Guidance Counseling Project Topics

The Effect of Broken Homes on Academic Performance of Secondary School Student in Gwagwalada Area Council, FCT, Abuja

The Effect of Broken Homes on Academic Performance of Secondary School Student in Gwagwalada Area Council, Fct, Abuja

The Effect of Broken Homes on Academic Performance of Secondary School Student in Gwagwalada Area Council, Fct, Abuja

Chapter One

Purpose of the Study

This study is primarily focused on achieving certain objectives which are as follows:

  1. To determine the extent to which children living with their own married parents perform academically better than children living with foster parents.
  2. To determine the extent to which children who live with both parents perform academically better than children who live with single parent(s).
  3.   To determine the extent to which broken home influence the level of parental attention given to children.
  4. To determine the degree of effect broken home exert on the level of academic motivation given by parents to their children.
  5. To determine the influence of broken home on the emotional atmosphere in homes.
  6. To assess the degree in which broken home affect the socio-economic status of parents.
  7. To assess the effect of broken home on the emotional stability of children.




This chapter will focus on the review of related materials to this research work. The discussion here will be centered on theoretical and conceptual issues as well as an extensive look into practical work done by other researchers in this area which will come under the empirical studies. This chapter will end with the summary of all that has been discussed.

Theoretical/Conceptual Framework

 Frustration – Aggression Theory

This theory was developed by Dollard, Doob Miller, Mower and Sear in 1939 as published in monograph of aggression. The theory tends to provide a justification for behaving aggressively. As to the principal hypothesis, Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mower and Sear (1939) posited that “the occurrence of aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration and, contrariwise, that the existence of frustration always leads to some form of aggression”. Frustration, in this context, was specified as the thwarting of a goal response, and a goal response in turn was taken to mean the reinforcing final operation in an ongoing behavior sequence. The theory summarily revealed that: (a) aggression is always based on frustration and that (b) frustration always leads to aggression. Thus going by the context of the theory, it explains that frustration is at the root of conflict and therefore, it is only when people are prevented from achieving their goals that they are frustrated and eventually seek avenue with which to displace such frustration.

The relevance of this theory to a broken home is that broken home which deprives the child from attaining required height of achievement could lead to frustration and consequently aggression and emotional problems which could hamper academic focus.

Relative Deprivation Theory

The relative deprivation theory developed by Gurr (1970) is at variance with frustration – aggression theory. This theory held that any form of deprivation could breed conflict: hence lend credence to conflict handling in homes. According to Gurr (1970), relative deprivation refers to perceived discrepancy between values expected or resources to which one feels entitled and value expected or resources to which one feels capable of acquiring and keeping. The above fact he labeled as “perceived discrepancy between values expectation and values capabilities” (Gurr, 1970, p.37). The theory further maintained that the greater the average degree of perceived discrepancy between expected and value capabilities, the greater the intensity and scope of relative deprivation among members of same group collectively and greater the potential for collective violence. Gurr gives a long review of psychological research on aggression and concludes that frustration-aggression is the “primary source of the human capacity for violence” (Gurr 1970, p.36). Although aggression is neither necessary nor sufficient but sometimes greed drives violence, but frustration is a much stronger motivating force. Deprivation according to the theory occurs when one’s value expectations exceed his/her value capabilities. Values include welfare, security, self-actualization, and so forth. Gurr (Ibid) explained that relative deprivation could happen in three ways thus: “Decremental deprivation”, “Aspirational Deprivation” and “Progressive deprivation” (Pp. 47, 51 & 53). The last two forms are relevant in this study.

Aspirational Deprivation occurs when value expectations rise while capabilities remain the same. In relating the above to a broken home, it is worth saying that broken homes especially single parent home are conceived to be more economically poor than intact homes (Hetherington, 1999) as such, adolescents from such homes are usually faced with stagnated capacities even though with higher value aspiration. Progressive deprivation relatedly results when expectations grow but capabilities wither don’t keep up or start to fall (Gurr 1970, p.53). With regard to broken home, this theory could be link to the stunted or regressive capacity of the broken home resulting from either single parenthood or foster parenting, contra-balanced with the ever increasing needs of the adolescent child from such a home. This theory and the earlier discussed theory (frustration aggression theory) talked more of values and responses thus relate less on value free aspect of interpersonal interactions.

