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STATISTICAL APPRAISAL OF THEE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE CHOICE OF COURSES AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN TERTIARY INSTITUTION (A CASE STUDY OF DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS, AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI)

BY

UMAR, S.S. AND EHIGIE, O.T. DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS, AUCHI POLYTECHNIC, AUCHI

A PAPER PRESENTED AT THE 2ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF SCHOOL OF APPLIED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE IN NIGERIA

OCTOBER 2008

ABSTRACT

This research work aims at examining and finding the factors that influence students on and also determine whether these influences have any effect on the academic performance of the students with emphasis on the Department of Statistics as a case study. Data were collected at the convenience of the researchers and analyzed using the Chi-square, Descriptive Statistics and the Pearson Coefficient of Contingency. The result showed that some of the factors influencing the choice of course are parental; peer group, not able to secure admission into department of first choice. It was however, discovered that these factors do not affect academic performance. Base on this, conclusion and recommendations were made. Key words: academic performance, convenience, factors, choice, Pearson Coefficient of Contingency.

INTRODUCTION Everybody is created unique. Each and every one of us has a unique characteristic that makes us succeed in our chosen career. Today as adolescent, an individual starts choosing a career, what he wishes to become in the future. And most often work towards achieving it. However, this may turn out the other way and he finds himself in another career or profession. Some make effort to going back to what they have in mind, while others do not bother as far as they can make life comfortable for themselves and their families. This study therefore, aims at exploring the factors responsible for change (s) in the desired profession of individuals and the level of academic performance of these individuals. In our contemporary days, there are several cases of individuals excelling in profession or careers other than the ones they have been properly trained for. Some of these individuals perform poorly. In the course of this study, the following limitations were observed;

o

Lack of data on students’ achievements and the absence of literatures on and related to students’ achievements and influence of choice of course of study.

o

The study of students’ achievement in tertiary institutions cannot be full and totally studies in all institutions. Base on this, this study shall be carried out in the Department of Statistics, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, with generalization made about all tertiary institutions.

RESEARCH ASSUMPTIONS

For this research to be valid, we have assumed that:

a) The performance of the students (respondents) is not influenced in any way.

b) The admission procedure followed due process.

c) The respondents met the required qualification to be admitted into the experiment of statistics.

THE GROUNDED THEORY The Grounded Theory approach was adopted (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). The development of Grounded Theory arose from Glaser and Strauss’s work on the generation of hypotheses. They argued that in areas where there was little knowledge about the phenomena under the study, the generation of meaningful hypotheses for

empirical testing was, at best, difficult and, at worst, impossible. Because of the paucity of knowledge, researchers were, in effect, simply generating hypotheses on the basis of ill-informed guesses which might result in the exclusion of significant information about the phenomena under investigation, and hence produce misleading results and conclusions. As an alternative, Glaser and Strauss proposed that hypotheses should be generated as a result of ‘indepth’ study of the phenomena using the ‘unstructured’ approach of participant observation. They argued that the observers should aim to enter a research situation with no prior theoretical preconceptions and then create, refine, and revise theory in the light of further data collected. The resulting ‘Grounded’ hypotheses generated through actual observation would, therefore, be more accurate than those produced by speculation, whether theoretically underpinned or not, however inspired. The Grounded Theory approach has been developed by others since the early work of Glaser and Strauss. These developments have made a major contribution in introducing methods of data collection, other than participant observation, and methods of analysis collectively known as qualitative methods. The basic principle, however, remains the same and is well summarized by Patton (1980): The cardinal principle of qualitative analysis is that causal relationships and theoretical statements be clearly emergent from and grounded in the phenomena studied. The theory emerges from the data; it is not imposed upon it. A qualitative approach, therefore, was the most appropriate way to investigate the factors that influenced choice of courses and academic achievement because it fulfilled the conditions in which Grounded Theory is most valuable – when little is known about the phenomena under investigation.

PARENTAL FACTOR Parents often want to see their children excel in life, some want their children to be practitioner in their own preference career; as a result they play major part in the development decisions about their children. They study the child’s performance from elementary to secondary so as to place him in their line of interest as regards the type of course to study at the tertiary level. In this research, parental factor comes in base on the powerful involvement for influence in their children education. This involvement includes participation in education and with the schools, attending school functions, visiting their wards in school, assisting in home works, providing encouragement, arranging for extra moral classes, modeling their behaviour etc.

