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This study investigated the effect of social interactions on the academic performance of adult learners in Lagos state. The purpose of this research were to  establish the extent to which social interaction affect the academic performance of adult learner; examine how do social interaction contribute to the academic performance of adult learner; identify how adult learner utilize social interaction in class room and examine the relationship between social interactions and the performance of adult learners. Four research questions and hypotheses were stated for the study. The descriptive survey research design was adopted in the study. A total sample size of 120 part-time students was randomly selected using confidence interval of 5 and confidence level of 95% (0.05) from the total population of part-time students in the University of Lagos. The sampling technique used for the study was the simple random sampling (SRS), where 120 postgraduate part-time students were randomly selected from different department in Faculty of Education. A self-developed Likert-type scale titled “the effects of social interactions on the academic performance of adult learner Questionnaire” thoroughly scrutinized by the project supervisor was used for data collection. The instrument was validated and found to be reliable. It was personally administered by the researcher. The data collected were analyzed with the use of descriptive statistics of frequency counts and percentages were used in analyzing demographic variables and research questions while t-test was used to test hypothesis one and correlation coefficient to test hypothesis two at 0.05 level of significance. The results obtained showed that, there is significant effect of social interaction on academic performance of adult learners and there is significant relationship between social interactions and the performance of adult learners. Based on the conclusions the following recommended were made; that using social interaction to enhance the academic performance of adult learners is all about the method that should be encouraged by the adult facilitators. The individual learners should allow social interaction in teaching and learning process. Adult learners’ facilitators should encouraged social interaction among the adult learners.



1.3             Background to the Study

Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. This often happens in the workplace, through ‘extension’ or ‘continuing education’ courses at secondary schools, at a college or university. Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers. The practice is also often referred to as ‘Training and Development’. It has also been referred to as andragogy (to distinguish it from pedagogy). A difference is made between vocational education, mostly undertaken in workplaces and frequently related to up-skilling, and non-formal adult education including learning skills or learning for personal development. Adult learn in diverse ways and one of them is by bringing together experience with what they can see. When it comes to learning, It is believed that children learn faster that adult. Children find it easier to grap and learn because there is nothing that takes away their attention or focus from it such as thoughts, worries, etc. Learning in adulthood is completely different from learning in childhood. In other to understand adult undergraduates, we must completely, not partially, look into and understand how adults learn. In this field of study, educators who specialize in adult education are more experienced and informed. This study of adult learning theory will make available the foundation to thoroughly examine, evaluate roles institutional policies, services and the classroom environment have in persistence. Oftentimes institutions craft out curricula and services that are in accordance with adult learning that may have an effect on whether an adult undergraduate insists on graduation. ‘’Understanding learning in adulthood is like piecing together a puzzle; there are numerous area that must be put together before the total picture surfaces” ( Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). The individual learner, the context in which the learning takes place and the learning procedures are all parts of this puzzle. Adult learning is like glue that holds together the field of study, adult education that is numerous in content, clientele, and delivery system. In recent times, a lot of studies have been done on adult learning and a good number of the adult learning cantered on intelligence declined with age.

Studies concerning adult intelligence in the early part of the century were a product of both stained methodology and stained conclusion about the loss of intelligence later in life. Such studies were done in an artificial setting and timed educational tests were used to compare young learners with older learners. We know now that intelligence is not minimized during the aging process. Apparently, a large proportion in the kennel research of the 1990s shows that the more the brain is used, the less likely cognitive function will be lost.

Today’s students have taken to social networking like fish to water; yet, from our perspectives, there is little social interaction taking place in many of today’s classrooms from kindergarten through college. The model of discourse in most classrooms is a one-way communication from the teacher to the students. For example, the first thing one kindergartener said to his mother after his first day of school was: “All teachers do is talk, talk, talk.” He said the same thing after his first day of high school and his first day of college. His observations are not uncommon. As early as 1984, Goodlad wrote “the data from our observations in more than 1,000 classrooms support the popular image of a teacher standing in front of a class imparting knowledge to a group of students” (p. 105). Smith wrote in 1998 that teachers talk 90% of the time in classrooms. Frey, Fisher, and Allen (2009) observed that “students are expected to sit hour after hour, taking notes, and answering the occasional question with little interaction with peers” (p. 70).

