Investigation Into Openness Values And Counterfactual Thinking Factors Influencing Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement

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Investigation Into Openness Values And Counterfactual Thinking Factors Influencing Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

It is expected that the primary motive of any academic task provided to an individual is to enable the individual access effectively and efficiently his/her academic abilities and potentials to produce successful ends. In other words, the goal of an academic task is to build in an individual a strong sense of judgment and responsibility. This has always been the preoccupation of educational psychologists and many stakeholders in educational industry. The reason being that this has more often than not constitutes a hindrance to academic achievement (Watson, 2002).

The focal point in this research work is to provide scientific prove to the notion that there are strong relationships of certain personality variables with students’ academic achievement. Academic achievement is a major issue among students, teachers, parents, school administrators, and the community at large. Attempts have been made by researchers to unravel the complexities surrounding academic achievement. Psychologists have put forward reasons for disparities in achievement emphasising external factors such as type of school, teaching methods, school location, instructional materials, teachers experience, and so on (West African Examination Council, 2005).

Many spend lots of money in order to secure good schools either for their children or themselves and those who can afford it even invest on education abroad as they believe this will enhance achievement, and which in turn gives an added advantage in terms of securing gainful future achievement (Woolfolk, 2000). However, in other for individual to secure achievements, there is need for such to put into consideration the place of their personality. Human personality and achievement are the most important issues of personality and educational psychology.

Personality is a multidimensional psychological construct that can influence the way students engage in learning and their academic performance. This is possible because Personality is the sum total of the characteristics that differentiates people, or the stability of a person’s behavior across different situations. In other words it means those qualities the individual is noted for. Agbakwuru (2000), described personality traits as consistent differences between the behaviors characteristic of two or more people. By implication, personality does not only vary from one individual to another, it also, defined a person or gives the total identification of person.

Daft, (2005) opines that the five major personality factors include, surgency, agreeableness, adjustment, conscientiousness, or openness to experience. However this study will focus on conscientiousness or counterfactual thinking factors and openness to experience factors. Openness to experience involves being inventive and curious. It makes a person cautious and conservative. These personality dimensions and the poles of their traits appear as critical considerations for academic achievement. Openness to experience is a measure of depth, breadth and variability in a person’s imagination and urge for experience (Udoudo, 2012). This factor relates to intellect, openness to new ideas, cultural interests, educational aptitudes, and creativity including interest in varied sensory and cognitive experiences.

As explained by Howard and Howard (1995) people with high openness to experience have broad interests, are liberal and show great novelty while those with low openness to experience are conventional, conservative and prefer familiarity. The concept of openness to experience involves several levels of bi-polar psychological abilities such as: Down-to-Earth–Imaginative, Uncreative–Creative, Conventional– Original, Prefer routine–prefer variety, Uncurious–curious, Conservation–liberal. More so, McCrae (2004) defined openness factors as experience involves active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference to variety and intellectual curiosity.

Counterfactuals on the other hand are thoughts about alternatives to past events, that is, thoughts of what might have been. Counterfactual thoughts are mental representations of alternatives to past events, actions, or states (Byrne, 2005). They are epitomized by the phrase “what might have been,” which implicates a juxtaposition of an imagined versus factual state of affairs. Crucially, counterfactual thoughts are often evaluative, specifying alternatives that are in some tangible way better or worse than actuality. Better alternatives are termed upward counterfactuals; worse alternatives are termed downward counterfactuals (Markman, Gavanski, Sherman, & McMullen, 1993; Roese, 1994). When upward counterfactuals focus on personal choice, the resulting emotion is termed regret, which itself has spawned a large literature emphasizing biased judgment and decision making (Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2007).

Counterfactual thinking is defined in terms of cognitions about past events. Although anticipatory counterfactuals (or “prefactuals”) and anticipatory regret have each been explored in earlier research (e.g., Anderson, 2003; Byrne & Egan, 2004; Gleicher, Boninger, Strathman, Armor, Hetts, & Ahn, 1995; Sanna, 2000), they fall outside the scope of our overview. Counterfactual thinking seems to be a common feature of people’s conscious mental landscape (Sanna, Stocker, & Clarke, 2003). The capacity to entertain counterfactual possibilities emerges early in life (typically by age 2) and seems to be evident as soon as children have mastered the lexical skills to express subjunctive ideas of “if only” (Beck, Robinson, Carroll, & Apperly, 2006; German & Nichols, 2003; Perner, Sprung, & Steinkogler, 2004). The primary function of counterfactual thinking centres on management and coordination of ongoing behaviour. Thinking about what might have been influences performance and facilitates improvement, and it does so by way of several distinct mechanisms. Counterfactual thoughts are deeply connected to goals and are a component of regulatory mechanisms that keep behaviour on track, particularly within social interactions (Markman & McMullen, 2003; Roese, 2001; Roese & Olson, 1997).

The above shows that both openness factors and counterfactual thinking factors as personality traits are much relevant in an individual’s attempt to gain good academic achievements. This is evidenced as openness covers individuals urge to attain good academic achievement, while counterfactual thinking factor study alternative to a past event. On this basis, this study investigates Openness-values and counterfactual thinking factors influencing secondary school students’ academic achievement in Ondo Nigeria.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

In the quest to measure various factors influencing academic achievement among students become an important issue in other to work on the productivity in the educational system of the country. although various researcher have indicted governmental, family and environmental factors as major determinants of academic achievement, yet only a few researchers have attempted to study effect off personality factors, let alone placing emphasis of factors of personality that deals directly with thought regarding themselves and event like Openness-values and counterfactual thinking factors. This study, therefore, is set to bridge the gap.


