Influence Of Teachers Communication Styles On Pupils Self-esteem And Acdemic Achievement In Enugu State Nigeria

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The study investigated the influence of teachers’ communication styles on pupils’ self-esteem and academic achievement in government primary schools in Enugu state, Nigeria. The sample for this study consist (300) three hundred pupils who are under passive, assertive and aggressive teachers respectively, representing the entire population of (5,992) five thousand, nine hundred and ninety-two used for the study. Three instruments were used for data collection namely; Pupils’ perception of Teachers’ Communication Styles Questionnaire (PPTCSQ), Pupils’ Self-esteem Questionnaire (PSEQ) and Pupils’ Achievement Test Proforma (PATP). For the two questionnaires, Cronbach Alpha method was used to establish their internal consistency. Using SPSS version 16.0, a coefficient value of the internal consistency reliability of PPTCSQ was 78, .81 and .73 respectively, and that of PSEQ was .83. The data was analyzed using mean and standard deviation, while the null hypotheses were tested using Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) at 0.05 level of significant. The findings of the study show that; (1) Assertive and passive teachers’ communication styles influence on pupils’ self-esteem is positive while aggressive teachers’ influence is negative. (2) Assertive teachers’ communication styles influence on pupils’ academic achievement is positive while passive and aggressive teachers’ influences are negative. (3) There is no significant difference in the influence of teachers’ communication styles on pupils’ self-esteem and (4) there is a significant difference in the mean influence of the three teachers’ communication styles on pupils’ academic achievement. Base on these findings, the conclusion is that assertive teachers’ communication style is superior to passive and aggressive teachers’ communication styles. Finally a number of ways by which teachers can improve their communication styles that will enhance pupils’ academic achievement as well as their self-esteem were mentioned. Implications were equally highlighted and recommendations made.





Background of the Study


In any academic pursuit, the expectation of every learner is to achieve success. Academic achievement according to Anyanwu and Anyakoha (2006) is gain or success in an academic context. Academic achievement is the outcome of education, the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals or made the best of their academic aptitude (Psychology Wiki, 2011). In the context of this study, academic achievement is the ability of an individual to achieve the best of academic goal from some educational experiences.


Academic achievement indicates an individual’s ability to attain the academic goals and objectives which are reflected in the school curriculum. Individuals strive to achieve success in their academic pursuits for obvious reasons which may include; the longing to be self-reliant, to earn good certificate, to become an authority in one’s field of specialization and most importantly to secure a good job.


Over time, pupils’ performances in both internal and external examinations have been a yard stick for determining their academic excellence or failure. Recently, there have been frequent reports in the mass media about the decline in pupils’ academic achievement in Nigeria. This has become an issue of worry to many due to the great role of education in national development. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2004) describes primary education as key to success or failure of the whole system. Primary education according to Lota (2008) provides the necessary foundation upon which the rest of educational system is built.

      The report from Ministry of Education Development Center (EDC) Enugu justified the problematic nature of pupils’ poor achievements in Common Entrance Examination in Enugu Education zone from the year 2008 to 2012;


In 2008 9800 candidates sat for the Common Entrance Examination. Out of this number, 48% scored high while 52% scored low. In 2009 6,107 candidates sat for the examination. Out of this number, 49% scored high while 51% scored low. In 2010 5,969 candidates sat for the examination. Out of this number, 47% scored high while 53% scored low. In 2011 5,920 candidates sat for the examination, out of this number, 49% scored high while 51% scored low. In 2012 5,050 candidates sat for the examination, out of this number, 47% scored high while 53% scored low. So out of the total number of 32,846 candidates that took common entrance examination in Enugu Education zone from 2008 to 2012, only 15,320 pupils scored high while 17,526 scored low.


In view of this, a lot of questions are being asked as to what could be the cause of these poor achievements of most pupils in examinations. Many have blamed the parents, some people lay the blame on the pupils while others blame the teachers.


