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The study employs correlation design in investigating the influence of learned helplessness and home background on academic performance among secondary school students in FCT, Nigeria. Three research questions and three research hypotheses guided the study. A sample of 290 students in the 2014/2015 academic session from public SSS was selected through cluster sampling techniques.143 males and 147 females from 209 urban and 81 rural public secondary schools were used. Three sets of research instruments were used to collect data: learned helplessness scale, home back ground scale and academic performance test in English Language and Mathematics. The learned helplessness scale and the home background scale were both validated through content validity and had reliability of .89 and .79. Simple percentages, frequency, mean, standard deviation, Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC).The findings revealed that there is a statistical significant relationship between learned helplessness and academic performance of SSS students (r =-0.550, p= 0.000), there is a statistical significant relationship between academic performance and home background of SSS students (r= 0.465, p= 0.000) and there is a statistical significant relationship between home background and learned Helplessness of SSS students (r = 0.540, p= 0.000). The study therefore recommends that parent‘s should actively support the learning of their children in such ways as monitoring children‘s progress and communicating withschool personnel, tutor children at home to reinforce work done in school and acting as volunteer in schools as aides or in other roles. Seminars and workshops should be organize for the parents/guardians so as to equip them with necessary knowledge and skills so as to enable them play their role effectively as parents as they are the first teachers for their children and to redress problem of learned helplessness as its relate to their home background and academic performance.




















Titled page i
Declaration Page ii
Certification iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgements v
Abstract vii
Table of Contents viii
List of Tables xi
List of Appendices xii
List of Abbreviations xiii
Operational Definition of Terms xiv
1.1 Background to the Study 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem 5
1.3 Objectives to the Study 6
1.4 Research Questions 7
1.5 Research Hypotheses 7
1.6 Basic Assumptions 7
1.7 Significance of the Study 8
1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study 9
2.1 Introduction 10
2.2 Conceptual Framework 11


2.2.1 Concept of Home Background 11
2.2.2 Concept of Learned Helplessness 13
2.2.3 Concept of Academic Performance 17
2.2.4 Home Environment and Academic Performance 18
2.2.5 Learned Helplessness and Academic Performance 21
2.2.6 Relationships between Home Background and Academic Performance 23
2.3 Theoretical Framework 24
2.3.1 Theory of Learned Helplessness 24
2.3.2 The Learned Helplessness Model 25
2.3.3 Reformulation of the Learned Helplessness Model 27
2.3.4 The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance 30
2.3.5 Social Learning Theory 32
2.3.6 Self Determination Theory (SDT) 35
2.3.7 Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs Theory 39
2.3.8 Attribution Theory 41
2.4 Review of Related/Empirical Studies 43
2.4.1 Uniqueness of the study 53
2.5 Summary 53
3.1 Introduction 55
3.2 Research Design 55
3.3 Population of the Study 55
3.4 Sample and Sampling Techniques 55
3.5 Instrumentation 57
3.6 Validity and Reliability of the Instrument 58






3.6.1 Validity of the Instruments 58
3.6.2 Reliability of the Instruments 59
3.7 Scoring procedure 59
3.8 Procedure for Data Collection 60
3.9 Procedure for Data Analysis 61
4.1 Introduction 62
4.2 Demographic data of Respondents 62
4.3 Hypotheses Testing 63
4.5 Summary of Major Findings 66
4.6 Discussion of the Findings 66
5.1 Introduction 71
5.2 Summary of the Study 71
5.3 Conclusion 72
5.4 Recommendations 74
5.5 Suggestions of the Study 74
  References 76
  Appendices 82







1.1         Background to the study



A key goal of education is to ensure that every student has a chance to excel, both in school and life. Increasingly, children success in school determines their success as adults, determining whether and where they go to college, what professions they enter and how much they can earn.Education is an omnipotent phenomenon and an invaluable gift to mankind which influences the survival and development of human societies and cultures. It is generally accepted as an instrument excellence for achieving national, societal and personal development. It is an effective remedy for the removal of poverty in the society. Education is needed to be able to exploit and increases the value chain of natural resources. It ensures and enhances citizens‘ active participation in the democratic processes and developmental activities. This implies that the level of development and prosperity attained in future by a country shall be determined by its level of educational development.


