SELF- CONCEPT AND SELF REGULATION AS PREDICTORS OF ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS

ABSTRACT
Nationally, the distribution of secondary school students’ performance in public examinations has been skewed towards the lower grades. This poor performance has been majorly attributed to school environmental factors and little has been done on individual psychological factors which may contribute towards students’ academic performance. This study was therefore designed to determine students’ Self- concept and self-regulation as predictors of academic performance. The main aim was to determine a prediction model of secondary school students’ academic performance given Self- concept and self- regulation. More specifically, the relationship among Self- concept, self-regulation and academic performance was established. Further, sex differences in both Self- concept and self-regulation were studied. The self-determination theory and the social cognitive theory of self- regulation formed the theoretical framework. The study adopted an ex post facto research design and was located in Lagos State, Nigeria. The target population was all the year 2012 form three students in public secondary schools in Lagos State. The sample consisted of 938 form three students selected from 10 public secondary schools. Purposive, stratified and simple random sampling procedures were used in the selection of schools and participants. The study used a questionnaire developed to seek information on participants’ biographical data. The Self- concept and Academic Self-regulation Scales were adapted to measure Self- concept and academic self-regulation respectively. Student’s academic performance was measured by use of examination records obtained from school. Pilot study was conducted on 30 form three students selected from a mixed day public secondary school in Lagos State. Both descriptive and inferential statistical procedures were used to analyze the data. The results provided evidence that there was a significant relationship among Self- concept, self-regulation and academic performance. Further, it was found that among the domains of Self- concept and strategies of self-regulation, intrinsic motivation towards accomplishment and organizing strategy had the highest positive predictive value on academic performance.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Globally, education has been viewed as a key component which contributes to an individual’s success in life. When a child joins school, he or she is under pressure from parents and teachers to excel in academics. For years, students have been told, “Study hard!’ ‘Get good grades!’ ‘Go to University!”. The reasons for working hard in school, and how to work hard, as well as the factors that predict academic performance have continued to be areas of interest for students as well many stakeholders in education. Research in these areas has been conducted by educational researchers, psychologists and guidance and counseling professionals and the findings are still inconclusive.

Generally, over the decades and across cultures, education has been used to prepare children for citizenship and to cultivate a skilled workforce in readiness for taking up jobs in a competitive global market. In an effort to achieve these goals, different societies have been using public examinations. These examinations are majorly administered by an agency outside the school, for instance, Ministry of Education in Nigeria. At the secondary school level, the functions of these examinations are diverse and include; acting as gatekeepers guarding entry to higher institutions of learning, certification and selecting students during the choice of their careers (Kellagan & Greaney, 2003). Failure in these examinations has far reaching implications for the student in terms of missing opportunities for further education and even more rewarding life chances.

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Certificate of Secondary Examination (NECO) is the second public examination after the First School Leaving Certificate (FSLV), and, it is done by form four candidates who are finishing the secondary school cycle. However, students’ performance in this examination in the past three years has been poor. According to 2009, 2010 and 2011 NECO examination statistics, out of the total candidates who sat for the examination in each of these years, approximately 27% scored a mean grade of C+ and above. Statistics further revealed that in each year, approximately 43% of candidates nationally obtain D+ and below. The huge disparity in the number of candidates who obtain the top and the bottom grades, imply a skewed distribution towards lower grades.

Lagos State is among the Counties in Nigeria where many candidates have been attaining poor grades in NECO examination. It has been observed that candidates in Lagos State public secondary schools who have been attaining the bottom two grades (D – and E) in NECO for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 are approximately 7% and, this is 5% points above the national statistics of 2%.

The skewed performance in NECO examination is worrying as many candidates continue to miss opportunities in higher education and employment. Siringi (2011) identified poor school admission policies, inadequate staffing, limited learning resources, reduced community support, mismanagement and widespread teachers and students’ absenteeism and indiscipline as the main factors leading to the poor performance in most schools. These are environmental factors and nothing is said about individual psychological factors which may immensely contribute to academic performance. The psychological factors include Self- concept and self-regulation, which were investigated in this study.

According to Ajayi, Lawani and Salomi (2012), Self- concept is an important concept in classroom learning and is linked to increased levels of academic performance. A student who is academically motivated is seen as self determined to succeed in academic work (Gesinde, 2000) and the urge to achieve, that is, the level of motivation varies from one student to another. Furthermore, there are different types of Self- concept. Ryan and Deci (2000) noted that the type of motivation concerns the ‘why’ of a student’s action. For example, a student who is highly motivated to do homework out of curiosity and interest is said to be intrinsically motivated while another student who is motivated to do homework to procure the approval of the teacher or parent is said to be extrinsically motivated.

