THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY TRAITS ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN LAGOS STATE
This study explored the influence of personality traits on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State. The study adopted descriptive research design. Questionnaires was the major tool for data collection and data collected were analyzed using the statistical tools of frequency counts, simple percentage for the descriptive analysis while inferential statistics of Chi-Square (X2) was used to test all the stated hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance with the aid of the statistics package for the social sciences (SPSS 20.0). A total number of 150 copies of questionnaires were administered to the respondents, while a total of 143 copies were properly filled and returned for the data analysis. The population of the study is made up of 10 public secondary schools in Ojo Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the factors underlying student’s academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State vis-à-vis personality traits characteristics of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. Among other things the key findings revealed that extraversion personality is significantly related to students’ academic performance in secondary school in Lagos State, conscientiousness personality is significantly related to students’ academic performance in secondary school in Lagos State, and that neurotic trait is negatively related to students’ academic performance in secondary school in Lagos State. the study recommended that teachers should construct learning environments that take into consideration students’ individual differences and strengths.
1.1 Background to the Study
Students’ academic performance has remained as a major issue among teachers, parents, school administrators, students and the society at large. Attempts have been made by researchers to unravel the complexities surrounding students’ academic performance. Psychologists have put forward a lot of reasons why these disparities in academic achievement exist. A lot of attention had been paid to external factors such as type of school, teaching methods, school location, instructional materials, study habits, teachers qualification and experiences, and so on.
In a bid to overcome the pains and agonies which follow poor academic performance for the students, many parents spend lots of money to secure good schools either for their children and those parents who can afford it even invest on education abroad as they believe this will enhance academic achievement.
Opinions vary as to why some students excel academically while others appear to be underachievers. Many psychologists and educationists have consistently attempted to identify the major predictors of individual academic performance. Factors such as intelligence, self concept, gender, study habit, maturation, home background, amongst others, child rearing patterns, peer group influence, socio-economic background and learning environment just to mention a few, have been extensively explored as being responsible for academic achievement, especially in secondary school students. A major factor that is believed to be responsible for academic achievement in students is their personality traits (Eyong, David and Umoh, 2014).
Traits Theorists have tried to identify the major traits that characterize personality and at length impacting on students’ academic performance. This is not unconnected to the fact that understanding the factors influencing academic performance has always been a great concern for counselling and educational psychologists. Many researchers tend to be anxious to know in advance who will perform well or not in any academic activity. Thus, identifying the factors determining academic success has remained largely a fundamental concern for the purpose of developing an education curriculum aimed at improving levels of academic performance for secondary schools in Nigeria.
Early research works have overly emphasized cognitive ability as a major determinant of academic performance (Harris, 1940; Elshout and Veenman, 1992). Even though research has proved that cognitive ability is one most important determinate of academic successes, some schools of thought still maintain that cognitive ability factors alone cannot account fully for individual differences in academic performance. On this fence, Furnham, Chamorro-Premuzic, and McDougall (2003) posited that there are other factors like personality traits, aside cognitive ability that account for the variation evident in students’ academic performance(s). The reason being that cognitive ability reflect what a student can do, whereas personality traits may reflect what a student will do in this vein, many researchers are beginning to take more keen interest on how personality traits relates to academic success.
Personality characteristics have been studied in the psychological literature for several decades due to their impact on several psychosocial outcomes of individuals including motivation and academic achievement. The most widely studied personality characteristics are those in the Big Five personality model (Goldberg, 1999) and it is assumed the personality characteristics cluster around five factors, namely; Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness.
Individuals who are high on the trait conscientiousness are usually disciplined, organized, and achievement oriented whereas those who are high on extraversion are usually sociable, assertive and talkative. Individuals who are high on neuroticism tend to be emotionally unstable, anxious and impulsive whilst individuals who are high on openness tend to have preference for novelty and are also intellectually curious. Finally, individuals who are high on agreeableness tend to be sympathetic, cooperative and very helpful to other people (Komarraju, Karau, Schmeck and Avdic, 2011).
While a lot of research has been conducted in Europe and other Western countries, few studies have related personality to academic performance in adolescents and younger children in secondary schools in Nigeria. Hence, this study seeks to investigate the influence of personality traits on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A large chunk of literature lexicon claim that students’ academic achievement are predictablely based on students’ school and home factors, in this way little attention is given to other factors such as personality traits factors, psychological and sociological factors. Calls to mind, several studies conducted by psychologists and educationists have shown that personality traits factors play a key role in influencing student's academic performance (Rosander, Bäckström, Stenberg, 2011; Conrad, and Party, 2012).
