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Background to the Study

The importance of students (leaders of tomorrow) in nation building can never be over emphasized. They determine the present and future economic growth of a country, as the development of a nation is highly dependent not on the quantity of human resources in such a nation, but rather on the quality of her human capital. The human resource is simply the people available to undertake or take up the activities in an organization, while the human capital is the people on whom success largely depend on in the organization (Mushtaq & Khan, 2012). While human resource can be seen as the raw material (crude people available), human capital is the output (transformed people). The transformation from being a human resource to becoming a human capital is known as human capital formation. Little wonder a nation like Canada with average population of about 80 million will be more developed than a country like Nigeria with population of about 180 million. The secret is in the quality of the human capital and not just the human resource they have.

For the transformation from human resource to human capital, three factors are said to be responsible, and the improvement of these factors are the measure of rate and level of development of a nation (Mushtaq & Khan, 2012). These factors are education, health and moral values. Thus, the importance of education in a country cannot be overemphasized as virtually every other factor is in one way or the other dependent on it. Education, thus not only imparts knowledge and inculcates values, but is also responsible for building human capital which breeds, drives and sets technological innovation and economic growth (Osakinle, 2010). This can be attributed to the reason UNESCO suggested that countries should make 26% of the total budget for education.

Education, according to Vakhitova and Gadeshinal (2015) is considered as the factor of preservation of ethnographic identity and cultural originality of every nation, and patriotic, spiritual and moral standards of new generations. Besides, education prevents interethnic conflicts and helps to develop cultural diversity of a country as well. The basis of education is the transmission of ideas and information from one person to another and the society at large, which remains an integral part of learning and demands new abilities from workers. New peculiar requirements to the standard of knowledge and skills are formed at the expense of the educational component. Santomero, the president of Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia while delivering a speech at the Pennsylvania Economic Association Annual Conference at West Chester University said “Economics education is vital to the future health of a nation’s economy. It gives students the building blocks for a successful financial future. It empowers consumers by giving them the knowledge and tools to improve their economic well-being. It is the best investment we can make to strengthen our nation’s economy” (Santomero, 2003). When households are capable of building wealth, they are also capable of building more economically stable neighborhoods and communities. Economic education is therefore critical to attaining long term objective of maximum sustainable economic growth of a nation.

Economics has many definitions, as the subject can be viewed from different perspectives. However, Prof. Lionel Robbins’ (1932) definition is the most widely accepted because it is analytical and scientific. He defined Economics as a social science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. It shows that human wants are unlimited, while the resources to satisfy these wants are limited. Therefore, these scarce resources have to be put to alternative uses (Anyanwuocha, 2011). Economics provides a rational guide to individuals, firms and governments in the allocation of scarce resources. Problems of scarcity, choice, scale of preference and opportunity costs always arise in daily life, making Economics as a subject become more of a practical necessity tool and moral obligation for everybody. A study of Economics helps individual build up economic principles and be equipped with tools to understand problems confronting the society. This is as Lord Keynes (a famous economist) put, “Economics is an apparatus of the mind and a technique of thinking” (Anyanwuocha, 2011). Also, the study of Economics will help an individual to contribute his own quota toward increasing the well-being of the society such as suggesting measures to combat inflation and how to increase the economic welfare of the citizens. It also helps in solving basic economic problems of what to produce, how to produce and for whom to produce. Economists are therefore well known for advising the presidents and congress on economic issues, formulating policies, analyzing economic conditions for investment banks, brokerage houses, real estates and other private sector businesses. They also contribute to development of many public policies such as health care, welfare, school reform, pollution and crime. Economics thus studies how societies, governments, businesses, households and individuals allocate their scarce resources.

The importance of Economics in any educational system especially in academic performance cannot be over emphasized. To buttress this, the study of economics serves as an important and useful purpose in modern life (Adu, 2002). It gives facts and indicates what maybe expected to be the outcome of certain lines of conduct. It aids in decision making amidst several alternative choices. It encourages individuals to make wise choice that will satisfy their needs in the presence of unlimited wants and limited available resources. According to Obemeata (1991), Economics as a subject has various values to the learners. It links learners to the essentials of everyday life and it widens the mental horizon of learners. This is because it increases mental capacity to understand various problems of life and to critically analyze a situation and then draw conclusions which provides a guideline for successful life. In other words, Economics is not primarily a body of knowledge, it is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of mind, a technique of thinking, which helps its possessors to draw correct conclusion, and at the end acquire cultural values, intellectual training and vocational training (Amuda, Ali and Durkwa, 2016). The understanding of Economics is a pre-requisite for good citizenship and to be responsible citizens which involves the ability to take rational decision on important economic issues with a good basis for doing so. Dutuma (2014) revealed that Economics prepares one to deal with issues in variety of fields, including business, law, politics, history and accounting. Furthermore, he said economics helps to prepare for future that affects career prospects, investment decisions and retirement strategies. The study of Economics can help to provide valuable knowledge for making decisions in everyday life. It offers a tool with which to approach questions about the desirability of a particular financial investments opportunity, costs of alternative careers, impacts of public policies such as universal health care and a minimum wage and enables students to become critical consumers of statistically based arguments about numerous issues of life.

