PROBLEMS OF SHORTHAND TO SECRETARIAL STUDENTS IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING
The study aim at getting both learners and teachers of shorthand to identify the problems and difficulties which they encounter in their learning and teaching of shorthand. The subject were 255 students and shorthand lecturers made up of 155 shorthand students and shorthand lecturers from Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu and 100 shorthand students and shorthand lecturers from Federal Polytechnic Idah (FPI). One set of questionnaire was administered, it was open to both the students and lecturers of shorthand of the 255 questionnaire administered to the students 242 were returned. The results shows that majority of the students encounter difficulties and problems in the learning of shorthand. The result also show that the shorthand lecturers encounter difficulties in their teaching of shorthand. Some of the difficulties and problems identified include students lack of interest in shorthand, inadequate supply of teaching/learning facilities, inadequate encouragement by the teachers. Student experience tension, inability of students to retain what they have learnt, poor English language background, low vocabulary knowledge, lack of career guidance, students attitude to shorthand, large class etc. However, suggestions were made to combat some of the problems, some of which are that the method of selecting shorthand students should be modified to ensure that only those with good English background should be admitted, provision of adequate equipment and learning facilities and reduction in the number of students in class to at least 40. Furthermore, the researcher recommends that the English language course content be improve to emphasize spelling and phonetics in order to minimize pronunciation and spelling mistakes and therefore fancily transcription.
This study on problems of shorthand to secretarial students as an essential tool in achieving secretarial efficiency is directed towards bringing together the major factors that help any shorthand students to achieve his/her goal when effectively followed. Any shorthand student that does not follow the fundamentals system of shorthand could not achieve much, so the instructor or lecturers in this subject have to give incentives to drive students in this subjects to work hard so that the aim or objective of the secretarial profession and the individuals could be achieved. For many years, people have been failing this course up till the present time. My question now is can we hen agree that shorthand is the most problematic subject in secretarial administration? But why this frequent and mass failure everywhere? It is not unusual to hear that this problem drove many people out of the secretarial profession. But in actual fact, how many people after interested in this profession before they entered it or do you enter into it as the last resort because you cannot fit into any other field of study? The students whop enter into this profession as last resort are the set of students that mostly find unintelligent students and cannot be chosen as the last resort. The interest must be there. It id for those who are extra intelligent and have a good retentive memory and can be fast in learning.
Many students register for the course simple because they love how the secretaries dress, work and behave, without knowing what us involved. To these set of students, shorthand will not only be ‘head-ache’ to them but will also cause them ‘stomach – ulcer’. I am happy that people are now realizing that secretarial administration is not a dumping ground or a push over profession. Secretarial students should know that extra effort, energy and discipline are required to cope with the course. Running away from shorthand classes will not solve the problems. Shorthand is a stubborn subject and should be handled with all seriousness and consistent practice. In the words of my shorthand lecturer “It is not a last minute subject” you are not to wait till the examination is too close before you start making effort, you cannot make it as that time.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The system of shorthand writing presented in this study was invented by Sir Isaac Pitman who invented his first treatise on the art in 1837 and the second edition of his work appeared in 1840 under the title “phonograph or writing by sound” which was the name originally given to Pitman shorthand (a term derived from two Greek words meaning “Sound writing”) shorthand therefore, is designed by Pitman (1840:4) as “ the art of representing spoken sound by characters” since shorthand is an art work it is then a skilled subject which needs every effort to do it well. It is desirable that students should have at the beginning of the study an intelligent grasp of all that is conveyed by the term.
