Nevin Terry Haa
Department of General and Applied Psychology,
University of Jos, Jos,
This study aimed at finding sex difference and type of school attended on locus of control among secondary school students in Plateau State. A total of 400 secondary school students from a population of 116,002 students drawn from public and private boarding secondary schools within three Local Government Areas of Plateau State formed the study sample. The students were administered the Nowistick and Strickland (1973) locus of control questionnaire after filling the consent form. T-test analysis showed no significant difference in Locus of control between Male and Female Students (t (398) = .920, p > .05). This implies that sex is not a determinant of locus of control. However, there was a significant difference between boarding and day students (t (398) = -8.952, p < .05). This indicates that the type of school attended by a student’s determines his/her locus of control. This study therefore, recommended that Government should build more boarding schools, and emphasizes that teachers and other stakeholders stress the importance of locus of control in learning. Parents should also note that the type of school their wards attends contributes to their achievements in future. Other stakeholders should know that boarding schools provide students with an array of opportunities to develop locus of control through interactions, positive talk and wise disciplines.
Locus is the Latin word for “Place” or “Location” Locus of control is the individual’s belief of where the control for the behaviours originates- internally or externally. In personality psychology Locus of control refers to the extent to which individuals believe they can control events affecting them. A person’s locus is conceptualized as either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (meaning they believe their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors which they cannot influence, or by chance or fate) Rotter (1966). Locus of control may also determine one’s perceptions and expectances of success or failure (Wise, 2005).
Interactions in secondary schools are intuitively important predictors for locus of control in students. These behaviours are part of daily academic struggle. Most of the time student’s sex and type of school may influence the extent to which they believe they have influence over situation and events in their lives. In Plateau State, secondary schools are either day or boarding and are either mixed (having male and female students) or single (having only Male or only female students). The attendance of students’ base on these types (mixed or single) can have an influence on their locus of control. This suggests a relationship between sex differences and type of school attended on Locus of control.
Statement of the Problem
As students learn how to read and write in secondary school, a lot of factors interfere with how they study. According to Wise, (2005) Locus of control may also determine one’s perceptions and expectances of success or failure.
Currently, statistics of result by the West African Examinations Council for May/June 2014 shows that students who scored five credits and above including Maths and English in Plateau State dropped to less than 15-24% (Charles Abah, 2014).This poor performance can be attributed to locus of control. Also, most parents are reluctant about choosing a school for their wards considering that the choice of school really does not make any difference. Alzughool and Hindawey (2002) suggest that students develop locus of control through an individualized learning plan that lists their goals, how they plan to achieve those goals, a timeline, and the outcome. Then to what extent do students in Plateau State have locus of control?
In response to these problems, our study proposes to investigate how certain variables such as age, sex and type of school play a significant role in determining students’ locus of control and suggests what should be done.
Aim and objectives of the research
The aim of this research is to evaluate the impact of sex difference and type of school on locus of control
The objectives are:
- To ascertain the significant difference in locus of control between male and female students.
- To ascertain the significant difference in locus of control between boarding and day students.
Social Learning Theory
According to Strain (1993), the social learning theory was propounded by Rotter (1971) who maintains that man’s behaviour is determined by his goals. Behaviour is always directional. An individual responds with those behaviours that he has learned which leads to the greatest satisfaction in a given situation. Rotters’ social learning theory proposes that the probability of a behaviour occurring is related to the individual’s expectancy that the behaviour will gain reinforcement and that the reinforcement has value to the individual. Rotter chose the label “social learning” because the theory stressed the fact that the major of basic modes of behaviour are learned in social situation and are inextricably fused with need requiring for their satisfaction the mediation of another person (Naila, 2001).
Bandura’s (1997) social learning theory posits that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. People learn through observing others‟ behaviour, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviours. “Most human behaviour is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” Social learning theory explains human behaviour in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioural, and environmental influences. The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviourist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory and motivation. According to Morris (1993), the main idea of the social learning theory remains the same that there is always an interaction among three factors, namely the person, the situation and the evaluation of expectancies obtained by that person from that person’s experiences.
Sex Difference in Locus of control
Some studies have suggested that locus of control develops differently in boys and girls. According to Howard and Steyaert (1984) in their studies of the relationship among cognitive development, locus of control and gender, they found that the positive relationship between ability and internal locus of control was clearly demonstrated for girls but not for boys.
McHugh, Frieze and Hanusa (1982) claimed that the literature on sex difference in attribution is characterized by inconsistencies. In his meta-analysis, Feingold (1994) found no noteworthy gender difference in locus of control. He found however, a significant heterogeneity among effect sizes in the locus of control scales subcategory. Females scored as more internally on others. The gender difference favouring girls or boys was small and no overall gender difference in internal Locus of control was found.
