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INFLUENCE OF ACADEMIC SELF-CONCEPT, SELF-EFFICACY AND GENDER ON SOCIAL ADJUSTMENT OF STUDENTS

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Social adjustment is an umbrella term encompassing various aspects of people’s performance in social context. It is one’s tendency to cope with all the difficulties that one may encounter in a social environment. Passer & smith (2011) refer to it as a life-long process that involves adjustment of an individual to the society and others in order to be accepted as member of the society. It is, therefore, the strive by individuals to cope with societal demands in order to be accepted by others.  Interestingly, those who design and provide programmes for students in educational settings often seek to enhance aspect of social adjustment either as a primary outcome or as a value by product of other product activities (Yeseldyke & thurlow, 1993). It is almost certain that well developed social abilities affect virtually all aspects of one’s life in social settings; hence, social adjustment is considered as moving forward with members of the society.   Social adjustment is a psychological concept that involves meeting with the demands of the environment by balancing conflicting needs in order to adapt to situations. Hence, it occurs when students adapt and are able to accept situations as they are. Social adjustment is a necessity in the lives of students as it enables them to meet many of their needs.

However, it is important to note that social environment has significant influence on the way students react to situations. Students’ behaviour is to a great extent a function of the social environment. Some students are able to adjust or adapt easily in whatever social environment they find themselves while others are unable. Social growth which is related to social adjustment is the most important aspect of one’s development and is acquired through the relationship with others especially with the parents, peers and the lecturers. It is desirable that students benefit from supportive social relationship throughout their lives and acquire the necessary competence to do so. Consequently, students who possess such competency are usually more resilient and more adequately prepared to excel in the society. However, since emotional and cognitive elements reflect and support social adjustment, students who lack social relationship are socially unskilled, have difficulties in understanding and interacting with one another. Emotional and cognitive learning that takes place in the earliest attachment relationships of students are therefore, indispensable in understanding their later social adjustment.

