Attainment A Correlational Analysis Education Essay

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The study assessed the relationship between socio economic status and academic attainment in state and federal polytechnics. A survey of 895 Higher National Diploma Students (Mean = 446.97, SD = 259.81) was conducted by means of self-administered questionnaire across two polytechnics in Lagos state. Descriptive statistics, t-test, Pearson product moment correlation and F - test were employed to analyze the data generated from the survey. The results of the analyses indicated that students in state polytechnics occupied higher socio - economy status than those in the federal polytechnic. However, the correlation matrix depicting the relationship between socio - economic status and academic attainment showed an insignificant relationship. Thus, other factors rather than socio - economic status affected academic attainment at higher level. The paper suggest the need for creating a level playing ground, effective monitoring of higher education and re-engineering of the existing institutions. Readers should note that all tables in this paper appear as appendix.


The concept of inequality is not a strange phenomenon in human existence. Rather, the problems associated with these inequalities have been a source of concern to humanity. However, among the problems (political, social, economic and technological), which human being faces, particularly dangerous are the growing gaps in levels of living between the rich and the poor. The gap covers all the main ways by which people live, the level of income they have, the amount of food they get, their health and living, the quality of education and life style to mention just a few (Philips 1975).

Although the role of education in civilization has been under serious attack, nevertheless education of illiterate masses remains one of the main hopes of improving the standard of living. In Nigeria, particular attention goes to the quality of services rendered by educational institutions. The active involvement of state and of recent, private organization in primary, secondary and tertiary education has been a concern for educational administrators especially as it affects the effectiveness of these institutions to contribute towards the industrial and technological development of Nigeria.

Education is an important ingredient for economic and technological development. For the nation to grow out of poverty, educational system should be stimulated, supported and sustained. In view of this, higher Institutions are considered as citadel of knowledge, where students from diverse backgrounds converge to acquire the requisite skills, knowledge and attitude, for occupational attainment. Hence, these institutions are expected to provide the premise for interaction among students from diverse socio - economic status.

Serious question has been raised concerning the quality of Nigerian educational institutions. Educational administrators proffer solutions by explaining the limitations of these institutions. However, a scientific analysis of students' performance might indicate that the quality of teaching is only one variable determining performance. Socio - economic status, school attendance and stability within the educational system are other vital variables (Blooz and Varrant 1983).

Research on socio-economic status as a determinant of academic attainment is obviously scanty in Nigeria, although a lot has been done in advanced countries. It is against this premise that this study was initiated to establish an empirical relationship between socio-economic status and academic attainment in a rapidly developing economy like Nigeria.

Specifically, the study attempted to analyse the socio - economic characteristics in federal and state institutions, compare academic attainment in federal and state institutions, analyze the relationship between socio-economic status and academic attainment and make necessary recommendations based on the strength of the findings of the study.

Background Knowledge

The relationship between socio-economic status and academic attainment has been documented since the landmark study of Coleman (1966), in which socio-economic status was considered as a strong predictor of students' attainment.

Gallenger (1998), in the same vein, noted that variable within the family, within culture, and within physical environment coupled with limitations in the genetic make up of the individuals have greater influence on the students' achievement than improved educational programme. Similarly, income, family size and the mother's age (when the child was born) were found to be moderately related to achievement.

Crane (1969) also found that socio-economic status affected not only academic attainment but also post college career choice and ability to find careers in prestigious institutions.

These findings were consistent with those of Reitzez and Mutran (1980) when lower class students were found to be affected negatively by the class and upper class affected positively by a different set of class value.

A recent study conducted by Ajetumobi (2002) to determine the effect of polygamy on academic attainment of randomly selected students in Lagos secondary schools revealed the negative effect of polygyny on academic attainment and the acceptance of the husband as the head of the family.

Thomas and Stockson (2005) supported this view by considering the issue of socio-economic status and academic attainment to be more complex than what Colemans (1966) reports first intimated. The complexity of this relationship could be attributed to the levels of analysis. Relationship can be explored on various units of analysis from that of a nation, regions, state, districts, local government and schools, and on to classes and individual students.

For instance, a Meta analysis of socio - economic status and academic attainment conducted by White (1992) concluded that the utility and wisdom of using socio-economic status in conjunction with academic attainment depends largely on the unit of analysis and the validity of the way in which it was defined.

