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Academic Self Concept as a Correlate of Academic Performance of Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology student in final year

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the study

Education in every human community is an indispensable instrument for human progress and empowerment. Any nation that lacks sound educational culture and philosophy stands the risk of decay because education plays vital roles in overall development of a country. Education creates a society that is dynamic and productive offering opportunity and fairness to all citizens of a country (Adeyemi & Adeyemi, 2014). Students with higher levels of academic performance at the university are more likely to obtain good employment (Coetzee, 2011) and it promotes success later in life (Areepattamannil & Freeman, 2008).

However literature reports that academic performance of the undergraduate Nigerian students is declining (Egbule, 2006; Ugoji, 2008; Nnamani, Dikko & Kinta, 2014) and researchers have long been interested in exploring variables that affect academic performance of learners. Some of these variables include students’ interest, study habit, home environment and parental support (Adeyemi & Adeyemi, 2014). There are many personality variables that have been implicated to affect student’s academic performance either positively or negatively, self concept is one of them (Wilson 2009).

Self concept is a general view about oneself across various sets of specific domains and perceptions based on self knowledge and evaluation of values formed through experiences in relation to one’s environment (Ayodele 2011).  Self concept is associated with a wide range of performance indicators (Gemeay, Behilak, Kanona & Mansour 2013). These include sets of characteristics, attributes, qualities and deficiencies, capacities and limits, or values and relationships that the individual knows to be descriptive of him/her self and which he/she perceives as data concerning his/her identity.

Self concept is not innate, it is formed through an individual’s experiences and interaction with the environment (Soheila, Seyed & Alireza, 2015), and where significant others play an important role (Gmeay et al 2013). General self concept is divided into academic and non academic self concept. The non academic self concept include physical, social and emotional self concept (Sanchez & Roda, 2012). Hence academic self concept is a sub domain of an individual general self concept. More contemporary researches in the field of self concept have been directed towards academic self concept and its development (Trautwein, Ludtke, Koller & Baumert, 2006; Coetzee, 2011; Matovu 2012). Ahmed and Bruinsma (2006) are of the opinion that although general self concept is important in an academic context, various studies have found academic self concept to be a better predictor of achievement (Coetzee 2011; Matovu 2014).

Academic self concept is referred to as an individual’s perception about their academic aptitude in a particular academic field (Flowers, Raynor & White 2013).  Liu and Wang (2005) defined academic self concept as how a student views his/her academic ability when compared with other students.  Students attach a lot of attitudes, feelings and perceptions relative to one’s intellectual or academic skills. Academic self concept is referred to as a person’s self evaluation regarding specific academic domains or abilities (Trautwein, et al. 2006; Qalavand, Srarvazad, Kalanzadeh, Bakhtiarvand & Roshani, 2013). Kaba and Talek (2015) pointed out that academic self concept involves a description and an evaluation of one’s perceived academic abilities and encompass beliefs of self worth associated with one’s perceived academic competence. They explained that students compare their own performance with that of their classmates. This implies that students’ academic self concepts are determined by their perceptions of their academic ability in an area as well as their assessment of their academic standing relative to their classmates.

Importantly, Academic Self Concept (ASC) is formed and developed through interactions with a student’s significant others (i.e., parents, teachers or peers) and therefore is dynamic as a student progresses through schooling (Qalavand et al 2013). Tiedemann (2000) suggests that ASC begins to develop in early childhood, from age 3 to 5, due to parental or family and early educators’ influence, while other researchers contend that ASC does not develop until age 7 or 8, when children begin evaluating their own academic abilities based on the feedback they receive from parents and teachers (Leflot, Onghena & Colpin 2010). According to Wilson (2009), by age 10 or 11 children view their academic abilities by comparing themselves to their peers. Guay Rattelle, Soy and Litalien (2010) opined that as students grow older academic self concept becomes stable.

Liu and Wang, (2005) posited that academic confidence and academic efforts are constructs of ASC. Academic confidence assesses students’ feelings and perceptions about their academic competence. Academic effort assesses students’ commitment, involvement and interest in school work (Tan & Yates, 2007).

The importance of academic self concept stems from its contribution to the total personality formation of individuals (Kirmizi 2015). It influences how the person feels, thinks, learns, values, relates to others and ultimately how the person behaves. Developing a positive ASC influences one’s happiness, ego, and successful futuristic life goals (Alias and Mohd-Haffir 2009).