According to Dweck, Davidson, Nelson and Enna (1978), males are more likely than females to receive feedback for a wide range of activities, whereas females, more often than males, receive feedback which is specific to academic achievement. The nature of students’ locus of control can be influenced by their level of ability and gender, but also by cultural processes (Sing & Verma, 1990; Hong & Chiu 1988). Cultural processes also influence the quality between the sexes. Gender differences in locus of control have been explained in terms of boys and girls general socialization experiences (Veroff 1969; Dweck et’al, 1978).
An Empirical Comparism of Type of School Attended
Some schools strictly have boarding students, while others have both boarding students and day students that go home at the end of the school day. Day students are sometimes known as day boys or day girls. One of the reasons sometimes stated for sending children to boarding schools is to develop wider horizons than their family can provide. A boarding school a family has attended for generations may define the culture parents aspire to for their children. Equally, by choosing a fashionable boarding school, parents may aspire to better their children by enabling them to mix on equal terms with children of the upper classes. However, such stated reasons may conceal other reasons for sending a child away from home (Duffel, 2000, Schaverian, 2004). Boarding schools are seen by certain families as centres of socialization where students mingle with others of similar social hierarchy (Cookson, 2009). Boarding school socialization causes students to internalize a strong sense of entitlement and social control or hierarchy (Cookson, 2009). Boarding school establishment involves control of behaviour regarding several aspects of life including what is appropriate and or acceptable which adolescents would consider as intrusive (Cookson, 2009, Cookson and Hodges, 1985). Studies show that about 90% of boarding school Students acknowledge that living in a total institution like boarding school has significant impact and changed their perception and interaction with social relationships (Cookson, 2009).
According to Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002), in many boarding school meals are frequently badly managed or badly prepared, despite the adequacy of the diet. Kitavi and Westhluzan (1997) reported overcrowding in dormitories in boarding schools, with sometimes double the originally intended number of students being accommodated. Studies by Jagero (1999) and Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002), found out that problems faced by boarding students included overcrowding in the students’ hostels, inadequate and low quality food, scarcity of water, noise from class or neighbouring classes, Other problems include lack of good lighting system, interference from friends in the same or other classes and disturbances from non human activities like mosquitoes.
In spite of those problems, an average boarding student enjoys living and studying conditions which are luxurious, compared to the hardship and squalor endured by many day students. According to Desarrollo (2007), Evans (1999) Jagero (1999) Scharff and Brady (2006) and Oloo (2003), the greatest problem faced by day students was home environment that was not conducive to reading. Other problems include long distances from school, bad company at home, lack of proper accommodation and proper diet.
According to reports by African Almanac (2004) and studies by Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002) Chediel, Sekwao and Kirumba (2000) Jagero (1999) and Oloo (2003), the majority of day secondary schools continued to perform poorly in the national examinations compared to boarding secondary schools. All these could influence locus of control of the student.
The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study:
Ho1 There is a significant difference in locus of control between male and female students.
Ho2 There is a significant difference in locus of control between boarding and day students.
The research design is a 2x2x2 factorial design. This is because each of these three variables has two levels.
Study Sample: A sample size of 400 students was drawn from a total population of 116,002 students using the Yamane technique, 10 secondary schools out of 1,024 registered secondary schools in Plateau State were selected randomly within three Local Government Areas of Plateau State: Jos South, Jos North and.
Instrument Used: The Nowiski and Strickland (1973) Locus of control Questionnaire was used for this study and the scoring was based on Yes and No. The research used the Nigerian norm provided by Jaiyeoba (1992) for Nigerian samples. The norm reported the mean scores by students in primary and secondary schools male (n=60) 30.52 and female (n=60) 30.77.
Procedure: On receiving consent from the selected schools for the study the Nowiski and Strickland locus of control (1973) questionnaire was given to the participants and was completed and returned after an informed consent document was completed by participants. The questionnaire consisted of two sections; section “A” requested for demographic information (age, sex school and class) while Section “B” measured locus of control.
Data Analysis: The independent t-test was used to test the statistical difference in the two hypotheses. Simple percentage was used for the frequency data that was generated from the study, which included age, sex, school and class.
This hypothesis states that “there is a significant difference in Locus of control between Male and Females Students”. This result is presented in Table 1 below.
Table 1 Independent t-test showing difference between male and female students in Locus of control
The result presented in Table 1 indicated that no significant difference was found in male and female secondary school students in Locus of control (t (398) = .920, p > .05). This means that sex is not a determinant of locus of control among secondary school students. Therefore, this null hypothesis is rejected and the hypotheses accepted.