The concept of teachers doing all of the talking in classrooms is in direct contrast to the philosophy that learning is primarily a social activity (Dewey, 1963; Lindeman, 1926) and the idea that the person who is doing the work is the person doing the learning (Hurst, 1998). Teachers expend a lot of energy preparing lectures. They must read various texts and synthesize the information, pick out the most important points and organize them in a cohesive manner, write lecture notes, and then deliver the information to students who sit passively often thinking of everything but what the teacher is saying. Who is doing all of the work in this process? The teacher. The teacher is the one reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and therefore, the one who is learning. Vacca and Vacca (2002) contend that we need to shift “the burden of learning from teachers’ shoulders to students” (p. 7). Wilkinson, Soter, and Murphy (2010) agree “there needs to be a gradual release of responsibility for control of the discussion from teacher to students” (p. 156). Probst (2007) states, “it’s the student who should be doing most of the work” (p. 43).

One way for students to shoulder the responsibility for learning is for them to be the readers, writers, speakers, listeners, and thinkers in the classroom through active engagement in social interaction with others (Alvermann & Phelps, 2005; Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011). For the purpose of this study, we define social interaction as meaningful dialogue among learners. Socially interactive learners are engaged learners (Vacca et al., 2011). Routman (2005) contends “students learn more when they are able to talk to one another and be actively involved” (p. 207). In short, social interaction is vital to the learning process.

Years ago, Goodman (1986) stressed that reading, writing, listening, and speaking should be kept whole (as in whole language) instead of teaching each one separately. He promoted that reading, writing, listening, and speaking should be incorporated into everything students do throughout the day. Because reading, writing, and social interaction are part of everyday life in the real world, it does not make sense for classrooms to be social interaction-free zones where the teacher talks while students listen. Gee (2001) contends “reading and writing cannot be separated from speaking, listening, and interacting, on the one hand, or using language to think about and act on the world, on the other” (p. 714).

Kasten (1997) found it “amusing that the teachers of another era spent so much time keeping their classes quiet and then wondered why so many students were terrified of occasional oral reports and even continued into adulthood to be uncomfortable speaking to a group” (p. 100). She stated “teachers and principals of the past who worked hard to keep children quiet (myself included) did not know how critical social interaction and collaboration are in learning” (p. 99). They also may not have known how to incorporate social interaction into their classrooms. The problem is not that students are unwilling to talk; many teachers say they spend the better part of their days trying to get their students to stop talking (whether in person or texting). The problem is getting the students to talk about the subject at hand.

Social Interaction among Teachers

The social constructivist theory is based on the belief that individuals actively construct knowledge and understanding and that constructing understandings of one’s world is an active, mind-engaging process. In other words, information must be mentally acted upon in order to have meaning for the learner (Piaget, 1979; Sigel & Cocking, 1977). According to constructivist views, learning involves building on the background knowledge the learner brings to the situation and restructuring initial knowledge. Since learners have different background knowledge, experience, and interests, they make  different connections in building their knowledge over time. Brooks and Brooks (1993) state:

Within a constructivist framework, the learning of skills and concepts occur within meaningful and integrated contexts not in an isolated and hierarchical manner. Learning is built over time as initial knowledge is revised when new questions arise and old knowledge is challenged. “Deep understanding, not imitative behavior, is the goal We look not for what students can repeat, but for what they can generate, demonstrate, and exhibit” (Brooks & Brooks, 1993, p. 16).

One way to prepare teachers to incorporate social interaction in their classrooms is to incorporate it into teacher education courses. When social interaction becomes part of the classroom dynamics, classrooms become active places; teachers need to experience this for themselves so they know how to create this type of learning environment in their own classrooms (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995).

