Background of the Study

           One of the aims of education is to achieve positive change in the self-concept and academic achievement/performance of an individual. One could be said to be doing well if there is steady improvement in one’s learning achievement. The generally held notion is that one’s academic progress depends solely on the effectiveness and efficiency of the teachers. Regrettably, many parents nurse the conviction that teachers have extraordinary powers to achieve academic transformation on the part of the students. Those parents fail to realize that no student can attain good academic heights without the right parental encouragement, understanding and support (Templar, 2008). This partly explains why students’ academic achievement in many schools is on the decline.



          Achievement may be regarded as behaviour exhibited at the end of a given period. This implies the act or process of finishing something successfully. Marsh and Martin (2011) viewed achievement as the attainment of one’s objective. The authors were of the view that careful planning, hard work and perseverance often precede achievement. In the school setting, achievement may be regarded as behaviour manifested by students at the completion of a course of study. This is often termed academic achievement. 

          Academic achievement relates to the degree of attainment of learning objectives. Hunt (1997) perceived academic achievement as how well a student is accomplishing school tasks and studies. The author explained that the term refers to any outstanding performance by a student. Hunt went further to adduce that a student’s score, ranking in the class and grade point average (GPA) level are among the well- known indicators of academic achievement.

          Academic achievement is a learning feat accomplished in schools by completing classes, maintaining good grades and getting high scores on tests. It is a term used in school when a student does well in academics. Academic achievement is the out come of education, the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved stated educational goals (Okpara and Smith, 2001).

          For the purpose of this study, one might be inclined to believe that success in the school and learning activities as well as in tests and examinations could be regarded as academic achievement. It might equally be viewed as corresponding to excellence in educational activities. It is the level of actual accomplishment or proficiency one has achieved in an academic area, as opposed to one’s potential.

In recent times, it has been observed that secondary school students’ academic achievement especially in public examinations has been consistently poor. This has been revealed by various examination bodies such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC).In May/June 2012 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), 38.81 percent of candidates who sat for the examination obtained five credits and above including English and Mathematics. In 2013, the percentage declined to 36.57 percent.

Eguridu (2014) went on to announce the results of May/June 2014 WASSCE results. According to the head of WAEC national office in Lagos, a total of 1,705, 976 candidates registered for the examination. But only 1,692, 435 students, consisting of 929,075 males and 763, 360 female candidates actually sat for the test.

It is instructive to note that only 529, 425 of them, representing 31.28 percent, obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English and Mathematics. This figure when compared to the 2012 and 2013 May/June WASSCE results shows a marginal decline in the performance of candidates. (Source-head of WAEC national office in Lagos). These poor academic achievements of students have been a worry to all, and have attracted a lot of studies in recent times. Many studies have sought to find out the factors that influence the academic achievement of students in secondary schools. One of the factors is believed to be individual self-concept (Elbaum and Vaughn, 2001). Self-concept is a term used to explain how people value themselves.

Hanushek, Rivkin and Kain (1998)sees self-concept as the set of perceptions or reference points that one  holds to be true  about oneself, which include the set of characteristics, attributes, qualities, deficiencies, capacities and limits as well as values. Manning (2011) opines that self-concept refers to a student’s perception of competence or adequacy in academic and non-academic domains, for instance social, behavioural, and athletic and is best represented by a profile of self- perceptions across domains. As students grow and develop, they acquire the skills to understand how others view them and could better distinguish between their abilities and perceptions. In this regard, self-concept could be viewed as a product of people’s opinions and self-perception. McLeod (2008) viewed self- concept as a general term used to refer to how people think about or perceive themselves/valuate themselves; adding that to be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.

Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger and Vohs (2003) were of the opinion that self-concept fundamentally relates to an individual’s belief about own self including one’s attributes, who and what the self is. The authors stated that self-concept denotes the sense of being separate and distinct from others and the awareness of the constancy of the self. The theorists added that self-concept is a factual description of how one perceives oneself, an accurate statement of what one believes about oneself. If one’s perception is distorted, then the description might not be an accurate depiction of the individual. For the present study self-concept might refer to how one views and holds oneself in relation to others in the immediate environment. In this study the self-concept of an individual may be viewed from two perspectives: high and low.