Researchers over the years have tried to find out the causes of pupils’ poor academic achievement. For instance Etsey (2005) came up with the following factors as the major causes of pupils’ poor academic achievement: lack of professional teacher qualification, ineffective supervision of instruction, lack of motivation and professional commitment, the unavailability and use of teaching and learning materials, irregular assigning of homework and class sizes. Ofoegbu (2004) asserts that poor academic achievement of pupils in Nigeria has been linked to poor teachers’ performance in terms of accomplishing the teaching task, negative attitude to work and poor teaching habits.


In the same vein, Asikhia (2010) believes that the falling level of academic achievement is attributable to teachers’ non-use of verbal reinforcement strategy, unpleasant comments about pupil’s performances which could damage their ego, also attitude of some teachers to their job which is reflected in their poor attendance to lessons, lateness to school and poor method of teaching. From the above assertions, it is obvious that the various attitudes which some teachers display in the classroom betray their commitment, which according to Olatunde (2009) negatively affects pupils’ attitude towards learning and consequently their self-esteem.


Self-esteem, according to Harris (2009) refers to an individual’s sense of his or her value or worth, or the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself. Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, and Vohs (2003) view self-esteem as how much value people place on them, the evaluative component of self-knowledge. In the context of this study, self-esteem refers to the degree of value and self-importance which an individual has for oneself, and the extent to which the individual likes and appreciates him or herself.


Pupils behave, interact and associate with others base on how they perceive themselves, and how they see others accept, love and care for them. When they feel unloved, uncared for or unaccepted by others, they form low self-esteem, but when they feel accepted, loved, and cared for by others, they form high self-esteem. The self-esteem formed however determines their world out look and their academic achievement in school.


High self-esteem leads to good school work and may foster in the pupils confidence to tackle difficult problems and enable them to derive satisfaction from progress and success. High self-esteem refers to highly favourable global evaluation of self, while low self-esteem refers to unfavourable evaluation of the self (Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) 1995). Pupils with high self-esteem may be more willing to persist in the face of initial failure and less likely to succumb to paralyzing feelings of incompetence and self-doubt (Baumeister et al, 2003.


Low self-esteem on the other hand leads to learning disabilities and disciplinary problems because pupils with low self-esteem feel unwanted, unloved and unaccepted, resulting to difficulty in mixing up, interaction and making friends easily. Moreover, they feel shy of standing up in the class to ask or answer question due to lack of confidence in self, or because of fear that the teacher and other pupils might make fun of them.


Base on past research findings, it has been observed that self-esteem and academic achievement are correlated (Harris, 2009). The author noted that a history of success in an educational setting was found to be one of four major social antecedents of self-esteem. However, pupils’ lack of confidence in their abilities attributes to the persistent decline in pupils’ academic achievement in the country. Harris went on to state that level of self-esteem increases as level of academic achievement scores increases and vice versa. Moreover the study of Kimberly, Richard, and Luc (1999) indicates that pupils’ self-esteem and academic achievement could be enhanced or frustrated by teachers’ communication styles.


Communication is the process of creating or sharing meaning in informal conversation, group interaction or public speaking (Verderber & Verderber, 2008).

According to Chandler (2011), communication is a process by which meaning is assigned and conveyed in an attempt to create shared understanding.

Teachers’ communication styles as defined by Norton in Chory & Mccroskey (1999) refers to how a teacher verbally and nonverbally interacts to signal how literal meaning should be taken, interpreted, filtered, or understood. In the context of this study, teachers’ communication styles refers to the various strategies including verbal, nonverbal and caring approach which teachers employ to make the learners understand their instructions effectively.


Teachers are highly essential for successful operation of the educational system and they are important tools for the educational development (Obadara, 2008). Both teaching and learning depends on teachers, so an effective teacher has been conceptualized as one who produces desired results in the course of his duty by adopting the styles of communication that will enhance the clarity of his or her instruction in the classroom, thus Uchefuna (2001) noted that teachers’ communication styles have an influence on classroom climate which affect pupils in their academic achievement.


