study was carried out within the scope and ramification of the topic. It
involves the collection, review and analysis of related literature and data.
The topic of the study is “family size, self-efficacy and students’ performance
in biology and chemistry”. Two schools (state high school Alimosho and Alimisho
Grammer School) in Alimosho local Government Area of Lagos State were used as
the population of the study. This work comprises of five chapters. Chapter one
introduces the background of the study, the statement of problem, purpose,
scope, limitation and the significance of study, together with the research
questions and definition of key terms. Chapter two review some related
literature. Chapter three dealt with the methodology on data collection, review
and analysis. Chapter four analysed the collected data in relation to the
research question, while chapter five consists of the summary of the research
work, conclusion as well as recommendations.
TABLE OF CONTENT
of the Study
of the Problem
of the Study
of the Study
of Related Literature
that determines Self-Efficacy
that influence child’s Education
of the Study
and Sampling Techniques
of Data Analysis
ANALYSISI AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
Interpretation of Data
of the Findings
Conclusion and Recommendation
1.1 Background of the Study
It is the case in recent times in
Nigeria that the academic performance of students particularly in biology and
chemistry have gone down drastically when compared with the years following the
political independence of Nigeria in October 1st 1960. This much has
been evidenced by the results year after year turned out by the West African Examination
Council (WAEC). This trend did not originate at the level of WAEC, Rather it
has been a product of the junior and senior secondary levels. This malady has
even gone past the level of secondary school, and has eaten deep into our
tertiary institutions, such that Professor Wole Soyinka asserted that the
quality graduates produced by our education system are subject to
Biology is described as a science of
life and plays a very vital role in the life of every human being. It is very
vast with many divisions including zoology, botany, ecology, genetics,
morphology, anatomy physiology, histology, microbiology biochemistry, evolution
and the more advanced cell biology, molecular biology among others. Apart from
the inter-relatedness that exist among these branches, biology is closely
related with other science subjects like agricultural science, chemistry,
geography, mathematics and physics. Little wonder then that biology finds
application in many specialised areas like medicine, pharmacy, food production
and processing industries, biotechnology, genetic engineering, agriculture and horticulture,
environmental protection, tourism industry and so on. Considering biology’s
many branches and vast application in every field of human endeavour as
enunciated above it importance in a nation’s economy development cannot be over
has been identified to be one of the important subjects needed for the
sustenance and transformation of the national economy, and hence should be
accorded adequate attention. Advancement in science and technology has created
a greater demand for more people to study chemistry and this is particularly
important in the realisation of Nigeria’s vision to become industrialised.
Acquisition of appropriate scientific and technological skills is necessary to
cope with the challenge presented by the evolving needs of the modern work
place in the industries and the ever growing non formal sector. Education and
training systems that responds adequately to these demands will therefore,
contribute to the efforts to overcome the growing unemployment and
marginalization of majority of the population. Providing access to appropriate
learning experiences, designed to broaden skills and knowledge can increase
productivity and significantly improve the fortunes of the unemployed, thereby
reducing poverty and unemployment amongst the youth (Adesoji, 2008).
is as a result of the recognition given to Chemistry in the development of the
individual and the nation that it has been made a core pre-requisite subject
for offering most science oriented courses in the tertiary institutions and
this calls for the need in teaching it effectively.
is worth mentioning that the development of the students’ positive attitude is
necessary because attitude is linked with academic achievement (Cheung, 2009).
Similarly, a study conducted by Kelly (1998) concluded that the British students’
liking for a specific science subject were the actual predictor of their choice
in school in various subjects like Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Therefore,
all stakeholders should consider the development of positive attitude towards the
chemistry subject as one of their central responsibilities (Cheung, 2009). In
Nigeria, the students’ performance in chemistry and biology has persistently
remained below average. This has been attributed partly to the negative
attitudes adopted by the students towards the chemistry. This further
underscores the importance of promoting positive attitudes towards Chemistry.
