1.1 Background to the Study
Teaching methods comprise of principles and techniques used for instruction. Since the introduction of business education as a course of study into Nigeria universities, various teaching methods have been adopted by lecturers. These teaching methods used have produced some levels of successes, but presently, due to expansion in terms of knowledge, development in business education, specifically those relating to company accounting, the increased use of technology and the complexity in the world of work, these various teaching methods need to be re-evaluated in line with the current realities. Discussing the future of accounting education in business education, Albrecht and Sacks (2010) argued that there are various innovative teaching practices that should be adopted to improve the educational aspect of the accounting education discipline especially in the universities.
A key requirement for lecturers in the universities is to prepare students using methods that make them to take responsibility for their learning. These methods have attracted the attention of many educators and constitute what seem to present a good alternative to the traditional teaching methods. Among these methods are cooperative and problem-based teaching methods.
Cooperative teaching method is an instructional method in which students are grouped into small groups of learners to work together on a mutual task. Cooperative teaching is the use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other‘s learning. Students are assigned to groups of two to five members by the instructor for the purpose of achieving academic or social projects. Interaction and effective communication between students is critical during cooperative work assignments. Group members equally share the specified task
and tutor and work with other students in the group to complete the tasks. Each student is responsible and accountable for learning the assigned task while helping others learn the task. Cooperative teaching changes students' and teachers' roles in classrooms. The process of teaching and learning is shared by groups of students and is not the sole responsibility of the teacher. The function of defining goals, facilitating and evaluating learning is shared by all. Students have more opportunities to actively participate in their learning, question and challenge each other, share and discuss their ideas and internalize their learning. Along with improving academic learning, cooperative teaching helps students to engage in thoughtful discourse and examine different perspectives, and it has been shown to increase students' self-esteem, motivation and empathy among students.
Cooperative teaching focuses on how students learn in small groups through social interdependence. Cooperative teaching is designed to maximize learning for all students in each group, which differs from the traditional use of learning groups. Cooperative teaching is not just telling students to work together on a task, but interpedently. In contrast, cooperative teaching groups revolve around the premise of high positive interdependence, members are responsible for their own and each other‘s learning.
Problem-based teaching on the other hand, is a method that situates learning in complex and meaningful problems that are cast in authentic settings. Students work individually or in small groups to acquire the conceptual knowledge and procedural skills needed to develop one or more plausible solution to each of the problems presented to them. Problem-based teaching is a constructivist method in which students learn the course content by dealing with open-ended problems in small groups or individually with the guidance of the teacher. It contributes to usage of the knowledge in the relevant situations and it has several advantages in motivation, meaningful learning, retention and performance skills. Problem-based teaching method places an increasing responsibility on learners in their own learning process. It is one of the constructivist instructional method that has shown much promise in its application to disciplines and domains where learners have to take on complex problems in ambiguous situations. Yewande (2000) was of the opinion that problem-based teaching involves using information and reasoning to overcome obstacles in the learning process.
The problem-based teaching method is an active teaching method which enables the students to become aware of and determine his\her problem-solving ability and learning needs, to be able to make knowledge operative and to perform group works in the face of real life problems.This approach to instruction structures courses and entire curricula on problems rather than on open content (Smith & Ragan, 2009). The main characteristic of problem-based teaching that differentiates it from cooperative teaching method is the ill-structured problems. Students construct the knowledge base while dealing with ill-structured problems that include cases from real-world situations with no single right solution. Ill-structured problems pose multiple solutions and multiple criteria for evaluating solutions which require learners‘personal decision. The problem requires scientific thinking, reasoning skills and personal decisions that are based on prior experiences.
The focus of problem-based teaching method is on students as constructors of knowledge in a way similar to the context in which they use that knowledge. The students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. Problem-based teaching students are presented with a problem and all learning occurs as a result of considering the problem. Therefore, problem-based teaching allows students to interact with their environment and their peers which eventually leads to evolvement of knowledge. Hoffman and Ritchie (2007) stated that problem-based teaching can promote transfer of knowledge and skills gained in the school to daily life.
Academic performance is how well a student is doing in the school. Aka (2005) defined academic performance as the index of general mental abilities which are responses to test of different kinds. Walker and Lofty (2007), in support of Aka (2005) explained that academic performance is the general school performance in various school disciplines as exhibited by the individual learner. Invariably, academic performance can be seen as the general ability in intellectual functioning. A student can be above average, average or below average in his or her cognitive functioning.