Students are not the only ones who need to be talking and listening to one another while learning. Teachers are often left to navigate through a maze of complex activities. Teachers are bombarded by problems originating from student need and from various negotiations with students, parents, and administrators. Furthermore, curriculum is multifaceted with instruction relying on assessment, management, and effective presentation. Success depends on teachers having a thorough understanding of a variety of subject areas, learning how to reflect on their efforts, and developing problem-solving skills regarding any number of potential problems.

Encouraging social interaction among teachers is one of the most effective ways for teachers to learn creative methods to solve complex problems (Darling- Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995). Teachers, like students, can effectively improve their learning skills by frequently discussing the dynamics of their classroom with peers experiencing the same challenges. Good teachers are highly motivated to improve the content of their curricula for their students and the quality of their interactions with parents and administrators. They will take the time to communicate with others when they see the value in the communication; they will promptly commit to educational activities they think will help them improve their instruction (Bakkenes, De Brabander, & Imants, 1999).

Two fundamental processes that help teachers improve their skills are reflection and collaboration. Teachers need to use reflection to evaluate and inform their practices and use collaboration to learn to negotiate effective interactions among themselves, the students, parents, and administration (Askell- Williams, Murray-Harvey, & Lawson, 2007). Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin (1995) suggest preservice and inservice courses should focus on developing teachers who have a deeper understanding of themselves as educators and of the students they educate. These authors state that effective professional development must “be collaborative, involving a sharing of knowledge among educators and a focus on teachers’ communities of practice rather than on individual teachers” (p. 643). Furthermore, they argue:

Teachers learn by doing, reading, and reflecting (just as students do); by collaborating with other teachers. This kind of learning enables teachers to make the leap from theory to accomplished practice. In addition to a powerful base of theoretical knowledge, such learning requires settings that support teacher inquiry and collaboration and strategies grounded in teachers’ questions and concerns. To understand deeply, teachers must learn about, see, and experience learning-centered and learner-centered teaching practices. (pp. 242-243) A goal of teacher education programs should be to present curriculum in such a way as to teach the necessity of social interaction. Preservice and inservice programs need to model how social interaction encourages collective problem solving and knowledge sharing (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995). In this study, instead of the common lecture-centered model, we explored a model of discourse where our undergraduate and graduate students interacted with each other during each class period.

A proliferation of research from Eschenmann (1991) and other scholars suggests that if teachers take the time to build relationships they can motivate their students to learn. Further research (Whitaker, 2004) also suggests that teachers need to have a strong belief that building relationships are important to the motivation process. There is a need to capitalize on these beliefs for the child’s benefit. It is important that educators recognize the impact they have on their students, and consider strongly their students’ perceptions of them (Eschenmann, 1991). Teachers have to ensure that they are meeting student needs, both academically and emotionally. Creating classroom environments that promote positive cultures with healthy interactions can motivate students to channel their energies and desires to reach their goals. According to Whitaker (2004), the main variable in the classroom is not the student, but the teacher. Great teachers have high expectations for their students, but even higher expectations for themselves (2004). These teachers recognize the importance of connecting with their students, that if they are unable to connect with them emotionally then influencing their minds may be impossible (2004). “Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and over time, they redirect hundreds of lives… There is an innocence that conspires to hold humanity together …” (Bolman & Deal, 2002,).

Whitaker (2004) suggests that teachers are the first and perhaps most important point of contact in a student’s life. Despite the countless reforms, educational movements, and programs implemented to improve education, no other element can be as profound as the human element. He urges, “It’s the people, not the programs” (Whitaker, 2004,). More profoundly he states, “There are really two ways to improve a school significantly: Get better teachers and improve the teachers in the school”.