Interestingly, there is another student who may not value the homework or feels incompetent to do it and lacks an intention to act. This student is said to be a motivated (Ryan & Deci, 2000). The difference in student’s level and type of motivation may explain why some students do better than their counterparts in school despite being exposed to similar schooling experience. The importance of the difference in Self- concept level and type in predicting academic performance of secondary school students in Lagos State needed to be investigated in order to help in guiding the students towards getting high test scores in classroom tests and in public examinations.

The interplay between Self- concept and self-regulation has been found to be important in predicting a students’ academic performance (Kitsantas, 2002). Kitsantas (2002) refers to self-regulation as the self-generated thoughts, feelings and actions for attaining goals, and, lack of it has been identified as a major cause of underachievement when students are unable to control their own behaviour (Dembo & Eaton, 2000). Self-regulated learners have been found to exercise self-control, self-discipline and self-direction when dealing with academic tasks. As a result, self-regulation has become a major focus of educational research in many parts of the world (Tavakolizadeh &Ebrahimi-Qavam, 2011), and this stimulated the design of the present study in Nigeria.

The self-regulated learners embark on planning, self-inspection, self-controlling and self-evaluation and thus create conducive learning environments at different stages of their learning (Walters, 2003). Moreover, to enhance comprehension and memory when carrying out academic tasks, self-regulated learners engage in different cognitive strategies, for example, repetition, rehearsal, elaboration and organization. Having effectively employed these strategies, the learner is able to experience a sense of self- worth and independence in doing school work (Tavakolizadeh & Ebrahimi-Qavam, 2011). This leads to increased success in academic performance.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Poor academic performance among learners in public (external) examinations may result to loss of many rewarding life opportunities either for the individual learner or for the society in general. The learner may miss the opportunity to further education while in the long run; the society may not have enough skilled human capital needed to meet the demands for wealth production. Thus, there is need to study the factors that are associated with either high or low academic performance.

From the foregoing background to the study, it is evident that Self- concept and self-regulation have been found to be important variables in predicting students’ academic performance. While some educational researchers have reported the relationship of each of the two variables with students’ academic performance in developed countries, so far no study has been found to have developed a prediction model which explains the best predictor of academic performance. For instance, it is not clear between the two variables (Self- concept and self-regulation), which is the better predictor of secondary school students’ academic performance.

Investigations by educational researchers in Nigeria on the psychological constructs which influence students’ academic performance have focused on academic selfconcept, locus of control, attitude towards school subjects, self-handicapping and defensive pessimism and achievement motivation. Thus, Self- concept and self-regulation have received little attention, if any and yet they have been reported to have influence on academic performance of students in developed countries. The central problem of this study was therefore to develop a prediction equation of academic performance from Self- concept and self- regulated learning of secondary school students’ in Lagos State, Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to achieve the following objectives:

i. To determine the relationship between Self- concept and academic performance.

ii. To establish the relationship between self-regulation and academic performance.

iii. To test if there are gender differences in students’ Self- concept and self-regulation.

iv. To establish the prediction equation of academic performance from Self- concept and self-regulation.

1.4 Research Hypotheses
The study was guided by the following research hypotheses:

Ha1: There is a relationship between Self- concept and academic achievement.

Ha2: There is a relationship between self-regulation and academic achievement.

Ha3: There are gender differences in students’ Self- concept and self- regulated learning.

1.5 Assumptions of the Study
In this study, the following assumptions were made;

i. Individual students had different types and levels of Self- concept and made use of different self-regulation strategies, which led to different levels of self-regulation.

ii. The participants provided honest responses on the items in the questionnaire.

1.6 Limitations of the Study
The study was limited within a few selected public secondary schools in Lagos State. The results of the study may therefore not be generalizable beyond the specific population from which the sample was drawn. Moreover, no control group was utilized and all items in the instruments were based on self-report. Thus, it was unavoidable that there may have been a certain degree of subjectivity.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study
The study was delimited to form three students in public secondary schools in Lagos State. The study focused on two variables that influence academic performance, that is, students’ Self- concept and self-regulation. The determinants of students’ Self- concept and self-regulation such as home environment (parental occupation, education and wealth), school environment (for example, availability of adequate learning resources) and individual student’s factors such as self-efficacy were not investigated. This was informed by the review of the existing literature which mainly focused on the relationship between Self- concept, self-regulation and academic performance.

1.8 Significance of the Study 
 The findings of this study may be useful to teacher trainers who may realize the importance of equipping teacher trainees with the necessary training skills needed to enhance students’ Self- concept and appropriate use of self-regulation strategies. This will go a long way in enhancing learners memory and comprehension in academic tasks. Teachers, parents and students may realize the importance of creating a conducive home and school environment for acquisition of the appropriate type of Self- concept and self-regulation strategies that enhance academic performance. In the field of research, the findings of the study may add to the existing literature on the importance of Self- concept and self-regulation in predicting students’ academic performance.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 75 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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