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PERSONALITY DISPOSITIONS AND THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

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PERSONALITY DISPOSITIONS AND THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

 

ABSTRACT

 

This study examined the influence of Personality Dispositions and Academic Achievement among University of Lagos Students. In this study, the relevant and related literatures were reviewed under selected sub-headings. The descriptive research survey was used in this study in order to assess the opinions of the selected respondents with the application of the questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of 200 (two hundred) respondents were selected and used in this study to represent the entire population of the study. Four null hypotheses were formulated in this study and tested accordingly using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient statistical tool for hypotheses one and the independent t-test statistical instrument for hypotheses two, three and four respectively. At the end of the analyses, the following results were obtained, there is a significant relationship between personality dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos, there is a significant relationship between truancy and students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos, there is a significant relationship between positive peer-grouping and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos and there is a significant relationship between negative behaviours and students’ academic performance at University of Lagos. Based on the data analysis and the findings obtained thereafter, it is recommended that conformity to school rules and regulations should be promoted in school and society through concerted efforts of parents and teachers, school managers, government and non-governmental agencies as well as other agents of socialization in society the church, the mosque and the mass media and Students should be inculcated with sound moral and religious principles and teachings in the school curriculum, it can be a sure way toward the control of delinquent and deviant behaviours.

 

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

 

1.1Background to the Study

 

Every individual is a unique being. No two individuals are exactly the same, not even identical twins. This uniqueness may be referred to as individual differences.  However, despite the diversity in our individuality, people still share certain characteristics with others. Undergraduates students are not in any way exempted from these individual differences. Each undergraduate is unique and possesses some personality dispositions that generally distinguish him or her from every other undergraduate student in the tertiary institution. According to Makinde (2004), traits are distinguishable and relatively enduring way in which one man is different from another through personality variables. Personality dispositions or traits are definite, idividualized characteristics that typify a person and make such a person different from every other person in the society.

 

According to Kagan et al (1990) in Osarenren (2002), personality is the total pattern of characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that constitutes the individual’s distinctive method of relating to the environment. This pattern of characteristics makes an individual to behave in a particular manner and these personal characteristics make the individual to be accepted or rejected in the society. Not only that, the personality of an individual undergraduate student of any institution makes or mars his/her academic success or failure in the school (Adeleke, 2005).  The American Heritage Dictionary (1985), defines disposition as a habitual inclination or a personal tendency of an individual which makes the individual to act or behave in a peculiar way. Individual dispositions include: temperament, character-exhibitions, personality traits or specific natural phenomena which differentiate a person from others in the community or the school. Dispositions are a combination of qualities that identify a person from another. They are what make an individual unique and differently created or carved out. Dispositions are a prevailing frame of mind or spirit inherent in an individual which make what he/she is. The Collins English Dictionary (1990), defines disposition as a natural or acquired tendency, inclination or habit in a person. Therefore, personality disposition may be defined as the sum total of an individual’s unique ways of responding or reacting to certain issues to occurring in his/her immediate environment which can be school, home or society.

 

Undergraduates are from different families and backgrounds. Each individual student in the school environment has a very unique family upbringing that shapes his/her life pattern into what he/she is seen to be in the school setting. Even students born in the same home are unique and different from one another in many ways such as speech, attitudes or general behavioural pattern. Many things make human beings unique and different from others in the society. These characteristic traits range from their the human genotypes, blood groups, gender etc. Other physical dispositions or characteristics include such attitudes as: likes or dislikes, tastes or preferences, hobbies, level of intelligence, goals and aspirations, attitude to life issues and so on. These characteristic personal differences are the products of nature and nurture (Dickson, 2000).

 

Nature refers to traits that are genetically transferred from parents to their off springs. These are physical characteristics an of individual that are inherited from his/her parents. Such physical characteristics arer: the colour of the eyes, body physique, shape of nose, fingers, hair, structure of the brain, and so on. These inherited traits or dispositions are largely responsible for many of our behaviours, though there are some limitations (Nwankwo, 2003). Nurture refers to the environment in which an individual is brought up. This can be the home, the school or the societal environments in which the individual is born and bred. It includes the physical circumstances of our birth, varying influences from the society as a whole and more importantly, our family structures (Osarenren, 2002).

 

No doubt nature and nurture phenomena are crucial elements that helps an individual to achieve maximum success of dismal failure in any life endeavours, be it education/academic career, business career or any other engagement an individual faces in life. For instance, a student with positive personality traits or dispositions, attends to classes, copies notes, obeys the teacher, asks critical questions in the class, remains attentive while the lectures are going on and so on. Not only the active participation in the classroom activities, a student with good personality dispositions studies what has been taught and consults other education materials to internalize issues of academic relevance to him/her. These personality traits are learning-friendly and in any case, allow the student to record high academic success in examinations and class tests (Uzor, 2011).

