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NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL VOLUME 20, NUMBER 2, 2006--2007

GENDER, PERSONALITY AND NEUROTIC FACTORS IN MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN CALABAR, NIGERIA
Monday T. Joshua Faculty of Education University Of Calabar Calabar Nigeria Isaac O. Ubi Government Secondary School Henshaw Town Calabar Nigeria William Allan Kritsonis Prairie View A&M University Prairie View, Texas Dr. Robert L. Marshall Western Illinois University Macomb, Illinois

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ABSTRACT
Mathematics achievement at secondary school level is still a concern to the society in general, and to researchers in particular. This study was designed to investigate the influence of gender, personality and neurotic level on Mathematics achievement of secondary school students in Calabar Urban in Nigeria. A modified version of the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (JEPQ) was administered on 400 school students to separate them into introverts and extroverts, neurotics and non-neurotics, and into males and females. Independent t-test and multifactor analysis of variance were applied on the students Mathematics achievement test scores. Findings showed that male students performed significantly better than female students; introverts performed better than extroverts, and that introvert males and extrovert females out performed their counterparts with the opposite traits. It was concluded that explanations for differences in mathematics achievement are yet to be consolidated.

peculations have been many concerning the relationship among gender, personality, neuroticism and academic performance. Going by common sense, it may seem that extroverts should perform better at all levels of academic endeavours; that neurotics should be out of the way as far as academics is concerned; and that girls, with their eloquence most of the time, should be better than the boys. This might be misleading as findings have most often been in the contrary. Research findings have shown that the academic performance of male and female students later in secondary schools and other higher levels of academic endeavours depend more on whether the students are extroverts or introverts, with male introverts and female extroverts out performing their counterparts of opposite traits (Ubi, 1992; Orpen, 1975). There seems to be an age grade trend in the performance of extroverts and introverts. In the educational realm, as Morris (1979) presented, extroverts are superior to introverts in the pre-school age and primary school ages, up to 12-15 years of age. At this stage, a transition occurs; and beyond that level introverts tend to be superior to extroverts.

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The typical introvert, according to Ubi (1992), is a quiet retiring sort of person, introspective, fond of books rather than people; he is reserved and distant except with intimate friends. On the other hand, the extrovert builds up reactive inhibition more quickly than the introvert. This may account for the lower performance of extroverts as this interferes with the learning process and prevents him/her from being able to concentrate on the learning tasks for relatively longer periods of time. The relationship between neuroticism and academic performance as presented by researchers over the years has been found to be insignificant. Ubi (1992) cited Cubbins and Sourage (1965) as having suggested that there existed an opposite relationship between neuroticism and academic achievement. On the differences in mathematics achievement between the sexes, Akubiuro aand Joshua (2004) found out that there were observable differences between the males and females. They maintained that mathematics is sometimes termed a masculine subject. Other studies with similar results include those of Ornstein (1981) and Simpson and Oliver (1990). Simpson and Oliver (1990) and Feingold (1988) reported that there was a correlation between gender and academic performance, while UNESCOs (1994) report of a pilot study showed that girls outperformed boys in all basic learning competencies (BLC). The Problem Over the years, parents, educators and governments, have been concerned about how to maintain high academic performance among students despite their backgrounds, the environments under which they study and their inherent personality traits. Research endeavours in this respect have matched achievement with a tripartite of factors gender, personality and neuroticism.

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One robust finding has been that extroverts perform better than introverts at all levels of academics while findings about neuroticism have been more often inconclusive. This study was focused on doing a cross-match of these variables with the view to finding out both their individual and interactive effects on mathematics achievement among secondary school students in Calabar Urban in Cross River State of Nigeria. Thus, the study was designed to find out whether there is a significant difference between males and females, between extroverts and introverts, and between neurotics and non-neurotics, in their mathematics achievement; and to find out whether there is any 2-way interactive effect of the three factors on students mathematics achievement. Methodology A total of 400 students (200 males and 200 females) were sampled for the study. The stratified random sampling procedure was adopted to select 100 students each from JSS 3, SS1, SS2 and SS3 across 80 per cent of the schools in the study area Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State of Nigeria. A 30-item questionnaire adopted from the English Version of the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (JEPQ) originally formulated by Eysenck (1965) was then administered on the students. The questionnaire was used to identify the dominant personality trait in the individuals and also to separate the subjects into neurotics and non-neurotics. The items on the questionnaire were reframed accordingly by the researchers to meet the reading and understanding level of the students of the area studied. To assess the mathematics achievement of the students studied, and test for significance, an achievement test in Mathematics was administered to the subjects immediately after they completed the questionnaire.

