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This research explored the academic achievement of early adolescents and the interactions between the following six psycho-social variables: friendship patterns, emotional and behavioural development, coping skills, self-concept, personal values, and the classroom learning environment. The study specifically sought to address the following research questions: 1. What is the influence of friendship patterns on middle school students' mathematics performance?; 2. What is the influence of friendship patterns on middle school students' English performance?; 3. What are the interactive influences between friendship and academic achievement in mathematics and English in the middle school years?; 4.What is the validity of the Children's Value Profile (Fyffe, 2006) for use with adolescent students?; 5. What are the gender differences on the measures of friendship patterns and quality, adjustment, self-concept, coping skills, personal values, classroom environment and academic achievement?; and 6. What are the quantitative and qualitative differences in these variables between high and low friendship groups? Three non-government schools and one government school were selected for the study. The schools represented both metropolitan and provincial locations, and coeducational and single sex schools, in two states of Australia. The research was conducted on a sample of 266 early adolescents (59% male) with a mean age of 13 years and 5 months (SD = 1 year & 1 month). These participants completed seven self-report psycho-social instruments during the initial data collection phase. The first measure completed by the participants was a Friendship Nomination Form, followed by six psycho-social measures comprising the: 1. Friendship Quality Scale (FQS; Bukowski, Hoza, & Boivin, 1994); 2. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997); 3. Coping Strategy Indicator – Short Form (CSI-S; Amirkhan, 1990); 4. Self-Description Questionnaire II – Short Form (SDQ-II-S; Marsh, 1990b); 5. Children’s Values Profile (CVP; Fyffe, 2006); and PSYCHO-SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT xi 6. What is Happening in this Classroom Scale (WIHIC; Fraser, McRobbie, & Fisher, 1996). The initial questionnaire assessment of the students occurred late in the academic year. The second phase of the investigation involved individual interviews to explore aspects of students’ relationships with their nominated best friends. These structured interviews were conducted in the following academic year on a cohort of 37 students from the sample selected because they either scored in the highest or lowest section on the friendship nomination measure. Of this cohort, 16 were identified as having a high friendship score and 21 were identified as having a low friendship score. Analysis of the interview data revealed some qualitative and quantitative differences between these groups. Low friendship students were characterised by clustering into three related word groups: friends, time, and school. In comparison, the words used by students in the high friendship group were characterised by clustering into three related groups: friends, school, and person. The quantitative data from the psycho-social instruments were analysed to explore gender differences. It was demonstrated that female students were more likely than males to describe their relationship quality with their best friend as higher in aspects of caring interactions and companionship. In terms of mental health, female students perceived a higher level of well-being than males and a greater ability to cope by seeking help from their friends and by using problem solving strategies. In comparison, males were more likely to place importance on the value of sports participation, were more likely to have experienced bullying in the school context, and they viewed themselves as less honest compared to their female peers. Using structural equation modeling, it was demonstrated that the students’ friendship patterns and social relations significantly influenced the students’ English and mathematics academic outcomes. The final measurement model demonstrated that those students who had more friendships achieved better end of year academic results in the curriculum areas xii mathematics and English. This model also highlighted the importance of students’ level of self-concept in English and mathematics on students’ English and mathematics achievement. The importance of students’ personal values was highlighted in the model with greater achievement in English predicted by higher value placed on numeracy and literacy activities. Because the Children’s Values Profile (Fyffe, 2006) is a recently developed psycho-social instrument and, to date is untested with early adolescent students, its structural properties were of interest in this study. The Children’s Values Profile yielded a twelve factor solution when administered to an adolescent population, compared with its original seven factor structure for primary school aged students. Of specific interest was a newly identified factor for adolescents: Future Focus. In conclusion, this study validates the need for professionals working with adolescents to consider the interactive and iterative relationships between adolescents’ psychological and social well-being, their academic achievement, and friendship patterns. In particular, the results suggest that psycho-social variables and the social arena have the potential to make a significant positive contribution to the academic achievements of middle school students.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
This project is centered around the employment of developmental psychology in the secondary school education, in Oredo local government area and the extent to which its impact has influenced the student of the schools in that local government area. One of the most pressing issues in the minds of people in Nigeria in regard to education today is the standard or quality being achieved from the system. Qualitative education should lead to verifiable improvements through knowledge and skills. In modern times of technological advancement all over the world, it is possible to acquire knowledge in fields of human endeavors and good communication skills. The education sector is geared towards achieving the national goals of economic and social development. One way of achieving this is through the education of the student in secondary schools. Nigeria is a developing country with different kinds of problems. Student’s performance in their academics is as a result of their mental development how they develop mentally determines their outcome physically. Their mental development can either have a negative or positive influence on their academic performance. Nigeria school today, particularly in secondary school, student perform poorly due to the environment and their mindset.