Furthermore, researches have shown that the more intensively parents are involved in their children’s learning; the more beneficial are the achievement effects. This holds true for all types of parent involvement in children’s learning and for all types and ages of students. Looking more closely, there are strong indications that the most effective forms of parent involvement are those, which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities in the home. Most researches on parents involvement showed that such involvement yields positive results in the children’s education, the earlier the print in vowel in the child’s educational process begins, the more powerful the effect will be positively.

PEERS/FRIENDS FACTOR This factor is one of the most influential factors in the life of adolescence. It has a very strong persuasive spirit and making those involve turn from one-way to another. This factor has influenced some adolescents to the point of losing their lives and some to the other point of saving it. Educationally, this factor has influenced some people to making decisions that have affected their lives today. This change in their original intention may not be at the tertiary level but rather at the secondary level. This is so because, some students, instead of choosing the sciences at secondary level, chooses either the art or the social sciences. Similarly, this trend moves on to the tertiary end, where the successes of peers are being capitalized upon in persuading others. There have been cases of some tertiary students now studying science-related discipline instead of other fields and vice versa. There is also a switch from one course to another as a result of not being able to secure admission into their intended course. This may be as a result of not having the basic O’ level requirement by the department, lack of admission spaced in the department, etc. Instead of holding their breathe to wait for the next academic session, they insist on getting admission by going at length to any extent. This factor, has greatly led to large and incomparable change in the original course by the students. Personal interview of some students in the department confirm this status. Some of the students complained within them about the difficulty of the course and had the mind of not going further to study the course at an advance level. Others, all they desire is the certificate and not the knowledge they have to gain. It was revealed that this factor may be as a result of the inability to meet the “cut-off” mark specified by the department of their choice; they opt for the departments with lower “cut-off” mark, with the zeal to be called

a “student” without considering what they would face in the future. However, some dropped out, when oriented about the department.

FINANCE Researchers have shown that finances have significant effect on the performance of students in tertiary institution. Students need money for their various academic to work ranging from registration at the first year to project and these writing at the final year. There have been cases of students dropping out of school due to lack of finances, some go to the extent of doing some small jobs in order to get finances, and this of course affects the performance of student as he faces the stress of coping with the demands from both ends. Similarly, there has been a positive association or relationship between attendance in clans and academic performance. As have been earlier mentioned that students do meager jobs, which may be full or part-time. This involvement often lead them to missing lectures, at times for days, weeks or even months. Some even appear during semester exams, only to discover that they have a lot to cover and within the short period may not be able to do much. On the other hand, students with the needed finance to solve all their academic problems are often relaxed and have enough time to do their academic works effectively.

THE BANDWAGON FACTOR The success recorded in some fields of endeavour has given such courses increased number of students. Most students studying a particular course found themselves studying it not because that is their original desired course but because their neighbour, family friend relatives or friends have succeeded in life as a result of studying such course. They often forget that everybody has its unique characteristics and destiny to fulfill. Students that normally fall victims often regret their actions and most times find themselves in another “area of life.” It is only a few that survive this ailment. Cases like Accountancy, Business Administration etc “patronage” as it is been seen as a “moneymaking” profession. Some also study them because they want to bear the name accountant, chartered accountants and managers of organization. In our tertiary institutions today, these departments have the highest number of students.

OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY Students’ performance in examination at their various levels is of great importance to the society at large as these outputs are expected to contribute to the

growth of their economy. Most adolescents find it difficult to choose their career on their own as they are often faced with choices and some with the help of their relatives make their choices, while some make the choices with the help of a guidance counselor and some do base on their self-discovery. This study therefore has the aim of determining the effect this various choice influence has on their academic achievement.

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM They have been an outcry on the low performance of students in their academic activities over the year. The outputs of our tertiary institutions, often times cannot “defend” their certificates and most of them when employed, do not meet the expectations of their employers. These problems have been linked to so many factors within and outside the academic environment. There have also been cases where

graduates of particular field find themselves excelling in another field. The questions that arise here are:

o

What are the factors that influence the choice of study?

o

What is the relative effect on the performance of the students?

RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H R :

In this study, the hypothesis that will be tested is the null hypothesis that:

There is no significant relationship between the influence of the choice of study and the academic achievement.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY This research aims at exposing the various factors that influence the choice of statistics and its relationship with academic performance of the students in the Department of Statistics, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi. This section shall bring to light the target population of this study, sample and sampling techniques method of data collection and instrumentation, and methods of data analysis with SPSS as a package to analyze the data. In this research, the target population is all tertiary institution students studying various courses in various tertiary institutions. This is because, they might have been influenced by one factor or the other to choose or study their course of study. The choice of sampling became necessary in this study because of the large population involved. Hence, a sample of fifty (50) students were selected conveniently

from the Department of Statistics, thus to study the influence of the choice of statistics and the academic performance of the students in the department.

METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION The nature of this study advocates for the primary source of data for analysis. Responses were elicited from the respondents (students) with the questionnaire. The questionnaire was treated through the pilot stage for adequate coverage of subject matter, the avoidance of ambiguity and other possible conflicting questions.

METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS In this study, the Chi-square shall be used to analyze the responses on factors that influence the choice of study and academic performance, and other descriptive measures such as the bar chart and the histogram will be used to analyze responses on the factors that influence the choice of study, the grade obtained by respondents and the courses they intend to study before the influence. However, since the Chi-square is not a measure of direction, the Pearson Coefficient of Contingency shall be employed as a measure of the direction of the relationship between the factors that influence the choice of course and academic performance.

DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS The previous section dealt with the methodology employed in this study with emphasis on population, sample and sampling techniques, methods of data collection and analysis. This section responses on present grades of the respondents, factors that influence their choice of Statistics as a course of study, their intended course of study before the influence, and their responses on the effect of the influence on their academic performance shall be presented in table. Similarly, the output of SPSS shall be presented and other analysis.

DATA PRESENTATION

Table 1: Response on factors that influence the choice of study

Factors

Frequency (No. of Students)

Parental factors

4

Peers/friends

2

Self (original intent)

23

Not able to secure admission into other department

21

Total

50

Source: Field Survey, 2008

Table 2: Response on intended course of study before admission into statistics

 

Course

Frequency

Statistics

21

Accounting/Accountancy

10

Computer Science

6

Marketing

4

Science Laboratory Technology (S.L.T.)

4

Business Administration

5

Total

50

Source: Field Survey, 2008

Table 3: Grades of respondents

 
 

Grades

 

Frequency

Distinction

 

0

Upper credit

 

13

Lower credit

 

23

Pass

 

14

Total

 

50

Source: Field Survey, 2008

Table 4: Responses on the Effect of Influence of an Academic Performance

Academic Performance

Frequency

S.A.

6

A

8

Na or D

6

D

17

SD

13

Total

50

Source: Field Survey, 2008

In analyzing table, we shall make use of the Linket Scale where;

SA = Strongly Agree

= 1

A = Agree

= 2

NA or D = Neither Agree or Disagree = 3

D

= Disagree

= 4

SD

= Strongly Disagree

= 5

DATA ANALYSIS

In this section, the SPSS output of the responses in chart and text shall be

displayed.

From the SPSS output table 5, the distribution of the responses on factors

influencing the choice of courses, intended courses and the grades obtained by the

respondents are negatively skewed with -1.242, positively skewed with 0.901 and

negatively skewed with -0.032 respectively, with these values the distribution of the

grades said to be approximately normal, while other are not.

Table 1: Showing Descriptive Statistics

 

Factors

Course

Grades

N

Valid

50

50

50

Missing

0

0

0

Mean

3.22.00

2.5000

3.0200

Median

3.0000

2.0000

3.0000

Skewness

-1.242

0.901

-032

Std. Error of skewness

0.337

0.337

0.337

Percentiles

25

3.0000

1.0000

2.0000

50

3.0000

2.0000

3.0000

75

4.0000

4.0000

4.0000

Source: SPSS Output

Table 6: Showing Frequency of Factors

FACTORS

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid

Cumulative

Percent

Percent

Valid

Parental Peers/friends Self Not able to secure admission into other department Total

4

8.0

 

8.0

2

4.0

12.0

23

46.0

58.0

21

42.0

100.0

50

100.0

Source: SPSS Output

Table 7: Showing Frequency of Courses

 