However, peers, teachers and parents perception of students’ capability in school work helps to build the self view, morality and ego of students. High academic self concept fosters hard work, active class participation and attendance, studying for tests, doing take home assignment and competence in all school work (Kaba & Talek 2013). In an organizational setting, Matovu (2012) reported that employee who has confidence will actually perform better on the tasks given to them; they will persist in the face of adversity, and cope more effectively with change. This is synonymous with students who have high academic self concept; such student will persist and work hard in school, they will not see any course as too difficult to them.

Judd & Kenny (2010) presented a meta-analysis showing that components of a positive ASC were among the best predictors of job performance and job satisfaction. ASC influences student’s academic performance (Coetzee 2011) and affects student’s future life goals. Student’s present academic self concepts have effect on their career goals and ultimate life satisfaction (Matovu  2012; Yorke, 2013).

Academic performance is the outcome of teaching and learning process; it is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution have achieved their educational goals (Magnuson 2007). Okorie (2003) defined academic performance as the student’s level of caring for academic activities. She went further to explain that the level of caring for academic activities ranges from zero to one. The zero symbolizes unsuccessfulness in academic activities and level one symbolizes the successfulness of academic activities. Eze (2012) opined that academic performance is the extent to which a learner is profiting from instruction in a given area of learning. Therefore it is a reflection of the extent to which skill and knowledge have been imparted on the learner.

Academic performance is measured by examination marks, teachers’ given grades and percentiles in academic subjects (Ayodele 2011). Emaikwu (2012) reported that the most common indicator for measuring academic performance is student’s cumulative grade point average (CGPA). Students graduates with first class honours, second class honours for university students and coming first in class for secondary and primary school students.

Researchers have over the years debated on the relationship between academic self concept and academic performance. There is still disagreement between them on whether academic self concept causes subsequent academic performance or academic performance causes subsequent academic self concept while Some researchers found that correlation exists between academic self concept and academic performance of students. (Liu & Wang, 2005; Liu 2009; Baran & Maskan 2011; Matovu, 2012; Daramamu & Balarabe 2013, Meshkat & Hosseni 2015), whereas others found that there is no correlation between academic self concept and academic performance (Vialle, Heaven & Ciarrochi, 2005; Baadijes, 2008; Stahlke 2012; Kirmizi 2015).

Several variables characterizing demographic characteristics of age and gender may influence ASC and academic performance of university students (Matovu 2012). Age is defined as time elapsed since birth (Nasir 2012). As university students’ age increases it usually affect every area of individuals’ development of which academic self concept and academic performance is one of them (Matovu 2012). Other researchers reported that age has no influence on students’ ASC and academic performance (Ebenuwa-Okoh 2010; Mlambo 2011). Gender relates to the difference in sex (that is, either male or female) and how this quality affects their dispositions and perception toward life and academic activities (Ayodele 2011). The difference in gender as it affects students’ ASC and academic performance is inconclusive (Soheila, Seyed & Alireza 2015). Some researchers opined that age and gender influence academic self concept and academic performance of university students ( Liu & Wang, 2005; Matovu, 2012) while other researchers opined that age and gender does not have any influence on ASC and academic performance of students, (Kyoshaba 2009; kaba & Talek 2015).

Considering the fact that ASC decline from early to mid adolescence (Liu & Wang 2005), increases through early adulthood and becomes stable as students grow older (Guay et al. 2010). University students are within this age of transition from adolescence to adulthood. It becomes necessary to examine the relationship between academic self concept and academic performance and also to find out the influence of demographic characteristics (age and gender) on academic self concept and academic performance.

Statement of Problem

The appalling standard of academic performance of students in Nigerian universities has reached an alarming crescendo (Mimiko, 2006; Ayodele 2010; Onah, 2012). More disturbing is the observation that many graduates of Nigerian universities are being rejected by the labour market because of low academic competence (Emaikwu, 2012).

In January 2015, no fewer than 366 students of Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt were expelled by the management of the institution for their poor academic performance (Akasike, 2015).  This is because the expelled students could not make the cumulative grade point average of 1.00 and were withdrawn from the university at the end of the 2013/2014 academic session.

