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1.1       Background of the Study

Attitude can alter every aspect of a person’s life, including their education. Students’ attitudes to learning determine their ability and willingness to learn. If negative attitudes are not altered, a student is unlikely to continue his education to the level that is required. Changing students’ negative attitudes towards learning is a process that involves determining the factors driving the attitude and using this information to bring about change.


Without positive attitudes and perceptions, students have little chance of learning proficiently, if at all. Marzano (2002) identified two categories of attitudes and perceptions that affect learning thus: attitudes and perceptions about the learning climate and attitudes and perceptions about classroom tasks. A basic premise of the Dimensions of Learning model (Marzano, 2002) is that effective teachers continually reinforce attitudes and perceptions in both these categories. According to Marzano, The master teacher has internalized techniques and strategies for enhancing these attitudes and perceptions to such a degree that the techniques are frequently transparent: they have become part of the fabric of instruction and are barely noticeable to the undiscerning eye.

Attitude could be described as a long-term positive or negative emotional disposition towards mathematics (McLeod, 1992).   Attitudes are rather stable and contain both affective and cognitive factors (Goldin, 2002). A bidimensional definition of the attitude  contains only the emotions and beliefs associated with learning (Daskalogianni & Simpson, 2000). According to a multidimensional definition, attitude has three components: emotional response, beliefs regarding learning, and behaviour related to the subject (Hart, 1989). Some factors that influence attitude towards learning a subject are confidence, beliefs in the importance of the subject and its utility in practice, and  anxiety (Ashby, 2009).


Students’ interest , their beliefs in the utility of the educational knowledge in their future career or in their everyday life are important. Belief systems are one’s world view, the perspective with which one approaches a subject. One’s beliefs about a piece of knowledge can determine how one chooses to approach a problem, which techniques will be used or avoided, how long and how hard one will work on it, and so on. (Schoenfeld, 1985)


Self-efficacy is students’ judgments about their ability to successfully complete a task, as well as students’ confidence in his/her skills to perform the task (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia,  and McKeachie, 1993). People’s beliefs in their efficacy influence the choices they make, their aspirations, how much effort they mobilize in a given endeavor, how long they persevere in  the face of difficulties and setbacks, whether their thought patterns are self-hindering or self-aiding, the amount of  stress they experience in coping with taxing environmental demands, and their vulnerability to depression (Richardson & Suinn, 1972).  Self-efficacy among Early Childhood Education (ECE) undergraduates can be measured using self-ratings of skills regarding specific problems (Schunk, 1996). Students, who feel a high level of self-efficacy, will concentrate more easily on the tasks, use efficient strategies, manage time efficiently, and ask for help if needed (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie, 1993).


Yet in some case extremely high self-efficacy is detrimental for learning: the student think, that she/he knows everything and doesn’t need to put effort in learning. Slightly lower sense of self-efficacy led to greater mental effort, so to better learning results (Salomon, 1984). Self-judgment is one’s evaluation on his/her performance and recognition of the relationship between the achieved performance level and the quality of the learning process (Zimmerman, 2000). Learners with high self- judgment attribute their poor performance to lack of effort or time; or to the use of an inadequate strategy (Zimmerman, 2000). Hagen & Weinstein (1995) added that “The more students can take responsibility for their own learning, the more likely they are to attribute success to their own efforts. If students believe that their efforts will make a difference in what and how much they learn, then they are more likely to expend higher levels of effort in their studies.”


Self-reaction involves feelings about the achieved results: satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Zimmerman, 2002). If the student believes that he/she is making a good progress, then he/she feels satisfaction, which enhances self-efficacy and sustains motivation (Schunk, 2006). When students feel satisfaction about their performance, they are more motivated to complete the task (Schunk, 2006). The feeling of satisfaction is important for motivating students.


The pursuit of a degree in Early Childhood Education by undergraduates is a goal that should be encouraged. The importance of learning ECE was summarized by Felix (2013) thus : It enables students to gain knowledge of developmental milestones from the time a child is born through their fifth year of life; it enables them to understand the early learning process; it helps them to learn relationship-building skills; it enables them to provide hands-on learning experiences; it motivates them to advocate for early childhood education resources and initiatives. Learning about Early Childhood Education fosters a profound understanding of young children, the psychology behind their actions, their peculiarities, their physical needs, emotional needs  and their learning needs. It is because of the foregoing that assessing undergraduates attitudes towards Early Childhood Education learning and study is needed.


1.2       Statement of the Problem

Students attitude to learning a subject or a course to a large extent determines their future prospects in that course. Attitude predicts a student’s commitment, class attendance and personal research – attributes necessary for a student to achieve success.

Students’ attitudes to learning are not equal. While some students exhibit highly positive attitudes to their course of study, others display non-chalance. Several factors could be responsible for this. Among them are :  a profound understanding of the course, love or disillusionment with the course, nature of lecturers, self-motivation and self-efficacy.

The problem of this study therefore is to assess the attitudes of students towards the study of Early Childhood Education.

1.3       Purpose of Study

The main purpose of this study is to assess the impact of undergraduates students attitudes towards the study of early childhood education. Specifically, this study aims to:

  1. determine the attitudes of ECE students to class attendance
  2. determine the attitudes of students to personal research in ECE
  3. determine the attitudes of students towards applying ECE concepts
  4. determine the attitudes of students towards note-taking in ECE classes




1.4   Research Questions           

The following research questions will be answered in the course of this study:

  1. What is the attitude of ECE students to class attendance?
  2. What is the attitude of students to personal research in ECE?
  3. What is the attitude of students towards applying ECE concepts?
  4. What is the attitudes of students towards note-taking in ECE?


1.5  Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses will be tested in the course of this study:

  1. Students demonstrate poor willingness  towards class attendance in ECE
  2. Students demonstrate a poor attitude towards personal research in ECE
  3. Students do not significantly apply ECE knowledge in their daily lives
  4. Students show an unserious attitude towards note-taking in ECE


1.6  Scope of the Study

The study examines impact of undergraduates students attitudes towards the study of early childhood education. This study is delimited to the following: University of Lagos, The descriptive survey research method, Use of questionnaire, One hundred (100) undergraduates of Early Childhood Education in University of Lagos, Chi-square statistical tool.




1.7  Significance of the Study

This study would reveal those crucial factors that determine students’ attitude towards studying early childhood education as a step towards examining those factors and improving those attitudes. Through this work, the factors that improve students’ qualities as undergraduates of ECE, such as note-taking, classroom attendance, application would be assessed, and so, steps would be made to improve upon them.


1.8  Operational Definition of Terms

Attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling about Early Childhood Education typically as it is reflected in a student’s behavior.

Early Childhood Education: University education given to undergraduates that pertains to the formal education of children before they begin primary education.

Student:  A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving easy employment at a particular field.

Education: Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research.

Learning: Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, and some machines; there is also evidence for some kind of learning in certain plants.

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