To this effect, a lot of project and
would be solutions have been proffered to provide a panacea to this chronic
problem all to no avail. It therefore became imperative to identify what
factors is culpable for this undesirable situation. In line with this a lot of
factors have been identified ranging from poorly trained teachers, poor
learning environment and poor students attitude to learning. Other factors are
family based. For example what kind of family does a given student come from?
What type of parents does a given student have? What is the condition in the
home? What is the family size. Is it possible that the size of a given family
can affect the academic performance of the children in school specifically in
biology and chemistry?
Another factor which may have had its
toll on students’ performance especially in biology and motivation and self-advocacy
in learning. Motivation and self-advocacy in learning. Chemistry is the level
of confidence of students. Studies show
a link between the self-efficacy possessed by any given student and the level
of tenacity and doggedness he employs in tackling tasks.
have a high self-efficacy, They are more likely to view a stem
Degree as a challenge to
transcend Rather than a threat to escape.”
Students will pursue a course of
action if they feel confident of being rewarded with success. A student who has been successful in a previous
biology or chemistry test is more likely to have a positive disposition to a
new challenge as opposed to a student low in self-efficacy. A sound level of self-efficacy
often translates to what is called self-regulated learning. Self-regulated
learning refers to students knowing how they are doing in a class and
advocating for themselves. Pintrich (1999) found a strong relationship between
motivation and self-advocacy in learning.
For the purpose of this exercise
family size refers to the total number of children in the child’s family
including the child himself. Research has shown that in large families, the first
born are usually the beneficiary of a better level of attention (Beeker 1980).
Subsequent births receive less and less attention and consequently perform
notably less in school (Leana 1982) asserts that a relationship exists between
birth order and creativity. Spear (1982) in his study shows that the quality of
intelligence of children was largly related to family size. For example Okoye
and Okeke (2007) in their study found out that in 2002, 2003 and 2004 the
percentages of candidates who passed the west
African school certificate examination (WASCE) of credit level and above
(grade 1-6) in biology were 30.3%,42.1% and 30.2% respectively. Similarly
Egbunonu and Ugbaja reported that only 30.29% of the biology students who sat
for the WAEC between 2000 and 2005 passed at credit level and above (A1 - C6).
In 2008 WAEC chief examiner reported a deadline in performance in biology
especially in the theoretical aspect (WAEC, 2008). Furthermore, the Nigerian
Television Authority (NTA) in March 17th 2010 reported that the
National Examination Council (NECO) recorded 74% failure in biology in their
Nov/Dec .2009 SSCE examination results.
Another word for self-efficacy is
confidence, self-confidence plays a huge part in the performance of students. Self-efficacy
is when an individual thinks they are capable of performing tasks necessary to
achieve their goals. A survey once carried out asserts that there are students
who even avoid the sciences due to lack of self-efficacy. The perception of one’s
ability which is another term for efficacy can also be formed from the cradle
of socialization (the family). It is the goal of this work to link self-efficacy
and family size to students’ performance in biology and chemistry.
Three common theoretical threads are apparent in the literature
regarding family structure: social cognitive theory, attachment theory, and the
theory of moral absolutism. Each of these theoretical frameworks provides
conceptual underpinnings for the literature on family structure. A closer look
at each theory provides greater understanding of the subsequent literature.
Social Cognitive Theory
The research on family structure is grounded in Bandura’s (2002)
social cognitive theory because the theory contends that human development is
influenced, in part, by environmental agents. Family structure is an
environmental agent that impacts human development and therefore student
achievement. According to Santrock (1997), social cognitive theory is “the view
of psychologists who emphasize behavior, environment, and cognition as the key
factors in development” (p. 44). Family structure is an environmental factor
that affects the development of students and, in turn, impacts student
Attachment theory was first conceptualized by John Bowlby and
later refined by Mary Ainsworth (Bretherton, 1992). The theory contends that a
strong emotional bond with at least one primary caregiver is crucial for
healthy child development. Attention is given in much of the literature to the
child’s mother as the primary caregiver (Cavanagh & Huston, 2008).
