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1.1     Background to Study

Academic achievement is a major issue among students, teachers, parents, school administrators, and the community at large. Attempts have been made by researchers to unravel the complexities surrounding academic achievement. Psychologists have put forward a lot of reasons why these disparities in achievement exist. A lot of attention had been paid to external factors such as type of school, teaching methods, school location, instructional materials, teachers experience, and so on (WAEC, 2005). Many spend lots of money in order to secure good schools either for their children or themselves and those who can afford it even invest on education abroad as they believe this will enhance achievement, and which in turn gives an added advantage in terms of securing gainful employment. Opinions vary as to why some students excel academically while others appear to be underachievers. Many psychologists have consistently attempted to identify the major predictors of individual academic achievement. Factors such as intelligence, self-concept, gender, study habit, maturation, home background, amongst others, just to mention a few, have been extensively explored as being responsible for academic achievement, especially in secondary school students. Other factors that have been researched into in the past include: child rearing patterns, peer group influence, socio-economic background and learning environment. Another major factor that is believed to be responsible for academic achievement in students is their personality traits. How true is this? Traits Theorists have tried to identify the major traits that characterize personality. Notable among these are Sigmund Freud in the early 1900's, Gordon All port (1961), Cattell (1967), Hans Eysenck (1985) Feldman (1994), McCrae and Costa (1987) and a host of others. Personality has been defined in many ways by many psychologists who wrote on the concept. According to Feldman (1994) in Daminabo (2008), Personality is the sum total of the characteristics that differentiates people, or the stability of a person's behavior across different situations. In other words it means those qualities the individual is noted for. Traits on the other hand are "enduring dimensions of personality characteristics which differentiates people from one another" (Colman, 2003 in Daminabo 2008). Traits are therefore the sum total of stable characteristics in a person across different times and situations, which make him or her unique or distinct from others. This agrees with the definition by Mischel 1981, (in Agbakwuru, 2000: 23) which refer to personality traits as consistent differences between the behaviors characteristic of two or more people. It is also defined as "any distinguishable, relatively enduring way in which one individual varies from another" (Guliford, 1959 in Agbakwuru 2000: 23).However, there has been an increasing interest in the big five personality traits and the role they play as regards academic achievement of students. Of particular interest is the role that these traits play in the academic achievement of secondary school students. These traits, popularly known as the 'Big Five’ include conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion and locus of control. The acronym CAOEL is used to describe them. These personality traits affect academic achievement in students, either positively         or negatively. There have been reported incidences of underachievement in secondary school students as evidenced by poor performances in WAEC results which, over the years have been the standard measurement of academic achievement. According to statistics in Daily Champion of 4th April 2010 analysing the results of the 2010 May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), only 337,071 candidates, representing 24.94 per cent, out of the 1,351,557 candidates who wrote the examination obtained five effective credits and above. Effective credits simply mean that the subjects' combinations include English Language and Mathematics, which are compulsory for admission into the universities in Nigeria. The results show a marginal one per cent lower than last year's result. But 77,168 others won't have their results based on reports of examination malpractice. It should be recalled that in the May/June 2009 examination, only 356,981 candidates representing 26 per cent of the 1,373,009 students who sat for the examination obtained five effective credits. Also, the November/December examination meant for private candidates last year recorded a similar poor performance. Out of the 342,433 candidates who took the examination, only 106,413 or 31 per cent had five effective credits, even though the number of candidates is significantly lower. The worst result so far was recorded in the May/June examination of 2012. Out of a total of 1,369,142 candidates that sat for the examination, only a meager 188,442 representing 13.76 per cent obtained five effective credits and above. The truth is that once a candidate fails to obtain the required five effective credits in the first attempt, he or she is bound to retake the examination to make up the deficient subjects. Failure to make up those subjects effectively shuts the candidate out of university admission. It is no longer news that the public school system has collapsed. Consequently, many parents who can afford money to re-register their children take their wards to private schools. The private schools are not necessarily better. This situation has unpleasant implications for the youths and the future of the country. These results have shown a steady drop in achievement and this trend has continued despite efforts by psychologists, educationists and all concerned to effect change. Thus, in a desperate bid to pass by all means, examination malpractice has been encouraged in varying degrees. Many students are not able to defend the result they carry. It is worrisome that a student having seven A's including English and Mathematics can neither make correct sentences in English, nor solve simple algebraic problems.

And so parents, educationists, psychologists, counsellors, are all worried at the rate of decline of academic standard. Big Five otherwise known as CAOEL has therefore been explored in order to find possible solutions to the problem of underachievement amongst secondary school students. The acronym CAOEL denotes the traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, extraversion and locus of control to experience. McCrae and Costa (1980) researched extensively on these traits.

A high score on Conscientiousness shows a student who is self-disciplined, careful, thorough, organized and determined. Low scores on this trait portray indiscipline, carelessness, disorganization and indifference. That student who scores highly on this trait is expected to perform excellently well, academically and vice versa.

