Effect Of Family Background Variables On Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement In Biology

Biology Education Project Material

Effect Of Family Background Variables On Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement In Biology


The objective of this project was to investigate the effects of family background variables on academic achievement of students in selected secondary schools in Lagos State.

The information given by and opinions of the participating students formed the premises on which the results and conclusion were based. The investigation was conducted with four hypotheses, which formed the nucleus around which information gathered rotated.

There were 150 students selected randomly from three secondary schools in Lagos State. The instruments used were a validated questionnaire and an Index of Family Research. The responses formed the data used for the calculation and analysis used to test the stated our hypothesis. Pearsons Product Moment Correlation was the statistical method used for this study. The results of the statistical analysis revealed that there exists a relationship between academic achievement and family background variables such as parental level of education, family background relations and also a relationship between socio economic status and family relation.

All these variables have effect on the academic achievement of students. The parents and the school should be aware that factors in the home can either improve or hinder the learning of their children and students respectively.

Parents were advised to make the home environment conducive for their children.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page i
  • Certification page ii
  • Dedication iii
  • Acknowledgement iv
  • Abstract v
  • Table of content

Chapter One:


  • Background of the Study
  • Statement of the problem
  • Purpose of the study
  • Research questions
  • Research Hypotheses
  • Significance of the study
  • Scope of the study

Chapter Two:

Review Of Literature

  • Conceptual framework
  • Concept of family
  • Concept of family Background
  • Concept of achievement
  • Concept of academic achievement
  • Theoretical framework
  • Parental attachment theory
  • Self Determination theory
  • Maslow’s Motivational theory
  • Review of Empirical Studies
  • Summary of related literature reviewed

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • Research Design
  • Area of study
  • Population of the study
  • Sample and sampling technique
  • Instrument for data collection
  • Validation of the instrument
  • Reliability of the instrument
  • Method of data collection
  • Method of data analysis

Chapter Four:

Results And Discussion

  • Result
  • Research question one
  • Research question two
  • Research question three
  • Research question four
  • Research question five
  • Hypothesis one
  • Hypothesis two
  • Hypothesis three
  • Hypothesis four
  • Hypothesis five
  • Discussion of the findings
  • Influence of parental level of education on students’ academic achievement in biology
  • Influence of parental occupation on students’ academic achievement in biology
  • Influence of parental income on students’ academic achievement in biology
  • Influence of family size on students’ academic achievement in biology
  • Influence of parental motivation on students’ academic achievement in biology

Chapter Five:

Conclusion And Recommendation

  • Conclusion
  • Educational implication of the study
  • Recommendations
  • Limitation of the study
  • Suggestion for further the study
  • Summary of the study
  • References
  • Appendice

Chapter One


Background to the Study.

The family is important in many ways in the life of an ordinary child. A family refers to the household or all those who live in a house such as parents and their children. When a child is born, his first contact(s) with the world is family (parents). He is first exposed to before any contact with the outside world.

The family background of a child plays a distinctive role in a child’s growth and development of a child depends solely on his/her physical inheritance and the powerful influences emanating from the environment i.e. nature and nurture (Osarenre, 1996).

The family background and environment in which a child grows up determine what he inherits from nature and what he gets from nurture. According to Plomim (1990), shatter (1993), human attributes and personality are end products of the interaction between heredity and environment.

There are two factors that affect school performance of students these are these home related factors and the school related factors. The home related factors include parental education occupation, family size, parental attitude to education and their expectation, parental involvement in child’s academic, parenting style and so on. The home is a factor that makes a difference in school environment (Banjo, 1961, Plowdem 1967, Bowler and Levim 1968, Marijobanks, 1973, Parke, 1978, Taiwo, 1981).

The report of Plowden (1967) revealed that ‘a students’ family background proves to be a more significant predictor of his/her achievement than the input provided by the school system. Bowler and Levim (1968) observed that the family background characteristics of a set of students determine not only the advantages with which they come to school but they are also associated closely with the amount and quality of resources that are invested in the school. As a result of this, they argued further that children from rich family background have two distinctive advantages over the children from poor family background. First, the combination of material advantages and strong educational interest provided by their parents stimulate high achievement and education motivation and second, their parents’ relatively high income and interest in their education lead to stronger financial support for and greater participation in the school that their children attend.

According to Lam, Shui Fong (1997) there are several variables in students’ family background that has direct influence on their academic performance among which are the socio-economic status of students’ parents and family relationship i.e parent-child relationship. Socio-economic status influences educational achievement. Naturally, some students will perform better than others in the class, but the degree to which family background factors contribute to this natural phenomenon should be studied to reduce the effect of socio-economic differences on the natural event.

The level of parental education as a family background of home related factor is also a contributing factor. According to Fafunwa (1963), the level of education of those with whom a child lives influences his/her academic achievement. If there is a considerable number of educated people in the home in which a child grows, he will be able to discus his/her academic problems with them.

Statement Of The Problem

The problems of mass failure and rampant cases of examination malpractices among youths at the secondary level of education in Nigeria is a factor that has been working against expansion of education at all levels of education in Nigeria. in the bid to contribute to the explanation on students performance, the study sought to examine the effect of family background variables in secondary school students’ Academic performance in Biology.