The home has a great influence on student‘s psychological, emotional, social and economic state in the view of Ajila and Olutola (2007), the home affects the individual since parents are the first socializing agents in an individual‘s life. The school is responsible for the experiences that makes up the individual‘s life during school periods, yet parents and individual‘s experiences at home play tremendous roles in building the personality of the child and making the child what she is (Uwaifo, 2008).Home background plays major role in student‘s life and outside of the school, is the most important influence on student learning and include factors such as socioeconomic status, two parents versus single-parent -households, divorce, parenting practice and aspirations, maternal characteristics, family size and neighbourhood (Majoribanks, 1996). The




environment at home is a primary socialization agent and influences a child‘s interest in school and aspirations for the future (Bali, 2003).Parental involvement has an important role in children‘s school performance.


A student‘s home environment can be seen as an agent that aid in the construction of student attitudes and school achievement. Martin (1996) posited that many studies have in fact shown that there is a relationship between family background characteristics and students‘ achievement. Beane and Lipka (2003) posited that some of the young peoples‘ difficulties at school can be due to problems caused by parents. They argue that home is the backbone for children‘s personality development and influences children directly through the kind of relationship the family members have among themselves as well as through helping them to get in contact with society.


In Nigerian context, Sharman (1997) contended that home environment exerts a significant influence on students‘ educational aspirations, which in turn influence the school-to-work transition. In other words, when parent have high expectations, youths have high occupational aspirations. Sjogren (2002) emphasized that youths from poorly educated parents are sensitive to economic incentives since they are to a greater extent attracted to occupations with high wage rates and high return in education.


An important role in students‘ academic performance is played by the academic level of the parents. Students who come from mono parental families or with parents who are not home owners tend to have better academic performance. Students‘ perceptions of teachers tend to have great significance because it has been shown that students who appreciate their teachers and say that the professors‘ treatment is very good one tend to have higher performance than those who say the way their teachers treat them is a bad or very bad (Engir-Demir, 2008).





Learned helplessness is more likely to result from situations where failure is uncontrollable. For example, Gernigon, Fleurance, and Reine (2000) conducted a study on failure in controlled and u controlled circumstances. They found that failure was more likely to occur in uncontrollable circumstances.


Three components of learned helplessness have particular pertinence for the classroom:


failure to initiate action, failure to learn, and emotional problems.



  1. Failure to initiate action means that students who have experienced learned helplessness tend not to try to learn new material. Passivity becomes their predominant behaviour.


  1. Failure to learn means that even when new directions are given to these students, they still learn nothing from them.


  1. Emotional problems seem to accompany learned helplessness. Frustration, depression, and incompetence occur frequently.


Success in an education institution is measured by academic performance over the years, the importance of students doing well in school has become the concern of parent, legislators, teachers, counsellors and psychologist. The concept of academic performance has become a source of concern to researchers. Educators want to understand all the impediments which can hinder a student‘s success, even if the problem only affect a small segment of the student population, educators want strategies to overcome them. Also, with the recent emphasis in education on response to intervention, the need to identify intervention practices to help students succeed and especially struggling students to recover academically is critical not only to student success, but for schools to meet annual yearly progress. Academic performance is defined or regarded as participants‘ examination grades (Grade point average) at the end of particular term. It could also be





seen as the level of performance in a particular field of study. Higher score indicates better academic performance (Egbule 2004). The Nigeria society places great emphasis on education because it is believed to be the only avenue for national development. However, this can only be achieved if secondary students‘ who are the citadel of learning get actively involved in academic activity which will enhance their academic performance. This will, in turn, lead to the technological advancement of the nation.


Evidence shows that a learned response is at the root of the problem. It is made clear that we have been neglecting the psychological reasons why students fail and refuse to learn despite the best efforts to motivate and teach. The national report by the Commission on Reading (1992)U.S. Department Education, describe these students as ‗‘listless and inattentive and sometimes disruptive. They do not complete work. They give up quickly when faced with a task that is difficult for them. They become anxious when they act as though they were helpless to do better.‘‘ Various reasons have been advanced to explain why students perform poorly in school subjects. Poor performance in school subjects has been of some concern to parents, teachers, educationists, psychologists, and the general public. The declining rate of the performance of senior secondary school students in all school in Nigeria is a problem of serious concern to various educators, educationist and other examination bodies. It seems obvious that various attempts have been made in order to identify the factors that or facilitate performance in school subject. Because passivity and dependence are considered to be characteristics behaviour of learned helplessness, that result to poor academic performance. Nonetheless, there is no evidence in extant literature that the effects of learned helplessness and gender have been investigated.











1.2         Statement of the Problem



Over the years, the society has been recording a persistent increase in the rate of poor performance in various school examinations which include the end of term examination. If this trend is not nip in the bud, it will have grave repercussion on the lives of students, their parents and the society at large. Falling standard of education manifested in poor academic performance is equally obvious among them. Poor attitude to education, lack of seriousness in academic tasks, low level confidence, effort and ability to uncover the underlying factors and to face rigorous academic challenges have all revealed a serious need for research study in order to foster their educational aspirations and smooth transition to higher institutions.


