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IMPORTANCE OF GRADING AND TEST SCORES

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INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background To The Study

        During  the  instructional process,  students are given the instructional   goals  and  objectives,  which  address the  skills  they  should  be able  to  perform.  They are given information that   is necessary   to perform these skills.  Opportunities  are provided  for  this knowledge  to be  exercised in a  controlled  environment  with  accessibility  to resources and  assistance if needed. 

The  learners  are  given  the  opportunity  to model  the appropriate   behaviours  in an isolated  and  independent  setting to  accomplish  their instructional  goals and  objectives through  the administering of  homework.  The teacher provides feedback on their accomplishments and provides insight on strategies that could be used to increase performance on academic tasks. Once   the student  has mastered the  skills,  they are  able  to  transfer and  apply  them to other  situations  that  may  differ  from  the   one in which   the  skill s  were learned.

        From primary school through secondary school, the teacher controls the process of learning.  Instructors  establish  the goals  and objectives; and  apply    strategy  towards  how  the  student  will be taught  the information.  Activities and assessments are developed to monitor and evaluate progress toward their accomplishment of tasks. They are developed based on the criteria of the goals and objectives.  At this    academic level, goals and objectives are instituted by external sources (e.g., teachers and administrators).

 In order to place a value on what is being leaned.  A numerical grade is usually issued.  Grades  and  test  scores  have  come  to determine the  academic   merit  of  students  and  schools’  efforts  in educating students.  The  importance   of grading  and  test scores  has influenced  teachers  to focus more  on  the   content  of what  is to  be  learned.  Through  the  strategies  they  employ  in  delivering  instruction, teachers  have  taken ownership in how the  students learn  the  information.

        Instructors also take responsibility for regulating the learning process, and evaluate the level of success according to criteria they (the teachers) have set. Instructors take it upon themselves to structure the learning environment and motivate students through extrinsic rewards or verbal gratification. The student perceives his or her ability from the evaluation of the teacher. The importance of grades is transferred from the teacher to the student and grading become the motivation for student to learn and accomplished tasks.

This reliance on grades may cause the student to compare their progress to others in the class. Based on those comparisons, they may attribute their success or failure in the instruction correctly.    This may lead them to make negative attribution and incorrectly perceive their ability. Varying experiences encountered with different teachers within changing learning domains, this incorrect perception may transfer across these domains the diligence and attention educators take in regulating their student learning provides evidence of the importance of this ability.

However, the student is given minimal opportunities to practice the strategies of their learning. The opportunity to do so occurs when the student is given independent class work or homework. The student is more concerned about the content and end product of learning situation. Less attention is paid to the process and how learning takes place. The skills necessary to self-regulation learning are not formally taught to ‘’regular’’ students. The student may vicariously acquire these skills through observations of strategies that the instructor uses to teach the material or behaviors of their peers around them. It is the intention of formal education to produce independent.

Self-regulated, learners. Evidence of such is in the transition from high external involvement with elementary school student to complete autonomy of learning experienced by undergraduate, graduate, and adult learners. In order to understand what self-regulation learners is, the learner must be aware of the phase, processes, sub- processes, and factors responsible for self regulated. There are necessary constructs that need to be recognized and the employment of necessary of appropriate action and behaviors to facilitate this process.         They are important to the development and assessment of self-regulated learning. The values of the constructs, phases, processes, and strategies of self-regulated learning have been derived and formulate according to a variety of theoretical frameworks and established practically through empirical findings.

Self-regulated learner has been related to high academic performance (Zimmerman and Martinez –pons, 1992). Goal, motivation and self-efficacy have been found as influential factors according to the phases. Processes, and sub processes of self-regulated learning. Goals are the standards by which learner compare and evaluate their progression. Learners oriented their goals as either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic goals orientation has been related to greater self-regulated learning strategies use and skill acquisition (Schunk and Swarz, 1993a).