This hypothesis states that “There is a significant difference in locus of control between boarding and day students.” This hypotheses result is made available in Table 2 below.
Table 2 Independent t test showing difference between Boarding and Day Students on Locus of control
|Variables||Sch. type||N||Mean||Std. Deviation||df||t||p||Remark|
The results presented in Table 2 indicated a significant difference in boarding and day secondary school students in Locus of control (t (398) = -8.952, p < .05). This means that the type of school a student attends is likely to influence his/her locus of control. Therefore, this null hypothesis has been accepted.
Research on locus of control in male and female has been studied over the years. This research has established that male and female secondary school students do not differ on locus of control this finding concurred with the a research study conducted by Schultz and Schultz (2005) who point out that significant gender differences in locus of control have not been found for adults in the U.S. population. McHugh, Frieze and Hanusa (1982) claimed that the literature on sex difference in attribution is characterized by inconsistencies. In his meta-analysis, Feingold (1994) found no noteworthy gender difference in locus of control.
According to Rotter’s (1971) social learning theory, man’s behaviour is determined by his goals. Behaviour is always directional. An individual responds with those behaviours that he has learned will lead to the greatest satisfaction in a given situation. It is right therefore to say from Rotter’s view that these students locus of control has been guided by a common purpose or goal, which resulted to non significant difference between the sexes. Strain (1993) maintains that Rotters’ social learning theory proposes that the probability of a behaviour occurring is related to the individual’s expectancy that the behaviour will gain reinforcement and that the reinforcement has value to the individual. It is likely that all the students gained equal reinforcement consequent upon which locus of control did not differ.
The significance of the outcome of the second hypothesis which state that boarding and day students significantly differ on locus of control revealed that an average boarding student enjoys living and studying conditions which are luxurious, compared to the hardship and squalor endured by many day students, These findings agree with the studies of Desarrollo (2007), Evans (1999) Jagero (1999) Scharff and Brady (2006) and Oloo (2003) which revealed that the greatest problem faced by day students was home environment that was not conducive to reading. Other problems includes: long distances from school, bad company at home, lack of proper accommodation and proper diet. Studies by Cookson (2009) showed that about 90% of boarding school students acknowledge that living in a total institution like boarding school has significant impact and changed their perception and interaction with social relationships (Cookson, 2009). One of the reasons sometimes for families sending children to boarding schools is to develop wider horizons than their family can provide. According to reports by African Almanac (2004) and studies by Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002) Chediel, Sekwao and Kirumba (2000) Jagero (1999) and Oloo (2003), the majority of day secondary schools continued to perform poorly in the national examinations compared to boarding secondary schools. This could influence locus of control of the students. Boarding schools are seen by certain families as centres of socialization where students mingle with others of similar social hierarchy (Cookson, 2009). However, according to Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002), in many boarding School meals are frequently badly managed or badly prepared, despite the adequacy of the diet. Kitavi and Westhluzan (1997) reported overcrowding in dormitories in boarding schools, with sometimes double the originally intended number of students being accommodated. Studies by Jagero (1999) and Holsinger, Jacob and Migimu (2002), found out that problems faced by boarding students included overcrowding in the students’ hostels, inadequate and low quality food, scarcity of water, noise from class or neighbouring classes. Other problems include lack of good lighting system, interference from friends in the same or other classes and disturbances from non human activities like mosquitoes. It is for this reason that boarding and day students differ on locus of control.
Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made that government should ensure that more boarding schools are built and teachers effectively trained on the psychological needs of students. This study reveals that type of school accounted for significant contribution to students’ locus of control.
School authorities should take note and sensitize parents on the need to allow students develop locus of control attending boarding schools where interaction and independent learning is encouraged. Parents and teachers should encourage students to note that doing well in life and in their future career largely depends on a well built locus of control. It is also recommended that apart from government, teachers should encourage students to improve locus of control through positive talk and wise discipline.
The study has revealed that sex difference does not predict locus of control. However, type of school attended has a strong influence on locus of control of the students, ranging from reading environment to academic and social interaction with friends, and other significant personalities like hostel matron/patron.
The implications of the findings of the study have demonstrated that Locus of control is a strong quality which has the tendency of contributing significantly to students’ academic achievement. Therefore, helping students attend boarding school could result into better achievement otherwise, reverse will be the case.
The interaction in boarding school shows its importance in locus of control. This implies that if more boarding schools are built it is possible that its contribution in students will be immense. However, based on the outcome of the study, there is a serious negative implication on day students’ locus of control. As identified by Albert Bandura people learn from one another through observation, imitation and modeling which later act as a guide for action, this is not often available for day students. They don’t have wider horizon than their family can provide.
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