Performance in corporate accounting is important because it is one of the courses required in business education accounting option for graduation. Experience has shown that the performance of business education undergraduate students in corporate accounting has not been encouraging, and as it has been noted by Torp and Sage (2004) that methodology is very vital in any teaching-learning situation, the method adopted by the teacher may promote or hinder learning. It may sharpen mental activities which are the bases of social power, or may discourage initiatives and curiosity thus making self-reliance and survival difficult. Students need to understand concepts at deeper levels and to understand at deeper levels they need to be engaged in sustained thinking to give them better understanding of concepts. The deplorable state of business education students‘performance in corporate accounting may be as a result of the over reliance on lecture method by lecturers in the universities. As a result of these, there is a dire need to re-evaluate the teaching methods use in teaching corporate accounting, that was why this study determined the effect of cooperative and problem–based teaching methods on university business education students‘ performance in corporate accounting in South-west zone, Nigeria.South-westzone is one of the zones in Nigeria. It is made up of six states; Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo. South-west zone has a total of 19 universities divided into federal, state and private universities. Out these universities, four (University of Lagos, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Tai Solarin University of Education and Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye) offer business education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In this global competition for job placements, students‘performance has been identified to be an essential determinant of graduates‘survival. It is believed that good academic grades would provide more career choices and job security. Without good performance in school, doubt exists that graduates especially from business education may be incapable of solving tasks and applying their knowledge in the actual workplace environment. Particularly, in this new technology era, the workplace contains more complicated and sophisticated computerized systems, which create more complex and ill-structured problems. In this situation, students need to be exposed to teaching methods that make them active learners to enable them to acquire problem solving skills. Regrettably, Nigeria educational system which is based upon competition among students for grades, social recognition and scholarship, is far from being capable of producing graduates with these required skills.
In addition, academic performance, which is measured by the examination results, is one of the major goals of any university programme, business education is established with the aim of imparting knowledge and skills to those who go through the programme. Business education whose vision is to be a programme of excellence is keen on quality assurance and maintenance of standards. However, it has been noted that while very few business education students perform well in corporate accounting, majority of them perform poorly. If this poor performance goes unchecked, the programme may lose its reputation which may result in loss of confidence in business education graduates. In confirmation of this statement, researcher‘s assessment of the recent performance of business education students in corporate accounting in the universities in the South-west zone of Nigeria revealed that students‘ performance in the course is very poor. It was also discovered that a good number of students do not pass corporate accounting at first sitting.
The summary of the analyses of business education students‘ performance in corporate accounting for 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 academic sessions in three of the universities (University of Lagos, Ekiti State University and Taisolarin University of Education) offering business education in South-west zone of Nigeria is given as follows: for 2011/2012 academic session, out of 89 students 33(37.1%) passed while 56(62.9%) failed. For 2012/2013 academic session, out of 92 students 37(40.2%) passed while 55(59.8%) failed and for 2013/2014 academic session, out of 107 business education Accounting students in the three universities 38 students representing 35.5% passed Corporate Accounting while 69(64.5%) failed. The detail is as given in Appendix B.
Much as the situation described here calls for concern, it is not clear the reason for business education students‘ poor performance incorporate accounting. The researcher‘s interaction with students and lecturers showed that everybody has a complaint about the method of teaching corporate accounting. The students complained that the teaching method adopted by lecturers makes the corporate accounting class dull, boring and difficult. It is also believed by business education students that corporate accounting is an exceptionally difficult course and that are why lecturers also may be finding it difficult to teach the students. Lecturers on their part are of the opinion that students do not show enthusiasm and liveliness in corporate accounting classes. In fact, Anderson(2005) has affirmed that one of the major factors responsible for poor performance among undergraduate students might be caused by the poor method of teaching adopted by lecturers.
It could therefore be inferred from the foregoing that the traditional lecture teaching method which business education lecturers mostly use in teaching accounting could largely be responsible for poor performance in corporate accounting. Consequently, there is a dire need for better methods of teaching corporate accounting that would stimulate the interest of learners. The researcher therefore is interested to finding out the extent to which cooperative and problem-based methods of instruction could be more effective than the traditional methods of teaching corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone of Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is to determine the effects of cooperative and problem-based teaching methods on performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
1. Determine the effect of cooperative teaching method on performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria.
