We are researching the effects of marital conflict on the academic development of students in Senior Secondary Schools. This research may be concluded within the next five (5) weeks, and we will publish a chapter each week. Our data will be extracted from teachers in church-administered secondary schools only within Umuahia, Abia State. This is to ensure the objectivity of the research and non-bias results when it is generalized. This research will assist students at all levels to write term papers, projects, and theses. We would appreciate your comments and contributions.
This research will be organized and published as follow:
Chapter 1: Introduction to Academic Development of Students
Chapter 2: Review of the Effects of Marital Conflict on the Academic Development of Students
Chapter 3: Methodology, population & Sample
Chapter 4: Analysis of Results and Test of Hypotheses
Chapter 5: Conclusion & Recommendations
1.1 Background to Problem: Academic Development
Education is important in any given society; it helps in the development of innate abilities and capabilities of individuals. Through education, an individual’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and intellectual abilities could be developed. According to Ugwuanyi (2003: 120-121), education is the process by which society establishes to assist the young to learn and understand the heritage of the past, participate productively in society and contribute meaningfully to the development of society. Education could be seen as a process by which society deliberately transmits knowledge, values, and skills through schools, colleges, and other institutions. Hence, good education forms the building block of an individual’s academic development and achievement and contributes immensely to the actualization of the individual’s potential.
Research has shown that academic development is important during early adolescence because life accomplishment or lack of accomplishment during this developmental transition is a precursor to future academic and occupational endeavors (Elder & Conger, 2000: 103-104). Feshbach & Feshbach (1987: 1335-1338), noted that social scientists, educators, policymakers, and parents often emphasize educational success at the adolescent age because unsuccessful academic achievement always leads to negative outcomes such as depression, low self-esteem, drug use, aggressive behavior, criminal perpetrations and difficulty finding gainful employment. Pallas (2000: 499-500), observed that good academic development has lasting importance because it represents the individual’s status and can influence the individual’s subsequent developmental tasks such as family relationships, social status, physical health, and mental well-being. Connell, Halpern-Felsher, Clifford, Crichlow & Usinger (1995: 47), noted that youths who demonstrate higher academic achievement also are more likely to report lower drug use and decreased propensities for school dropout.
Over the years, investigations of the factors that influence the academic development of students have attracted the interest and concern of many teachers, counselors, researchers, and also many school administrators in Nigeria. This is simply because members of the public often complain about the low standard of education in the country. According to Uwaifo (2008: 121-124), the declining quality of education in the country and the breeding of graduates with little or no experience, and little technical know-how has resulted in serious setbacks to the industrial development of the nation of Nigeria. Studies have often concentrated on the socio-economic status of parents, family structure, and parent-child relationship on the academic performance of students.
On his own, Rutter (1979: 49 – 50) opined that there are variables that are mainly inert on their own but if combined interactively with acute stressors will either increase or decrease the effect of stressors. According to him, when an increasing effect occurs, the variable is known as a “vulnerability variable” and when a decrease or attenuating effect occurs, the variable becomes a “protective variable”. Rutter identified the following protective variables: a supportive, stable, and cohesive family climate; a good relationship with at least one parent; and supportive school settings themselves.
Good and supportive academic development at the early stages of life is the foundation of better academic performance in the future. Coffman and Roark (1992: 211-216), observed that the conflict between parents frequently affects their young children which also affects their academic development. Accordingly, adolescents who witness marital violence face increased risk for such emotional and behavioral problems as anxiety, depression, poor school attendance, performance, low self-esteem, disobedience, nightmares, and physical health complaints. However, Mufson, Moreau, Weissman & Klerman (1993: 125-135), stressed the point that such victims also are more likely to act aggressively during childhood and adolescence which affects their performance in high school. Furthermore, Kendall and Dobson (1993: 3-7) argued that adolescents who are severely neglected due to marital conflict or divorce may experience a drop in intelligence and an increased risk of depression and suicide. As young individuals, they tend to be hyperactive, easily distracted, and unpopular with their peers.
Stiffman et al. (1985:204) emphasized that the social system in which an individual life has features that may serve as stressors or protectors to the child’s academic development. He emphasized that parents’ mental illnesses are environmental stressors while supportive peer groups, accessible social services, and marital happiness are environmental protectors to students’ academic development.