Pickardt (2011) opined that the foundation of self-concept is laid in the initial emotional attachment parents have for their children. The theorist further explained that an individual’s self-concept is substantially influenced by the individual’s interaction with parents who provide care and support in a persons life.

It is highly believed that parental support may exercise considerable influence on students’ self-concept. It has been increasingly recognized in the fields of education and psychology that parents have significant impact on the students’ self-concept (Green and Walker, 2005). Parental support is fundamental in the development of sound self-concept.

The recognition of the invaluable roles parents play in students’ self-concept is reflected in the educational policies of many nations, including Nigeria. These policies mandate that schools implement procedures that actively involve parents in the educational process (Epstein, 2001). It is likely that these policies are based on the large body of research that has documented the substantial influence of parental support on students’ self-concept. Much of the empirical research on parental support originate from a pervading theme in various developmental and social-psychological theories that parent influences, to a considerable extent, shape individuals’ world view. As an example, social cognitive theory of human behaviour and learning lends credence to the generally held view that individuals’ functioning has its foundation primarily in parental behaviour and tutelage (Bandura, 1977). Epstein (2005) believes that parental support is very essential to the development of healthy self-concept of students.

 Also many hold the view that students’ sense of emotional security and comfort tend to be dependent on the quality of their relationship with their parents. Parents are thus uniquely important to the students because students’ feelings have a direct bearing to the level of intimacy with their parents.  Epstein (2001) reported that most students took after their parents in terms of self-concept and desire to learn.  Thus the acceptance or rejection by parents is also postulated to have a major influence on students’ personality and psychological adjustment. Epstein (2005) opined that parental support is a commitment on the part of parents to offer succour and assistance, material and non-material, to their children to attain sound emotional state and proper adjustment. It involves the expenditure of time, energy and resources.

La Bahn (1995) adduced that anything a parent does, either intentionally or unintentionally to provide or promote a bond between home experiences and the educational programme constitutes parental support. Concerning parental support, it might be stated that the emotional need for positive response from parents is a powerful motivating factor. When students do not get this need satisfied adequately by their parents, they might be predisposed to respond emotionally and behaviourally in specific ways. Amato and Fowler (2002), are of the opinion that adequate parental support serves as a boost to the development of high self-concept and acquisition of inter-personal skills. The authors postulated that parental support includes good parenting in the home,

provision of a secure and stable environment and intellectual stimulation as exemplified by parent-child discussion. Other elements of parental support might involve participation in school activities, sharing information with school authorities and participation in school governance.(Amato and fowler, 2002).

This goes to indicate that parental support involves a wide range of activities ranging from good home training and character moulding to inculcating good study habits and sound moral tone. Also parental support has to do with provision of skills, guidance, training, advice and meeting students’ needs. Based on this, one might say that parental support could be provided in terms of physical and intangible means. Physical provisions include the supply of suitable clothings, food, drugs, finance and other personal effects. The intangible aspects include advice, home training, inculcation of morals and values and proffering congenial atmosphere to assimilate sound attitude and habits.

Desmone (1999) postulated that parental support refers to actions taken to accomplish proper adjustment on the part of the children both at home and in the school.  Parental support presupposes that children must be protected, supported, guided and assisted to embark on the right course. The young ones might derail socially and academically if left entirely on their own. Adewole (2004) posited that parental support implies the assistance rendered to young ones by their parents, sponsors, pastors, mentors and significant others in order to achieve worthwhile goals. The assistance could come in different forms. It might include helping the students to carry out school or class assignments promptly, assisting the young ones to imbibe good study habits and learning skills. Durojaiye (1998) asserted that parental support is concerned with shaping the child’s self-concept as a learner and through setting high standards. The shaping or behaviour modification might be realized through parental training programmes, good home practices, initiatives to enhance home-school cooperation and programmes of family and community education.