The believe that one is making progress toward goals, along with anticipated satisfaction of goal attainment, enhances self-efficacy and sustain motivation (Schunk,1996). Stone (2002) summarizes the relationship between goals, motivation, self- efficacy and self-regulated learning behaviors. Self-efficacy reflect the confidence in one’s ability to complete tasks, influencing the type of goal orientation. A positive concept, specifically high self-efficacy, should invoke more self-regulation. Learners who are confident and can learn material are more likely to implement self- regulated learning strategies resulting in academic achievement.

        According to social cognitive theory, self-regulated learning include personal (cognitive), behavioral, and environment variables(Bandura, 1986). These three constructs produce a triadic reciprocity with one another meaning there are interdependent. The catalysts that sustain this relationship, according to Badura (1977), is self-efficacy. In this triadic relationship environment prompt the learner to incorporate strategies that are effective in the environment in which they are used.

Observing and emulating the behavior within the environment establish this perception. It is necessary the environment provide social assistance to guide the process of implementation of the behavior. According to social cognitive theory, the goal orientation, motivation and behaviors employed are affected by the self-efficacy of the learner

according to different domains or environments in which they learn. The most adaptive, self-regulated learners modify and change their beliefs as a function of the task or context (Garcoa & Pintrich, 1994). The environment impacts the self-regulated strategy a learner employs.

        National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) deliver instruction in an environment where students and instructors are separated by time and space. It is an environment that has promoted a feeling of transactional distance in older distance learners giving them a feeling of isolation from the instructor (Mclsaac & Gunawardena, 1996). Styles and Zariski (2000) did not perceive web-based environments as optimal in providing feedback or explanation due to the lack of interaction. Interaction between content, student, and teacher are immediate and proximal in traditional settings. In web-based instruction, the interaction between students and instructor is minimized. This type of isolation requires the learner to self-regulate their motivation, confidence, and cognitive abilities in an isolated environment.

Wilson (1997) hypothesized the use of self-regulatory behaviors are more critical when distance learning is the primary method of instruction than in traditional classrooms. He also pointed out modeled behavior is lacking in distance education environments, especially in web-based instruction. The isolation minimizes the students’ observation of self-regulation.

This lack of observation hinders emulation and self-controlled opportunities to become self-regulated. This is necessary in order for a learner to be efficacious about the impact the use of these strategies has on academic performance. This self-regulated learners has to be behaviorally, motivationally and meta- cognitively aware.

The relationship between learning strategies, environment and academic performance has been empirically established among students of higher institutions in traditional settings (Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons 1996). Evidence suggests the combination of personal environment and social factors must be taken into account when predicting academic success in distance programs (Mclsaac & Gunawardena, 1996). The environment or social variables will influence the learners’ goals, motivation, and self-efficacy. This will influence the learners behaviour and

ultimately academic performance. Social cognitive theory proclaim self-regulation is context specific. Given this, the contextually learning environment promoted by distance education, requires the relationship between learning strategies, school environment and academic performance to be investigated.

For over two decades, social learning researchers have conducted research on such self-regulatory processes as self-reinforcement (e. g., Bandura, Grusec, & Menlove, 1967; Bandura & Kupers, 1964), standard setting (e. g., Mischel & Liebert, 1966), delay of gratification (e. g. , Mischel, 1981; Mischel & Bandura, 1965), goal setting (e. g. , Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Schunk, 1985), self-efficacy perceptions (e. g. , Bandura, 1982a; Schunk, 1984; Zimmerman & Ringle, 1981), self-instructions (Schunk, 1986; Schunk & Rice, 1984), and self-evaluation (e. g. , Bandura & Cervone, 1983, 1986).

During this period of time, a number of researchers have tried to integrate this research into general models of self-regulation (e. g. , Bandura, 1977a, 1986; Thoresen & Mahoney, 1974; Zimmerman, 1981, 1983). Bandura's

seminal role in proposing and studying self-regulation component processes, their determinants, and their interrelationship is evident in many of these accounts. An initial formulation of self-regulated academic learning, offered as follows, incorporates many social learning constructs and assumptions.

