INVESTIGATION INTO OPENNESS-VALUES AND COUNTERFACTUAL THINKING FACTORS INFLUENCING SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN ONDO NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

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.

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.  

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.

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?

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.

Delimitation 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.

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

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