1.1 Background to the Study

Education is the basic building block of every society and its core purpose since ancient times, has been to bring people to full realization of what it is to be a human being. To Ki-moon (2012) Education unleashes the optimal potential in people, improving individual livelihoods and those of future generations. In addition, a good education is more than an entry point into the job market. Learning is the focus of the educational programmes. It occupies a very important place in human lives. Most what people do or do not do is influenced by what they learn and how they learn it. Kuppuswamy (2007:108) defined learning as, “ the process by which an organism, as a result of its interaction in a situation, acquires a new mode of behaviour, which tends to persist and affect the general behavioural pattern of the organism, to a certain degree” . Learning takes place when an organism reacts in a situation. However, in a school situation, various elements (the learner, environment, teacher, instructional materials, methodology) are involved in the process of learning. The learner is involved; unless the learner is prepared or enabled to learn, learning cannot be achieved. Attitudes are psychological orientations developed as a result of one’ s experience which influences a person’s view of situations, objects, people and how to respond to them either positively or negatively, favourably or unfavourably (Mensah, Francis, Chisikwa, Indushi, & Lukas, 2013). Being one of the constructs of the affective domain, attitudes have been researched deeply for more than 40 years (Aiken & Aiken; Koballa & Crawley, as cited in Can, 2012). 2 An attribution is a causal explanation for an event or behaviour in situations of success or failure, and also denotes the extent of control that people feel they have over the event (Basturk & Yavuz, 2010). These causal attributions are highly relevant for people’ s behaviour, emotions, and motivation and can be classified along four dimensions: locus, stability, controllability, and globality (Rania, Siri, Bagnasco, Aleo & Sasso, 2014). In the academic arena, the most important event is the success or failure of the learner to learn. Experience of failure in a task designed to test the level of learning is often followed by a ‘ naive’ reaction of blaming either lack of ability, lack of effort, difficulty of the task, or lack of luck. Success, on the other hand, is often followed by an attribution to possession of ability, exertion of effort, easiness of task, or possession of luck. While ability and effort are seen as personal factors internal to the learner, task difficulty and luck are seen as environmental factors external to the learner. On the other hand, ability and task difficulty are considered stable, while effort and luck are considered as unstable factors (Heider, 1958). These studies emphasize the importance of causal attributions and perceptions which further affects the motivation to learn. Academic achievement of student is the ability of the student to study and remember facts and being able to communicate his knowledge orally or in written form even in an examination condition (Banks & Woolfson, 2008). The academic achievements of the students are believed to be greatly influenced by their academic attitude and causes of their success and failure (Basturk, 2010). Banks and Woolfson (2008) further explain that, attributions can have significant effects on academic achievement of students especially with those experiencing learning difficulties, thus, these students will more likely to display negative attributions than their peers. Mahboudi (2009) suggests that, “ Causal Attribution” is being one of the motivation theories manipulating the realization of decisions. In this process, the individuals try to decide on the causal factors of an event or consequence. This individual’ s response to a certain event is dependent on their interpretation of that event. He added also that, facilitating events prediction and control, the attributions explain the sensations, attitudes and behaviours and not only affect emotions but also manipulate individual’ s function. Secondary education plays a crucial role in laying the foundation for the further education of students. If a good foundation is laid at the secondary school level, students can better cope with the challenges of life and profession with great ease. However, different people have explained different factors responsible for the academic achievement of students. Factors that influence students’ academic achievement at the senior secondary school are not conclusively known and could be multivariate in nature. They might include students’ attitude towards school and learning, attribution.

Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, various reform efforts have been launched to guide teaching and learning in secondary schools; the reforms (renovation of schools and teachers training and workshops) have not yielded any significant improvement in the general performance of the students. These reforms point to the structural factors but give little attention to student’ s factors. This is a clear indication that structural changes alone is necessary, but not sufficient condition in realizing an improved performance. Therefore, there is need to understand the learners themselves; their attitude to school, learning and their causal attribution for failure. The researcher observed that, many secondary school students in the area fail to learn and the failure to learn or achieve in school is not confined to less able but also many capable students fail to perform up to the required standard. Students continue to perform dismally as they lack the interest, curiosity and patience needed for learning and performing related tasks concerning academic achievement.

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Updated: 20th December 2019 — 6:51 am

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