COURSE

   

Frequency

Percent

Valid

Cumulative

Percent

Percent

Valid

Statistics Accountancy Computer Science Marketing Science Lab. Tech. Business Admin. Total

21

42.0

42.0

42.0

10

20.0

20.0

62.0

6

12.0

12.0

74.0

4

8.0

8.0

82.0

4

8.0

8.0

90.0

5

10.0

10.0

100.0

50

100.0

100.0

 

Source: SPSS Output

 

Table 8: Showing Frequency of Grades

 
 

GRADES

   

Frequency

Percent

Valid

Cumulative

Percent

Percent

Valid

Upper credit

13

26.0

26.0

26.0

Lower credit

23

46.0

46.0

46.0

Pass

14

28.0

28.0

28.0

Total

50

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: SPSS Output

HYPOTHESIS TESTING

The hypothesis of this study is stated as:

H R : The influence on choice of course does not affect academic performance

The test is carried out at 5% significant level and it is a two-tail test. The result of the

Chi-square test using SPSS is displayed below.

Factors

Chi-square

9.4

df

4

Asymp. sig.

0.052

Source: SPSS Output

Having tested the hypothesis, it may be necessary to investigate the direction of the

relationship between both variables. In this work, the Pearson’s Contingency

Coefficient C shall be employed.

C = x 2 N + x 2 Where N is the sample size =
C
=
x 2
N + x 2
Where N is the sample size
=
9.4
50 + 9.4
= 0.39781

C = 0.40 (2 dp)

DISCUSSION

This study examines the relationship between the factors that influence the choice

of courses and academic performance in tertiary institutions with the students in

Statistics Department, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi.

The factors examined in this research are parental factor, peers/friends, and

inability to secure admission into other departments. It was discovered that majority

(54%) of the students were influenced to study Statistics as shown in figure 1. This

however might have resulted to the over-populated students in the department in past and

recent times.

As a result of the factors, there have been changes in career as these students have

course they had intended to read, thereby causing a change in the technological world. It

was also discovered that these influences reflected in the distribution of the courses the

respondents intend to study. Majority have the mind of studying other course such as

computer science, science laboratory technology etc, and if these courses had been

studied by them; it would have led to a boost in the world of technology.

It was also discovered that despite these influences, the performance of the

students remain approximately normal as shown in the figure above. It therefore,

suffices to say that, these factors may not have significant influence on the students.

This means that more of their performance depends on the factors and their level of

handwork and commitment to their studies.

The result of the test of hypothesis supports the foregoing as it showed that the

factors that influence the choice of study do not affect the academic performance of

students in tertiary institutions. It is imperative to say here that from the result, there is

no enough evidence to reject the research hypothesis.

Similarly, the factors have been able to explain about 40% of the variation as the performance of the students in the Department of Statistics leaving the other 60% for other factors such as handwork, mental effect from such as hard work to studies.

CONCLUSION The academic performances of “outputs” of tertiary institutions in Nigeria have an effect on the economic, science and technological sectors of the economy. The world today is resting on the technological progress overtime. Hence, prospective tertiary institution students, irrespective of the factors that may influence their choice of course have greater chances of excelling as shown by the result of the research.

RECOMMENDATION Based on the research output, the following recommendations shall be made:

o

Parents should be involved in their children’s education from the basic education so as to know what they are capable of;

o

Faculty or department should screen thoroughly those changing course from other departments or faculty to theirs;

o

Students should be careful of the friends they keep as it has been discovered that this has an adverse effect on their pattern of life;

o

Students should be focus and specific on what they want to do in life

REFERENCES

Christine Mann et al (2003): Introduction of Academic Performance, Notice; The Joint Committee on Academic Performance, University of Cambridge.

Glaser, B.C. and Strauss, A.L. (1967): The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine: Chicago.

Kathleen Cotton and Karen Reed Wikelund (2001): Parents Involvement in Education. School Improvement Research Series (SIRS) 2001 Northwest Regional Education Laboratory, pp 119-121.

Keith, T.Z., et al (1986): Journal of Educational Psychology. Vol. 78 : 373-380.

Patton, M.Q. (1980): Qualitative Evaluation Methods. Sage: London.