However, it is obvious that the value of shorthand whether as a vehicle for private communication or for use in various ways in business or professional life would be largely diminished if the students does not adopt the same system of writing. Students should then note that the difference between the shorthand characters and the letters in ordinary writing and printing. “It is obvious that the usual or Romanic alphabets of twenty – six letters in Pitman shorthand cannot be represented by distinct characters of the thirty-six typical sounds of the English language. (pitman 1970:vii) as a consequences, many of the letters of that alphabet are, of necessity, wed to represent different sounds. It can be seen, therefore that any system of shorthand founded on the common alphabet would prove a very imperfect and cumbrous instrument for recoding spoken utterances with certainty and speed which is the chief objectives of shorthand. In the study and use of Pitman shorthand it should be borne in mind that although the system is phonetic it is not designed to represent or record minute shades of pronunciation. The Pitman alphabet in the words of max-muller “Comprehends the thirty six broad typical sound of the English language and assign to each a definite sign”
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
A lot has been said and written on the problems of shorthand to students at all level, secondary and higher institution. A look at National Newspapers, others media outlets notice boards etc shows a high demand for secretaries. Even in this era of high unemployment there seem not to be enough well qualified secretaries to go around. This is largely attributable to the difficulty in mastery shorthand which is an essential subject to quality as a secretary. In IMT for example, secretarial students are often seen with their shorthand texts, drilling at all times, trying to master the skill, as if it is the only subject in their curriculum. A look a WAEC results shows very few students entering for shorthand in SSCE and even fewer passing it. One can then wonder what is in shorthand? Why do students fear the course? Why do many fail to excel in it. Why do after many hours put in its study do students fail to mater the art? These and many more are what this research paper seeks to unravel.
1.3 THE NEED FOR THE STUDY
The study is contributing to remedying the mass failure in this subject. It exposes to the secretarial students the causes of their failure in shorthand and the best way to study so that they will no longer study with fear. It will also serve as a source of information to those aspiring to do this course and will help them to have the right disposition, to know how and where to start. Moreover, this study will help the instructors and teachers of shorthand to visualize the type of problems the students of shorthand are encountering the best ay to handle them so as to achieve their goal. The study also will help the researcher in widening her knowledge in this field pf profession.
1.4 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to trace the problems facing secretarial students in shorthand writing and how to remedy the situation. It will also direct secretarial students especially the beginners how to practice shorthand. Moreover it will make the students to have the right attitude, disposition and interest in the study of shorthand otherwise all their efforts would prove abortive. It will equally teach and instruct students on the best way to study shorthand so as to achieve their aim.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The researcher limited this study to two Nigerian polytechnics: The Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu and the Federal Polytechnic Idah (FPI) The two are state and federal polytechnics respectively. The work is directed to all students of secretarial administration and also to instructors and teachers of this great subjects.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study inquired into the problems facing secretarial students in shorthand writing in institution of higher learning in Nigeria. The following research hypothesis were drawn to help arrive at the aim of this research.
1. Among all the courses in secretarial administration, shorthand is the most problematic
2. All students of secretarial administration find shorthand difficult
3. Students who are good in English language are also good in shorthand.
4. Individual students interest in shorthand is a yard-stick by which his/her success or otherwise in the course can be measured.
5. Comportment or behaviors of a student determine his/her success or otherwise in shorthand.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of special significance to the following groups
1. The study is contributing to remedying the mass failure in this subject. It exposes to the secretarial students the causes of their failure in shorthand and the best way to stud so that they will no longer study with fears 2. It will also serve as a source of information to those aspiring to do this course and will help them to have the right disposition, to know how and where to start
3. Moreover, this study will help the instructors and teachers of shorthand to visualize the type of problems the students of shorthand are encountering the best way of handle them so as to achieve their goals.
4. The study also will help the researcher in widening her knowledge in this field of profession.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
There is the need to mention and define some terms in Pitman shorthand used in this study.
GRAMMALOGUES/SHORTFORMS There are frequently occurring words in Pitman shorthand that is represented by a simple sign and the shorthand characters that represent them are called logograms or word – letters. A complete mastery of these short forms or logograms makes you a good, fast and expert writer of shorthand. If you cannot memorize these short forms, shorthand will always remain a problem that is why the writer emphasized much that shorthand is for student who are intelligent and have the ability to remember what they have learnt and can learn very fast.
MISREPRESENTATION OF OUTLINES
By this, the writer means the inability of the student to indicate whether their outlines should be written as a first-place, second place or third pace stroke or outline. That means whether it should be above the line, on the line or through the line respectively. Once a student cannot represent his/her shorthand characters well he/she will find it difficult to read back thereby being unable to transcribe what he/she has written and this is one of the major problems encountered by shorthand students.
By transcription, we mean the ability of a shorthand writer to type out in English letters what he/she has written in shorthand with less difficulty.
This means the art of representing spoken sound by signs or characters.
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