Effect Of Birth Order On The Academic Performance Of The Adolescents In Secondary Schools

Project and Seminar Material for Education

Project and Seminar Material for Education


This research examined the “The Effect of Birth Order on the Academic Performance of the Adolescents in Secondary Schools”.

A total of five Secondary School in Ajeromi Local Government Area of Lagos State were used as sample of the study. A further sample was made up of two hundred (200) students randomly selected from the five secondary schools.

Four research hypotheses focusing on the relationship between birth-order and adolescent students academic performance, family size and adolescent students academic performance socio-economic status of a student’s family and his academic performance and significant difference between academic performance of the first child, middle child and the last born.

Chapter One


1.1 Background To The Study

Birth order is significant in child rearing, Consequently, the family is first in the life of the child in several ways. As Cooley puts it “the family is the cradle of personality”. It is primary in point of time in the processing or induction of the child into society and culture.

The new individual’s basic drives and needs can reach fruition only with the setting provided by these people who surround him. His interpersonal relationships will be reflected not in terms of any cultural determinant alone but in terms of the various individual differentials represented by family members. Therefore it is pertinent to note that intellectual development in school subjects has to be viewed closely, putting into consideration the family unit as being the key ingredients in the formation of eventual IQ growth, along with environment variables of a student’s family.

A child’s personality or socialization trend may depend on his sibling position or birth order. The impact of ordinal birth position upon the child and sibling relationship has received considerable exploration nation wide, certain generalizations may now be made if we remember that all of their birth positions are incident to the social and emotional climate of the home. And this depends largely on the types of homes, like the nuclear family, which can be looked at as a democratic home with amount of minimum frustration, And the extended family with its accompanying frustration. Again of these types of families, the socio-economic status also counts in determining its correlation to personality development of the individual student in general and their academic performance in particular.

In this study these generalization will be grouped into the oldest child (as first born child) whose position in the family structure is a unique one though various studies and writers ascribe- different effects on the position.

The youngest child or the last child in the family whose position is also a crucial position depending on the economic condition of the family and accompanying cultural advantages for him.

The study of these age differences will go a long way in helping teachers, parents and the society at large to carry out effective investigation of the effects of birth order on academic performance of adolescent students

Birth order as an integral part of a child formative and development stages is the much that will be focused on as it affects the learning ability and assimilation rate of the students in school.

Coupled with this is the home and parental status and environmental factors militating against students achievement in school generally will also be focused as an area of study, being an essential and a strong determinant of measuring students performance in school.

Birth order or order of delivery of children in this case will be further viewed or analyzed from the perspective of the first born child, the middle born child and the last born child as earlier indicated.

Huni (1966), supports the motion that the environment of the child has a great influence on the acquisition of basic knowledge and skill.

Kernes ( 1997), points out that for the child to grow intellectually and socially with increased independence, to meet daily-life situation, the child must be provided a conducsive environment which helps him develop adequate motor skills and be motivated to learn.

The home is the foundation of education, because it plays a central role in socializing the child. The child spends his early years and learns his language at home.

The importance of the family was stressed by Data (1984) that the environment of the home remains a principal settings in which the child’s initial experience have an enduring impact on the physical, intellectual and personality development of the child”. According to Datta, the early social and physical environment that the home provides for the child has an impact on his later social and cognitive development.

Obanya (1981) further asserted that the environment of the learner affects his attitude to schooling as well as his performance in school.

Uche (1984) claims that there is enough evidence from past research findings, that a child’s school performance is related to his background and the activities which goes on in a child’s home is related to the social status of his parents.

He also believes that many lower class parents, fail to provide even the minimum level of reinforcement and stimulation for their children intellectual development.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The specific statement of the problem is to analyze the extent to which birth order of the children or their positions in the family affects their performance in school along with the socio­ economic status of the family.

Analysis of the position of the children, that is; the first child, middle child and the last born child in the family will be studied closely in order to determine their academic performance in school.

In order to ascertain the reasons for the different levels of performance of the students with respect to their individual positions in the family, the study is investigating the effects of birth order on adolescent students academic performance.

Miner (1969) has pointed out that the socio-economic status of the child was related to the level of achievement attained.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study

The purpose of the study is aimed at stressing the indispensable effects of birth order on adolescent students academic performance. Consequently, parents, teachers and the society will be able to appreciate the various differences in the students throughout their schooling periods. Thus, it is expected that through this study the glaring effects of ‘Birth Order’ be enumerated enough for parents and the society at large to make redress where necessary, and maintain an appreciated standard of breeding children so as to attain a desired result of intelligent, well-motivated children as products of good and sound education.

1.4 Significance Of The Study

The significance of the study lies in the fact that, it would create a sort of awareness about birth order in education achievement.