2. Assess the effect of problem-based method on performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria.
3. Establish the effect of gender on academic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative teaching method in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria.
4. Determine the effect of gender on academic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using problem-based teaching method in universities in South-westzone, Nigeria.
5. Ascertain the difference in the academic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative teaching, problem-based and lecture methods in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The study answered the following research questions:
1. What is the effect of cooperative teaching method on performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria?
2. What is the effect of problem-based method on performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria?
3. What is the effect of gender onacademic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative teaching method in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria?
4. What is the effect of gender on the academic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using problem-based teaching method in universities in South-westzone, Nigeria?
5. What is the difference in the academic performance of business education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative teaching, problem-based and traditional lecture methods in universities in South-west zone, Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses are formulated and were tested at 0.05 level of ignificance:
1. Cooperative teaching method has no significant effect on academic performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-West Zone, Nigeria.
2. Problem-based teaching method has no significant effect on academic performance of business education students in corporate accounting in universities in South-West Zone, Nigeria.
3. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of male and female business education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative teaching method in universities in South-West Zone, Nigeria.
4. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of male and female business education students taught corporate accounting using problem-based teaching method in universities in South-West Zone, Nigeria.
5. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of Business Education students taught corporate accounting using cooperative, problem-based and lecture methods in universities in South-West Zone, Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of great benefit to the following people: accounting education lecturers, curriculum planners, business education undergraduates, universities management and researchers.
The findings of this study will provide guidance to accounting education lecturers in implementing cooperative teaching and problem-based teaching methods and provide sources of reference, as well as helps to enrich existing pedagogical skills. It will also be useful for accounting lecturers while they are planning the process of teaching-learning as this will bring the variety to the methods and techniques used in the process of teaching-learning,
The results of this study will be of benefit to the curriculum planners because the results would serve as suggestions that will be useful for the improvement of the curriculum of corporate accounting lesson at the university level. Also, in line with the motivation to increase the quality of teaching and learning, this study‘s findings will provide another source of evidence for the Research and Development (R&D) team in university education. This is specifically aimed at the curriculum development division, which requires more research findings in order to develop an effective curriculum that is grounded by a student-centered learning approach.
Business education University students will benefit immensely from the findings of this study, as the findings will bring out the potentials of cooperative teaching and problem-based teaching methods in contributing to students‘better understanding and increase motivation. The findings of this study will create new discussions and researches concerning the methods and techniques used in accounting teaching of universities. The outcomes of this study could also influence future lecturers‘development through the promotion of training that encourages the use of multiple instructional methods.
Universities‘management will find the findings useful in identifying the necessity for a full scale cooperative teaching and problem-based teaching methods implementation; similar to other successful international universities (Wee, 2004; Wang,Fong, & Alwis, 2005; Lahtinen, 2005). This study would provide information whether cooperative teaching and problem-based teaching are suitable, feasible and workable in respect to university‘s context and population.
The findings may also serve as a catalyst for future research on the effect of cooperative teaching and problem-based teaching methods on students‘performance in corporate accounting and overall excellence of courses and instruction using the university level population.
1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
The following assumptions are made that:
1. The students are intelligent enough to study corporate accounting at the university level.
2. All other variables such as parental and peer influences and school environment were assumed to have the same influence on students‘ performance in corporate accounting in
South-west zone, Nigeria.
1.8 Delimitations of the Study
This study was delimited to the effect of cooperative and problem-based teaching methods on university business education students‘performance in corporate accounting in South-west zone, Nigeria. This is because business education is fast growing in this zone. The study was delimited to relevant course contents of corporate accounting in business education accounting option. Corporate accounting was targeted for this study as it is a core area of accounting which companies are highly in demand of graduates who are proficient in it. The study was delimited to both State and Federal universities in this zone because these are the universities offering business education. It was also delimited to universities offering business education programme in South-west zone of Nigeria. It was further delimited to 300 level students because corporate accounting is offered at this level in most universities that offer business education. The two methods (cooperative and problem-based teaching methods) were used because they are not commonly used by lecturers in teaching accounting. The study was also delimited to the final accounts of companies because it is the major area of focus in company accounting..