Agriculture is the backbone to Kenya’s economy. This fact justifies the need to integrate agriculture in the school curriculum, in order to equip the learners with problem- solving skills for self-sufficiency. Low performance of students in agriculture subject has become an issue in Rachuonyo North District, and therefore, factors influencing performance of the students needed to be understood, in order to seek practical ways of supporting the students to improve in their performance in the subject. The purpose of this study was therefore, to determine the influence of selected factors on academic performance of students in secondary school agriculture, in Rachuonyo North District. The study adopted a theoretical model of McClelland’s Achievement Motivation Theory. The selected design for the study was co-relational design and stratified sampling was used to select schools for the study. The target population included 38 agriculture teachers and 9059 students. The sample size was 254 Form Four agriculture students and 30 agriculture teachers. The instrument was validated through pilot testing for comprehension and clarity while reliability of the instrument was tested using split-half method. Data was collected using two questionnaires, namely, for students and agriculture teachers, as respondents. Data was analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods where descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages, means, as well as, standard deviation were used, while inferential statistics included Pearson Correlation, Spearman’s Rho, t-test, as well as, simple and multiple regression analysis were used to test the hypotheses, with levels of significance set at 0.05. Statistical Package for Social Sciences software was used for data analysis. The study found that availability of teaching and learning resources considered was not statistically significant as linear regression results yielded 0.123 which was higher than 0.05. Similarly, the study found that teachers’ experience had a t-value of 3.172 which was greater than 1.96 with a significance of 0.04, which was statistically significant. Thus the second hypothesis was rejected. In addition, a positive correlation of 0.131 was found between family size and student’s performance; however, multiple regressions results yielded -1.941, 1.569, -1.817, 0.205 and -0.948 respectively, which were all less than 1.96, hence, family characteristics did not have significant influence on students’ performance. Teachers and policy makers should strengthen the use of demonstration and field trips as teaching methods as well as career guidance to enable students choose optional subjects that match their career objectives.

Background of the Study
The development of any nation depends largely on the quality of education of such a nation. It is generally believed that the basis for any true development must commence with the development of human resources (Akanle, 2007). Hence, formal education has remained the vehicle for social- economic development and social mobilization in any society. Understanding different parameters that contribute directly to low performance has been a frequent topic, especially when international surveys such as the one carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that 26% of secondary students in Spain (6% above the average of all countries surveyed) did not attain the corresponding diploma (OECD, 2001). Studies done by Fullana (1995) and Montero (1990) also sought to understand the factors that account for low performance. However, studies seeking to identify what determine academic failure frequently appeared as a reaction to conditions of change, such as plans for educational reform, or in response to critical situations as indicated by OECD study (2001) that found that 26% of Spanish students in mandatory secondary education fail to obtain the corresponding diploma.

Most programmes undertaken to improve educational efficiency in developing countries mainly focused on changing the educational system itself (Lockheed & Verspoor, 1992). Policy planners generally recommended revising the curriculum, increasing the number of schools, and distributing educational materials more widely and equitably. Zimbabwe, in particular, has given priority in the last decades to building new schools and equipping urban schools with computers. As this standard course of action is not based on empirical data, it overlooked the role of family and personal factors in shaping the academic trajectory of school children. Gender and nutritional status of the child and educational level of the parents have also been shown to influence school performance (Lockheed & Verspoor, 1992).

In another research, Akanle (2007) studied Socio-Economic Factors Influencing Students’ Academic Performance in Nigeria using some explanation from a local survey. The study revealed that insufficient parental income, family type and lack of funding by governments were factors influencing students' academic performance. The availability and use of teaching and learning materials has affected the effectiveness of a teacher’s lessons. According to Broom (1973), the creative use of a variety of media increases the probability that the student would learn more, retain better what they learn and improve their performance on the skills that they are expected to develop. Ausubel (1973) also stated that young children were capable of understanding abstract ideas if they were provided with sufficient materials and concrete experiences with the phenomenon that they were to understand. Burgaleta, Valverda and Garrido (1988), found motivation to be one of the elements that most distinguishes those required to repeat a school year from those being promoted, the repeaters being those who are most bored in class (Campuzano, 2001). Other authors have found that subjects themselves attributed to low performance and low ability (Valle, 1999), and an improvement in performance to motivation (task goal orientation), to self-regulating behaviours, and to competence as a function of task characteristics (Slater, 2002).

Sanchez (2000) found that academic self-concept was at the base of future school success or failure having been found starting in Early Childhood Education from peer contact and teacher attitude and expectations. One interesting study indicated positive self-concept as one risk- reducing factor against academic failure in the case of unfavourable family situations (Fullana, 1995). In another study, self-concept was found to predict performance better than variables such as age or student gender (Edwards, 2002). The educational condition attributed to family was beyond all doubt or discussion, as there was an ever-increasing awareness of the importance of the parent’s role in the progress and educational development of their children. Adell (2002) considered family background the most important and weighty factor that determined the academic performance attained by the student.

Several factors have generally been identified as causes of poor academic performance. Agyemang (1993) reported that a teacher who did not have both the academic and the professional teacher qualification would undoubtedly have a negative influence on the teaching and learning of his/her subject. However, he further stated that a teacher who was academically and professionally qualified, but works under unfavorable conditions of service would be less dedicated to his work and thus be less productive than a teacher who is unqualified but works under favorable conditions of service. In another study, Whittington (1985) investigated the relationship between average class size and secondary school performance in Epe Local Area of Lagos state, in Nigeria, and he found significant and positive relationship between class size and students’ academic performance. The smaller class size showed improved student behaviour and achievement in schools.

A study by Karemera (2003) on the effects of academic environment and background characteristics on student’s satisfaction and performance, found significant correlation between satisfaction with academic environment and service received. Understanding the nature of the relationship between general cognitive ability and academic achievement had widespread implications for both practice and theory (Rhode & Thompson, 2007). Similarly, Watkins (2007) acknowledged the considerable debate regarding the casual precedence of intelligence and academic achievement and reported that students’ achievement relied most strongly on their cognitive abilities through all grade levels and therefore, concluded that intelligence was related to achievement.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 121 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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