning processes. According to UNESCO (2005), the achievement of teaching and learning is influenced by the availability of resources to use for the process and how these resources are regulated. Higher education that does not have textbooks and learning materials or well-equipped libraries and good infrastructure cannot do effective and efficient work. Adeyemi (2010) citing Gibbs (1990) maintains that a well-equipped library provides assortment of material resources like books, journals and CD ROM. The library is a reference source for any higher institution of learning and a point of individual studies in higher institutions where relevant information can be extracted. Adequacy of library resources and their usage by students and teachers are therefore, associated with better learning results.

Watkins (2000) affirms that the university physical environment reassures parents about the safety and performance of their children at the place of learning hence, its influence on the institution enrolment rates. A research by Sunday (2012) revealed that there is a significant relationship between physical university environment and students’ academic performance in colleges. It was also discovered that poor facilities and inadequate space, as well as the arrangement of items including seats in the lecture halls, library and laboratory, would affect the organisation of learning environment (Watkins, 2000). Favourable university climate gives room for students to work hard and enhance their academic achievement. In the views of (UNESCO, 2005, p.28; Watkins 2000), expansion in educational facilities improves the social, economic and political benefits for students. Besides that, parents are motivated to invest in the education of their wards because it offers them high knowledge, reasoning abilities, skills and the cherished values that they need. Twenty-first century learning environments are envisioned as places where the learner is engaged in self-directed and co-operative learning activities, and the physical environment is planned so that it can be routinely re-organised to mediate learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2002).

The university administration is a crucial factor in the success of a university. The quality of administrative support and effective leadership for supervision is another critical element in university processes for both students and lecturers. At a more macro level, lecturers need governments who are supportive and provide machinery for inspection of education systems. Organizational support for teaching and learning takes many forms, including such measures as advocating for better conditions and professional development, respecting teachers’ autonomy and professionalism and developing inclusive decision-making processes. Such support has been shown to have impact on student learning (UNICEF, 2000). In Malawi, for example, supervisors in the universities that showed the greatest learning gains regularly evaluated teachers, contributing to professional development and improved teaching practice (Miske & Dowd, 1998).

In universities, emotional factors may also inhibit learning and the need for a highly supportive and respectful environment to enable learners to validate and express their personal goals. This suggests that the emotional factors at universities contribute immensely to the learning potentials of students. The teaching and learning environment of universities should be designed such that students would be free from emotional factors which may affect their academic work. Also, in universities, the importance of a high degree of learner participation in co-structuring progress towards desired ends, and the critical pedagogy should be generally stressed. This would help empower students based on increased collective, historical and political awareness of what students are supposed to learn at universities (Boud, 2013). It is essentially to note that emotional aspects of learning, such as feelings of self-worth and autonomy are likely to be important factors in deep engagement of learning.

Generally, in the universities the administrator is responsible for establishing work in connection with teaching and non-teaching staff, the preparation of teaching and examination time, control and maintenance of equipment, liaise with the Estate Officer for accommodation of teaching staff, preparation of annual budget and administration of expenditure from funds available to Supervision of staff (non-teaching) and others (Agyei-Bieni & Abedi-Boafo, 2015). As indicated in this chapter, university environmental factors such as availability of physical facilities, class size and others play an invaluable role on teaching and learning processes. The study is therefore intended to assess the perceptions of institutional stakeholders regarding the role of university environment on the teaching and learning process in the University of Cape Coast.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 127 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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