Garmezy and Rutter (1985:22), identified the following possible categories as protective components to students’ academic development: the personality attributes of the individual child; a supportive family environment; and a support network outside the family that promotes positive coping efforts by the child thus, strengthening adaptability attributes. Aside from these, a marital conflict could also affect the academic development of students. Marital conflict is a phenomenon that destabilizes couple, disrupts their joy, and are mostly felt by women yet, the least recognized human rights abuse in the world. According to Rodgers and Pryor (1998: 869), marital conflict is a profound social problem, sapping women’s energy, compromising their physical health, and eroding their self-esteem. Worldwide, information on the amount of conflict in families shows that it is not a rare phenomenon. Conflict, of course, represents a rather extreme example of the failure of supportiveness. It is found in every kind of family, and it can reach extreme levels (Animasahun, 2011:89). Garmezy, Rutter, Izard & Read (1986:302) noted that marital conflict is one of the leading causes of death among women and is the common cause of non-fatal injury.
Marital conflict includes constant disagreement between parents and broken families caused by divorce, separation, illegitimacy, unfaithfulness, and sibling structure. Steinberg and Silk (2002:103-133), noted that self-efficacy is a major element for success in the life span and is related to the psychological, physical, and social health of adolescents; and the family is viewed as a primary source of adolescents’ self-efficacy and well-being. When there is conflict in the family it directly affects the children negatively, which in turn has a reverberating effect on the academic development of the children.
In the Umuahia area, it is hard to spend a month without hearing a report of one marital conflict or the other which may lead to a police case or hospitalizing of one parent or the child. Other cases reported are those whereby a woman packs and leaves her matrimonial home with her children because she can no longer tolerate her husband’s behavior. There are even cases whereby it is the men who move out of their homes to look for peace elsewhere. There have also been suicide attempts and killings, where the head of the family kills his wife and children. Our motherless babies’ home is filled up with no room to accommodate children constantly abandoned by their parents. Also, cases where children run away from their homes in search of a peaceful home, are prevalent.
These incidents take place in both rural and urban centers. From studies, it is observed that when families conflict, it affects children in their physical, cognitive, affective, behavioral, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Their lives are enclosed or imprisoned if they continue being exposed to a violent environment, and such children would not develop academically, and their overall performance would be affected drastically. Hence, this research evaluates the effects of marital conflict on the academic development of students in church-own senior secondary schools in the Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of this research is focused on the incessant examination malpractices experienced at all levels of education and the declining quality of graduates at all levels of education in Nigeria. Nigeria occupies 145th position in primary education in the world (Adesulu, 2016:16), and there has been a steady decline in the performance of candidates in WAEC examinations in recent years (The Guardian, 2016: 47). The continuing decline in educational standards in Nigeria especially as shown in the public examination and the performance of education outputs that are inadequate for employment raises the question: what is the fundamental cause of a decline in academic performance?
This key question motivates the researcher to study the major causes of declining academic performance as is observed in secondary schools. This study, therefore, seeks to find if marital conflicts have effects on the academic development and overall performance of students in Christian senior secondary schools in the Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State, Nigeria.
Specifically, the study will attempt to establish the effects of marital conflicts on cognitive development, psychomotor development, and affective development and how they affect the overall academic development of students.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to ascertain the extent of damage caused by marital conflict in the educational development of students in senior secondary schools. This research work would attempt to find answers to the research questions itemized below; it shall specifically,
Find out whether marital conflicts affect students’ academic development in church-administered Senior Secondary Schools (S.S.S) in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.
Discover whether marital conflicts affect the psychomotor development of the students in Church-administered S.S.S in the area.
Ascertain whether marital conflicts affect the cognitive development of students in church-administered S.S.S in the area.
Find out whether marital conflicts affect the affective development of students in church-administered S.S.S. in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.
