A number of arguments have been made concerning factors affecting academic performance of home economics students in core subjects. The available studies suggest that student-characteristics, teacher-factors and Teaching Learning Materials have a positive relationship with academic performance and achievement. The purpose of this study was to determine how teaching and learning materials, teacher- factors and students-characteristics relate to home economics students, performance in core subjects. The research design used was descriptive survey to determine the relationship of the three variables. Using the purposive sampling technique 180 students and 19 tutors and 1 headmistress were selected for the study. Results revealed that, lack of interest, inadequacy of time, difficulties in understanding concepts, and inability of teachers to use TLMs, inadequacy of relevant TLMs for core subjects, the teachers’ difficulties in explaining abstract concepts to students and students’ difficulties in understanding lessons were the causes of poor performance of home economics students in the core subjects. From the findings, it was recommended that teachers should be motivated in order to motivate the students to learn, teachers should be engaged in more in-service training to use more practical approach and the Ghana Education Service should timely provide adequate teaching and learning materials for the students and teachers to use. This will enable the teachers to have adequate time for each student.

Background to the Study
In any organization or institution, the combination of human effort and material resources makes such an organization or institution realize the objectives. Such organization or institution could be a factory, a school or a church. Jackson and McConnell (1988) stated that the production of goods and services involves the combination of land, labour, capital and entrepreneur. Labour and entrepreneur are the human aspects of production while capital and land could be described as the material aspects. The skilled worker is the one who has undergone some reasonable period of training, which is usually undertaken through formal education. The role that education plays in any society cannot, therefore, be overemphasized. Education is believed to be a vehicle for social and economic transformation. It brings about social progress and economic development. On the social side, education modifies people’s beliefs, customs and practices. It reduces poverty, diseases and ignorance, paving the way for modernity, civilization and good governance (Busia, 1968).

From the economic point of view, writers in economics and education indicate that there is a high correlation between the investment people and nations make in education and the level of economic development and the standard of living, which the people enjoy (Harbison & Myers, 1964). This is because education equips people with idea, knowledge, attitudes competence, skills, and technical know-how to enable them contribute to the economic development and welfare of the society and Carnoy, Haddad, Regel and Rinaldi (1990) have supported this observation.

Empirical studies conducted by Harbison and Myers (1964) indicate that the standard of living of a people can be measured in terms of the level of education the people have attained. They further stated that nations with abundant natural resources but low literacy rate like African and Latin American countries are usually less developed than those with little or no natural resources but have high literacy rate like Denmark and Switzerland . This statement can be supported by the fact that people with high literacy rate can use their skills, knowledge and technical know-how to marshal the resources in the community to their advantage.

Melville (1965) observed that the growth of pure science and intervention depends upon the existence of a reasonably large number of adequately educated individuals. Melville further said that higher education helps people to develop critical thinking, which in turn brings about innovation. Londono (1996) and Rosovsky (2000) supporting the importance of education to the socio-economic development of nations stated that the provision of universal basic and higher education to the developing countries should be given serious attention. This is because education has been observed to lie at the centre of planning and the key to personal and national development. Realizing the immense role of education in national development therefore, nations, both developed and developing, undertake reforms in order to get the best or near best type of education, which could impact positively on their socio-economic growth,

The educational system of any nation is a mirror through which the image of the nation can be seen and also likely to be shaped. Education is also meant to develop manpower for different levels of the economy which is an ultimate guarantee of national self-reliance. Hence, the formulation and clarification of purposeful education must reflect the realities of life, taking into account the entire scope of human life and at the same time, considering specific needs of the individual (Von Glasersfeld, 1995; Singh & Rana, 2004). Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which knowledge, skills, and habits of group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, research, or simply through auto didacticism. Communities around the world place a high value on educating people of all ages, whether formally or informally. Constant exposure to new ideas and skills makes people better workers, thinkers, and societal contributors.

Teachers are subjective insiders involved in classroom instruction as they go about their routines of instructing students, grading papers, taking attendance, evaluating the performance as well as looking at the curriculum (Marion, MacLean & Mohr, 1999). Of the measurable characteristics isolated for study, teaching experience has consistently been linked to student scores. On average, beginning teachers produce smaller learning gains in their students compared with more seasoned teachers. A good teacher is one who knows the capabilities of his learners and has understanding of what his or her students need to learn. This implies that the skill of teaching lies in knowing who, what and how to teach and above all be able to judge when (Farrant, 1996). Good teaching demands great skill irrespective of the level of teaching. It does not depend on the learner any more as Amissah, Sam, Amoah and Mereku (2002) indicated. Thus, teaching has become complicated due to the increasingly intricate phase of human personality and society. The idea is that a teacher must bear in mind certain principles of good teaching whiles dealing with the child. As indicated by Kyriacou (1995), five qualities characterise a good teacher: personality and will, intelligence, sympathy and tact, open mindedness, and sense of humour. Adding to these principles, Kochhar (2004) asserts that the teacher must:

Recognise individual differences among people: The teacher must know and appreciate why a learner behaves the way he does at a particular time during the developmental stage. It is only in this way that quality opportunity can be provided to enhance learning.