A learning strategy can be described as self-regulated to the degree that they are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process (Zimmerman, 1986, 1989). Such students personally initiate and direct their own efforts to acquire knowledge and skill rather than relying on teachers, parents, or other agents of institution. To qualify specifically as self-regulated in my account, students' learning must involve the use of specified strategies to achieve academic goals on the basis of self-efficacy perceptions.

This definition assumes the importance of three elements: students' self-regulated learning strategies, self-efficacy perceptions of performance skill, and commitment to academic goals. Self-regulated learning strategies are actions and processes directed at acquiring information or skill that involve agency, purpose, and instrumentality perceptions by learners. They include such methods as organizing and transforming information, selfconsequating, seeking information, and rehearsing or using memory aids (Zimmerman & Martinez Pons, 1986). Self-efficacy refers to perceptions about one's capabilities to organize and implement actions necessary to attain designated performance of skill for specific tasks (Bandura, 1986).                 Academic goals such as grades, social esteem, or postgraduation employment opportunities can vary extensively in nature and in time of attainment. My proposed definition follows Thoresen and Mahoney's (1974) lead in describing human self-regulation on the basis of a temporal gradient. Although they were primarily concerned with the impact of disparities between immediate and delayed environmental outcomes on behavioral functioning, my definition focuses on how learners represent contemporary actions and conditions in terms of strategies for reaching subsequent goals.

It assumes a motivational orientation by learners that is sustained by continuing self-perceptions of efficacy when performing a specific task. Thus in order for students' strategic actions to be described as self-regulated, one must know their academic goals and perceptions of efficacy. For example, one cannot define students' going out for coffee after studying as a self-consequating strategy without knowing their purpose for using this strategy (i. e., to improve motivation) and their perceptions of efficacy when using it (e. g. , of completing more homework).

A view of Student Self-Regulated Academic Learning Social Cognitive Assumptions Triadic reciprocality. The proposed view of student self-regulated learning strategy assumes reciprocal causation among three influence processes. In accordance with Bandura's (1977b, 1986) description, a distinction is made among personal, environmental, and behavioral determinants of self-regulated learning.

According to social cognitive theorists (as social learning researchers now label themselves), self-regulated learning strategy is not determined merely by personal processes; these processes are assumed to be influenced by environmental and behavioral events in reciprocal fashion. For example, a student's solution response to a subtraction problem such as "8 -4 = ?" is assumed to be determined not only by personal (self-) perceptions of efficacy but also by such environmental stimuli as encouragement from a teacher and by enactive outcomes (i.e., obtaining a correct answer to previous problems).

This reciprocal formulation also allows that such self-regulative responses as self-recording can influence both the environment (e. g.  a document is created) and various personal processes (e. g. self-efficacy perceptions). The essence of Bandura's (1986) triadic formulation is captured in the statement "strategy is, therefore, a product of both self-generated and external sources of influence" (p. 454). Bandura (1986) cautioned that reciprocality does not mean symmetry in strength or temporal patterning of bidirectional influence.

Environmental influences may be stronger than behavioral or personal ones in some contexts or at certain points during behavioral interaction sequences. For example, in schools with a highly structured curriculum or a restrictive code for classroom conduct, many forms of self-regulated learning strategies such as student planning or self-reward may be stifled. Conversely, in schools in which situational constraints are limited, such as the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), personal or behavioral factors may be the dominant influence regulating functioning. Self-regulated learning occurs to the degree that a student can use personal (i. e.  Self) processes to strategically regulate behavior and the immediate learning environment.

There are three general classes of strategies for increasing the regulatory influence of personnel (self-) processes (Thoresen & Mahoney, 1974): strategies designed to control behavior, the environment, or covert processes. Behavioral self-regulation is depicted in triadic terms in a triadic analysis of self-regulated functioning.

        A student's proactive use of a self-evaluation strategy (e. g. checking math homework) will provide information about accuracy and whether checking must continue through enactive feedback. In this reciprocal depiction, causation is personally (self-) initiated, implemented through use of strategies, and inactively regulated through perceptions of efficacy. Thus self-efficacy serves as a sort of thermostat that regulates strategic efforts to acquire knowledge and skill through a cybernetic feedback loop (see Carver & Scheier, 1981).