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To analyze the data collected, the subjects were first categorized into males and females and then each of the two groups (the males and females) were further categorized into introverts and extroverts. At the final analysis, each of the groups - sexes and personality were sub-classified into neurotics and non-neurotics. This made it possible for the researchers to test for significance at all levels of consideration as shown in the results. The independent t-test statistics for comparison of two group means and the multi-factor analysis of variance were applied on the data collected. Results The results of the data analysis presented in Tables 1 show the descriptive statistics of the dependent variable and the independent ttest analysis. The presentation of data was based on the results obtained from the mathematics achievement test designed to measure the dependent variable. The frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of the subjects in the different categories of the independent variables on the dependent variable are as shown in Table 1. So also are the calculated t-values as indications of the comparison between the two groups on each independent variable. Differences in means as presented in Table 1 show that the male students (with Mean = 24.70) had a higher mean achievement than the girls (with Mean = 15.64), with the resultant t-value of 9.96. This t-value, when compared with the critical t-value of 1.96 was significant at .05 level with 398 degrees of freedom. On personality, Table 1 shows that the difference between the mean achievements of Extroverts (with Mean = 18.27) and Introverts (with Mean = 21.40) was significant at .05 level ( the calculated t-value being 3.05). On neuroticism, the difference between the mean achievement of Neurotics (with Mean = 19.33) and Non-neurotics (with Mean = 21.00) was not significant. Here the calculated absolute t-value of 1.64 was less than the critical t-value of 1.96. The results of the analyses in Table 1 have shown that there was a significant

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difference in mathematics achievement between males and females, and between extroverts and introverts. The males out-performed the females, and the extroverts significantly out-performed the introverts. However, there was no significant difference in performance between neurotics and non-neurotics. Table 1 Descriptive Statistics and results of independent t-test analysis of differences in mathematics achievement due to gender, personality and neuroticism
N Gender Male Female Personality Extroverts Introverts Neuroticism Neurotics Non-Neurotics 200 200 50.0 50.0 19.33 -1.64 21.00 10.08 158 242 39.5 60.5 18.27 21.40 6.78 -3.05* 11.73 200 200 50.0 50.0 24.70 15.64 10.12 9.96* 8.00 Percent X SD t-value

* p < .05 (Critical t = 1.96); df = 398

Results in Table 2 are quite comprehensive, as differences in means across and within gender and the personality and neurotic traits have been presented. For example, the results showed that for the males, neurotic extroverts were 39 with a mean of 14.72 and a

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Table 2 Descriptive analysis of group and cell means and standard deviations of students mathematics achievement
Gender Personality Extroverts Neuroticism Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Total Neurotic Total Non-Neurotic Total Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Total Neurotic Total Non-Neurotic Total Extroverts Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Neurotic Non-Neurotic Total Total Neurotic Total Non-Neurotic Total N 39 36 75 50 75 125 89 111 200 46 37 83 65 52 117 111 89 200 85 73 158 115 127 242 200 200 400 14.72 15.00 14.85 30.70 30.53 30.60 23.70 25.50 24.70 21.13 21.62 21.35 12.08 10.96 11.58 15.83 15.39 15.63 18.19 18.36 18.27 20.17 22.52 21.40 19.33 21.00 20.17 SD 5.35 5.35 5.31 8.92 6.13 7.34 10.97 9.37 10.12 6.69 6.35 6.51 6.84 5.60 6.32 8.10 7.91 8.00 6.88 6.72 6.78 12.10 11.32 11.73 10.24 10.08 10.18

Males

Introverts

Extroverts

Females

Introverts

Total

Introverts

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standard deviation of 5.35, while non-neurotic extroverts were 36 in number with mean and standard deviation of 15.00 and 5.35 respectively. These results showed that there were 75 extrovert males with a mean of 30.70 and a standard deviation of 8.92. Following these descriptive analyses, a multi-factor (3-way) analysis of variance (ANOVA) was applied on the data to examine the interactive effects of the three factors (gender, personality and neuroticism) on mathematics achievement of the students. The results of the analysis are shown in Tables 3. Table 3 Results of multi-factor analysis of variance in students mathematics achievement based on their gender, personality and neuroticism
Source of Variation Gender Personality Neuroticism Gender/Personality Gender/Neuroticism Personality/Neuroticism Gender/Personality/Neuroticism Within Group (Error) TOTAL *P< .05 (Critical F = 3.86); 7.88 16831.52 36834.18 df = 1 & 392 SS 3720.98 818.66 1.52 15425.57 3.22 24.83 df 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 MS 3720.98 818.66 1.52 15425.57 3.22. 24.83 7.88. 392 399 F 86.67* 19.07* 0.35 59.24* 08 .58 .18 42.94

Results of the multi-factor analysis of variance are revealing. Gender and personality factors both showed significant influence on mathematics achievement, and neuroticism showed no significant influence, thus confirming the previous results shown in Table 1. The interactive effects of gender by neuroticism and personality by

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neuroticism also showed no significance at .05 level. However, gender by personality interactive effect showed significance at .05 level. This significant interactive effect of gender and personality is explored further in Figure 1.