Research Questions

  1. Do the relationships that exist among the students and members of their family affect the students’ academic performance in Biology?
  2. Is there a relationship between that parents’ educational level and the students academic performance in Biology?
  3. What is the effect of parents socio-economic status as measured by their occupation, residence and properties owned on the academic performance of the students in Biology?
  4. Does the socio-economic status (SES) of the parents of the students has effect on the quality of the support the parents provide for the students to enhance their academic performance in Biology?

Purpose of Study

This study is an attempt to examine the effect of family background variables, socio-economic status, and family relations an academic achievement of SS2 students in Biology in selected secondary schools in Onigbonbo Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The study is designed to find out:

  1. The relationship between parental socio-economic status and academic achievement of respondents in Biology.
  2. The relationship between family relation and academic achievement of respondents in Biology.

Definition of Terms

1. Socio-economic status:

This is defined as the educational qualification, occupation and income of an individual or a family.

2. Family Background variables:

These are the differences in the socio-economic status of the different families that make up a community or society.

3. Family relation:

This refers to the relationship that exist between parent and their children.

4. Academic achievement:

This refers to the performance of students in school as shown by their continuous assessment record.

Significance of the Study

The study is significant in that:

  1. The data collected will provide information on the perceived relationship between family background variables and academic achievement of secondary school students in Biology. This study should help parents to create an appropriate learning environment at home to enhance academic performance of their children.
  2. This study will also enable parents and teachers to appreciate the difficulties the students encounter during learning process and how these can affect their academic performances. This will in other words, help to foster interaction and understanding between teachers and students, parents and students since both parents and teachers have the knowledge and understanding of the effect of the family background on academic achievement.
  3. It will help in improving the relationship between parents and their children (students).
  4. The outcome of this study will be beneficial to teachers, educators and school counselors in dealing with students’ problem.
  5. The study is also significant in that it will make good contribution to existing literature on effects of family background on academic achievement.

Scope of the Study

This study is limited to three secondary schools in Onigbongbo Local Government Area of Lagos State. The work studies the effect of parents’ socio-economic status on the academic achievements of the students in Biology.

Chapter Five

Conclusion And Recommendation


From the findings of the study, it was concluded that family background factor influence academic achievement of students in schools. Prominent among the family background factors include parental educational level, parental income and parental motivation. Educational statuses of the parents and students’ academic achievement have a close relationship between them. This is because parents themselves having being to school realized the importance of being educated. They stand better chance to support their children for better academic achievement.
On parental motivation, it was found that students who received encouragement and motivation from the family perform better in schools than their counterparts from non encouraging families. The major reasons for the observed difference in performance are the motivation and positive attitude of the parents towards their children’s academic progress.

The acceptance of hypotheses two and four was based on the result of statistical data from the field. Personal observation equally showed that parental occupation cannot determine student academic achievement. This is because education which is the major determinant of occupation may not be the same in the parents and children. Again, a child from large family size, who has strong determination can compete favorably with another child from small family size. Moreover, most children from small families are over pampered and undetermined.

Educational Implication of the Findings of the Study

The findings of this study have some implications for the parents, students and the teachers.

The first hypothesis revealed that students from educated parents perform better in academics than students from uneducated parents. This phenomenon is as a result of intellectual stimulation and direct involvement of educated parents in their children’s education. This helps students from such background perform better than those from uneducated parents.

This phenomenon can be corrected by stimulating school environment and teachers’ positive reinforcement strategy which can compensate for non stimulating and negative reinforcement prevalent in an uneducated families. For students from uneducated families, this school situation aids to maintain the same home conducive atmosphere for academic career and facilitates learning and academic achievement.

Another major finding revealed that students from parents of high income status posses most of the necessary materials for their learning, unlike students from parents of low income status. This is an indication that children come to school from different background and these backgrounds presents their own problems for the children. The teacher having realized this condition should be conscious when dealing with the students. Students who came from low income class parents should not be mocked or compared with their counterpart from high income status parents when they failed to meet up in providing most of the materials needed for their studies. If such comparison occurs the students from low income status parents would feel inferior and that will affect their academic performance the more, and may even lead to the exhibition of abnormal behaviour trait.

All the above facts not withstanding, more efforts are still required from the parents, especially from the low income group in ensuring that adequate facilities are provided for the students. Students from low income parents requires virtues like dedication, honesty, determination, integrity and tolerance to pursue their career by making use of school facilities during and after school hours to enable them attain high academic performance.

Findings of the study also revealed that parental motivation is one of the major determinants of students’ academic achievement. Therefore, the need for parents to learn how to encourage their children cannot be overemphasized. There is equally the need for parents to be involved in the teaching-learning process of their children, particularly this period where most of the students come to school from their respective homes.

There is also the need for teachers to be more motivational in their teaching. This is possible when they vary their method of teaching and teaching aids to take cognizance of the individual differences inherent in the students from their different family backgrounds. Teachers can ameliorate through filling the parental motivational needs by individualizing instruction and taking special interest in the slow learners who suffer from deficient parental motivational pattern.

