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1.1    Background of the Study

Education is the best legacy a nation can give to her citizens especially the youths. This is because education is very important in the development of any nation or community. Education is the process of transmitting what is worthwhile to members of the society. According to Okafor (2014). Education embraces all those experiences of the individual through which knowledge is acquired and intellect enlightened. For Nwabachili and Egbue (2013) education is what goes on from one generation to another generation. In this context, education is the process of socializing the child to grow up as a fulfilled member of the society through informal, formal and non-formal process. Informal education is the process of acquiring knowledge about the environment and beyond through living with one another. 


According to Nwabachili and Egbue (2013) formal education is a consciously planned form of socialization in a formal setting such as school. They stressed that non-formal education involve all those systematic programmes and processes of education and training that is done outside formal education setting. All these forms of education cannot be achieved without the influence of the family.  Family is the first social environment the child finds itself. According to Clifford (2011) family remains the primary environment of the child. The author emphasized that family environment has more chances of increasing or decreasing the intellectual performance of the child. Akubue and Okolo (2008), defined family as a small kinship structural group with the key function of natural socialization of the new born. Similarly, in Okunniyi (2014), family is defined as a primary social group of parents, offspring and possibly other members of the household.


Family background refers to all the conditions and circumstances in the family which influence the child physically, intellectually and emotionally Muola (2010). Children coming from different family backgrounds are affected different by such family conditions, that is why some children have good family background while some have poor background. Citing Eke (2009) noted that with some families, the background may vary from time to time for the same individuals.  Formal education therefore remains the vehicle for human development which must start from the family. There are different categories of families. The major categories of families according to Anderson and Taylor (2010) includes: Traditional families–where the father is the major breadwinner and mother at home rearing children; divorced families–families that have been reconstituted following the breaking of marriage; single parent families–likely headed by women; step families–with new siblings and new parents stemming from re-marriage. A family could also be categorized as extended or nuclear. Extended families are those in which large group of related kin in addition to parents and children live together in the same household. This is the type of families prevalent in African countries. 

Nuclear families are families where married couple resides together with their children. This type of family is common in Western countries (Andersen and Taylor 2010). Families are of various sizes. Family size has to do with the total number of people in a single family which may include the father, mother, children and even the extended members – all living in one hamlet. According to Alio (2015) family size has implication for education. The author emphasized that the size of the family determines to a great extent the relative amount of physical attention and time which each child gets from his parents. Large families are more common among the lower class of the society. Children in large families may suffer poverty and lack parental encouragement and stimulus which motivate their academic performance in mathematics. Similarly, smaller family size has been linked with high academic performance (Majoribank 2006) Majoribank further stressed that students with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and have support that leads to better school performance in mathematics. 


Family (small or large size) remains the primary environment of every child. The families begin the process of education and provide physical and psychological needs of the child. This supports the view of Maduewisi (2012), that the environmental experiences from family, peer group and school location have great influence in determining child’s intellectual ability. She maintained that bright children from under-privileged family environment may turn dull due to impoverished family environment. She added that mental development influence intellectual development. This is in line with Hebb (2007) who observed that the innate potentials of children cannot be attained without adequate stimulating family environment because the child cannot do well intellectually. The implication is that a proper stimulating family environment with intellectual potential and appropriate teaching methods will definitely enhance maximum performance in mathematics of the child. 


Durosaro and Durosaro (2010) in their study attempted to investigate the relationship between students’ family size and their academic performance in mathematics; they found out that family size influenced academic performance in mathematics. Their study reveals that children from small size families performed better at school than their counterparts from both average size and large size families. Furthermore, Yoloye (2009) conducted a study to see if the family background variables might be useful in explaining their academic performance in mathematics. 


Some aspects of family background variables examined in the study include family size and parents’ educational status. His findings were that the polygamous family sizes which were naturally large, reduces the chances of children going to school in the first instance. In addition, children from such backgrounds who are in schools have reduced chances of achieving their goals. Thirdly, parents of such families are mostly illiterate and incapable of providing adequate motivation for their children in schools as compare with the literate nuclear families. The economic implication of large family size is better explained in Okunyi (2014) who observed from his study that as families get larger, parents cannot give their children the same amount of individual attention. They could not afford to provide them with so many of the things which will help them to make the best possible use of their years at school such as educational aids, and quiet comfortable rooms in which to do homework undisturbed by the television, outings to places of interest, leisure time pursuits, and opportunities for traveling. What is most probably important of all, according to him is the fact that the parents of large families were found not to talk with their children to the same extent as parents of small families. 