Pickhardt (2011) defined parental support as parents’ commitment to their children and adolescents, a solid framework to depend upon, at least until young people attain the age, experience and determination to fully depend upon themselves. Pickhardt (2011) observed that neglect of parental support might lead to abandonment whereupon the student is left to one’s own fate. In this regard, young people can wrestle with such issues as anxiety, insecurity, and basic distrust, fear of commitment, low self-concept or high need for control. For the purpose of this study, parental support embraces all the actions taken by parents with a view to enabling the students accomplish worthwhile educational goals. It also refers to all the inputs- energy, resources and time dissipated by parents in ensuring that children emerge as highly literate, numerate and self-reliant individuals who are able to contribute maximally to societal development. Pickhardt, (2011) identified two levels of parental support: primary and secondary. Primary parental support might be said to be the first supportive behaviour to be manifested by parents towards the young ones. It is fundamental to the growth, development and emotional stability of the child.

Secondary support is the support offered to students until they reach the age of discretion. It is withdrawn as soon as the adolescents could stand on their own and fend for themselves.

Some researchers (Oken, 2005, Manjola, 2012) believe that boys and girls need parental support on an equal measure irrespective of their gender. Oken (2005) viewed gender as a social term used to create distinction between a male and a female. It relates mostly to the roles assigned to either males or females. Gender is also a status ascribed by the society. Hurtig, Kail and Rouch (1991) stated that gender, in its narrowest sense, means socially constructed sex roles, pertaining to male or female. The authors also viewed gender as referring directly to relations between the sexes either in the sense of social relations, social functions or conceptual relations. Gender implies knowledge of the differences between the sexes. This presupposes grouping together all the differences identified between men and women, be they individual differences and differences in social roles or cultural representations-the grouping together of all that is variable and socially determined. In essence, the overriding need is to consider men in relation to women, whether these relations are complementary or conflictual. The usage of gender was further facilitated by the holding of a succession of important conferences such as the Cairo conference (1994) and the Beijing Conference (1995) during which the concept became well established  and gained popularity, (Hurtig, Kail and Rouch, 1991). The aftermath of the two conferences was that gender was brought to the limelight. There was better understanding of the concepts of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, how they are related and how they differ. Many organizations, schools, establishments and agencies were able to identify the critical role of gender in the experiences and perceptions of people. Many countries started modifying and adapting their curricular to make them gender-responsive. A gender-responsive education system is one which ensures that the different needs of boys and girls in their enrolment, participation and achievement in the learning environment are met. Furthermore, a gender-responsive education is protective. Male and female learners of all ages have access to quality, relevant and protective educational opportunities (Manjola, 2012). In the context of this study, one might state that the term ‘gender’ refers to the social roles, responsibilities and expectations of men and women, boys and girls in a specific community/society at a specific time. The different roles for boys and girls, men and women are prescribed by the community and assigned from birth and reinforced over time.

Some theories are considered appropriate to this study. They are social learning theory by Bandura (1977), self-concept theory by Rogers (1951), self-concept theory by Adler (1960), achievement motivation theories by Atkinson (1957) and Mclelland (1953). All the theories relate to the current study since they concern behaviour modification. But the theory of Adler (1960) has a direct bearing on the current study. This is because Adler’s explanation of superiority motive corresponds to the exhibition of high self-concept. Again the emphasis on achieving set goals is in tandem with the ultimate aim of parental support. One might submit that the whole essence of parental support is to motivate the students to achieve improvement in their self-concept and academic achievement.

          However, the influence of parental support on students’ self-concept as well as their academic achievement is not clear. One is not even certain if  parents and other  care givers in Udi Education Zone are aware of the unique benefit of parental support in relation to students’ self-concept and academic progress. This therefore arouses the researcher’s interest in investigating the influence of parental support on self-concept and academic achievement of secondary school students.

Statement of the Problem

Students are the future of the Nigerian tomorrow. However, one wonders what the Nigeria future would look like with a dense population of underachievers as shown by the alarming rate of poor academic achievement of the Nigerian children in secondary schools.

It is believed by many educationists that students perform poorly owing to the fact that students do not receive adequate parental support in terms of parent-child discussion and interaction, regular medical check-up, academic assistance at home, balanced diet and stimulating learning environment.