Create the learning situation: the teacher must keep the learner alive by making him or her participate in a purposeful activity. The teacher must see to it that learners have activity and good humour in each day’s activity. Challenge the child to learn: learning occurs when there is overlapping (Kochhar, 2005). The good teacher helps students to think critically and independently so that the learner is even more eager to find out and to be creative (Amissah et al. 2002).

Encourage general development: a teacher who sets the pupils’ eyes on a peak and helps them select a path that gets them there is always appreciated (Kochhar, 2004). This means that the good teacher knows how to appraise the individual, make an educational diagnosis and help the child to develop in a desirable fashion.

Cause, facilitate and promote learning: good teaching, according to Kochhar (2004), is stimulating. As the teacher makes teaching exciting, it prepares the learner’s mind to desire to know. Amissah et al. (2002) also assert that the good teacher knows the nature of the human organism, how learning takes place and what motivates the learner.

According to the authors, the great teacher helps people to become conscious of their own values, to examine themselves and to build up for themselves values that are more satisfying to them and the society. The good teacher is therefore the one who has the willingness and passion to teach; respects and understands the individual learner, and creates learning situations that build up values in the individual learner for personal and societal satisfaction. It is vital therefore for the teachers to teach what they can teach better in order to facilitate effective learning for the students.

A student is a learner or someone who attends an educational institution. Students who get good grades and acquire knowledge during school often share core characteristics. They are self-motivated, organized, good communicators and curious. These qualities give them the motivation to attend class, take good notes and complete high-quality work. The traits that make a student successful often translate into better jobs, as well. In the field of Education, TLM is a commonly used acronym that stands for ‘Teaching and Learning Materials.’ Broadly, the term refers to a spectrum of educational materials that teachers use in the classroom to support specific learning objectives, as set out in lesson plans (K6 educators.about.com/od/educationglossary/g/gtlm.htm).

Besides teacher qualifications and school facilities; another important determinant of quality education is the teaching learning material. It is essential for quality materials to be made available to the teachers and students in adequate quantities to support the teaching and learning processes. Teachers use teaching aids such as maps, wall charts, flip charts, flashcards, scientific models, kits and toys to support teaching learning activities at school. Allwright (1990) argues that TLMs should teach students to learn, that they should be resource books for ideas and activities for instructions or learning, and should give teachers rationales for what they do. O’Neil (1990) in contrast, argues that TLMs may be suitable for students’ needs, even if they are not designed specifically for them, that textbooks make it possible for students to review and prepare their lessons, and are efficient in terms of time and money.

Loxley (1984) revealed that inadequate supply of textbooks in schools is having a toll on teaching and learning activities in many of the countries in the world. According to him, the World Bank data recorded the number of students to a textbook as ratio 20: 1. Sodimu (1998) in his findings, reported that based on the high cost of textbooks, many students have been unable to buy books that will help to promote the quality of education they receive in Lagos state public secondary schools. He even stressed that parents believed so much in government funding the education in public schools to the extent that they become reluctant towards equipping their wards with textbooks.

Textbooks as indicated by Oni (1995) are indispensable to the quality education and students’ academic performance in all the schools in the world. Nkuuhe (1995) highlighted some of the bad influences as, teachers’ abdication of teaching responsibility to textbooks at the expense of original teaching method; textbooks do not give room for flexibility, instead there are mechanical divisions of the curriculum and no provision made for individual differences among students. Giwa and Illo (2000) expressed the problems militating against schools’ inspection as shortage of manpower and quality of the personnel available for the work. According to them, in most African countries the roles of inspectors tend to be ineffective due to severe resources constraints.

In the findings, they realized a number of inspectors and monitoring officers, who were newly employed with no practical experience on the job, were being posted to the inspectorate unit of the Ministry of Education. They stated that to inspect and supervise schools effectively requires regular school visits of well experienced officers with adequate provision of resources to forestall ineffectiveness in performing their duties. Otoo (2007) says that academic performance is the capacity to achieve when one is tested on what one has been taught. Academic performance is related to content and intellect, meaning that academic performance depends on the learner’s competence.

