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In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem was often seen as a personality trait, which meant that it tends to be stable and enduring. It involved a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one’s own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors. Many scholars have tried to understand the concept of self-esteem, its definition, measurement, stability, sources and the effect it has on variousareas of life such as education. Most secondary school students are within the adolescence bracket 12-20 years, and this being a period of storm and stress, levels of self-esteem will likely vary from time to time. Many adolescents struggle with se 2 themselves and the level of their academic attainments. Self- esteem and academic performance seem to be most highly related between the years of about seven to fifteen (Malbi andReasoner, 2000).Those who feel confident, generally achieve more, while those who lack confidence in themselves achieve less. However, this does not indicate that high self-esteem causes good academic performance since correlation does not mean causation. In other studies, high selfesteem has been a result of good academic performance and not the cause. Reasoner, (2005) explained that there was a general agreement among researchers that there was a close relationship between self-esteem and academic achievement but there are considerable disagreements among them as to the nature of the relationship. Therefore from literature reviewed, the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance was not yet clear since studies reveal conflicting findings. Gender, was generally asserted to impact upon the growth, demonstration and manifestation of self-esteem (Habibollah, Naderi, Rohani, Aizan, Sharir and Kumar, 2009).A number of studies suggest that boys and girls diverge in their primary source of self-esteem, with girls being more influenced by relationships and boys being more influenced by objective success. Previous studies such as one by Twenge and Campbell (2001) suggested that male adolescents have higher selfesteem compared to female adolescents. Male self esteem seemed to be more influenced by goals related to independence and autonomy, while female self esteem was more closely defined by goals characterized by sensitivity and interdependence (Pepi, Faria and Alesi, 2006). Overall, then, it appeared that males gain self-esteem from getting ahead whereas females gain self-esteem from getting along. 3 Jerald, Patrick, Peter, Kali and Donnellan (2001) elaborated that in U.S.A, African American students had the highest self-esteem followed by Whites then Hispanics, and Asians had the lowest. Though all of them had a mean self-esteem of high (Gray-Little and Hafdahl, 2000; Twenge and Crocker, 2002). Markus and Kitayama had explained why Asians have low selfesteem as individuals. Reason being Asian culture is collectivist in the emphasis on group, hence expressing high self-esteem as an individual contradicts cultural value.

The history of self-esteem as a concept began with known theorists in psychology. William James and Mead (1890) were among the first ones. They postulated that self-esteem was equivalent to success of a person divided by his or her pretensions. One’s self-esteem would be academic success divided by how well one thinks he/she ought to be doing. To increase the sum total of one’s self-esteem, one needs to boost successes or diminish expectations for achievements. This continues to influence the understanding of self-esteem (Wickline, 2003)

The self-psychologist, Rogers (2009) was concerned with the general nature of subjective experience of the individual’s acceptance of his/her experience. Bednar and Peterson (2007), believed that each person constructs his/her unique view of reality through the creative self.

Gordon Allport (2011) proposed that the growth of the awareness of self-proceeds along development learning lines. He identified 7 different aspects of self- hood. Self- esteem is the third development stage of the program. It is the feeling of pride that results when the child accomplishes things on the child’s success in mastering tasks

In 2011, Rosenberg conducted a study of the adolescent self-esteem and came up with three classifications of the self- esteem: the extant self, the desired self, and presenting self. Rosenberg cautions that no one knows the real self, but each individual creates and interprets images of the self. He differentiated between the self confidence and self-esteem. To him self-esteem is more of affective sense of efficacy. As such, self-confidence may contribute to self- esteem but the two are synonymous.

Research, mostly in western and European cultures, has established that self-esteem concept, has a significant influence on students’ academic performance (Spinath et al…, 2006). Students perceptions of the fit between their self concept and academic demands are important for learning outcomes .However, there was yet to be a significant amount of empirical investigation of whether these findings could be generalized to other cultures beside, Western, European and Asian cultures .Of particular importance to note was the limited research linking self-esteem concept and academic performance on the continent of Africa (Mboya, 2007, Marsh and Ham, 2004). If a person’s perceptions of self are formed through experience with and interpretations of one’s environment, as posited by Marsh and Shavelson, then research from a cross other cultures was warranted to reach hard and conclusive finding.


Itis generally assumed that having high self-esteem is very important.From available literature, the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance was not yet clear due to conflicting findings. Most studies have shown a correlation between self esteem and academic performance although the direction of the relationship is not clear (Reasoner, 2005). Literature reviewed such as Twenge and Campbell (2001) suggests that male adolescents have higher self esteem than female adolescents do. The difference in self esteem can lead to difference in academic performance between boys and girls. There was also strong empirical 4 evidence indicating differences in the conceptualization of self and academic performances according to sex and age making it necessary to study gender differences. Limited literature was available in regards to self-esteem and academic performance among adolescents especially in Kenya. This being a critical period in development where self-esteem is moderately developed (Erol and Orth, 2011) shows how important it was to study adolescents‟ levels of self-esteem. This was in regards to the various psychosocial milestones including career decision making and creating personal identity that are experienced at this developmental stage. Students with low self-esteem struggle with problems they face in school, whether it is academically or socially. Therefore, to prevent these psycho-social problems, especially in regards to gender variables, it was important to understand aspects of self-esteem which may inform interventions that are designed to promote self-esteem in critical developmental stages, such as young adulthood (Orth, Robins and Trzesniewski, 2010). Longmore, Manning, Giordano, and Rudolph (2004) also revealed that such efforts might improve adolescents‟ psychological well-being.


The main objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria. Specifically the study aimed to:

1.     Find out the factors that influence low and high self-esteem among secondary school students

2.     Determine if gender difference influence levels of self-esteem among secondary school students.

3.     Find out the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance among secondary schools students.


The following were the research questions the study aimed to answer:

1.     What are the factors that influence low and high self-esteem among secondary school students?

2.     Does gender difference influence levels of self-esteem among secondary school students?

3.     Is there any relationship between self-esteem and academic performance among secondary schools students?


Ho: there is no significant relationship between self-esteem and academic performance among secondary schools students

H1: there is a significant relationship between self-esteem and academic performance among secondary schools students


Evaluation of students‟ progress was very important since it serves as a basis on which education decisions concerning students are made. It was for this reason that knowledge of factors that influence the outcome of academic performance are to be clear to the educators, parents and students so that standards of academic performance can be enhanced. Greater understanding of how self-esteem influences adolescents may facilitate the development of training curricular and enrichment programs that complement the cognitive aspect of knowledge acquisition. 6 Findings from this study might facilitate the development of positive interest in the learner to excel academically. Such information would be useful to the stakeholders such as Ministry of Education, policy makers, teachers and parents. Teachers and staff in schools can learn to recognize ways to foster positive self-esteem in all students. By recognizing the struggles with self-esteem and addressing them at an early age, students are able to spend the majority of their schooling being as successful as possible. Besides, by identifying the relationship of self-esteem with academic performance and gender, educators and counselors can understand adolescents and hence learn to help them better. The research study may also contribute to the limited body of research concerning self-esteem in students


This study the relationship between self-esteem and academic performance of secondary school students in Nigeria students initially was aimed to cover at least five local government area in Lagos state but due to time and some other unforeseen constraint, samples was taken only from Ikeja local government area, Lagos state.


The major constraint that affected this research is limited time and insufficient fund to finance the project, due to this the research is limited to one local government area.


Relationship: the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

Self-esteem: confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect

Academic Performance: the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals. 

Secondary school: school intermediate between basic school and college

Students someone who is studying in order to enter a particular profession.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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