 

In the other way round, healthy and unhealthy personality dispositions are a product of negative nature and nurture. Some of the traits or personal dispositions that are exhibited by undergraduate students at University of Lagos were inherited from their parents and the significant others in the society. Some of these traits resulted from the way the students were brought up by their parents and others who nurtured them as surrogate parents. Their upbringings and social interactions are very significant in shaping their personality dispositions or traits. The presence of negative personality dispositions can pose a great threat to students’ studies in a negative way. For instance, students with negative dispositions are, restive, truants, they absent themselves from the school without permission or any reason, they pay no attention to the lecture and above all, they do not read their books critically for maximum achievement in the examinations. These negative personality dispositions are not learning friendly and therefore, can mar the academic achievement of the students in question thereby making them to record dismal failures in the school (Anyanwu, 1999).

 

If a student does not read his books, does not attend the class regularly, does not listen attentively to the lectures, shows or displays negative traits of fighting others in the classroom, creating unfriendly atmosphere such that other students avoids moving or associating with him/her and exhibits other negative and anti-social dispositions, these anti-academic achievement traits will automatically lead the student poor socialization among his/her peers, and consequently, result into a resounding poor academic performance and miserable life pattern of the individual student. Hence, the need to identify the personality variables of students as factors that can influence their academic achievement.

 

1.2Theoretical Framework

 

The Theories of Learning (S-R Theories) (Skinner, 1991)

 

The (S-R) theory of learning propounded by B.S. Skinner (1991), underpins this study because, it is the theory that concerns learning which is the dependent variable in the study. The most crucial features of the connectionist or S-R theories of learning and more specifically, behavior, are contained in the two important letters ‘S’ and ‘R’ and the hyphen in between them. ‘S’ means stimulus or thinking bond. According to this school of thought, which includes great behaviourists like Watson (1946), Thorndike (1949), Hull (1943), Pavlov (1958) and Skinner (1991), behavior is a transaction between the stimulus or stimuli that impinge on an organism and the resultant responses, the ‘R’. This connotes that learning involvYUGes some lasting or permanent changes in the relationships between the ‘S’ and ‘R’ connection. The behaviourists emphasized that all knowledge emanate from the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. For the behaviourists, man is born with the ability and capacity to acquire knowledge and everything he knows comes from his sensory experience. Sensory qualities are connected in the mind, because they occur closely together in time or space as one interacts with his environment. Learning therefore, occurs trough close association of events or ideas. For the behaviourists, learning occurs only through experience. Skinner (1991), did not reckon with the existence of the innate ideas in man as being responsible for his knowledge. To him, learning is mechanistic; that is to assume that the mind is machine-like and of simple elements with no mysterious elements and therefore, the product of life experience. Thus, behavior is not learnt but inborn in man. For instance, the baby-sucking behavior as well as the sexual behaviour in man, are not learnt, but inborn behaviours. Although, some behaviours could be explained in terms of maturation. They include walking, speech, flying of birds in the sky as well as swimsging of tadpoles in the sea.

 

1.3 Statement of the Problem

 

The nature and nurture phenomena which are embedded in the personality of an individual, are crucial elements that can assist a student to achieve maximum success or dismal failure in any life endeavours, which include  education/academic career, business career or any other engagement which an individual faces. Unhealthy personality dispositions therefore, are a product of negative nature and nurture. Some of the negative traits or personality dispositions that are exhibited by students are negative character-dispositions inherited from their parents and the significant others in the society. Some of these negative traits are as a result of the ways students were brought up by poor parental styles and the significant others who nurtured them as surrogate parents.

 

The presence of negative personality dispositions can pose a great threat to students’ studies and their social interactions in a negative way. For instance, students with negative dispositions are, restive, truants, they absent themselves from the school without permission or for any reason, they pay no attention to the lecture and above all, they do not read their books critically for maximum achievement in the examinations for academic progress. These negative personality dispositions are not learning friendly and therefore, can mar seriously the academic achievement of the students in question thereby making them to record dismal failures in their school activities which include academic achievements (Anyanwu, 1999).

 

For instance, if a student does not read his books, does not attend the class regularly, does not listen attentively to the lectures, shows or displays negative traits of fighting others in the classroom, creating unfriendly atmosphere such that other students avoids moving or associating with him/her, and exhibits other negative and anti-social dispositions in the classroom and the school. These anti-academic achievement traits will automatically lead the student to poor socialization among his/her peers, and consequently, result into a resounding poor academic performance and miserable life pattern of the student.