Another aspect of family environmental factor is the structure of the family. Structurally, a family is either broken or intact. A broken family in this context is one that is not structurally intact for various reasons; such as death of a parent, divorce, separation, desertion and illegitimacy in which case, the family was never completed (Coukline 2016). Life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent and such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resources, assumptions of new roles and responsibilities, establishment of new pattern in intrafamilial interactions and reorganization or routines and schedules, (Agulanna 2009). In single parent families, children may suffer some psychological and social problems which affect their academic performance in mathematics. 


Danesy and Okedian (2012), in their study, lamented that street hawking among secondary school students have psychologically imposed other problems, such as sex networking behaviour, juvenile delinquent behaviour, which take much of the student school time that necessitated the poor academic performance and drop out syndrome noticed among young school students. They also lamented that the maternal and paternal deprivation of essential needs of the young students have promoted their poor performance in mathematics in public examinations, such as JSCE, WASSCE and NECO. 


Similarly, (Okunniyi 2014) asserted that a child who suffer maternal and paternal deprivation may experience academic problems including truancy in the school. This is because the child may lack some necessities like school fees, books and uniforms. These conditions, according to the authors, are not conducive for effective parenting because when the single parents are overburdened by responsibilities and by the own, emotional, reaction to their situation, they often become irritable, impatient and insensitive to their children’s needs. Apart from the structural pattern of the family, another powerful variable in the family that determines the students’ academic performance is the family socio-economic status. 


According to (Jeynes 2012), the socio-economic status of a child is most commonly determined by combining portent’s educational level, occupational status, and income level. Social class and economic status of the parents determine the type of school and the standard of training they desire for their children. The occupation or profession of the parents, the educational level and whether the mothers are working or non-working mothers places them at an advantage or disadvantage to evaluate their children’s academic work and monitor their progress. Status is often determined by the individual’s economic attainment, though it is sometimes ascribed on the individual. 


Okunniyi (2014), identified three distinct socio-economic groups or status which are common in many countries. They are: upper class- which is made up of rich business men and top government officials among others; middle class- which consists of skilled workers, professionals and middle ranked government workers and the lower class- which is made up of manual workers, petty traders and low-income government officials. Francis (2007) opines that the lower income families may be aware of the importance of education in the society, but at the same time, they are also aware of their limited resources to measure up with such educational demands. 


According to the author, a family that can scarcely provide for the basic needs of the family which include food, shelters and clothing will hardly motivate the academic excellence of their children, instead they will pressurize their children so seek for job opportunities with the little education they acquired so far to support the family. The implication of the agreement is that for families are likely to give their children poor academic background because of lack of financial support. The socio-economic status of a family is capable of affecting the behaviour of the children and determine their aspiration. Families with high socio-economic status often have more success in preparing their children for school because they typically have access to wide range of providing their young children with high quality child-care, books and encourage children in various learning activities at home. They also have easy access to information regarding their children’s health, as well as social, emotional and cognitive development (Ojo and Yilma 2010),  Ojo and Yilma also noted that in all socio-economic groups, parents face major challenges when it comes to providing optimal care and education for their children and these challenges are more pronounced in poor families. This, according to them, is because sometimes, when the basic necessities are lacking, parents must place top priority on housing, food, clothing and health care, regarding education materials and books as luxuries. They added that poor families may also have inadequate or limited access to community resources that promote and support children’s development and school readiness. They further asserted that these disadvantages can negatively affect families’ decisions regarding their children development and learning. This situation, according to Ojo and Yilma, may also expose the infants in poor families to a greater risk of entering kindergarten schools unprepared, unlike their peers from rich families. 


Parents’ motivation is another family background factor which influence the academic performance of students. Students under motivated condition, exhibits purposeful behaviour aimed at achieving academic set goals. The performance of these goals determines the motive. Hickey and Lindsey (2015) clearly distinguished two perspectives of motivation; these are situational and dispositional perspectives. According to them, disposition perspective asks questions about students’ general orientation to learning which relates the students’ priority and students’ nature. The situational perspective according to the scholars focuses on learning context. These scholars further identified to factors that greatly influence students’ motivation. These are: interpersonal factors such as curiosity, perseverance, and autonomy (intrinsic-factors) and environmental factors such as parents, peers and sibling (extrinsic factors). Research shows that supportive and attentive parenting practices positively affect academic performance (Eamon, 2005). 


In addition, high parental aspirations have been associated with increasing students’ interest in education (Majoribanks, 2006). The effect of parental motivation and involvement in their children’s school has on academic performance is less clear (Domina 2015), parental motivation and involvement in school has been linked to both positive and negative influences on academic performance (McNeal, 2011, Domina, 2015). Explanations for this discrepancy are not conclusive. It is thought that the type of involvement and motivation may make a difference and that in some cases parents become involved after their child has already had academic difficulties (Domina, 2015, McNeal, 2011). 