Social adjustment has been repeatedly linked with academic performance. Over the past years, research has consistently supported the construct and predictive validity of social acceptance which is an aspect of social adjustment, (Cillessen & Bukowski, 2000; Kupersmidt & Dodge, 2004; Parker, 2006). Studies indicated that individuals with high social acceptance tend to experience positive academic, social, and behavioural adjustment both concurrently and in the future; while those with low social acceptance (peer rejected) tend to experience concurrent problems across these domains and are at substantial risk for a myriad of later negative outcomes, including suicide (Carney, 2000), drug abuse (Spooner, 1999), educational underachievement (Woodward & Fergusson, 2000), delinquency and antisocial behaviour ( Brendgen, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1998), and depression (Boivin & Hymel, 1997). Low social acceptance therefore may be a contributory factor in some of students’ experience of peer rejection which is characterized by heightened anxiety (e.g., feeling of being  left out) that interferes with concentration in the classroom and impedes students acquisition and retention of information (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001; Sharp, 1995). Studies equally indicated that individuals tends to have lower academic self-esteem and depended upon their teachers to a greater extent for academic assistance in class(seek help from teachers more frequently) compared to socially accepted individuals (Flook, & Repetti, 2005; Mercer & DeRosier).  When individuals have few friends or fear being bullied or teased which are frequent experiences of rejected ones;  (Boivin, Hymel, & Hodges, 2001),  they tend to avoid school resulting in more frequent absences and, thus, fewer opportunities to learn academic skills in the classroom (DeRosier, 1994; Eaton, Kann, & Kinchen, 2007). A key question posed by researchers focuses on why some students find it difficult in adjusting to new environments. The present study intends to provide answers to this question by examining academic self-concept, self-efficacy and gender which the researcher assumes influence social adjustment. A study indicated that social life is related to students’ adjustment (Osa-Edoh & Iyamu, 2012). The few studies carried out on social adjustment among Nigerian undergraduate, (Adeniyi, Adediran & Adediran, 2014), Aremu, Agokei & Ugoji, 2011) paid limited attention to academic self-concept, self-efficacy and gender as predictors of social adjustment. Therefore, in providing solution to this gap in research, the present study examines the influence of academic self-concept, self-efficacy and gender on social adjustment of students. The researcher tends to find out whether these variables will predict social adjustment of students. Among variables of interest in this study is academic self-concept. Self concept is a general view about one’s self worth. It is the view about oneself across various set of specific domains and belief based on self-knowledge and evaluation formed through experiences in relation to one’s environment (Eccles, 2005). When one’s self concept is incompatible with societal demands, he/she feels isolated. It is a continuous process in students’ life this means that it ensures continual adaptation and adjustment of students to social conditions. It is the understanding one has about self or the way a person perceives him/herself.  Hormuth (2010) opines that self-concept refers to self-assessment, awareness and insight one has about him/her self. Self-concept therefore, is comprised of a set of thoughts, feelings and attitudes a person develops about him/her self. What we believe we are capable of doing is therefore one of the most important features of self-concept. Hult (2004) believes that self-concept is cognitive and intellectual aspect of “self”, which provides the persons with an overall understanding about him/her self. Students’ perception about themselves may to a great extent determine their adjustment to their social environment hence students’ academic self-concept is believed to be among factors that influences their social adjustment.     Interestingly, part played by academic self-concept in social adjustment cannot be ignored.  Academic self-concept is a psychological construct employed to describe students’ belief regarding their academic performance in areas such as biology (Wigfield & Karpthian, 1991). It refers to the individuals’ understanding and perception about themselves in academic achievement situation. It is a student’s self-concept of their ability developed through specific endeavours and academic interactions (Valentine, 2004). Academic self-concept therefore, is student’s self assessment about their unique academic rank, skills or competence. It is how students do school work or feel about themselves as learners (Guay, 2003).   In other words, it is person’s evaluation regarding specific academic domains and abilities (Trautwein, 2006). Academic self-concept which is an important concept in educational setting is formed through transaction with the environment, especially through self-awareness with others. Youth who have positive academic self-concept and emotional compatibility have the potentiality to make better progress (Nasir & Lin, 2012).  There is a tendency that those who have negative academic concept about themselves often have lower efficiency and face problems in setting up close relationship with others. Research indicated that as a student grows older, his/her academic self-concept becomes more stable (Guay, 2003).   Moreover, academic self-concept is believed to vary as students move through grades, hence, their academic self-concept tends to rise in the direction of their academic achievement so also their adjustment and interaction (Liu & Wang, 2005; Jacob, 2002), though some studies indicated that it tends to become weaker (Marsh, 2002).                                  Academic performance is often impaired by a number of factors. The factors include lack of preparing for tests and examinations; not attending lecturers; lack of interest or motivation in chosen course of study among many others, but academic self-concept seem to be most prominent contributory factor. Students’ over all self-worth often affect their performance in school.  Academic self-concept, therefore, reflects students’ feeling, thinking and evaluation of their academic performance in school. Consequently, it influences students’ social adjustment. Hence student’s social adjustment depends much on how good or bad their academic self concept is.                                                                      Another variable of interest in this study is self-efficacy which is people’s belief concerning their ability to perform the activities needed to achieve desired outcome. (Bandura, 1989) refers to it as the belief that one can perform the behaviour necessary to cope successfully, with situation.  It is the belief of one’s capability to carry out necessary action that is needed to achieve a particular goal. Self-efficacy explains how confident people believe that they are, or how much control they have in their ability to reach a goal or accomplish a task. This sense of control is of fundamental importance in social adjustment. Theoretically, people who lack control in their lives to produce a desired effect are an individual who finds it difficult to adjust to their social environment. Self efficacy is always specific to the particular situation, hence, we may have high self-efficacy in some situation and low self-efficacy in others. It is our perceived competence, that is, what we believe we can do well or at least adequately. Self-efficacy differs greatly from one person to another; some people see themselves as competent in adjusting to social demands while others do not. Events that are appraised as extremely demanding may generate little stress if we believe that we have the skill to deal with them. Previous successes in similar situations increases efficacy; failure undermine it (Bandura, 1997). People can increase efficacy expectancies through social persuasion and encouragement.  In social situations, students have varying perceptions of their ability to successfully interact with others. Therefore, their self-efficacy beliefs reflect their level of social confidence (Bandura, 1977). The possession of high self efficacy has been related to positive outcomes in academic achievement (Bandura, Pastorelli, Barbaranelli, & Caprara, 1999) and career choice (Betz & Hackett, 1997), and also reduction in levels of depression (Ehrenberg, Cox, & Koopman, 1991). The implications of self-efficacy in the social domain have also been related to constructs such as social anxiety, shyness, and self-esteem (Smith & Betz, 2000). People whose self-efficacy is high have confidence in their ability to do what it takes to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals (Bandura, 1997). Students therefore, need to develop high self-efficacy and this can be achieved through social persuasion and encouragement.    Self-efficacy is instrumental in determining how students interact with their environment and other people. Those that possess high self-efficacy are usually capable of overcoming difficulties that may surface in the course of adjusting to their social environment.  Hence, there is tendency for students with high level of self efficacy to adjust effectively to social conditions.                              Gender is another variable that the researcher examines in this study in order to determine its influence on students’ social adjustment.  Gender is the meaning that individuals and society ascribe to males and females i.e. meaning that rest on biology in which most humans possess the standard XX or XY chromosomes. (Wood & Eagly, 2010). It is a state of being male or female.  Gender is widely recognized to be an important empirical factor (or variable) in understanding many aspects of behaviour (Stewart & McDermott, 2004). The experiences and opportunities males and females are exposed to differ in our society. Gender therefore, may determine students’ adjustment to situations or conditions in the social environment. This study, therefore, examines whether gender influences the way a student’s adjust socially to their environment.