Research over the years have shown that teachers’ communication styles influences pupils in terms of how they perceive themselves and their performances in the class. Ginott (1922) in his classroom management theory demonstrated that the teacher has a tremendous power to make a child’s life joyous or miserable, humanize or dehumanized. Some pupils come with great expectations and willingness to learn, only to end up developing a negative feeling about themselves because the teacher either through verbal or nonverbal communication tell them that they are not very good at what they are doing or that they are not good persons. This negative feeling after several years of accumulation will automatically lead to a low self-esteem and poor academic achievement, hence INTO (1995) noted that the formation of children’s self-concept to a large extent is influenced by verbal and nonverbal communication.


Some teachers tend to deal badly intentionally or unintentionally through the way they communicate with the pupils. These teachers generally communicate more with some pupils and being less communicative with other pupils. They like, and talk with brighter pupils more often, give emotional and social support to them, spend more time with them, and integrate them into school activities more often while low self-esteem pupils are often left to themselves in the classroom, thus Wrench, Richmond, and Gorham, (2009) assert that teachers should communicate and give equal attention to all the pupils in the classroom.


The authors further described three communication behaviours which teachers should adopt to build affect in the classroom as clarity, immediacy, and teacher humour. Clarity has to do with teachers’ ability to communicate to the pupils’ in simple language to enable them to understand the learning content easily. Teacher immediacy refers to the psychological or physical closeness between two people especially closeness between the teacher and the pupils. Teacher humour according to Wrench, Richmond, and Gorham is important in the classroom teaching and learning because it reduces test and classroom anxiety.


Heffiner, (1989) suggested three communication styles; (i) Passive communication style (ii) Assertive communication style and (iii) Aggressive communication style. Passive communication style according to Heffner is the type of communication in which the communicator finds it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings because of their minimized self-worth and a feeling of being inferior to others. Assertive communicator is described as that person who stands for his/her right, and at the same time maintains the respect and right of others. Aggressive communicators are characterized by an authoritative style of communication with a monopolizing attitude.


It has been observed by the researcher that some teachers in Enugu Education Zone public primary schools exhibit communication styles that are akin to that of Heffner (1989) assertive, passive and aggressive communication styles.


Passive teachers develop pattern of avoiding expressing opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, identifying and meeting their needs. According to Maximo et al (2011), the typical reasons for this in the classroom include wanting to please or not wanting to upset their pupils and being afraid of confrontation or not confident about managing confrontation that disruptive pupils’ behaviour may result to.


Such passive teachers keep away from conflict at all cost to avoid negative criticism and strive to elude the notice of pupils’ misbehaviour. Thus, in such classroom the pupils are always ignored even when they are fighting or come to the teacher with a complaint. The teacher does not ensure that the pupils understand the content of learning and does not show love and care to the pupils.


In the same vein, others adopt aggressive approach in their interactions with the pupils in the sense that they use abusive words, humiliate, insult and embarrass pupils before the class. Consequent upon these, some pupils are always hesitant and scared to interact or communicate with the teachers for fear of being embarrassed. In line with this assertion, Wrench, Richmond, and Gorham (2009) opined that teachers should establish  the tone for the classroom and eliminate all harsh statements because it can keep the lower self-esteem pupils from interacting, participate and exchange ideas in class project.


In as much as primary education in this country is vital, teachers’ communication style needs to be investigated since it could be significant in frustrating or enhancing the academic achievement and self-esteem of pupils. The researcher therefore seeks to find out the influence of assertive, passive and aggressive teachers’ communication styles on pupils’ self-esteem and academic achievement.

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Influence Of Teachers Communication Styles On Pupils Self-esteem And Acdemic Achievement In Enugu State Nigeria