Gender by Personality Interaction


Extroverts Males Females 35 Mathematics achievement 30 25 20 15 10 Males Females Introverts 14.85 (75) 21.35 (83) Introverts 30.60 (125) 11.58 (117)

Extroverts

Figure 1. Plot of gender by personality interaction effect on students mathematics achievement

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The figure has shown that among females, the extroverts outperformed the introverts in their mathematics achievement; but among the males, the introverts out-performed the extroverts with a relatively bigger gap. Discussion Results of the study revealed that among the males and, in the mixed sample, introverts out performed the extroverts whereas in the female sample extroverts performed better than their introvert counterparts. This finding is similar to those of Ubi (1992), and Ekpenyong (1981). Investigations by these researchers had shown that extrovert females and introvert males performed academically better than their counterparts with opposite traits. It may be possible to attempt an explanation to this recurring finding. Girls act out their extroversion, especially non-neurotic extroverts, in a more scholastically acceptable way than do the boys; and perhaps the values of the boys peer groups tend to be in opposition to academic success. The superiority of the introverted boys is equally easy to explain. The typical introvert, according to Ubi (1992), is a quiet retiring sort of person, introspective, fond of his books rather than people. He is reserved and distinct except with intimate friends. He tends to plan ahead, and looks before he leaps. He keeps his feelings under close control, seldom behaves in an aggressive manner, and does not lose his temper easily. He is reliable, somewhat pessimistic, and places great value on ethical standards. These qualities make him better academically. Results in Table 1 agree with those of Akubiuro and Joshua (2004), Ornstein (1981), Simpson and Oliver (1985), that males perform better than females in mathematics, but failed to confirm other findings, which show that extroversion is not more preferred in academic work than introversion. It has been argued that it is only in

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gender matters that personality factors such as extroversion and introversion show a distinction in performance. Results on neuroticism and academic performance at all levels of consideration showed that the variable had no influence on academic performance. Earlier findings on neuroticism have been difficult to explain since there have been results in support and against its relationship with academic performance. One thing is common among neurotics. In academics, they are always worried and persistent in trying to put up attitude that may suggest that they are taking their work seriously. What then may bother researchers is that despite these characteristics of neurotics, findings (e.g. those of Orpen, 1966 in Ubi 1992), still point to the fact that they perform lower than their counterparts with introversion or extroversion personality traits. Is it possible that they are so much at the extremes; that is, either too introverted or too extroverted to perform positively? Further research may need to be directed at this area. Implications of the Study The findings of this study have great implications for teachers, educational evaluators and researchers. Teachers, especially those teaching mathematics, are expected to sit up in their effort to encourage the female students towards the subject. Most girls have the potential of doing well in mathematics but get influenced along the line by their peers who hold negative opinions about the subject. Mathematics is like any other subject. Any student who has ability in other subjects has the capacity to perform well in it if enough time and interest are devoted to its study. In short, teachers can guide the students to believe the fact that there are no gender differentials in natural endowment for mathematics achievement.

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The study result is important to educational evaluators to the extent that the individual and interactive effects of all the variables in any given study can be carried out to make room for a more authentic inference to be drawn. This is evident in the study of 2-way interactive effects carried out in this study. To future researchers, the study would be of utmost importance as it may set out a basis for future studies to be carried out in the area.

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REFERENCES
Akubuiro, I. M., & Joshua, M. T. (2004). Self-concept, attitude and performance of senior secondary school students in science subjects in southern Cross River State of Nigeria. The African Symposium (An online African Educational Research Journal), 4 (1). (Website: http://www2.ncsu.edu/ncsu/aern/april04.html) Ekpenyong, N. E. (1981). Sex related differences in Mathematics achievement and effective factors. Unpublished B.Ed Project, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria. Eysenck, S. B. G. (1965). Manual of the Junior Eysenck personality questionnaire (JEPQ). London: University of London Press. Feingold, A. (1988). Cognitive gender differences are disappearing. American Psychologist, 43, 95 103. Gibbins, K. C., & Savage, R. D. (1965). Intelligence, study habits and personality factors in academic success. Durham Research Review, 5, 8 12. Morris, L. W. (1979). Extroversion and introversion: An international perspective. New York: Housted Press. Ornstein, A. C. (1981). Education of the disadvantaged: A 20-year review. Educational Research Journal, 24, 207 213. Orpen, C. (1975). The construct validity of Eysenck personality inventory among xhosa-speaking subjects in South Africa . Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town: Author. Orpen, C. (1976). Personality and academic attainment: A cross cultural study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 220 222. Simpson R. O., & Oliver J. S. (1990). A summary of major influences on attitude towards and achievement in science among adolescent students. Science Education, 74, 1-18. Ubi, I. O. (1992). The effect of gender differences and personality factors on scholastic achievement of secondary school accounting students. Unpublished B.Sc. (Ed) project, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.. UNESCO (1994). Monitoring education-for-all goals: Focusing on learning achievement. Paris: UNESCO.