Determinants of academic performance of a university student


University students are potential nation builders who aspire to become engineers, doctor, managers, and scientists and materialize a nation’s dreams. Students in every discipline in universities have many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve their endeavor of optimal academic performance. These obstacles constitutes major determinant to the academic performance of university students. The Grade Point Average (GPA) system as an indicator of academic performance is used by many universities in Nigeria and other parts of the world (James & Chilvers, 2001; Nguyen, Allen, & Fraccastoro, 2005; Svanum & Zody, 2001). Factors that could reduce hurdles for achieving and maintaining the required GPA needs to be identified and improved by university administrators, faculty members, and students (Womble, 2003). Several determinants could act as barriers to students’ attaining and maintaining a high GPA that reflect their academic performance during their stay at the university. These determinants may be cognitive and learning factors, social activities, job responsibilities, caring for children, and stress (Devadoss & Foltz, 1996; Hatcher, Prus, Englehard, & Farmer, 1991). Cognitive and learning issues such as academic competence, test competence, time management, strategic studying, and test anxiety are some determinants that a student may have to consider to be a high achiever (Sansgiry, Bhosle, & Sail, 2006; Womble, 2003). Many studies have reviewed these determinants individually (McFadden & Dart, 1992), but none have evaluated them collectively and specifically in university students from Nigeria. These determinants could be targeted by the university personnel in developing strategies to improve student learning and to improve their academic performance.
According to Kleijn, Ploeg, and Topman (1994), academic competence is dependent upon how well the student manages their course load described in their curriculum. Academic competence is also indicative of the extent to which the curriculum is interesting for students to enjoy their classes. There is a significant positive association of academic competence and academic performance (Sansgiry et al., 2006). Moreover, better academic competence has been found to be not only pivotal in ensuring better academic performance but also in the likelihood of retaining students in educational institutions (Ishitani & Desjardins, 2002; Tinto, 1975).
Another determinant which can be considered as a reflection of appropriate management of study materials by students for their examinations is test competence (Topman et al., 1992). Kleijn et al. (1994) defined test competence as student’s ability to deal and muddle through the amount of course material for examinations.
The poor performance of students which has become a challenging problem for the academic community has wide ranging implications for national development. Students perform poorly because the institutions have failed to create the environment that is accommodating and conducive to their learning and educational needs (Harb & El-Shaawari, 2006). The facilities available in most Nigerian Public Universities do not suffice in enhancing students learning and performance. Students therefore find it difficult to cope with the workload.
Performance is vital because the level of success students achieve from the University has far-reaching implications for their personal and professional lives. Students’ performance impact on their career choice, personal income and level of success, as well as the degree of participation in community life (Grainen, 1995). Although a number of some personal and social factors such as family income, self-motivation, inability to manage school work and students’ personal circumstances, amongst others have contributed to the declining performance of many students, their impact vary with context (Park & Kerr, 1990). Considering all these, this study seeks to examine the determinants of academic performance of a university student.

University is one of the places where a systematically organized and scientifically oriented education is offered. It is through such an organized manner that the knowledge, skill and desired attitude of the learner develop, but in a given class it is sometimes seen that there is a difference in academic performance as a result of different determinants that affect the academic performance of students. The researcher is curious of determining the relationship between quality teachers, family social status, peer group, availability of textbooks, reading culture, time management, test competence etc and the academic performance of university students, hence, the need for this study on determinants of academic performance of a university student.

1. What are the determinants of academic performance of a university student?
2. Is reading habit a determinant of academic performance of a university student?
3. Is quality of teacher a determinant of academic performance of a university student?
4. Is social status a determinant of academic performance of a university student?

1. To examine the determinants of academic performance of a university student.
2. To find out if reading habit is a determinant of academic performance of a university student.
3. To find out whether quality of teacher is a determinant of academic performance of a university student.
4. To find out if social status is a determinant of academic performance of a university student.

The outcome of this study is significant theoretically based on the fact that it will help government through the ministry of education and other education administrators in identifying the factors determining the academic performance of a university student. These determinants can be regulated by education administrators towards increased student academic performance.
Empirical significance of this study is that it will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the determinants of university student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area
This study is methodologically significant based on the use of primary information obtained directly from the university students. It revealed the factors determining university student’s academic performance as it is being experienced currently. The result thereby reveals the recent determinants of a university student academic performance.

This study is limited to the students of the University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State. It will also cover the determinants of their academic performance.

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