Another vital implication from this study is that school authorities should try to avoid grouping or streaming the school children especially according to ability and intelligence. Since the student come from different family background, there is every tendency that they differ in many respects. To have balanced and competitive class, the students should be randomly distributed, avoiding grouping intelligent ones one side and dull ones the other side.

This study equally implies that there is a greater need for more literacy and awareness campaign than before to awaken illiterate parents and instill awareness in literate parents who seem to attach much importance to education. The programme should be extended to rural areas where it is needed most.


Education is an important instrument of change in modern societies. Provision of adequate and relevant education is the best thing a nation can do for its citizens. This is more so, because education is a virile weapon against ignorance, disease, poverty and as a means of producing enlightened, responsible and industrious citizenry and prosperous nation.

Based on this background, the researcher makes the following recommendations:

  1. One of the major findings of this study is that parental income level has a great influence on students’ academic achievement in biology. For example, most cases, parental income is proportional to students finding which also determine to a large extent, the level of academic achievement of students. In this case, it is recommended that parents as a matter of importance should diversify their sources of income so that they can be able to provide fund their children in school for better academic achievement.
  2. Parents should be made to realize the importance of motivation in determining their children academic achievement in schools, especially the realization that most of the male students are abandoning school for business. Parents should be actively involved in encouraging students to learn and also in supervising students academic work at home
  3. Students’ should give serious attention to studies at home, in addition to other various works done, since the amount of effort they put in their studies influence their academic achievement.
  4. Teachers should understand that teaching is a job of conscience. Teachers should handle the students as their own children; try by all means to meet the students’ academic social and psychological needs. They should be motivational in their teaching and use different teaching methods so as to go along with all categories of students. This will help bridge deficiencies from negative family background.
  5. The state and Federal Governments should legislate against examination malpractices. Such situation will force students to sit up and take their studies serious. Again, the various governments should create employment opportunities for the graduate of various institutions of higher learning. Lack of job opportunities contributes to the loss of interest and zeal for education by students. The current situation in Nigeria where graduates are left with little or no hope of employment gives no encouragement to the secondary school students for further education.
    Rather, the students see going to school is a waste of time.

Limitation of the Study

Like any other human endeavour, this study faced certain limitations.

Some of these limitations include:

  1. Choosing the topic for this study, constructing and administering the instrument and getting it validated were not easy exercise.
  2. The researcher paid repeated visits to some schools before he was permitted to interact with the students (respondents).
  3. Although the researcher and the research assistants gave the students adequate instructions and guidance for completing the questionnaire, some of the students awarded scores arbitrarily to the questionnaire items.
  4. The study was carried out in three local government areas that made up Lagos city Education Zone. It was assumed in the study that the schools sampled in Lagos city Township where the zonal headquarters were located constitute the Urban schools and the students from those schools were regarded as Urban students as used in the study. This poses a limitation to the study as this does not portray a pure or ideal representation of Urban students.
  5. The researcher’s zeal for the study was initially seriously undermined by the intermittent strikes of secondary school teachers and university lecturers.

Suggestions for Further Research

Research work remains an important exercise as far as human existence on earth continues. Such being the case, the following areas have been suggested for further research work:

  1. Influence of peer pressure on academic achievement of secondary school students.
  2. Academic and environmental stress affecting academic achievement of secondary school students.
  3. Gender and Age as predictors of academic achievement in secondary school.
  4. Influence of poverty on students’ academic aspiration.
  5. A similar study should be carried out in other parts of the country to compare the findings.

Summary of the Study

The problem of this research is whether there is influence of family background on students’ academic achievement in biology among secondary school students in Onigbongbo Local Government Area of Lagos state. Although many think that students perform poorly in academic because the teachers did not teach well, some other people believe that this problem is not caused by teachers. They traced the problem to the family background of students which has the capacity to promote or retard students’ achievement.

Bearing this problem in mind, the focus of this study is to find out whether there is any influence of family background on students’ academic achievement in biology by examining the influence family background variables like parental education level, parental occupation, parental income level, family size and parental motivation on students’ academic achievement in biology.

To Achieve the Objectives:

This study was carried out on fifty three (53) public secondary schools in Onigbongbo Local Government Area with a total population of Seven thousand, nine hundred and forty five (7945) students. However, proportionate random sampling was used to draw four schools each from the three local government areas in the education zone. In this respect, twelve (12) schools were sampled for the study. In each of the twelve schools, primary two (SS2) students formed the subject for the study giving a sample size of eight hundred and sixteen (816) respondents (subjects).
Five research questions and five research hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance were used.

The instrument for data collection was questionnaire designed by the researcher through the review of related literature and validated by experts. The questionnaire contained twenty six (26) items. Likert-type of scale was used to rate the responses. The reliability of the instrument was established using trial test method. The data were analyzed using mean and standard deviation to answer the research question and t-test statistics to test the null hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The results showed that: Students’ academic achievement is influenced by parental level of education, parental level of income and parental motivation while parental occupation and family size are not significant determinants of students’ academic achievement.

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