Personality And Academic Achievement Psychology Essay

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Academic achievement is defined by Crow and Crow as the level to which a learner is learning from instructions in a specific area of learning i.e., achievement is reflected by the extent to which skill and knowledge has been imparted to him.

Chemistry academic achievement is the major outcome of education, the level to which a student, teacher has accomplished their educational goals. Previous studies in science education revealed that students at all levels struggle to learn chemistry, but most of them remain unsuccessful (Bodner, 1991; Herron, 1975; Nakhleh, 1992; Sawrey, 1990).

Knowledge of the factors that influence academic success has important implications for learning and education. Academic success is strongly influenced by individual differences in personality and attitude.

Personality and Academic Achievement:

Personality is the basic area of study for psychologists. According to Pervin, Cervone and John (2005):

Personality refers to those characteristics of the person that account for consistent patterns of feelings, thinking, and behaving. Personality is a person set of relatively stable characteristics and trait that account patterns of behavior, in various situations each individual in some way is different and in some way is unique. There is much concern about the science achievement of the students in high schools recently. Accordingly a strong emphasis is currently placed on improving the quality of science education (Morrel & Lederman, 1998).

Personality is categorized into five traits (Borkenau & Liebler, 1992; Buss, 1991; Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1992, 1993; Hogan, 1996; McCrae & Costa, 1987, 1997; Norman, 1963; Cattel, 1946). Costa and McCrae (1986), most commonly used degree of personality traits and developed a popular model for understanding the relationship between personality and different academic behaviors. A widely used personality model, McCrae and Costa's NEO Five Factor Model, or "Big Five Model" (1990), consists of the following personality traits:

Table 2.1: Characteristics of Big Five Personality Traits

Big five traits


Sample Items


Outgoing, Energetic,

Open, Ambitious,

Assertive Sociable,

Affectionate, Fun-loving.

I learn more through cooperating and discussing with my classmates.


Friendly, Tolerant

Compassionate, Flexible,


I realize that helping my classmates in chemistry benefits me.


Careful, Thorough,

Hardworking, Ambitious,

Methodical, Competent

I strive to achieve excellence in everything I do.


Anxious, Nervous, Social

Fear, Emotional



I cannot understand the imaginary concept of Chemistry.

Openness to Experience

Broadminded, Inventive,

Curious, Creative,


I am always willing to accept the new experiences of Chemistry.

The Big five personality traits effect academic achievement differently. The correlation between academic achievement and Extraversion has been found to change from positive in primary school to negative in secondary school and university (Entwistle, 1972; Eysenck & Cookson, 1969). It is likely that introverts have an advantage in written assessments, whereas extraverts would benefit from oral examinations (Chamorro- Premuzic & Furnham, 2003a; Furnham and Medhurst, 1995).

The relationship between academic achievement and Neuroticism is usually understood in terms of anxiety, particularly under stressful conditions such as university examinations (Hembree, 1988; Siepp, 1991). Neuroticism is related to poor self-concept (Wells & Matthews, 1994) and low self-estimated intelligence (Furnham, Chamorro-Premuzic, and Moutafi, under review). Neuroticism often shows low negative relations (Laidra et al., 2007) or even no significant associations with school grades (Puklek Levpu[scaron] [caron] ek & Zupan[caron] i[caron] 2009a).

Openness/intellect factor almost consistently accounts for academic success across grade levels (Baker & Victor 2002; Bratko et al., 2006; Laidra et al., 2007).Students who are quick and eager to learn, curious, interested in new ideas and tend to seek novel educational experiences manage academic-related problems in school more effectively, and consequently, they obtain higher grades than their less open and intellectually oriented peers. Openness to experience is positively related to academic performance (Lounsbury et al., 2003; Farsides & Woodfield, 2003).

Agreeableness is positively related to academic performance (Lounsbury et al., 2003; Farsides & Woodfield, 2003).Agreeableness predicts success in school children according to certain studies, but it is not related to academic achievement in adolescents (Laidra et al., 2007; O'Connor and Paunonen 2007).

Researchers have shown that there are significant associations between Conscientiousness and academic performance in school (Wolfe and Johnson, 1995), undergraduate (Busato et al., 1999), and post-graduate (Rothstein et al.,1994) levels of education. The students who are careful, organized, hardworking, persevering and achievement-oriented may expect to succeed in academic settings.

Noftle and Robins (2007) also reported that conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of academic performance. Although these findings confirm the significance of personality traits, there remains a need to examine other individual level factors such as students' motivation.


The term "attitude" falls within the purview of "scientific literacy", which is a central goal of science education. Usually, scientific literacy focuses on the cognitive knowledge dimension, as highlighted by the proposition "the scientifically literate person accurately applies appropriate science concepts, principles, laws, and theories in interacting with his universe" (Rubba & Anderson, 1978). However, many science educators emphasize that non-cognitive factors such as values and attitudes are important component of science literacy

Attitude can be defined as the feelings that a person has about an object, based on his or her knowledge and belief about that object (Kind et al., 2007). This definition is made based on the model that attitudes include the three components of cognition, affect, and behavior (Bagozzi & Burnkrant, 1979; McGuire, 1985; Rajecki, 1990). Social psychologists have also long viewed attitudes as having three components:

The cognitive component is the thinking or belief that someone has about the attitude object. The Behavioral component pertains to the way people act toward the object (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). The Affective component includes feelings about object i.e., the thoughts and emotions one has toward an attitude object such as chemistry lessons and chemistry subject are referred to as affective point of view. We can say "Affect" pertains to how people feel about the object (both good and bad feelings), as expressed via physiological activity or overt communication.

affective characteristics are as much important as cognitive variables in influencing learning outcomes, career choices and use of leisure time (Koballa, 1988). Affective characteristics include in this study are:

Fig 2.4: Framework of Affective characteristics of Attitude

According to Demircioglu and Norman (1999):

"Attitude Scale indicates that high school students perceive chemistry-related attitudes and opinions in four dimensions such as enjoyment, laboratory work negative feelings and anxiety, and perception of success. Gender predicts the cumulative grade of secondary school but does not predict the chemistry achievement and chemistry attitudes which seems contradiction with literature saying males' ability and feelings related with science is more positive than that of female".