The Looking Glass Self Theory

This theory as analyzed by Cooley (1998) talks more of societal interpersonal interactions and self-perception. The theory explained the fact that people shape themselves based on other people’s perspectives, people shape themselves based on what the society perceived about them and thus confirm other people’s opinion on themselves. The theory believed that people mirror themselves from other people’s mind and confirm what people think about them on themselves. Relating this theory to the study of broken home, the truth will remain that children from broken home will always confirm on themselves what people think about them. Just as such children are rated to be emotionally unstable, highly withdrawn, and poor and juvenile delinquent, same idea or conception will be perceived by children from broken homes and confirmed on them. The society should therefore avoid the idea of openly sympathizing and rating such victims.

Just like other theories earlier discussed in this study, the looking glass theory did not in any-way emphasis the need for motivation and the necessary criteria for motivation especially with regard to the broken home. This whole fact warrant the necessity, hence the need for Maslows theory of motivation in this aspect of study.

Maslow Theory of Motivation

Humanism otherwise known as third force psychology emerged as a reaction against the kind of thinking that limit human behavior to responses either to the environment or internal instincts.

Humanism instead examines the total parts of a person’s intellectual, emotional and interpersonal attributes and how each of those parts impact learning and motivation (Mallum and Haggai 2004).

Motivation is considered by Maslow (1943, p.389), as a hierarchy of needs. He sees it from the humanistic perspective and said that people have a drive for self-realization and self-actualization. He believed that everybody strives for self-actualization and that it is reached by first satisfying lower needs before one is free to reach for higher ones. The lower needs Maslow identified to be survival, safety, belonging and self-esteem. The higher ones are intellectual achievement, aesthetic appreciation and self-actualization.

Educational implication and relevance of Maslow’s theory to broken home

  1. From the hierarchy of needs, it is obvious or clear that the deficiency needs or lower level needs comprising love and acceptance, safety, shelter, warmth etc. are required before a student can actually strive for intellectual achievement. Teachers should acknowledge the fact that a broken home provides a child that is deficient in those needs and as such identify the students with such problem and appropriately apply the knowledge of individual differences to help such learners.
  2. Guidance counselors should recognize the fact that a child from broken home lacks good motivation and self-esteem and the need for motivational training should be emphasized.
  3. Single parents and foster parents should be enlightened and exposed to the need to satisfy those deficiency needs, and minimize the effect of family structure on the child’s intellectual achievement and future development.
  4. Government in its effort to enhance educational development should provide special packages and academic scholarship to children from broken homes.
  5. Curriculum planners and policy makers should note the fact that children from broken homes are mostly deficient in the lower level needs of warmth, love, shelter, self-esteem etc. and can hardly excel intellectually without any positive step/policy to remedy such deficiency.
  6. Students from broken homes should be identified and shown special love, courage and hope by teachers and guidance/counselors so as to build in them a sense of belonging and self-esteem.
  7. Aggressive behaviors and non-compliance to school rules and regulation should be traced from family background of students while these found to be based or caused by broken home factors should be handled systematically with affection and reasoning so as to prevent excavation and repetition of behavior.





Research Design

This research is a survey designed to investigate the “Effect of Broken Home on the Academic Performance of Secondary School Students in Gwagwalada Area Council of Abuja”. With emphasis on some selected Senior Secondary Schools in Gwagwalada Area Council. The research is such that data are collected at a particular time from the sample. Both secondary and primary data were used for this study. Student scores were collected from the dean of studies as prepared by their class teacher from terminal exam. The questionnaire was also used to collect data in this research and oral interview.