Majority of the studies on the correlates between personality traits and students’ academic performance were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly were conducted in the developed countries. Research on personality traits and students’ academic performance are currently very few in Nigeria. Moreover, most of the studies conducted in the home font by Adeyemi and Adeyemi (2014), Eyong, David and Umoh (2014), Amadi, Ogadimma and Tunde (2015) and Litvinova, Balarabe and Mohammed (2015) were largely theoretical in approach whose conclusion were subjectively influenced by the researchers’ assumption. Hence, it is noted that the past studies did not give adequate empirical attention to the correlates between personality traits and students’ academic performance in Nigeria. Therefore, the undertaking of this research work will fill in the gap by critically exploring the influence of personality traits on students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general objective of this study is to explore the relationship between personality traits and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State. Other specific objectives are:
i. To examine the effect of extraversion personality characteristics on students’ academic performance
ii. To investigate the effect of conscientiousness personality factor on students’ academic performance
iii. To explore the link between neuroticism trait and students’ academic outcomes in secondary school in Lagos State
iv. To find out whether agreeableness trait factor is related to students’ academic achievement.
v. To examine the influence of openness trait factor on students’ academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions
This study was guided by the following research questions:
a) What is the effect of extraversion personality characteristics on students’ academic performance?
b) What is the effect of conscientiousness personality factor on students’ academic performance?
c) To what extent will neuroticism trait factor impacts on students’ academic outcomes in secondary school in Lagos State?
d) How is agreeableness trait factor related to students’ academic achievement?
e) What is the influence of openness trait factor on students’ academic performance?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research was intended to test the following hypotheses:
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between extraversion personality characteristics and students’ academic performance.
Ho2: There is no significant relationship between conscientiousness personality factor and students’ academic performance.
Ho3: There is no significant relationship between neuroticism trait and students’ academic outcomes in secondary school in Lagos State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Despite the fact that much research has been conducted on the correlates between personality traits and students’ academic performance, the resultant effect of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness personality characteristics on perceived academic performance of students in secondary school in Lagos State have not attracted much scholarly attention as has been done in the developed countries of the world. Thus, this study will be of great significance as it will add to the already existing scanty literature on the subject matter in the Nigerian context.
Introvert and extrovert personality of an individual is very important in interpersonal influence on other people, especially students academically. This study hopes to bring awareness to the responsible party in institution of education about anxiety problems faced by students to enable action to be taken.
On conclusion of the study and findings and recommendation made, parents and teachers in secondary schools should be enlightened on the need to better manage students’ personality characteristics to ensure better learning and academic performance.
The outcomes of this study will be of significant importance to students, future researchers and scholars especially in the field of education and psychology.
The findings of the study would be significant to policy makers and implementers at large, as they would make use of the findings and recommendations provided.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study encompasses the relationship between personality traits and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Lagos State. Personality traits characteristics covered in this research study are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. The study is limited to Education District V of Lagos State where sample will be drawn and generalization made to cover the country as a whole.
1.8 Limitations on the Study
The researcher faced series of challenges while conducting this research study of which was lack of adequate fund, this points to the fact that the researcher is not yet earning money but rather depend on family supports.
Another factor that almost marled the success of the study was time factor. The researcher was needed to go to the field, libraries and write the report and submit at the required time also constituted a major constraint to the researcher study.
On the whole, academic stress added to the problems but the researcher made the best efforts in optimizing the available resources and information without allowing the limitations to make the researcher lose sight of the quality of the objective of the study. In essence, these limitations do not impinge on the validity of the result of this study.
1.9 Operational Definitions of Terms
Some terms that are used in the context of this study are hereby operationally defined as used:
§ Personality: It encompasses a person’s relative stable feelings, thoughts, behavioural patterns; form unique personality that differentiates people from others but proper understanding of such personality provide clue about how he/she is likely to act and feel in various situations.
§ Traits: Traits are the sum total of stable characteristics in a person across different times and situations, which make him or her unique or distinct from others.
§ Extraversion (ES): Is regarded as a general tendency toward sociability, assertiveness, activeness and being talkative.
§ Neuroticism (NM): Kumari (2014) defined it as a general tendency to experience negative effects such as fear, sadness, embarrassment, anger, guilt, and distrust. It is the degree to which a person is calm and self-confident as opposed to anxious and insecure.
§ Openness to Experience (OE): It refers to individuals who tend to be creative, imaginative, and curious to experience new things amongst other things (Costa and McCrae, 2003).
§ Agreeableness (AG): This encapsulates constructs of sympathy, cooperativeness, and helpfulness towards others.
§ Conscientiousness (CN): Is the trait that is associated with diligence, self-discipline, punctuality, and general competence (McCrae and Costa, 2003).
Students Academic Performance: it measures the extent to
which a student, teacher or institution has achieved the educational goals.