 

The above identified problems, subsequently gave rise to the examination of personality dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at the University of Lagos.

 

1.4       Purpose of the Study

 

The main purpose of the study is to examine the relationship that exists between personality dispositions and academic achievement of undergraduate students in University of Lagos. The specific objectives of the study are to:

 

  1. Ascertain the relationship between personality dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos.

 

  1. Assess the relationship between truancy and students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos.

 

  1. Examine the relationship between positive peer-grouping and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos.

 

  1. Investigate the relationship between negative behaviours and students’ academic performance at University of Lagos.

 

  1. Identify the perceived factors militating against low academic achievement of students at University of Lagos.

 

1.5Research Questions

 

The following research questions were raised in this study for effective conduct:

 

  1. What is the relationship between personality dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos?

 

1What is the relationship between truancy and students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos?

 

2Is there any relationship between positive peer-grouping and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at University of Lagos?

 

3Is there any relationship between negative behaviours and students’ academic performance at University of Lagos?

 

4How can the perceived factors militating against low academic achievement of students at University of Lagos be identified?

 

1.6       Research Hypotheses

 

The following null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study:

 

There is no significant relationship between personality dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement.

There is no significant relationship between truancy and students’ academic achievement.

There is no significant relationship between positive peer-grouping and undergraduate students’ academic achievement.

There is no significant relationship between negative behaviours and students’ academic performance.

 

1.7 Significance of the Study

 

This study will be of great benefit to the followings; students, teachers, school authorities, parents, university authority, educational policy makers, school counsellors, religious leaders, the government and the society at large.

 

(1)               The findings and recommendations of this study will be of great benefit to the students who would be enlightened concerning the character they should put across in the society. This study will also afford the students, the opportunity to know the influence of personality dispositions on academic achievement of undergraduate students at University of Lagos. This study will also lead them to avoid those behaviours labelled as anti-personality dispositions among students in the school and the society. With the recommendations of the study, students would be able to identify the attributes of personality dispositions and their effects on their academic performances in school.

 

(2)               Would be beneficiaries of this study, because, the study will afford them the golden opportunity of knowing how to detect students who exhibit negative dispositions and how to tackle them or remedy them. With the findings and recommendations of this study, teachers would be able to know those activities that would enable them to remedy the bad behaviours of the students who are under their care and how to help them achieve high academic performances in the school.

 

(3)               With the recommendations of this study, the school authorities would be able to solve the problem of bad dispositions of students or adolescents in our tertiary institutions. This study also, will recommend to the school authorities all it takes to arrest the dwindling or negative behaviours of students in our schools and the society at large and how these negative behaviours affect the academic performance of undergraduate students.

 

(4)               Government would be opportuned to gather relevant information concerning adolescents’ negative life styles in the society. It will be of great help to the government, if this study is completed and the recommendations upheld. This is because, it will afford the government the opportunity to know how to go about solving the society’s problems which is mostly on youths’ personality dispositions.

 

(5)               Parents would also benefit from this study because, it will enable them to be able to know the characters of their students and wards and how to go about solving the perceived problems bothering on negative dispositions and the attendant poor academic performance of students. No doubt, the negative personal dispositions of the youths have been the major problems of the parents, the school and the society. The government is interested in solving the social and academic problems of youth in the society. Therefore, government will collaborate with parents and teachers to solve this problem of negative dispositions amongst the youths in our higher schools and homes.

 

(6)               The general members of the larger society will be able to benefit from this study, because it will help them to know or identify the problems of negative dispositions amongst the youths and how to help in solving them.

 

1.8   Scope of the Study

 

This study examined the relation between personal dispositions and undergraduate students’ academic achievement at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria. The study will cover eight Faculties within the institution. This was done by random selection of undergraduate students from each Faculty as participants to respond to the questionnaires.

 

1.9   Operational Definition of Terms

 

Operational terms were defined according to the way they were used in the study thus:

 

Personality: Personality is the total pattern of characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that constitutes the individual’s distinctive method of relating to the environment

 

Dispositions: Dispositions may be defined as the sum total of an individual’s unique ways of responding to his environment which can be natural or acquired.

 

Personality traits: Personality traits are definite characteristics that typify an individual and make such person different from every other person.

 

Nature: Nature refers to traits that are genetically transferred from parents to their offspring. These are physical characteristics an individual inherit from his parents.

 

Nurture: Nurture refers to the environment in which an individual is brought up. It includes the physical circumstances of our birth, varying influences from the society as a whole and more importantly our families

 

Academic achievement: Academic achievementrefers to an individual’s performance in an academic activity. It is the result of the assessment of an individual’s ability in accomplishing a task related to his studies.

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