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Understanding school effectiveness and english language certification in the third world : an ethnographic study of some Nigerian secondary schools Adewuyi, David Aderemi


The main purpose of this study was to identify, describe, and explain the school effectiveness characteristics that might influence English language certification in selected secondary schools in a Third World country, Nigeria. Ethnographic methods of participant observation, interviews, questionnaires, camera and video recordings, and documentary analysis were used to study six secondary schools in urban, sub-urban, and rural settings. The study was conducted in response to the call for the contextualization of School Effectiveness Research (SER). One incontrovertible conclusion in School Effectiveness Research (SER) is that the accumulation of evidence on the characteristics of school effectiveness has not answered the perplexing question of why certain characteristics work in one school and not in others. Many researchers have suggested contextualizing SER as one way of dealing with this nagging problem. The contextualization of SER, argued these researchers, would ensure that local school and classroom cultures were taken into consideration in the design, implementation, and interpretation of School Effectiveness Research. Studying the nuances of local school cultures might illuminate the relationships between school effectiveness characteristics and the classroom instructional strategies employed by effective teachers to enhance student academic achievement. Results from the six case studies indicated support for many school effectiveness characteristics that have been attested to in the literature, such as strong and purposeful school leadership, clear and articulated goals, high expectations of student achievement, a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning, and frequent evaluation of students' progress. But some characteristics that might be peculiar to the Third World were also unraveled by the study. For instance, extramural lessons seemed to be an important feature in certain schools that achieved effective examination results but lacked effectiveness characteristics. There appears also to be a link between the identified school level effectiveness characteristics and the classroom level instructional strategies employed by effective teachers in English language classrooms. The study of the dimensions of effective instruction in Nigerian English language classrooms yielded some "language examination-oriented instructional strategies" that were different from the "mediational instructional strategies" used by effective language teachers in Californian classrooms in the United States of America. It was felt that these differences were a result of contextual differences in the two developed and developing world domains.

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