Other recent research has found more conclusively that while parental motivation may not help academic performance, it does help prevent behaviorual problems (Domina, 2015). Students with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and motivation and thus have more access to resources than children from large families. The additional attention and motivation leads to better school performance especially in mathematics (Majoribanks, 2006, Thondike, 1997 and Samon, 2005). Thondike reorganized seven ways of motivating students viz:  awareness on the part of the parents of the value of education whether such parents are literature of illiterate; existence of books, newspapers, comic books; good nutrition and sleeping habit; adequate facilities for sleep, for study and for rest; satisfaction of physical needs like food, shelter and clothing; objects in the home which challenges the child’s curiosity. 


Douglas (2014) established a positive correlation between children’s academic performance and motivation. The author laid considerable emphasis upon parental interest as a factor governing children’s chances of being awarded grammar school admissions. For the author, the simple most important factor that influence educational attainment of children appears to be the degree of parents’ interest in their children’s education. Douglas further stated that middle class parents express great interest in their children’s education as indicated by more frequent visits to school to discuss children’s progress, buying relevant textbooks and other necessary materials needed in the school for their children. The author also found from his study that parental interest and encouragement become increasingly important as a spur to high attainment as the children grow older. He also attached importance to the child’s early years, since in many cases, performance during the first years of school is reflected throughout the secondary school. He suggested that during primary socialization, middle-class children receive greater attention and stimulus from their parents. This forms basis for high performance in the educational system. Students from low socio-economic status families may not be strongly motivated to do well in school and may not be knowledgeable about techniques of being successful in school. High socio-economic status parents who have benefited in a variety of ways from education serves as effective and enthusiastic advocate of schooling (Carlson, 2013). 


In line with this Okwulanya (2013) opines that motivation from educated parents strengthens the academic aspiration and language development in their children to perform better in their academic work. According to the scholar, some children may come from homes were academic is much valued, where there are books around them and most of the time, they see their parents reading. Their parents may give them books as Christmas presents. They encourage them to read many books wither by organizing mini library for them at home or by encourage to use the state library. The author went further to emphasize that some children may come from illiterate homes, where no importance is attached to books. In such families, children scarcely see their parents at home. In all, the researcher’s conclusion is that motivated students are likely to engage in an activity more vigorously and more effectively than unmotivated one. Motivation is always goal orientated. The importance of parental level of education to academic performance of students cannot be over emphasized. Students from professional and to a lesser extent managerial occupational backgrounds exhibit higher academic performance (Gary, 2011). In support of this view, Onochie and Okpalla (2015) opined that educational level of parents which is an indicator of socio-economic status has direct influence on child’s values and academic performance in the school. They mentioned that children from illiterate families may learn little or nothing from home that can help them develop interest in academics. This is in contrast to what is obtainable from children from literature families where parents provide atmosphere conducive for the formation of good study habits (Qeca, 2010). Parental occupation is also an important family background variable.

The occupation of one’s parents may determine to a large extent one’s opportunity to attend secondary school or not. Ezeji (2011) noted that parents like their children to take to their occupation, like parents who are lawyers, doctors, musicians among others. Examples of such people in the country include Gani Faweiheni, the prominent human right lawyer, Oliver Akalite (Oliver De coque) and Osita Osadebe who were famous musicians each of these great men had one or more of his children in his type of occupation. Uwaoma (2016) asserted that most vocational students were children whose parents were farmer or craft men. In Nigeria most children whose parents cannot afford to pay for high cost of formal education enroll into apprenticeship programmes such as carpentry, brick laying, petting trading and others. In the study area, there is a seeming general poor performance among secondary school students. 


Evidences of the poor performances are seen in both students’ internal and external examination. For instance, the available records of WAEC result analyses from 2005 to 2011 indicate downward trends in students’ academic performance. According to the analyses the performance of students in mathematics are as follows: 2005 - 27.53%, 2006 - 15.56%, 2007 -25.54%, 2008 - 13.76%, 2009 - 25.99%, 2010 - 24.94% and 2011 - 30.99% (source: WAEC Imo State Educational Board).   It is against this background that the researcher is interested investigating the influence of family background on students’ academic performance in mathematics in Okigwe local government area of Imo state. The researcher intends to investigate the variables in the family background with a view of assessing their relative influence on academic performance of student in mathematics in Okigwe local government area of Imo state. 

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Societies all over the world strive to achieve quantitative education for her citizenry. In order to achieve this noble course, so many factors must be put into consideration. Among them is the family background of the child. The family has a great role to play on the overall development of the child and his educational upbringing in particular. The gap in performance between students and academic excellence constitute a great source of worry and serious concern as well as discomfiture to both parents, school mangers, policy makers and various governments responsible for the education of students’ in mathematics.