Faculty of health Sciences University of Nigeria Enugu Campus is not an exception to these poor students’ academic performance. There are over 300 over stayed candidate in FHST UNEC (UNN, 2012). The researcher has noticed that some undergraduate students are carried away by other activities such as spending much time in social media, playing games, watching films, unhealthy relationships e.t.c on campus; these affect reading time, doing assignments, coming to lectures by the students. Some of the students also have the belief that they will never pass some courses they offered on their own as they will not make any effort to read for that course while some other students complained that despite the effort they put in their academic work, they do not feel competent that they will have high grades on the courses they offer in the university. These students will end up coming up with references at the end of semester examination and will spend extra years trying to clear carryover on failed courses before graduating; more often ends up with third class and pass degrees thereby compounding their chances of gainful employment. If this poor performance goes unchecked newly admitted students will meet overstayed students and this will lead to population overflow in the university.

Aremu and Sokan (2003) decries that academic failure is not only frustrating to the students and parents but leaves a devastating effect on the society in terms of shortage of efficient manpower in all sectors of Nigerian economy. This is worrisome to parents, teachers and any interested observer. These were students who met the university minimum entry requirement on admission. It is expected that these students will perform well in school since they met the entry requirement.

Much as the situation described here causes concern, it is not yet conclusively known why some students excel while others fail to attain the standards expected of them. The study, therefore intends to know the relationship between academic self concept and academic performance.

Purpose of the study

The study investigates correlation between academic self concept and academic performance of 2014/2015 undergraduate final year students of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus

Objectives of the study

Specifically the objectives of the study are to:

  1. determine the academic self concept of FHST students.
  2. determine students’ academic performance in various department of FHST.
  3. determine the relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of FHST students.

 

Research Questions

  1. What is the academic self concept of FHST students?
  2. What is the students’ academic performance in various department of FHST?
  3. What is the relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of FHST students?

Research Hypotheses

  1. There will be no significant relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of FHST students.
  2. There will be no significant relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of nursing science students.
  3. There will be no significant relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of medical rehabilitation students.
  4. There will be no significant relationship between academic self concept and academic performance of medical radiography and radiological science students.
  5. There will be no significant departmental difference in academic self concept and academic performance of FHST students.
  6. There will be no significant difference in academic self concept and academic performance of FHST students based on their age and gender.

 

Significance of the study

The importance of ASC cannot be overemphasized. Findings from this study will reveal the relationship between students’ ASC and their academic performance. The study will also reveal the influence of age and gender on students’ ASC and academic performance. This is beneficial to students, parents, guardian, teachers, educational researchers and education policy makers.

Students’ view of themselves academically is very important as this study will help students to identify what constitute ASC, discover areas of lapses in their academic self concept and thus know the best way to improve it. This study will inform parents and guardians about academic self concept and final cumulative grade point average of their children, especially where parents and guardians are faced with cost of paying extra fees due to poor academic performance of their ward. It will help parents to know benefits of using encouraging words or statements on their children.

Furthermore, findings from this study will be beneficial to teachers, educational researchers and educational policy makers who are interested in knowing variables that affect academic performance of students. It will help teachers on methods and techniques of improving ASC and academic performance of students during teaching and learning process. It will enable educational researchers to know influence of age and gender on ASC and academic performance of students. Educational policy makers will through findings from this study make proper policy that will improve academic performance of students especially in this recent time where government is interested in improving the quality of education in Nigeria.

Finally, this study will contribute to existing body of knowledge on students’ academic view of themselves and its influence on their academic performance.

Scope of Study

This study is limited to health science students, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. This study is delimited to establish relationship between ASC and final cumulative grade point average of 2014/2015 final year undergraduates of FHST students.

Operational Definition of Terms

Academic self concept – refers to the rating by final year Health Science Students of items on academic self concept scale (ASCS) (20 items) developed by Liu and Wang (2005), based on students’ confidence and effort they put in their academic work. A mean score of 3.0 and above indicates high academic self concept while a mean score below 3.0 indicates low academic self concept.

Academic Performance – this is the final cumulative grade point average (FCGPA) of students. A student’s FCGPA is the mean of all grade points the student earned from university examination in an undergraduate programme. This was obtained from 2014/2015 FHST senate approved result. A FCGPA of 3.0 and above indicates high academic performance while FCGPA below 3.0 indicate low academic performance.

FHST Students – they are 2014/ 2015 final year undergraduate students of faculty of health sciences and technology, in the department of nursing sciences, medical rehabilitation and medical radiography and radiological sciences, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus.

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