1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to investigate Openness-values and counterfactual thinking factors influencing secondary school students’ academic achievement in Ondo Nigeria.

Specifically this study shall;

  1. Identify various openness values influencing secondary school students’ academic achievement in Ondo Nigeria
  2. Identify various counterfactual thinking factors influencing secondary school students’ academic achievement in Ondo Nigeria
  3. Investigate the influence of Openness values on secondary school students’ academic achievement
  4. Investigate counterfactual thinking factors influence secondary school students’ academic achievement.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study;

  1. H0: there is no factors influencing counterfactual thinking of secondary school student academic achievement
    H1: there is a factors influencing counterfactual thinking of secondary school student academic achievement
  2. H0: there are no factor that influence Openness values on secondary school students’ academic achievement
    H2: there are factor that influence Openness values on secondary school students’ academic achievement

1.5 Research Questions

The following question pilot this study:

  1. What is the combined influence of openness values influencing secondary school students’ academic achievement?
  2. What is the relative influence of counterfactual thinking factors on secondary school students’ academic achievement?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The students would benefit from this study in that, this study would create a familiarity between students and those personality factors in view with reference to their academic achievement. This study would enable teachers to understand their students better and learn to work with them based on their strength on the bases of traits they possess.

Also, teachers will also learn to rebrand their methods of teaching to sooth the learning environment as predicted by student’s personality traits. Counsellors and policy makers would have indicator from this study, which will help them in counselling students and in the conduction of examination respectively. Also the government will benefit from this study as the findings of this study would serve as a vital information for them towards making a good plan that will help education in Nigeria in the nearest future.


1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study operate within the scope of finding the influence of Openness-values and counterfactual thinking factors on secondary school students’ academic achievement in Ondo Nigeria.

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance:

Limited Access to the required finance was a major constrain to the scope of the study.


1.7 Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined based on how they are used in this study:

Personality

This is the sum total of the characteristics that differentiates people, or the stability of a person’s behavior across different situations.

Openness-values

This is a measure of depth, breadth and variability in a person’s imagination and urge for experience.

Counterfactual thinking

This are thoughts about alternatives to past events, that is, thoughts of what might have been.

Academic Achievement

This signifies the results of the total output of every effort put into academics.


1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to evaluate the openness value and counterfactual thinking factors influencing secondary school student’s academic achievement.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of counterfactual thinking factors influencing secondary school students academic achievement.


5.2 Summary

Utilizing a variety of cognitive tasks, individual difference measures, and experimental manipulations of cognitive styles, we found evidence suggesting that self-regulatory individual differences may be particularly important in terms of counterfactual functionality. Specifically, we found evidence suggesting that individual differences in the constructs of autonomy (Bekker& van Assen, 2006), action/state orientation (Diefendorff et al., 2000; Kuhl, 1994), and cognitive self affirmation inclination (Pietersma & Dijkstra, 2012; Steele, 1988) may be important in terms of counterfactual controllability.


5.3 Conclusion

The primary aim of this study is to investigate a confluence of thinking disposition factors influencing the academic self-concept and achievement of secondary schools students in selected concepts in civic education. From the results of the study, it is apparent that there is a joint relationship between thinking disposition factors and students’ academic self-concept. Marsh, Chessor, Craven and Roche (1995) confirmed the ubiquity of academic self-concept by affirming it as one of the most important goals of education and, as well as, mediating variable that facilitates the attainment of other desired learning outcomes. Scholars have also exposed thinking disposition as an essential component of education and a powerful and vital resource in student’s personal civic life as well (Facione, Facione & Giancarlo, 1997; Halpern, 1996; Myers, 2001). This finding confirms Wallace’s (1996) preliminary results from a grounded theory project supported by Thornhill’s (1998) findings of thinking disposition as a reflective and experientially based phenomenon, and Rinn (2007) found out using programmatic selectivitythat gifted students have higher academic achievement and higher academic self-concept than gifted/non honours students, even when controlling for the SAT score. The results also show no joint relationship between critical thinking factors and secondary school students’ academic achievement. This confirms the findings of Azar (2010) who found no significant relationship between academic achievement in the selection and placement examination for universities and critical thinking dispositions of students who have higher and lower critical thinking disposition scores. Other thinking factors which are found to influence secondary school students’ academic achievement are dogmatism, categorical, absolutism, superstitions and need for cognition. This contradicts the findings of Stanovich and West (1997) who identified that college students scored significantly lower on absolutism, dogmatism and categorical thinking scales. None of the thinking factors have significant relationships with students’ academic achievement in selected entrepreneurship concepts in civic education. This finding does not support the findings of Diehl and Wyrick (2015),who discovered that the need for cognition was positively correlated to Multiple Choice Test Score. The fundamental inference from this finding is that critical thinking factors cannot independently influence students’ academic achievement in selected entrepreneurship concepts in civic education


5.4 Recommendations

The researcher suggested that individual differences may be important, particularly in terms of functionality. Likewise, Murphy (2005) suggested that additional research was needed to understand the role of individual difference factors in how learning and preparation take place due to counterfactual thinking. Our research suggests that certain self-regulatory individual differences may be important in terms of counterfactual functionality. However, more research is required, particularly in applied settings, to fully understand the role of these individual differences in counterfactual thinking.


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