The implication of the foregoing review is the possibility of some intervening variables affecting the relationship between socio-economic status and academic attainment. To control these extraneous variables, the present study was restricted to mainly the Nigerian Polytechnics and particularly those established within the Lagos area.

The study was based on the assumption that socio economic status correlates with academic attainment. To test this proposition the following research questions and hypotheses were formulated;

Do socio - economic characteristics of students differ in federal and state institutions?

Does academic attainment of students differ in federal and state institutions?

Is there any relationship between socio - economic status and academic attainment of students in Nigerian higher institutions?

The foregoing research questions were transformed and tested in the following hypotheses;

Hypothesis 1: There is no significant difference in Socio-economic status between students in                         Federal Polytechnics and their counterparts in State Polytechnics.

Hypothesis 2: There is no significant difference between students in federal and state Polytechnics                         on measures of academic attainment.

Hypothesis 3: Socio-economic status and academic attainment of students in higher institutions                         are not significantly related.


Research Design. The descriptive survey design was used to gather the requisite information for answering research questions and testing the implied hypotheses. Support can be found for our choice of design in Asika (1991), Osuala (1999), Folarin (1999), and Ogunleye (2001).

Sampling and procedure. The population of study comprised the full time HNDI students of Lagos State Polytechnic and Yaba College of Technology, spread across six main faculties (schools) vis: Management and Business studies, Environmental studies, Engineering, Art and Design, Sciences, and Technology. Purposive and simple random sampling techniques were used to select students from each school. We selected the institutions purposively, based on their location within Lagos, which is a state characterized by people with diverse socio - economic status. In addition, the researchers also used simple random sampling to select 895 students from the two institutions. Table 1, provides a summary of the demographic profiles of the respondents. This comprises 415 students from Lagos State Polytechnic and 480 students from Yaba College of Technology. The respondents' age ranged from 18 to 35 years, most of whom were female (53%), and from Yoruba origin (73%).There were more Christians than Muslims who participated in the study.

Research Instrument: The main instrument used in this study was a self-administered questionnaire designed by the researcher. The instrument consisted of three sections. Section 'A' gathered information on the biographic characteristics of the respondents. Section 'B' contained seven questions that sought for information on socio-economic status of respondents such as family size, parents' economic and work status, type of marriage etc. Section 'C' of the instrument measures the dependent variable (i.e. academic attainment), by seeking for information on respondents' attainment in senior school certificate examination (conducted by WAEC and NECO), and National Diploma examination (conducted by the respondents' Polytechnics).

The instrument used in this research was submitted to a panel of educational administrators for the content review of the items in the questionnaire in terms of relevance. After incorporating the minor suggestions, the modified instrument was submitted to the experts who unanimously agreed on the use of the revised instrument. Subsequently the reliability of the instrument was determined using a Cronbach alpha test, which revealed a coefficient of 0.681. These results indicate that the instrument used in gathering data was valid and reliable.

The researchers, along with four-research assistance, administered the questionnaire on participating respondents during their lecture periods. This was possible because the investigator enjoys the support of full time lecturers of the two main institutions used for the study.

Measures: The main variables of the study are socio - economic status and academic attainment. Sex, parent background, type of building, family size, etc were measured nominally. For instance, for gender (male was coded 1, while female was coded 2), type of building (Single room = 1, Room and parlor = 2, Self contained = 3, Bedroom flat = 4, Duplex = 5). The number of credits attained in secondary school was counted to determine academic attainment at the secondary school. Classification of ND result was used to measure academic attainment at the National Diploma level. For instance, pass, lower credit, upper credit and distinction were coded 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. These data were stored in the computer through the 'Epi - Information' (special software designed by World Health Organization, for the purpose of data storage).

Data generated through Epi - Information were exported into the 'statistical package for social sciences' (SPSS) for analysis. Subsequently, the data were analyzed by means of descriptive statistics, student t-test, Pearson product moment correlation and multiple analyses of variance. The tests were carried out at the conventional 95% level of confidence.


The result of the test for mean comparison of socio-economic status and academic attainment in the two institutions indicate that students in the state institution occupied higher socio-economic status, than those in the federal polytechnic. According to the finding shown in Table 2, State polytechnic students ranked higher in both social and economic status than the federal polytechnic students. These results did support hypothesis 1.