Attachment theory offers insights into the depressed academic achievement of
students from some subgroups of non-traditional families. Further, it is consistent
with Pong’s (1998) platform that students from single-parent households in which
the mother is present can still experience competitive academic achievement
Theory of Moral Absolutism
The final framework for this literature review is the theory of
moral absolutism. This theory maintains that there are morally correct and
incorrect actions (Hawley, 2008). Moral absolutism suggests that the morally
correct way to raise a child is through a traditional family structure that is
comprised by two biological parents (or adoptive parents from birth), one male
and one female, cohabitating in a marital relationship.
Moral absolutism coincides with the Biblical ideal of family and
extends attachment theory to suggest that two parents are better than one. This
theory also offers insights into the academic achievement of students based on
Interaction of Theories within the Framework
The three theoretical frameworks discussed previously interact to
inform the causal-comparative study of the effects of family structure on
student achievement. The three theories are closely related and, together, they
serve as the foundation for the association between family structure and
student achievement. It is the interaction of the three conceptual frameworks
that serves as the cornerstone for understanding child development and academic
achievement as they relate to family structure.
Though school environment factors certainly influence student achievement,
Firestone and Riehl (2005) suggested that individual student characteristics
have the “strongest effects” (p. 15) on student achievement. Individual student
characteristics include family structure and composition.
Family demographics, therefore, can have a significant impact on
student achievement. A student’s family demographics could include a non-traditional
family or a traditional family. Various studies have found evidence indicating
an achievement gap exists between students from at least one subgroup of non-traditional
families and students from traditional families (Angel-Castillo &
Torres-Herrera, 2008; Bachman et al., 2009; Guidubaldi et al., 1986;
Hampden-Thompson, 2009; McLanahan and Sandefur (1994); Hampden-Thompson’s
(2009) comparative international study revealed a literacy achievement gap
between teenagers from two-parent households and teenagers from single-mother
households. The gap was significant in 12 countries, with the greatest gap occurring
in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics (1998) purported
an achievement gap in classroom grades across elementary, middle, and high school
between students from single-parent households where only one parent was involved
in the child’s schooling and students from two-parent households where both parents
were involved in the child’s schooling. Guidubaldi et al. (1986) found an achievement
gap in elementary school students between those from traditional families and
those from families of divorce, with the most prominent gap in achievement
existing between male students from those two categories.
Similarly, Waldfogel et al. (2010) reported an achievement gap
between students specifically from single-mother families and students from
traditional families. According to Angel-Castillo and Torres-Herrera (2008),
school dropout rates for Hispanic students were almost doubled in students from
single-parent families or blended families as compared to students from
two-parent families. Zill et al. (1993) concurred with their longitudinal data,
reporting 18-22 year old Americans from families of divorce were twice as
likely to have dropped out of high school as their peers from traditional
families, even after the researchers controlled for race, parental education,
and other child and family factors. Zimiles and Lee (1991) magnified the gap by
stating, “Students from stepfamilies and single-parent families are almost
three times as likely to drop out as their counterparts from intact families
(7% vs 20%)” (p. 316). International research supports the existence of an
achievement gap between students from single-parent families and students from
two-parent families in Nigeria (Uwaifo, 2008; Yara & Tunde-Yara, 2010).
Research also supports the presence of an achievement gap between students from
single-mother families and students from traditional families among low-income
adolescents (Bachman et al., 2009). McLanahan and Sandefur (1994) devoted a
decade worth of research to the topic and their results indicated an
achievement gap exists between students from single-parent households and students
from two-parent households.
Not only does the literature indicate an achievement gap exists
for students from non-traditional families, research suggests an achievement
gap exists for schools with high concentrations of students from non-traditional
families. Collectively, lower reading and mathematics scores were linked to
schools with high populations of single-parent homes when compared to schools
with less than 25% of student homes being single-parent homes (Pong, 1997;
1998). Pong (1998) referred to this phenomenon as the “school compositional
effect” (p. 23). Individual demographics aside, attending a secondary school
with a high concentration of students from non-traditional families places a
student at a higher risk of experiencing academic difficulties in the areas of
reading and mathematics (Pong, 1998).