Economics is generally regarded and accepted as a science subject for many reasons. Some of these reasons include: it is empirical in its approach to problems as other sciences; it predicts as the other sciences. The only difference is that it predicts human behavior only; it uses quantitative techniques through data collection, observation, and interpretation; Economics has theories and laws like other sciences e.g. Law of supply; it adopts the scientific method of investigation, observation and analysis as other sciences. However, Economics belongs to the group of subjects regarded as ‘Social Sciences’. Social science deals with different aspects of human behavior as seen in their groups or interpersonal dealings. There is interaction as man deals with people in the process of buying and selling. No one buys from himself and sells to himself, there must be of necessity interaction with other people. It is this interpersonal relationship that makes Economics a social science. It takes on the method of observation and investigation while studying the behavior of man as a member of the society. The science of Economics is not as precise and accurate as that of natural sciences (e.g. Chemistry, Physics, and Biology), because it deals with human behavior which is complex and subject to change (Anyanwuocha, 2011). Since Economics is accepted as a science, therefore, it is necessary that it meet its required learning outcomes. Wabuke (2013) stated that the search for effectiveness in science teaching has been a focal point of educational research for decades in the developed countries of the world. He further explained that teachers struggle with the issue of students’ motivation and the most effective methods of teaching content and processes in Mathematics. The same can be said to apply to Economics.

Considering the significance of Economics in nation development, it is important to analyse the academic performance of students in the subject matter of Economics. Academic performance refers to an expression used to represent student’s scholastic standing (Ajobeje, 2005). According to Shuaibu (1995) academic performance refers to what an individual can obtain within a specific criteria domain. School, colleges and universities have no worth without student. Students are most essential asset for any educational institute. The social and economic development of the country is directly linked with student academic performance. The students’ performance (academic achievement) plays an important role in producing the best quality graduates who will become great leader and manpower for the country thus responsible for the country’s economic and social development (Ali et.al, 2009). Student academic performance measurement has received considerable attention in previous studies, its challenging aspects of academic literature, and student academic performance are affected by social, psychological, economic, environmental and personal factors. These factors strongly influence the student performance in general, but these factors vary from person to person and country to country.

Student’s academic gain and learning performance is affected by numerous factors which can be classified as students’ variables (characteristics that vary among the students) and external factors that have to do with parent/guardian, teacher, and school. Some of these factors include gender, age, teaching faculty, students schooling, parent/guardian social economic status, residential area of students, medium of instructions in schools, tuition trend, daily study hour and accommodation as hostelries or day scholar (Hakimi, Hejazi, and Lavasani, 2011). However, this study primarily focuses on students’ variables that influence academic performance. In the context of this study, students’ variables and its effect on academic performance implies characteristics that vary among the students and how these characteristics affect the learners’ performances. Some of these students’ variables include age of student, gender of student, student’s participation in the school and classroom, student’s respect for constituted authority, student’s personality, student’s punctuality, and student’s attitude to learning.

Statement of the Problem

Over the years, the difficulties of ascertaining the factors that affect students’ academic performance have continued to be one of the subsisting issues in the teaching and learning processes. To measure the academic performance of students in school is challenging since student’s performance is product of several factors such as social, economic, psychological and environmental factors among others.

The academic performance of students in Economics in secondary schools is very important as this determines how well they perform in higher institution of learning as well as their success in future career. Many researches had been carried out to analyze the factors influencing student’s academic performance in Nigeria. However, many of the past studies (e.g. Considine and Zappala (2002); Staffolani and Bratti (2002); and Minnesota (2007)) that analysed the factors influencing academic performance of students had focused on teachers, student’s parent/guardian socio-economic status and previous academic achievement, while it appears little attention is paid to student’s personal variables that influence their academic performance. Also, considering the fact that many of the past studies that analysed the relationship between students’ variables and their academic performance gives inconclusive results, there seems to be need for further research to provide empirical evidence that will drive towards reaching a meaningful conclusion. It is against this backdrop that this work was conceived and carried out to investigate if there are relationships and the nature of the relationship between the students’ variables and their performance in Economics as a subject. This work looked into finding some personal (inherent) students’ factors that can affect their performance in Economics.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between Senior Secondary Schools students’ variables and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West Nigeria. Specifically, the study investigated the:

  1. relationship between students’ age and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria
  2. relationship between students’ attitude to learning and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria
  • relationship between students’ participation in class and school and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria
  1. relationship between students’ punctuality and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria
  2. relationship between students’ gender and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria                             
  3. relationship between students’ personality and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West,  Nigeria
  • relationship between students’ respect for constituted authority and their performance in Economics in Ilorin West, Nigeria