An examination of literature on attitude and chemistry achievement reveals conflicting results (Fowler, 1980; Pribyl, Adams, Hoganmiller, & Stevens, 1991; Gutwill, 1998; Lindsay, 2001; Shibley, Milakofsky, Bender & Patterson, 2003; Turner and Lindsay, 2003). While some claim a low correlation between attitude and achievement, others claim the two are strongly positively correlated. Weinburgh's (1995) meta-analysis of the research suggests that there is only a moderate correlation between attitude towards science and achievement.

Table.2.2: Characteristics of Affective Domain of Attitude



Sample Item


Extent to which student enjoys a chemistry lesson.

Chemistry lessons are interesting and fun to study.


Extent to which student is anxious about a chemistry lesson.

Chemistry usually makes me feel uncomfortable, nervous and confused.


Extent to which student perceives chemistry is important to everyday life and worthwhile activities.

Chemistry is useful if the topics are connected with our daily life.


Extent to which student develops interest in chemistry and its related


I am interested to know about the new researches in chemistry.


Extent to which student is motivated to learn and pursue chemistry in the future.

When I fail in Chemistry course, it encourages me to try much harder to do well in Chemistry.


Extent to which student is

Confident and successful doing chemistry.

I am sure I can learn and can do advance work in Chemistry

Previous researches show the effect of affective characteristics of attitude on academic achievement. Skaalvik (1994), Skaalvik and Rankin (1995), Egitimidergisi, (2007) found that motivation is correlated with academic achievement. Academic achievement is most likely to occur when learning is self-directed and students are motivated (Ryan, Connell, & Deci, 1985). Furthermore, researchers have found that motivation leads to engagement in academic tasks, which is related to achievement (Banks, McQuater, & Hubbard, 1978; DeCharms, 1984; Dweck, 1986).

Krapp 2003 and Schiefele 2009 approach interest in two different point of views, Personal and situational interest. Personal interest is topic-specific, persists over time (Schiefele 1991). However, situational interest is aroused as a function of the interestingness of the event or object and it is also changeable and partially under the control of teachers (Schraw, Flowerday, & Lehman 2001).

According to Crow and Crow (1964) academic achievement is reflected by the extent to which a skill or knowledge has been acquired by a person from the training imparted to him. Interest is related to students' attention, goals, and depth of learning (Guthrie, et al., 2006; Hidi & Renninger, 2006). Interests increase when students feel competent, so even if students are not initially interested in a subject or activity, they may develop interests as they experience success. (Stipek, 2002).

Enjoyment of chemistry, physics or biology was associated with gender differences in most of the studies. Whitfield (1979) reported chemistry and physics as the least enjoyable subjects for post-14 English students. Analysis indicates that there is significant mean difference between Grade 9 and Grade 10 students' attitudes toward chemistry as a school subject on "enjoyment" and "importance" dimensions (Can & Boz, 2012).

Achievement motivation is correlated with academic achievement (Camara, 1986). Individuals' academic achievement depends not only on their motivation to achieve but also on whether they expect to achieve and whether they fear failure. Students' work hard when they perceive a reasonable chance to succeed than when they perceive a goal to be out of reach (Atkinson, 1964).

Demographics and Academic Achievement:

Previous studies demonstrate that achievement in science is gender dependent. Male and female students' achievement in science demonstrates that students' attitudes and achievement in the subject are positively and significantly correlated (Schibeci and Riley 1986, Weinburgh 1995). The analysis of attitude towards science revealed that male students have more positive attitudes towards science than do female students (Simpson and Oliver 1985, Pinchas 1988, Francis and Greer 1999). Previous research revealed that boys outperform girls in science in most countries (Esquivel & Brenes 1988, Pinchas 1988, Wang & Staver 1995). Gender differences in science achievement test scores have not typically been large when compared. However, recent studies on gender differences in science achievement reported a change in pattern, thus reporting either no gender differences (Ventura 1992, Calsambis 1995) or girls outperforming boys in science (Young and Fraser 1990, Forrest 1993, Calsambis 1995, Zeegers and Giles 1996, Soyibo 1999). Grade 9 students show more attitude than grade 10 (Barmby et al., 2008).

Fraser-Abder (1990) investigated the effects of gender, school-type (single-sex or coeducational schools, private denominational or government schools), parental occupation, and socioeconomic status on science achievement in Trinidad. Fraser-Abder found that girls scored significantly higher than boys on the science test.

Cultures vary between and within countries. Therefore, it is logical to expect large variations in attitudes towards and achievement in science reported from different parts of the world. Since gender roles vary in different cultures, it is therefore likely that achievement in and attitudes towards science are also gender dependent.

Zappala (2002) argue that the type of school a child attends influences academic achievement. Schools according to Sentamu (2003) are social institutions in which groups of individuals are brought together to share educational experiences and such interactions may breed positive or negative influences on learners. Parents' education is positively related to students' academic achievement. This is supported by Dills (2006) and Owens (1999). Considine and Zappala (2002) Kwesiga (2002) and Sentamu (2003) reveal that School sector (public or private) is linked to academic performance of students.