The researcher attended PTA meeting in one of the senior secondary school in Abuja where parents are complaining of the student‘s poor academic performances at the end of terminal examination, this made the researcher to put interest into her research topic. This is because it is the bases for future development of the individual. The importance of education in an individual cannot be over emphasized. Education has a long lasting impact on one‘s life. The acquisition of knowledge and skills and all other things that is worthwhile which are transmitted to a person through formal and informal education determines his/her potential in future.


Comment from Moses Salau (2014), of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) have shown that the blame from lack of good performance has been as a result of neglect and carefree attitude towards academic work by students, and parents. He said students did not study well but engaged in activities on the internet which added no value to academic work. ‘‘Some parents are not investing in the education of their children they prefer buying clothes, shoes and make ups.Home is





the first school for a child where he/she is taught the basic norms and values by the parents before the child leaves for the formal education. Contrary to the opinion that learning and reading begins in school, the first foundation of the child begins at home. A good and conducive home environment with adequate learning facilities would help to boost the intellectual and academic capability of the child. The motivation of any intelligent child towards learning is being accelerated by the positive influence of his/her environment while others are negatively affected in terms of their non-stimulating home environment. Education enables the individuals and society to make an all-round participations in the development process by acquiring knowledge, ability, skills and attitudes.


Moreover, very scantly attention has been given to most aspects of learned helplessness and academic performance.


It is against this background the study sought to investigate the influence of learned helplessness and home background on academic performance among secondary school students in F.C.T., Nigeria.


1.3         Objectives to the Study



This study intends to achieve the following objectives:



  1. To determine the relationship between learned helplessness and academic performanceofsenior secondary school students.


  1. To determine the relationship between home background and academic performance ofsenior secondary school students.


  1. To determine the relationship betweenhome backgroundand learned helplessness of senior secondary school students.




1.4         Research Questions



Based on the stated objectives, the following research questions were formulated.



  1. What is the relationship betweenlearned helplessnessand academic performance ofsenior secondary school students?


  1. What is the relationshipbetween home background and academic performance of senior secondary school students?


  1. What is the relationship betweenhome background andlearned helplessness of senior secondary school students?


1.5         Hypotheses



Thefollowing hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.



  1. There isno significant relationship between learned helplessness and academic performance of senior secondary school students.


  1. There is no significant relationship between home background and academic performance ofsenior secondary school students.


  1. There isno significant relationship betweenhome background andlearned helplessness of senior secondary school students.


1.6         Basic Assumptions



This study is based on the following assumptions:



  1. Significant relationship may exist between learned helplessness and academic performance of secondary school students.


  1. Significant relationship may exist between home background and academic Performance of secondary school students.





  1. Significant relationship may exist betweenhome background and learned helplessnessof senior secondary school students.


1.7         Significance of the Study



The significant of this study can be seen in the light of the following.



The study will provide empirical evidence that learned helplessness and home backgroundinfluence student‘s academic performance.The findings of this study is hoped to bring into clearer perspective to help the teachers to establish good communication between them and their students and will also assist the teachers to have concern for the student‘s academic development.


It will encourage parents to contribute positively to the development of their children academic performance.Also it will be important and useful to the school psychologists/school counsellors, since they are in strategic position to help and build a wholesome relationship in learning environment. They have the legitimate access to all school participants and also have direct contact with students, and will motivate them to organise some communication skills training as they are trained to use principles of good human relations to assist others.


Itwill assist the teachers to give proper education to students on home environment on their academic performance. Students are the future nation builders of our nation, therefore if they are not given proper education on the effect of home environment on their academic performance; they will continue to perform poorly and as a result of the goals of education as powerful tool for nation will not be achieved. And again, parent will be aware that they have greater role to play for high academic performance of their children. It will help other researchers to undertake further research towards providing solutions to the highlighted problems of study. It is hoped that this study will highlight





the existing problems as it presents itself to Federal Capital Territory Schools. This will encourage other researchers towards providing solutions to the highlighted problems.


1.8         Scope and Delimitations of the Study



The area of coverage in this study is two hundred and ninety senior secondary school students‘ in F.C.T. Abuja, Nigeria that are independent from junior secondary schools. The SSS that are independent here means those schools that are separated and situated differently from the junior secondary schools. The study however, covered seven schools selected in six area councils across the F.C.T. Abuja,and it is delimited to investigate the influence of learned helplessness and home background on academic performance.







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