Agreeableness describes one who is sympathetic, trusting and cooperative. Students with high scores on agreeableness are selfless, flexible and pleasant. Such students work with others easily with little or no friction. Those scoring low on this trait however find it difficult to get along with others. McCrae and Costa 1988 in Daminabo, (2008) noted this to be psychotics, which refer to a person who is sceptical, unsympathetic, uncooperative and rude. Low scores are expected to affect academic achievement negatively.

The researcher is therefore out to examine what influence these personality traits and school type have on the self-esteem of secondary school students.

1.2     Statement of Problem

Nowadays, the home seems to have failed to a certain extent to provide maximum interaction that would enhance “positive” personality characteristics of the adolescents, therefore leaving these adolescents to imbibe peer culture, which sometimes are detrimental to the adolescents, and the society at large. Home environment is made up of many factors (physical and psychological) that influence the personality characteristics of the students. Parents are believed to be the first primary agents of socialization of their children, so have significant roles to play in the personality development of their wards. These days, some parents who should be role models rather perpetuate societal vices in different forms in their homes from where the adolescents are exposed to. Other agents like school teachers, peer groups and caregivers join the socialization process later in the life of the adolescent.

Since parents no longer have enough time to spend with their children at home due to technological changes and economic crisis, children are left at home with care-givers or nannies that have little or nothing to offer in terms of proper training of the child. It is observed that early experiences an individual had at home have capabilities to determine to a large extent the personality of such an individual. The adolescents have different home environment and so must have had different experiences at their early stage of development. This might have led to the differences in personality characteristics among adolescents.

As evidenced in the literature, some of these differences are negative and give concern to parents, teachers, government and the society at large. Adolescents display personality characteristics that pose threats to lives and properties. These groups of adolescents for lack of genuine activities usually look for short cuts thereby involving themselves in social vices like thuggery, kidnapping and exam-malpractices among others. Therefore, this research is designed to determine the predictive power of home environmental factors on the personality characteristics of students, their personality traits and school type on their self-esteem.

1.3     Research Objectives

1.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of family relationships and moral standards with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students.

2.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of school type with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students.

3.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of all the home environmental factors with the personality characteristics on self-esteem of the secondary school students.

1.4     Research Questions

1.     Is there any coefficient of prediction (correlation) of family relationships and moral standards with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students?

2.     Is there a coefficient of prediction (correlation) of school type with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students?

3.     Is there a coefficient of prediction (correlation) of all the home environmental factors with the personality characteristics on self-esteem of the secondary school students?

1.5     Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated for the purpose of this research work;

1.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of family relationships and moral standards with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students is not significant.

2.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of school type with the personality characteristics of the secondary school students is not significant.

3.     The coefficient of prediction (correlation) of all the home environmental factors with the personality characteristics on self-esteem of the secondary school students is not significant.

1.6     Significance of Study

Theoretically, the study has provided useful empirical evidence on the predictive power of some key environmental factors on personality characteristics of adolescent students. It was established in this study that home factors like family relationship, parenting style and Socio-Economic Status (SES) of parents have high predictive power on secondary school adolescents‟ personality. The findings imply that any kind of experience an individual had during his/her childhood especially in the home determines in large part what the individual could be later in life. Other experiences outside the home may add to what is already put in place or inculcated in the individual while in the home. The findings added to the literature and knowledge base of available researches on home environmental factors and personality characteristics of secondary school adolescents.

Findings of this study will assist educators, psychologists, social workers, guidance-counsellors, school administrators and government (through awareness campaigns) to look beyond the intellectual ability, interest and other traditional sources as the sole causes of underachievement of students. Rather they should look at the home background of the adolescent, personality traits, school type etc. whether these environments are stimulating ones, which would enhance positive development physically, mentally, socially, morally and psychologically. It is hoped that findings of this study will also strengthen the work of counselling psychologists in view of the fact that they provide guidance and counselling services to parents and students, for the realization of their various roles in the family life.

Findings of this study when published will help to keep educators and school counsellors abreast of the necessary records on personality profiles of students for appropriate educational, vocational and personal-social guidance services to students.

1.7     Scope of Study

This study covers impact of personality traits and school type on self-esteem of secondary school students in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria. The study covers only secondary school adolescents because they are more accessible than those outside the school setting. SSII were used because they fall within the adolescence period. Also SSII was not an examination class and this made the group readily available for the exercise, unlike their SSIII counterparts who were preparing for their senior school certificate examination.

1.8     Definition of Terms

Personality Traits: personality traits reflect people's characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Personality traits imply consistency and stability—someone who scores high on a specific trait like Extraversion is expected to be sociable in different situations and over time. Five major traits underlie personality, according to psychologists. They are introversion/extroversion, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Self-Esteem: confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect.

School Type: this refers to the particular system of school in operation either public or private.

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