Statement of the Problem

This study seeks to examine academic self-concept, self-efficacy and     gender as factors that influence social adjustment of students. It has been reviewed that academic self- concept relates to student’s achievement in school and as well as in the society. In our society today, the number of people with lower academic self-concept and consequently poor academic performance seem to be high.  This could be the reason for poor academic performance in SSCE result as reported by West African examination council in the 2015 WAEC result statistics. Moreover, self-efficacy in our society especially among students is an issue of concern. As it has been proven to relate to their academic performance many students have “fallen apart” by believing that they are incapable of achieving success. Students that are characterized with high self-efficacy braces up and meet the rigours academic demand. They excel in school because they perceive themselves as capable of doing well and adjusting in school. Conversely, low academic self-efficacy inhibits good academic performance and a learner that possesses this, has the tendency to see him/hers as being unable to cope with the academic challenges. Koura and Al-Hebaishi (2014) submitted that high or low self-efficacy is all about thoughts that students hold about themselves which affect their academic Performance directly or otherwise. These thoughtful feelings either aid or hinder their academic progress.

Gender seems to influence social adjustment. Due to cultural belief, men are permitted to perform certain activities whereas women are discouraged from performing such activities due to differences in gender.

Social adjustment may include how the person interact with others or in a narrower sense, how the person conforms to social adjustment (levy-wassar & katz, 2014). Therefore, the research questions this study seeks to provide answers to are:
1.       Would academic self-concept significantly influence social adjustment?
2.       Would self-efficacy significantly influence social adjustment?
3.       Would gender significantly influence social adjustment?

Objective of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to evaluate factors that influence social adjustments of students. Specific objectives include:

  1. To evaluate the influence of academic self-concept on social adjustment of students
    2.    To ascertain the influence of self-efficacy on social adjustment of students.
  2. To identify the influence of gender on social adjustment of students.
    Significance of the Study

This work provides information on influence of academic self-concept, self-efficacy gender which would enable the students to understand themselves and also develop their innate abilities which may positively influence their performance and social adjustment. Moreover, the study would also propel students to develop high self-efficacy which is considered necessary for successful adjustment to social situations. It would enable lecturers to be more acquainted with the need to build and sustain academic self-concept and self-efficacy among students. The result of this study is equally hoped to inculcate in parents the need to contribute to the improvement of academic-self-beliefs as well as self-efficacy wards. It would also be beneficial to policy makers in the educational sector who are expected to include measures that will encourage high academic self-concept and self

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