Biology Education Project Topics

The Effect of Socioeconomic Background on Academic Performance of Secondary School Biology Student

The Effect of Socioeconomic Background on Academic Performance of Secondary School Biology Student A Case Study of Enugu North Local Government Area

The Effect of Socioeconomic Background on Academic Performance of Secondary School Biology Student: A Case Study of Enugu North Local Government Area

Chapter One

Objective Of The Study

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To ascertain the relationship between socio economic background and academic performance of secondary school biology student
  2. To ascertain the effect of socio economic background on student performance on biology
  3. To ascertain the relationship between teachers qualification and student performance on biology



 Factors that affect academic performance

Determinants  of  students’  performance  have  been  the  subject  of  ongoing  debate  among educators, academics, and policy makers. There have been many studies that sought to examine this  issue  and  the  findings  of  these  studies  point  out  to hard  work and  discipline,  previous schooling,  parents’  education,  family  income  and  self  motivation  as  factors  that  can  explain differences  in  students’  grades.  For  example,  Siegfried  and  Fels  (1979)  concluded  that  the student’s aptitude is the most important determinant of his/her learning. In a study of high school students who are in an economics class and want to take another economics course, Beron (1990) found that there is a link between the perceived usefulness of an additional course in economics and the performance of the students in a current economics course.  Gender wise, Williams et al (1992)  found  no  evidence  to  support  the  hypothesis  that  significant  and  consistent  gender 3 differences exist in college students’ performance on economic exams. Romer (1993) found that class attendance is reflected significantly on the students’ GPA. Anderson and Benjamin (1994) found that the most important factors that affect students’ performance in university introductory economics course were the overall achievement level and taking a course in calculus.  With regard to gender, they found that male students outperform their female counterpart. Kennedy and  Tay  (1994)  concluded  in  their  survey  article  that  the  research  on  the  factors  affecting students’  performance  in  economics  points  out  to  student’s  aptitude  as  the  most  important determinant  of learning.   Study  effort,  age  of  student,  and  a  good  match  between  student’s learning style and  instructor’s teaching  style  all have positive effect on student’s performance. Cohn et al (1995) found that memory and note-taking affect learning in the introductory courses in economics.  Devadoss and Foltz (1996) studied the effects of previous GPA, class attendance, and  financial  status  on  the  performance  of  students  of  some  agriculture  economics  related courses. They concluded that previous GPA and motivation affect positively the current GPA. They  also  found  that  students  who  support  themselves  financially  are  likely  to  have  better performance. Zimmer and Fuller (1996) in their survey article of the factors affecting students’ performance in statistics found that statistics anxiety and attitude, and computer experience are linked to students’ performance in statistics courses.  Ellis et al (1998) in their study on the factors affecting student performance in principles of economics, found that the likelihood of a student making a grade of A or B significantly decreases as the number of absences increases; when the student is a member of fraternity or sorority; and as the number of credit hours carried by the student during the semester increases. On the other hand, the chance of a student making an A or  B in the  course significantly increases with having taken a calculus  course; a higher GPA;  and higher SAT  scores.  Lane and Porch  (2002) studied the  factors affecting students’ 4 performance on  an introductory undergraduate financial accounting course and found that age and  students  attitude  toward  accounting  have  significant  effect  on  students’  performance.  Karemera (2003) found  that students’ performance  is significantly  correlated with satisfaction with  academic  environment  and  service  received. He  also  found  that  the  existence  of professional  development  programs  and  internship  opportunities  are  associated  with  better academic performance. With regard to background variables, he found a positive effect of high school performance and school achievement while there was no statistical evidence of significant association between family income level and academic performance.