The primary function of secondary school is to prepare the student for the feature, how to adapt the influence, the environment in a positive way and also to prepare them for tertiary institution. The stages of development of human being after birth begins at infancy from where a baby goes through the other stages of a toddler, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle age, and old age. At these different stages of development there is a need to apply a specific methodology in other to achieve the best result in educating individuals based on the particular stage which they may fall in at a given time of their total development. Developmental psychology, also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span. Originally developmental psychology was concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence and adult age development, ageing, and the entire life span.
This field examines change across a board range of topics including motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes such as cognitive development involving areas like problem solving moral understanding and conceptual understanding language acquisition, another psycho-physiological process covered in the field developmental psychology, comprises of social, personality and emotional development. Other psycho-physiological process treated in this project is self-concept and identify formation. The fallen standard of education in Nigeria makes imperative a research into the methods and techniques with which student are educated in secondary school, the extent to which they are applied and the effects they ultimately have on these students. Developmental psychology explores issues such as the extent to which development occurs through the gradual accumulation of knowledge versus stage like development, or the extent to which children are born with inmate mental structure as opposed to generally baring through experience. This research work aims at assessing the study of developmental psychology and asserting its influence on secondary school student, and suggesting more effective ways in which the study of developmental psychology can aid in improving student performance in their academics.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
With the last three decades, it is observed that the performance of student in Oredo Local Government Area, has drastically dropped at an alarming rate, particularly in secondary schools. this is very much reflected in the annual results of the senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE). At both the junior and senior secondary schools respectively. This has led the government agencies and ministry responsible for education in Oredo Local Government, to demand solutions and reforms from both private and public secondary schools within the Local Government Area. There are more complains that various policies have been put forward, more funding has been called for, yet the decline of the quality of education in Oredo Local Government has steadily continued. Export argue that the areas of guidance and counseling, personality, social and emotional assessment of students have been gravely underestimated and neglected in lieu of more lectures and reading hours. It is assumed that this has contributed the most to the lapse in student’s performance, by having overlooked their behavioural tendency and general psyche towards learning.
In view of these several question have raised towards finding a lasting solution to the problem of declining academic performance in Oredo Local Government, these include:
In view of the entire problem currently plaguing the educational sector in Nigeria, there was need to raise certain question to act as a guide in creating a model under which the research will be carried out.
1. What is the influence of friendship patterns on middle school students' mathematics performance?
2. What is the influence of friendship patterns on middle school students' English performance?
3. What is the validity of the Children's Value Profile for use with adolescent students?
4. What are the interaction influences between friendship and academic achievement in mathematics and English in the middle school years?
5. What are gender differences on the measures of friendship patterns and quality, adjustment, self-concept, coping skills, personal values, classroom environment and academic achievement?
6. What are the quantitative and qualitative differences between high and low friendship groups?
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study is specifically designed to research into the study of developmental psychology and its influence on secondary school students in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. Emphasis will be placed on the existence of a Developmental Psychology centre and a guidance counseling office in the secondary schools, in Oredo Local Government Area and the quality of staffing manning those offices. The nature of family issues, single parent’s home, peer group and personality of students in these institutions will be examined to paint a clear picture of their effects on the student’s academic and extracurricular performance. Insight provided by these study, and the solution proffered will create abroad based platform from which society can squarely tackle the persistent problems of dwindling educational performance of students, especially in secondary schools.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research has the goal of uplifting the educational system in Nigeria, by harping on the importance of applying developmental psychology in the teaching of adolescence during a critical developmental stage of their lives. It will provide the missing perspective responsible for the failure of all efforts by the government and private sector to uplift educational standard in Nigeria while highlighting developmental psychology as a field on which much emphasis has to be laid in order to achieve a sustainable improvement in the educational sector of Nigeria.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project is focused on the entire schools located in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. This is because it is in this local government area that we have the major complains about the poor academic performance of secondary school students. The school will include government and private owned secondary schools. There are nineteen secondary schools in Oredo Local Government Area, five of the secondary schools are Jesse, five in Mosogar and nine in New Benin, being the biggest community in Oredo Local Government Area. Oredo Local Government has an area of 536 km2 with a population of 203, 592 people (National population commission, 2006 census). The quality and details of the content of this paper is not any way compromised, thus it is recommended for further academic exercise and public consumption.
DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Development: Is defined as the gradual growth of something, so that it becomes more advance, stronger etc.
Psychology: Is defined as the scientific study of the mind and how it influences.
Behaviour: How one thinks is what makes them act or behave in a particular way.
Guidance: Is defined as help or advice that is given to somebody especially by somebody older or with more experience activities all takes place under the guidance of an experience tutor.
Counsel: Is defined as an advice especially given by older people or experts.
Counseling: Is defined as a professional advice about a problem.
Guidance counselor: Is defined as somebody who advices children.
Peer: Is defined as a person who is the same age or who has the same social status as you.
Peer group: Is defined as a group of people of the same age or social status.
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