Environmental self-regulation is illustrated in triadic terms as well. A student's proactive use of an environmental manipulation strategy (e.g., arranging a quiet study area for completing school work at home) would involve an intervening behavioral sequence of room-altering responses such as eliminating noise, arranging adequate lighting, and arranging a place to write. The continued use of this structured setting for learning would depend on perceptions of its effectiveness in assisting learning. This would be conveyed reciprocally through an environmental feedback loop.

Although learning strategies can be initiated from the environment (e. g. , through instruction) according to this formulation, they would not be labeled self-regulated unless they came under the influence of key personal processes (i. e. , goal-setting and self-efficacy perceptions).

The representation indicates that a person's covert processes also reciprocally affect each other. Social cognitive theorists are particularly interested in the effects of metacognitive processes on other personal processes such as bases of knowledge or affective states.

 For example, an elaboration strategy for associating the Spanish word pan with its English counterpart bread (e. g. "Bread is cooked in a pan") will enable students to augment their knowledge base in Spanish (see Pressley, 1982). It is assumed that use of such strategies is reciprocally regulated through a covert feedback loop (as illustrated in Figure 1). Bandura (1986) theorized that processes interact reciprocally with others within a particular triadic domain, as well as with processes in other domains. Further illustrations of reciprocal influences within the three domains will be presented later.

Self-regulated learning is required for academic performance completed through SDL. Self-regulated learning strategy is defined as a learner’s intended effort toward learning subjects (Corno & Mandinach, 1983). In addition, it is a systematic management process regarding one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behavior regarding one’s personal goals and achievements (Schunk, 2000).

In regards to self-regulated learning strategies, Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1988) reported on the correlation between self-regulated learning strategy and the person’s grades in Mathematics and English. As well, Zimmerman, Bandura, and Martinez-Pons (1992) researched the causes and consequences of studying roles to self-efficacy.

Zimmerman and Bandura (1994) also reported on the correlation between self-efficacy and self-regulated learning strategy. Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1986) developed an integrated strategy, based on a self-regulated learning strategy, including self-testing, organizational transformation, goals and planning, pursuing information, recording and checking, structured environment, strength, demonstration and memory, seeking help, and reviewing strategy. Their opinions are very important in e-learning environment.

According to self-regulated learning principles, the learner uses the strategic relationship between self-regulation and learning to reach his or her chosen self-learning goal, and to develop, revise, and complement the learning strategy via self-feedback. Therefore, the learner must make a constant effort to sustain learning motivation (Zimmerman, 1990).

For education in school and academic performance to be effective, the environment needs to be conducive to learning with available relevant infrastructure that allow the student’s space and time to interact within the learning and teaching process. Creating and maintaining stimulating learning environment can be achieved through effective classroom organization, interactive and whole school display and a climate of innovation provision of learning facilities for free and comfortable interaction of instructional facilities requires a good environment  for learning and teaching (SCCC, 2003).

A school environment should be one that is safe, positive, and promotes learning. It is up to the teacher to make the environment of a classroom into that of a learning environment. A student will best learn in a safe environment with available learning facilities. Example of include, such facilities information and communication, technologies (ICTs), computers, television, computer projector machine, compact disc, video/audio system, telephone, internet would boost learning and activate seriousness in students. It becomes imperative for the school to provide or furnish learning environment with these information gadgets. This allows and contributes for education development and students academic performance (Smith, 2001).

It is not enough to provide a mere learning environment with nothing to motivate it. Several studies according to Moselly (2003) revealed that provision of well equipped libraries that beautifies learning environment is worth of praise from the students and the teachers, for the school to provide a learning environment for the students without equipping with educational materials is to make learning environment  non-and void for studies performance of the  students. Students should study in and environment that provides them with stress-free access to study materials rather than roaming around the city and state looking for research materials and assignment.

A good learning environment should filled or stored with sufficient and modernized educational resources to enhance learning.

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