Population of the Study

The population of this study comprises of one thousand two hundred and eight students (1208) from eight senior secondary schools in Gwagwalada Area Council of Abuja. The one thousand two hundred and eight students are the total population obtained from eight schools. It comprises the population of SSS 1 to SSS 3 of all the schools. The choice of Senior Secondary School is based on the fact that students at that level are considered more matured and sensitive to effectively understand and provide answers to the questionnaire.




The researcher in this chapter presented and analyzed the data collected from the field using the appropriate instruments. The hypotheses were treated based on the nature of problem they addressed and also the corresponding nature of data. The first two hypotheses which are directly linked with students academic performance has its data as students scores collected from the Dean of Studies of each of the sampled schools. The research questions were answered through the use of mean and percentages. The means scores of the first two hypotheses which were directly linked with academic performance are analyzed via the t-test on the basis of the variables; intact homes verses foster homes and intact homes verses single parent home.

The last three hypotheses which talked about parental attention, motivation and students emotional status were treated through administered questionnaires hence they are more of opinion and personal judgment. 400 questionnaires were administered in all to eight sampled schools based on the schools population. A total of 356 questionnaires were collected out of the administered 400.

The chi-square (X2) statistical instrument was used to test the 3 hypotheses that draw’s data via questionnaire. In this chapter, only summaries of calculations are presented while details of calculation can be found in the appendix section.




          This research was carried out in Gwagwalada Area Council of Abuja to appraise the effects of Broken Homes on Academic Performance of Secondary School Students. Eighty Senior Secondary Schools in the Local Government were selected and used as sample.


The main purpose of this research was to find out the Effect of Broken Homes on Academic Performance of Secondary School Students in Gwagwalada Area Council of Abuja.

The background of the study was clearly articulated and the statement of the problem was clearly made along with purpose of the study. Some research questions and hypothesis were also drawn to guide the study.

This study also discussed some theories that are related to the problem on hand and also clarify concepts that enhance understanding of the problem under review via literature review. Theories like the frustration-Aggression theory, Relative Deprivation theory, looking glass self theory and Maslow’s theory of Motivation were discussed in relation to the study. The concept of home was explained and the general role of the home was also discussed. The concept of broken home, its cause and effects on children’s health and general academic performance were also discussed under the conceptual frame-work. Some empirical works previously carried out in this area were also revealed.

The research design, area of study, population of study, sample and sampling technique, instrumentation, validation and reliability of instrument, method of data collection and analysis to be used were also discussed.

After carrying out the research, data was presented, analyzed and findings were discussed.

Recommendation, conclusion, limitations and suggestion for further study shall be offered in due course.


The following recommendations are made:

–        The government and school proprietors should employ school counselors in all secondary schools to provide the necessary assistance to children from broken homes.

–        Parents especially single and foster parents should adequately supervise children to boost their self-esteem.

–        Government and voluntary organizations should identify children from broken homes and provide scholarship and other supporting programmes that could enhance their academic performance.

–        Curriculum and programme planners should employ flexible scheduling when planning school activities so that single parent that must work may be able to become more involved in their children schooling.

–        Teachers should be enlightened on the need to apply the knowledge of individual differences especially with regard to students from broken homes.

–        Teachers and other stakeholders in the school system should avoid stereotyping children from broken homes since some of the problems faced by these children may be caused by expectations based on inaccurate and harmful stereotypes.

–        Adolescent from broken homes should be encouraged by their parents/foster parents and teachers to be involved in sports, hobbies and other extra-curricular activities that will keep their mind occupied.


Broken homes exert a lot of influence on the academic performance of secondary school students, ranging from poor

motivation and parental attention, un-favourable home environment and emotional instability. Owing to this, there is the need for all stakeholders, including guidance, foster/single parents, teachers among others to carrying-along children from broken homes by identifying their individual problems and profiling solutions to same.

Limitations of Study

The researchers could have chosen more aspects to cover but because of financial constraints and time limit, owing to the fact that they have to go into the field to collect and analyze the information within a limited time and coupled with other problems such as transportation and fear of distortion in information, sampling was done to reduce the population to a manageable size.


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