The very concept of academic failure varies in its definition. Rodriguez (1986) considers academic failure as the situation in which the subject does not attain the expected achievement according to his or her abilities, resulting in an altered personality which affects all other aspects of life. Similarly, Tapia (2002) notes that, while the current Educational System perceives that the student fails if he or she does not pass, more appropriate for determining academic failure is whether the student performs below his or her potential.

Poor academic performance according to Aremu (2000) “is a performance that is adjudged by the examinee /testee as falling below an expected standard.” The interpretation of this expected or desired standard is better appreciated from the perpetual cognitive ability of the evaluator of the performance. The evaluator or assessor can therefore give different interpretations depending on some factors. Bakare (1994) described poor academic performance as any performance that falls below a desired standard. Poor academic performance has been observed in school subjects especially Mathematics and English language among secondary school students (Adesemowo, 2005). Aremu (2000) stresses that academic failure is not only frustrating to the students and the parents, its effects are equally grave on the society in terms of depth of manpower in all spheres of the economy and politics.

Education at the secondary school level is supposed to be the bedrock and the foundation for higher knowledge in the tertiary level. It is an investment as well as an instrument that can be used to achieve a more rapid economic, social, political, technological, scientific and cultural development in the country. Ghana, like many other African nations, has adopted an education system that is designed to guarantee all children a minimum of nine years of basic education, i.e. six years of primary or elementary education and three years of Junior High School (JHS) or middle school with a compulsory age range of 6-15 years (UNESCO, 2005). Ghana has consistently implemented policies to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of education. Examples of such policies are the Education Reform of 1987, which promised increased access to education at the basic level, the Free-Compulsory Universal Basic Education introduced in 1995, which promised to provide quality Education in teaching and learning, and the Capitation Grant of 2005/2006, which was implemented to cushion the burden of parents in meeting the cost of sending their children to school and to encourage parents especially in economically deprived areas to send their children to school. Despite all these initiatives, many children in Ghana fail to continue and complete their basic education program. For example, in 2008, about a third (32.3%) of children who enrolled in JHS did not complete JHS final year (Multi Emulator Super System (MESS), 2008).

Different people at different times have passed on the blame of poor performance in secondary school to students because of their low retention, parental factors, association with wrong peers, low achievement, low retention, motivation and the likes (Aremu & Sokan, 2003; Aremu & Oluwole, 2001; Aremu, 2000). Morakinyo (2003) believes that the poor academic achievement is attributable to teachers’ non-use of verbal reinforcement strategy. The actual schooling process is not the only contributing factor leading to a child's learning and achievement. Although the academic environment is key, each child's individual home situation greatly impacts on educational goals and progress. From family funds to parental support, home factors can make the difference between a child's success and failure.

Newton (1997) professed that the magnitude of instruction is more scientific base; makes instruction more powerful; makes learning more immediate and finally makes access to education more equal. Adeogun (2001) discovered a very strong positive significant relationship between instructional resources and academic performance. According to him, schools endowed with more resources performed better than schools that are less endowed. This corroborated the study of Babayomi (1999) that private schools because of the availability and adequacy of teaching and learning resources performed better than public schools. Adeogun (2001) discovered a low level of instructional resources available in public schools and stated that our public schools are starved of both teaching and learning resources. He expresses that effective teaching cannot take place within the classroom if basic instructional resources are not present.

The criteria of excellence can be from 40 to 100 percent depending on the subjective yardstick of the evaluator or assessor. With the academic performance of the Home Economics students in the core subjects the researcher will focus on the students’ performance in school (class exercises, class test, end of term examination and end of year examination). Anderson (1999), Oni (1995), Adensina (1980), and Bajah, (1979) found out that the attitude of some teachers to their job is reflected on their poor attendance at lessons, lateness to school, unsavoury comments about students’ performance that could damage their ego and poor methods of teaching and the likes affect pupils’ academic performance.

The question therefore is: What is the cause of the poor academic performance of students? Is the fault entirely that of teachers or students or both of them? Is it that students of today are non-achievers because they have low Intelligent Quotient and a good neutral mechanism to be able to act purposefully, think rationally and deal effectively with academic tasks? Or is it because teachers are no longer putting in much commitment as before? Or is it in teachers’ methods of teaching and interaction with learners? Or is the poor performance of students caused by parents’ neglect, separation and poverty?

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 144 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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