It is interesting to note that despite the fact that the mean for senior school certificate examination (SSCE) for state polytechnic did not differ significantly from the federal polytechnic, our findings revealed significant difference in the mean score for ND result. For instance, the mean score for federal polytechnic was significantly higher than those in the state polytechnic. This implies that federal polytechnic may have adopted more stringent entry requirements for HND programme, than the state polytechnic. Hence, hypothesis 2 was accepted.

The results of correlation shown in Table 3 revealed that most indices of socio-economic status do not have significant relationship with academic attainment. Only ND attainment correlated significantly with parents' work status. The findings also showed that facets of academic status, (attainment at school certificates and ND results) were not significantly related, thus hypothesis 3 was not supported.

Meanwhile, a number of significant relationships were revealed by the findings of this study. Sex of respondents was significantly related to SSCE results. A perfect correlation was found between the parents' work status and parents' educational background on one hand as well as parents' economic status and work status on the other hand. All these findings attest to the reliability of our measures of socio economic status.


The study examined socio-economic status and academic attainment in state and federal polytechnics. Findings of the study revealed that students in state polytechnics occupy higher socio - economic status than their counterparts in federal polytechnics. However, the socio-economic status has no relationship with their attainment in these institutions.

These findings were consistent with Thomas and Stockson (2005) and White (1982). The students in state institutions are better placed in terms of parents` social and economic background and family size than those in federal institutions. The logical explanation for this is that federal higher institutions are largely "Federal" in nature while state institutions, in order to survive and grow, may provide opportunities for students of higher socio-economic status.

Data in Table 2 revealed that the school certificate attainment of students in state and federal institutions did not differ significantly while those of the National Diploma attainment differ. We can attribute this to similarities in entry requirements into these institutions, which are regulated by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and National Board for Technical Education respectively.

With regard to the insignificant relationship between the indices of socio-economic status and academic attainment, a logical explanation might be the interplay of other variables like the students' personal effort and intelligence rather than the socio-economic status of parents. However, this is not within the scope of this study.

The assumption that an average student in senior school certificate examination may attain higher academic status in higher institution was proved wrong by the result of this study. The study revealed insignificant relationship between the students' SSCE result and their performance at National Diploma. This may serve as pointer to the declining standard in education. Future studies can investigate this position.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The gap between the socio-economic status of students in Federal and State institutions will affect true federalism negatively and widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The gap between the high and the low-income status must be reduced through equal opportunity for education, in order to sustain educational development.

Since education is the right of every Nigeria, it is essential for the government to empower Nigerians financially to create a level playing ground for students of low and high socio- economic status to identify and develop their potentials. The increasing costs of education particularly higher education may affect students of lower socio-economic status negatively.

In addition, the existing educational institutions need proper monitoring. The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) charged with the responsibility of monitoring polytechnic education in Nigeria needs to articulate and develop an effective monitoring system for both the state and the federal institutions. Although, the body is a federal government establishment, not only federal polytechnics but also state polytechnics must feel the impact.

There is also need for re-engineering of the existing state polytechnics to make them relevant in the contemporary global environment. The problem of inadequate funding needs urgent attention because it is in an attempt to compensate for the short fall that these institutions give preference to students of higher socio-economic status. Consequently, one would expect that if these institutions get the wherewithal (i.e. resources, infrastructure and personnel) to compete nationally and globally, the difference would be abysmal.

However, the results of this study must be interpreted with special attention to its limitations. Hence, the following suggestions for future studies deserve some comments.

First, the concepts of socio-economic status and academic attainment are sufficiently diverse making it difficult to measure these concepts comprehensively. The researcher measured these concepts from the same source and at the same time. Researchers conducting future study may need to access these concepts more comprehensively.

Second, the study conceptualized academic attainment as essentially school certificate and Ordinary National Diploma attainment. A more objective assessment is suggested for future research.

Third, there is need to recognize that socio-economic status represents only one of the variables that affect academic attainment. Other possible variables may require proper investigation in other to determine their effect on academic performance.

Fourth, the sampling frame was drawn from two polytechnics and did not allow for control of extraneous variables, thereby limiting the possibility of generalization of findings. Hence, it would be desirable to enlarge the sample size by extending the study across the entire federation.

Fifth, the study only established the relationship between socio-economic status and academic attainment academic attainment. An experimental research will need to be conducted to establish a cause-effect relationship between these two variables.

Finally, the extent of relationship between the high socio economic status of students in state polytechnic and high incidence of cult activities in this polytechnic, needs scientific explanation in future studies.


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