“A fundamental question for a student is ‘Does my teacher like me?’ Given a rigorous, aligned curriculum, the answer to that simple question is our best predictor of student achievement”— (Terry, 2008,). Teacher knowledge and efficacy of student motivation and achievement are crucial components to creating relationships that motivate. Both teachers and students have to value their contribution. A student has to feel worthwhile and appreciated. A teacher needs to recognize that he or she can have a positive effect on their students. Wiseman and Hunt (2001) refer to this as “teacher efficacy” and note that the more the teacher believes in this, the more they will cause it to happen

Adding the use it or lose it idea, intelligence can also maximize with increased intellectual exercise. The physical and psycho-social conditions of adult definitely influenced how adults learn. Some biological changes, like loss of hearing and sight or disease, can be dangerous and can also affect the learning methods. From a psycho-social perspective, life stages can probably have an effect not only on whether or not adults choose to take part, but on how they participate in learning.

1.4             Statement of the Problem

Formal education confronts students with many demands are not a regular or frequent characteristic of their everyday experience outside the classroom. The practice of education confronts students with meaningful and necessary discontinuities in their intellectual, social and linguistic experiences. Reports have shown that there has been a downward trend in academic performance of adult learners in Nigerian high institutions. Curriculum experts have expressed considerable concern about this poor performance. These groups of individuals tend to point accusing fingers on teachers and lack of social interaction and poor time management as being responsible for poor academic performance of adult learners. These factors are suspected for the luring of them into engagement in negative habits such as examination malpractice, cultist activities and other maladjusted behaviours. These unhealthy behaviours of adult learners which in turn impacts poor academic achievement makes the researcher to ask “why Nigerian adult learners are not very concern about the current trend on their academic performance? Could it be that they are insensitive to the possible positive effect of social interaction on their academic performance. It is in view of these concerns that this study was carried out to determine the need to examine the effects of social interactions on the academic performance of adult learners.

1.3.      Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to examine the effect of social interaction on academic performance of adult learners. Specifically, it sought to:

1.      Establish the extent to which social interaction affect the academic performance of adult learner

2.      Examine how do social interaction contributeto the academic performance of adult learner

3.      Identify how adult learner utilize social interaction in class room.

4.      Examine the relationship between social interactions and the performance of adult learners.

 1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions guide this study:

1.      Does social interaction affect the academic performance of adult learner?

2.      How does social interaction contributeto the academic performance of adult learner?

3.      How adult learners utilize social interaction in classroom?

4.       Is any relationship between social interactions and the performance of adult learners?

 1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses postulated will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.

Ho1:   There is no significant effect social interaction on academic performance of adult learners.

Ho2:   There is no significant relationship between social interactions and the performance of adult learners.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study aims to investigate the effects of social interactions on the academic performance of adult learners as basis of strategies that may help the adult learners better adapt in situations requiring high social interactions.The results of this study will help educators and administrators of academic institutions provide better learning environment for adult learners in the country. By understanding the relationship of social interactions and academic performance, concepts of physical and cognitive ergonomics can help educators assess, plan, design and implement measures to support adult learners.On the practical aspect, the findings from this study will be of immense benefits to teacher, the society, school and researchers. To the teacher-the teacher will equally benefits from the finding of the study because the finding will help them know what is expected of them as they are role model.

To the school-the findings of the study will directly lead to the raising of our standard of education because experience has shown that disciplined adult learners learn faster and perform better academically than undisciplined students. Therefore, the findings of this study will help the school produce students who can contribute meaningfully towards the development of the nation in future. The findings of the study will be made known to public by organizing conferences, workshops and seminars to inform them of effect of social interactions on academic performance of adult learners.

Finally, the results of the work will be of great help to future researchers. This will be a source of research materials or empirical data for them.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study examined the social interactions and the academic performance of adult learners in Lagos State.

1.8       Definition of Relevant Terms

Adult learning is defined as ‘the entire range of formal, non-formal and informal learning activities which are undertaken by adults after a break since leaving initial education and training, and which results in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.

Social Interaction is an exchange between two or more individual and is a building block of society


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