Obviously, it would give an insight into the reasons why certain students perform excellently in social studies, than the others. At the long run, the finding of this study will help educationists, parents and teachers and the society at large to realize the fact that students’ academic performance is not based on intelligence alone, neither is it base solely on the socio-economic back ground of the students not on family size.

Thus, this study may be useful to educational planners, administrators, educational policy makers and other societal issues Planners. This will make them to be aware of the fact that apart from Intelligent, Quotient(IQ), attitude of the child and the parents’ education and standard of the school the child attends, others factors such as socio-economic status of the family, Birth order have impact on the academic performance of students in the school.

To the parents, this study will also be significant in child rearing. Parents tend to discipline their first born more than their other children and give them more attention.

Bringing out the real picture of the contribution of the family to the academic performance of the child, thus making the parents to bear a part of the blame that would normally be on the child alone for his or her poor performance in school.

The school principals will find the study invaluable in that it will help in understanding the child better so as to know why he or she performs in a particular way.

1.5 Research Questions

The fundamental question which are considered in this study are –

  1. Is there any significant relationship between birth order and students educational development?
  2. Is there any significant relationship between family size and students academic performance?
  3. Is there be any significant relationship between socio-­economic status and adolescent students academic performance?
  4. Is there any significant difference in the academic performance of adolescent students of the first child, middle child and the last child?

1.6 Hypothesis Of The Study

  1. There is no significant relationship between birth order (first, middle and last born child) and adolescent students academic performance
  2. There is no significant relationship between family size and adolescent academic performance.
  3. There is no significant relationship between socio-economic status of a child family and his academic performance.
  4. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of the first child, middle child and the last born.

1.7 Scope Of The Study

The study take a look at the effect of Birth order on students performance and educational development in Ajeromi Local Government Area, Lagos State.

1.8 Limitation Of The Study

The research experienced some forms of limitation in the process of the study. The researcher experienced financial constraints which inhibited the number of contacts that were made at the various destinations and the number of questionnaires that were provided and administered.

There was also general reluctance to give information and other factors like accessibility to source of information due to the formal protocols required by the Principals. Also insufficient availability of Secondary data poses a constraint to the study.

The research is also limited to Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. Thus there is a limit to which the result of the students could be generalized.

1.9 Definition Of Terms

Nuclear Family:

A family which consists of a man, his wife and children. This is a smaller family unit living a separate existence, in contact with relatives but not inter-dependent on them.

Extended Family:

The extended family may be a nuclear family or a polygamous family, it includes, aunts, uncles, cousins, grand parents, wives of sons and their children as all members of the family.

Polygamous Family:

In a polygamous family a man is legally married to more than one wife. Thus polygamous family is made up of a man, his wives and their children.

Socio-Economic Status:

This refers to the social and economic position an individual can find himself or herself. It is regarded as the most significant predicting factor responsible for the academic achievement of students depending on the family.


This is the immediate physical surrounding of the child in the physical environment. There exist forces such as temperature, humidity and pressure which affect the individual and consequently, his learning.

Academic Performance:

It can be defined as the result or outcome of a student during the course of study. It can also be said to be a phenomenon used to grade the successful outcomes of students in particular.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ):

Can be said to mean Judgment, good sense, the ability to comprehend and to reason well and to adapt one self to circumstances.

Home Environment:

This is used to refer to the atmospheric nature of an environment of which a family lives.

Family Size:

This include the total number of children and parents in an immediate family or extended family.

Birth Order:

It is the order of child delivery, the position in which a child comes e.g. first, second and third etc.

Educational Development:

This refers to how far a child is able to go academically and how well he does in every aspect or area of his academics.

The major tool used in gathering data in the study was a set of questionnaire.

Person’s Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient and Chi-Square analysis were used in analyzing the data.

Findings were made, conclusions drawn and recommendation made based on the findings of the study.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does birth order affect academic performance?

With regard to gender, said researchers noted how a man’s birth order could influence his leadership abilities. They also stressed no significant relationship between birth order and academic performance.

Does parental involvement affect child performance in school?

In some cases, children’s academic performance is better when parents are uninvolved. It is possible that behavioral factors not controlled for in this analysis mediate the association between parental involvement and performance in school.

How does a breakdown in family structure affect a child’s education?

When there is a breakdown in the family structure, it may have a tremendous impact on a child and their ability to function ordinarily or achieve academically. In most situations, the child no longer has two parents to depend on.

What is Adler’s theory of birth order?

Alfred Adler believed that birth order has a huge impact on human personality. He identified three factors that affect children and their behaviors: (1) the circumstances of their position in the family, (2) how each child interprets or assesses her/his situation, and (3) the resulting action based on such interpretation. 

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