1.4 Scope/ Limitations of the Study
This study is focused on the effects of marital conflict on the academic development of students in church-own senior secondary schools. The study will be limited to covering senior secondary schools in the Umuahia education zone of Abia State only. The geographical scope of the study is the Umuahia Education Zone which is made up of Ikwuano, Umunneochi, Umuahia South, and Umuahia North LGAs of Abia State. Also, the Nigerian education policy allows for the presence of private and public secondary schools. The study uses students in both Christian private and public senior secondary schools in the area. The content scope is finding out the effect of the independent variable – marital conflict such as divorce, problems resulting from sexual denial, management of funds, child-rearing, and relationships with inlaws. These variables are used to determine their effects on the academic development of the students which comes in family relationships, social status, physical health, and mental well-being.
This study shall be limited to church-own senior secondary schools in Umuahia Education Zone only. It shall also concentrate on marital conflict and the academic development of students, other reasons that affect the academic development of students may not be discussed. During the course of the research, the researcher may encounter some problems such as non-immediate compliance with the filling of the questionnaires by the selected participants and not being able to cover the entire church-own senior secondary schools that make up the Umuahia education zone due to the bad road network and pattern of distribution of schools. However, the researcher will attempt to overcome the problem of non-compliance by using available participants.
Also, the problem of bad transport networks will be resolved by using schools that are accessible within the education zone. Therefore, this research shall be limited to selected participants in the selected church-own senior secondary schools in the Umuahia zone.
The researcher experienced a few challenges while conducting this study. Some respondents’ attitudes towards the collection and filling of the questionnaire were not friendly. Almost all the school principals were reluctant in collecting copies of the questionnaires, stating that they don’t have time to fill them out. This is why the study was based on the data obtained from teachers only. Some of the few teachers who accepted to fill out the questionnaires were persuaded by the importance of researching before they were able to gladly and willingly fill out the questionnaire. Some institutions denied the researcher access to their teacher’s records, to ascertain the actual number of teachers in the schools, however, with effective communication and the help of the Secondary Education Management Board some of the required data were obtained.
1.5 Significance of the study
The findings of this study may be of help to teachers, educators, policy analysts, caregivers, and parents and it will add knowledge to the body of literature on family conflicts. This study has exposed my knowledge of marital conflicts and helped me understand their effects on the academic development of students. The study will be of help to parents and caregivers in Umuahia, and society at large, especially those who experience problems in their families. It will help parents and caregivers understand how conflicts can affect their children emotionally, socially, and intellectually. A better understanding of this will help parents and caregivers embrace dialogue and understanding to solve their marital problems.
The study will help the schools in Umuahia and society at large understand the implications of marital conflicts on the educational development of secondary school students. It will also assist them in proffering immediate and long-term solutions to families experiencing conflicts. The study will assist families, schools, churches and all concerned in society to devise measures to handle students from conflicting homes to ensure that such effects are eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum
Furthermore, the study will contribute to the body of literature on marital conflicts and their effects on the academic development of secondary school students in the Umuahia educational zone of Abia State. This research may also be of benefit to pastors, especially, marriage counselors. They will be able to offer intervention measures to marriages that face problems and help them establish marital stability for the benefit of the children.
1.6 Research Questions
- Do marital conflicts affect students’ academic development in church-administered S.S.S in the Umuahia education zone?
- Do marital conflicts affect the psychomotor development of students in church-administered S.S.S. in the Umuahia education zone?
- Do marital conflicts affect the cognitive development of students in church-administered S.S.S. in the Umuahia education zone?
- Do marital conflicts affect the affective development of students in church-administered S.S.S. in the Umuahia education zone?
The following null hypotheses will be tested at a 0.05 level of significance using collected data on marital conflict and students’ academic development.
Ho: There is no significant difference in the opinions of male and female teachers over whether marital conflicts affect students’ academic development in church-administered Senior Secondary Schools (S.S.S) in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.
Ho: There is no significant difference in the opinions of male teachers and female teachers over whether marital conflicts have effects on the psychomotor development of students in church-administered Senior Secondary Schools (S.S.S) in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.
Ho: There is no significant difference in the opinions of male and female teachers over whether marital conflicts have effects on the cognitive development of students in church-administered Senior Secondary Schools (S.S.S) in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.Ho: There is no significant difference in the opinions of male teachers and female teachers over whether marital conflicts have effects on the affective development of students in church-administered Senior Secondary Schools (S.S.S) in the Umuahia education zone, Abia state.