Experience has shown that among the secondary school students, there are some differences which influence students’ academic performance in mathematics, such as some students’ being able to pay their school fees promptly, while others are often sent away for non-payment of school fees, some students have problem with the provision of school uniform but others do not. Likewise, some students were motivated by their parents through the provision of educational materials like text books and exercise books, others were not, where as some students’ come to school properly feed, others not. One then wonders whether influence of family background had played a in these issues. In the light of this, the main problem of this search is to find out if there exist in Okigwe local area a relationship between family background and the students’ academic performance in mathematics. 


1.3       Purpose of the Study

There is no gain for any country whose educational planners and policy makers stands and watch the falling standard and steady decline of education at a given rate. They must identify the causes for such decline with a view of proffering solution to them. This research work is set to accomplish the following objectives;

i.     To investigate the effect of family background on the educational performance of students’ in mathematics.

ii.    To find out if social-economic status of parents influences students’ academic performance in mathematics.

iii.   To find out whether educational attainment of parent affect students’ academic performance in mathematics.

iv.   To find out the influence of family size on educational upbringing of mathematics student.


1.4     Research Questions

For the purpose of this research work the following research questions have been formulated;

i.      What is the effect of family background on the educational performance of students’ in mathematics?

ii.     Does socio-economic status of parents influence the academic performance of the students?

iii.    Does educational attainment of parent affect students’ academic performance in mathematics?

iv.    Is there any effect of family size on the academic performance of mathematics students?  


1.5       Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be tested to guide this study;

Hypothesis I 

Ho: The socio-economic status of parents has no significant effect on the academic performance of mathematics students.  

Hi: The socio-economic status of parents has significant effect on the academic performance of mathematics students. 

Hypothesis II 

Ho: The educational attainment of parents does not significantly affect students’ academic performance in mathematics.   

Hi: The educational attainment of parents significantly affects students’ academic performance in mathematics. 


1.6 Significance of the Study 

The work of this nature when completed may help the parents to be aware of the effect the family has on children and how such affect the child positively or negatively in relation to their academic performance in mathematics. From the available recommendations, they will be able to adopt measures of bringing up their children in such a way that they will perform well academically. Similarly, it is likely to encourage parents to make their children relatively comfortable in schools. This study also could aid children of various families to be aware and bear in mind with their parents in ability to provide them with all the necessary requirements in schools, and also sympathize with them in family problems and situations.


More so, educational and curriculum planners could be guided in planning the curriculum without rigidity to suit diverse cultural environments. In addition, the teachers would be aware that a cordial teacher parent relationship may in a way improve the influence of family background on the academic performance of a child in school. A study of this nature is likely to help the state, nation and the world at large benefit from as the adherence to the recommendations and implementation which will help produce youths who would be better leaders of tomorrow. Finally, the research when completed may add to available literature and may encourage further research on the topic.


1.7 Scope of the Study

It would be much demanding to undertake a complete study of the effects of family background on the academic performance of students in all the secondary schools are scattered all over the local government area and due to logistics constraint on the researcher, only five schools will be sampled, sampled schools are selected based on their metropolitan population characteristics. The study is likely to be confined to senior secondary school (SS1) students of the selected schools. This is because SS1 is the beginning of senior secondary school class. If family background affects students in SS1, it is assumed that it is likely to affect their performances in mathematics in senior secondary school certificates examinations and even worst in their higher academic performance.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

As words may mean differently in different contexts, the following definitions are given as the words used as intended to be understood for the purpose of this study. 

Family: Is a unit comprising of husband, wife and children. 

Family Size: The number of people in the family. 

Family System: This includes monogamy and may be nuclear or extended family. 

Home Environment: This refers to parental experience and aspirations for children, objects and material conditions in the home for comfort and also specific behavioral processes conducive to learning. 

Educational Upbringing: This refers to education of children and how they perform in academics when subjected to test or examination. 

Educational Status: This term is used for social processes in which one achieve social competence and individual growth, carried on in a selected, controlled sitting which can be institutionalized as a school or college. 

Occupational Status: Person’s trade, vocation or principal means of earning living.

Socio-Economic Status: This refers to position of recognition which one finds him in the society. Such a position may not be hereditary but acquired through personal efforts like education, wealth, occupation and social class.

Academic Performance: This refers to the students’ performance, scores within the class and his position relative to all those subjected the same test. 

Effects: the result or outcome of anything be it positive or negative. 

Home Situation: This refers to prevailing atmosphere in the home whether violent, resentful or in disarray. 

Parental Attitude: Parents disposition to respond in a characteristics way to some stimulus in their social environment. Some responses determine the way and manner their children are brought up by them.



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