 Student Role Performance

Student Role Performance (SRP) is how well an individual fulfills the role of a student in an educational institution. SRP involves factors such as, sex of the student, students’ race/ethnicity, school effort, extracurricular activities, deviant behavior, and student disabilities. The affect that sex has on a student’s academic achievement has been debated and heavily researched over the past several decades (Chambers and Schreiber 2004, Eitle 2005). Past research has indicated an academic achievement gap between the sexes, with boys ahead of girls. However, more recent research has shown that the achievement gap has been narrowing and that in some instances girls have higher academic achievement than boys (Chambers and Schreiber 2004). For example, girls have been found to exert more effort at school, leading to better school performance (Ceballo, McLoyd, and Toyokawa 2004). Additionally, studies show that girls perform better in reading than males (Eitle 2005). But, males are found to outperform females in mathematics and science (Eitle 2005). Still, other research has found little to no difference in achievement between the sexes. (Chambers and Schreiber 2004). Race has been shown to play a major role in the life of a student (Battle & Lewis 2002, Crosnoe, Johnson, and Elder 2004a, Tam and Basset 2004, Seyfried 1998). Numerous studies have found non-White, minority students to be at a disadvantage and to reach lower academic achievement than Whites (Battle et al 2002, Crosnoe et al 2004, Tam et al 2004, Seyfried 1998). In particular African-American and Hispanic students have lower test scores. For example, African-American students scored significantly lower on the 1991-1992 SAT assessments than White students (Seyfried 1998). African-American students are also more likely to be placed in lower academic groupings and less likely to be in academic groups for “gifted” students (Seyfried 1998). Both African-American and Hispanic students are more likely to feel disconnected from their school and peers which leads to lower academic achievement (Crosnoe et al 2004a).






Research design

The researcher used descriptive research survey design in building up this project work the choice of this research design was considered appropriate because of its advantages of identifying attributes of a large population from a group of individuals. The design was suitable for the study as the study sought the effect of socio-economic background on academic performance of secondary biology students with special reference to Enugu North local government area.

Research Area

Enugu North is a Local Government Area in Enugu State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the city of Enugu. It has an area of 106 km² and a population of 244,852 at the 2006 census. It has been selected for this study

Sources of data collection

Data were collected from two main sources namely:

(i)Primary source and

(ii)Secondary source

Primary source:

These are materials of statistical investigation which were collected by the research for a particular purpose. They can be obtained through a survey, observation questionnaire or as experiment; the researcher has adopted the questionnaire method for this study.

 Population of the study

Population of a study is a group of persons or aggregate items, things the researcher is interested in getting information the effect of socioeconomic background on academic performance of secondary school biology students. 200 teachers from selected secondary schools in Enugu North LGA were selected randomly by the researcher as the population of the study.




Efforts will be made at this stage to present, analyze and interpret the data collected during the field survey.  This presentation will be based on the responses from the completed questionnaires. The result of this exercise will be summarized in tabular forms for easy references and analysis. It will also show answers to questions relating to the research questions for this research study. The researcher employed simple percentage in the analysis.




It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was on the effect of socio-economic background on academic performance of secondary school biology student. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analysed 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 socio-economic background on academic performance of secondary school biology students.


This study was on the effect of socio economic background on academic performance of secondary school biology student. Three objectives were raised which included:To ascertain the relationship between socio-economic background and academic performance of secondary school biology student, to ascertain the effect of socio-economic background on student performance on biology, to ascertain the relationship between teachers qualification and student performance on biology.

In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Enugu North LGA. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents which includes principals,vice principals administration, senior staff and junior staff was used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analysed using simple percentages and frequencies


This study reveals that family background including family structure, parental occupation and parental education level had no significant influence on students’ achievement in biology. The implication of this is that parents of this age are more aware and serious about giving their children the best education they can irrespective of their own shortcomings. Most studies carried out earlier were showing significant influence of family background on students’ achievement. Consequently many researchers indicted parents as contributing to students’ poor performance in science, for example Okafor (2010). It is gratifying to note that things are changing for the better as regards family background influence on academic achievement as this study reveals. Perhaps from the foregoing, researchers should intensity their research efforts towards other possible factors in order to find lasting solution to the problem of poor performance in this very important subject called Biology.


Based on the findings and discussion made above, the researchers recommend as follows:

  1. Counsellors should be recruited to various secondary schools to help guide and counsel the students from poor SE background and their should be uniformity in teachers dealing with the students from the different background.
  2. Parents should continue getting involved in their children’s academic progress by monitoring their activities in and out of school, ensuring that home work is done, providing all necessary materials they need in school and meeting with their teachers when the need arises.
  3. Since the findings of this study seem to suggest that parents, irrespective of their background status, are getting involved in their children’s academic work, they should be regularly informed of their children’s academic progress by the school authorities.
  4. Similar studies could be carried out in other states of the federation with different cultures to ascertain whether the same result will be obtained


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