It might be pertinent to mention that there is a pervading aura of inferiority complex among students in the study area. Majority of them lack exposure and this might be attributed to their upbringing and nature of social environment.

Several researchers and some reviewed literature have indicated links between parental support and self-concept ratings. Some of these studies have stressed the importance of purposeful parental support in enhancing students’ self-concept and their academic achievement. Equally, research evidences have shown that purposeful parental support promotes self-reliance, confidence and composure, cheerfulness, academic excellence, courage and boldness. The researcher hereby, somehow, claims that no investigation within the researcher’s reach has been carried out in the area of study relating to the influence of parental support on the self-concept and academic achievement of students. It is this gap that the writer intends to fill.

The problem of this study put in question form therefore is: “What is the influence of parental support on the self-concept and academic achievement of secondary school students?”

Purpose of the Study

          The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of parental support on students’ self-concept and academic achievement.

Specifically, the study seeks to:

1.     Examine the influence of parental support on secondary school students’ self-concept.

2.     Determine the influence of parental support on secondary school students’ academic achievement.

3.     Find out the influence of gender on secondary school students’ self-concept

4.     Ascertain the influence of gender on secondary school students’ academic achievement.

Significance of the Study

The result of this study will have both theoretical and practical significance. The study is theoretically anchored on the self-concept view of Adler. This is primarily because Adler held the notion that people naturally incubate the instinct and desire to become increasingly effective and competent. This study will be of immense benefit to the following: teachers, parents, educational planners, school administrators, government educational agencies, non-governmental organizations, psychologists and researchers. A teacher cannot perform maximally if he is not conversant with the students’ individual variations, aspirations, their challenges, interests, idiosyncrasies and learning patterns. Therefore, the knowledge of self-concept of students will assist the teacher in helping the child to learn. This is informed by the fact that the teacher understands the natural instincts of the child well and how to assist the individual to acquire knowledge. The findings of this study will enable teachers adopt better teaching techniques. This is with a view towards raising the academic achievement of the students as well as to enhance their self-concept.

 The study will sensitize parents on the need to manifest stimulating supportive behaviour through parent-child discussion and assistance in tackling take-home assignments. This might exercise a substantial impact on the self-concept and academic achievement of students.   

This work, when published, will enable educational planners and school administrators promulgate and implement polices that involve parents contributing towards raising the learning achievement of students. They will equally be sensitized on the rewarding impact parental support exercises on the self-concept of students

The result of this study might impel government educational agencies and non- governmental organizations to package programmes such as seminars and workshops on the invaluable roles parents would play in boosting the self-concept and academic achievement of students. The participants in such workshops might include school heads, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.    

The results of this study will indicate if gender has minimal or substantial influence on self-concept. The outcome of the investigation will hopefully substantiate or vitiate the influence of gender on the academic achievement of secondary school students. It will also help teachers in guiding the students to dispel low self-concept and adopt high self-concept.

This study will equally serve as reference for future researchers, psychologists and teachers who might wish to carry out further investigation on the topic being researched upon.

Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out in public/government secondary schools in Udi Education Zone of Enugu State. The study will include all senior secondary two (SSII) students in the study area. Specifically, the study will attempt to establish the influence of parental support which will be limited to primary and secondary parental supports. On the other hand, self-concept will be limited to two levels: high and low self-concept and academic achievement. Finally, it will seek to ascertain how gender influences students’ self-concept and academic achievement.

Research Questions

To guide this study, the following research questions are posed:

1.       What is the influence of parental support on the self-concept of secondary school students?

2.       What is the influence of parental support on the academic achievement of secondary school students?

3.       What is the influence of gender on secondary school students’ self concept?

4.       What is the influence of gender on the academic achievement of secondary school students?


The following null hypotheses formulated to guide the study will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.

Ho1:  There is no significant influence of parental support on students’ self-concept.

Ho2: Parental support has no significant influence on students’ academic achievement.

Ho3: Gender will not significantly influence students’ self-concept.

Ho4: Influence of gender on students’ academic achievement is not significant.





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