Much attention is given in the literature to traditional families
that become non-traditional families and the effects of the change on children.
This focus is on children that have not always been classified as members of non-traditional
families since conception. Whether changes in family structure are one-time or
reoccurring, the change from traditional to non-traditional inherently creates
family instability. Jeynes (2006).
Biology and chemistry are core and
very important subjects in the sciences. When there is a decline in these
subjects, there is automatically is a problem in the education system of that
given country since science is crucial and national aspiration of any given nation.
A vast number of factors have been attributed to the melanise one of these is
the family size. Is this in fact the case? If it is case how so?
The average family in Nigeria is
faced with a lot of challenges and most times financial and economic challenges
rank number one. The parents in such average family will probably not have much
for the children. Since children spend more time at home than other place, the
home therefore is the foundation of child socialization and therefore the level
of confidence or self-efficacy of any given child has a lot to do with the
Does the family size
affect the performance of students in biology and chemistry?
Does family birth order
affect academic performance?
Does self-efficacy have
adverse impact on student’s academic performance?
Family size affects the
effectiveness and capabilities of student
Self-efficacy can be a
product of family birth order
performance in biology and chemistry originates from family size and lack of self-efficacy.
The aim of this work is to determine
the effect of the largeness of the family and self-efficacy on students’
performance in biology and chemistry.
There is the need for the education
system to acknowledge the impact of child birth order and family size not just
on students’ performance in biology and chemistry, but on academic generally. The
system could develop a policy that makes up for such student so as to mitigate
the adverse effect of family size on the children and also work on the student’s
Even though we are in Africa and as
such, little or nothing can be done about family size in the immediate. Yet
this work aims at educating parents and would be parents on the adverse effect
of lack of 100% attention on their children due to the large size of the family
or the birth order. It is the case that first born often receive the best of
attentions, naturally so, the second third and subsequent children do not get
as much thereby being disadvantaged.
1.7 Definition of Key Terms
EXPERIENCE: This is an experience where a given
observer witnesses the execution of an activity or activities by one or more
models which the observer holds to be difficult or stressful. It is a source of
BIRTH ORDER: This is the position of a given
child in a given family in terms of the sequence of births among the siblings.
For example a second child in the family of four children is the second in the
family’s child birth order.
EFFICACY: self-efficacy is the totality of an
individual belief in their own ability or effectiveness in dealing with
OF MASTERY: This is a performance based
experience in which case, a given individual successfully undertakes a task and
this experience becomes a pillar in self-efficacy.
SIZE: This term denote the total number of
children in the family aside from the parent.
EXPECTANCY: This is defined as a person’s
estimate that a given behaviour will lead to certain outcomes.
This is a reaction that takes place in the mind and is rooted in cognitive
activities. It is the activation and persistence of behaviour aimed at a given
EXPECTATIONS: This is the conviction that one can
successfully execute the behaviour required to produce the right outcome.
MASTERY: This is when a given individual can
really lay claim to have faced directly a distressing or difficult task and
through effort and persistence overcame and got the expected and desired
BEHAVIOUR: This is a mechanism created through
cognitive processes to combat stress or fear associated with activities that
may be threatening or difficult. It is a combination of mental and physical
This is the commencement or activation of a mode aimed at combating stressful
or threatening situations. For example initiation
of coping behaviour.
ACCOMPLISHMENT: This is one of the sources of
efficacy expectations. It is the most important and veritable source of
efficacy information because it is based on personal mastery.
PERSUATION: This is also a source of efficacy
information. As the name implies it has to do with verbal inducement or encouragement
as a psychological treatment of phobia.
It is an irrational or very powerful fear and or dislike of given thing.
Phobics are peoples who suffer from such disorders.
STUDENT CHARACTERISTIC: This include a given
student family structure and composition.
FAMILIES: These are families that are not
comprising in their entirety by two biological parents one male and one female.
AROUSALS: This state is one of agitation due to
stress, fear or difficulty. It is a source of information for self-efficacy.