STUDENTS’ SOFT SKILLS AS CORRELATES OF THEIR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN BASIC SCIENCE
This study examined students’ soft skills as correlates of their academic achievement in basic science. The correlational survey research design was employed in the study. The population of the study comprised the 5,721 JSS3 students in public or government owned secondary schools in the five (5) local government areas in Ogoja education zone of Cross River State. A sample of 357 JSS3 students (168 males and 189 females) was drawn for this study using multistage sampling procedure. The study employed two researcher’s developed instruments; Students’ Soft Skills Assessment Scale (SSSAS) and Students’ Academic Achievement Proforma (SAAP) in data collection. Data collected were analyzed using regression analysis (correlation) and t-test statistic. The results based on the research questions showed that: problem solving soft skills with a coefficient of determination (r2) of .50 (50%) best-predicted students’ academic achievement in basic science, followed by teamwork soft skills .44 (44%), then communication soft skills .32 (32%), followed by time management soft skills .29 (29%) and lastly intra-interpersonal soft skills .28 (28%). 63% of variation in students’ academic achievement in basic science (criterion variable) is accounted for by all the dimensions of their soft skills (predictor variables) jointly; and that gender moderated 5% of the variation in students’ academic achievement in basic science in favour of the female than their male counterparts. The findings from the null hypotheses revealed that: the regression/beta coefficients (β) associated with each of the predictor variables; students’ problem solving soft skills (β= .37), teamwork soft skills (β= .24), communication soft skills (β= .19), intra and interpersonal soft skills (β= .10), and time management soft skills (β= .09) in predicting their academic achievement in Basic Science are significant; gender does not significantly moderate the prediction of students’ academic achievement in Basic Science by their soft skills; and lastly, findings indicated that the regression model for predicting students’ academic achievement in Basic Science by their soft skills was significant. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. Based on the findings and conclusions, it was recommended that: students, teachers, parents, education administrators and government should develop, teach and assess, encourage and support programmes that will duly consider students’ development and improvement on relevant soft skills. Home-related, school-related and cognitive-related variables should be taken into cognizance by the different stakeholders in order to create favourable learning and achievement; every teaching and learning situation should be made gender insensitive for adequate learning among students irrespective of gender; and finally, education administrators and government should encourage and support programmes that will duly consider teaching and assessment of students’ possession of soft skills in other to promote achievement in school and life generally.