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CHAPTER ONE

1.1Background of Study

One of the most important factors that lead one to their goals in life is the drive. This form of drive is known as need for achievement. It is a zest and determination with a kind of excitement that leads one to persevere in order to reach greater heights, in differs spheres of life; be it – personal or professional. The drive may come from an internal or external source. The individual determines this even in the face of its possible impact on the individual health in the form of stress. As we are faced with changes in all facets of life, academic inclusive factors that raise the need for achievement in students also keep changing as he/she climbs the ladder of age and maturity. And also, achievement of one goal sets the ball rolling for another one to be achieved. Thus, to be motivated is a constant need with a varying effects and proneness to academic stress (Singh, 2011).

Moreover, students in their adolescence stage are attached to different peer groups and identify themselves with these groups by participating in group’s activities in order not to be rejected. Hence, the peer group have become a great source of influence during the period of adolescence. In a contemporary society, peer attachment has become an increasingly important context in which adolescents spend time. Modernization has led more and more to age segregation-in schools, work place, and in the community. How much time one spends with friends will play a great part in the development of the adolescent into the mature adult (Barbour, Barbour and Scully, 2002).

The adolescent spends much of his/her time with the members of his/her peer group. He follows the ideals of the group; he would want to be fully accepted. Nothing can be more devastating to the adolescent than to be rejected by his age mates (Vishala, 2008). Adolescents are mainly influenced by their peers in such a way that their need for achievement, attitudes, beliefs, and academic stress can be conditioned by his/her peer attachment.

Observation has generally shown that in the process of students trying to meet their academic goals, the students are exposed to certain unwanted internal or external environmental factors which may give rise to feeling of exhaustion and strain in varying degrees among students. This has to do with the fact that people react to the same stressor in diverse ways, some appear comparatively undisturbed and act effectively inspite of difficult situation. In contrast, others become disorganized, dazed, panicky and generally displaying the signs of severe emotional disturbances.

Stress can be considered as “any factor, acting internally or externally, which makes adaptation to environment difficult and which induces increased effort on the part of the individual to maintain a state of equilibrium between himself and herself and the external environment” (Humphrey, Yow, & Bowden, 2000). Additionally, “stress is a physical and mental response to everyday demands, particularly those associated with change” (Richlin-Klonsky & Hoe, 2003). In recent years, “stress has become an important topic in academic circle” (Agolla & Ongori, 2009) probably because of the fact that life in general is flooded by many stressors. Among college students, stress can be viewed as a positive or negative experience that affects their lives and performances (Jogaratnam & Buchanan, 2004). This is so because “academic work is never without stressful activities” (Agolla & Ongori, 2009). The experience of stress among college students is considered normal but “if stress is severe and/or prolonged, it can reduce academic performance; interfere with a student’s ability to participate in and contribute to campus life; and increase the likelihood of substance abuse and other potentially damaging behaviors” (Richlin-Klonsky & Hoe, 2003).

One form of stress that is constantly being experienced by students is stress in relation to academic pursuits. “Academic stress is the product of a combination of academic-related demands that exceed the adaptive resources available to an individual” (Wilks, 2008). Academic stress is a concern that must not be taken for granted because it adversely affects the overall adjustment of students (Hussain, Kumar, & Husain, 2008) and several studies have already documented the effect of stress on students (e.g. Agolla & Ongori, 2009; Hussain, Kumar & Husain, 2008); Masih & Gulrez, 2006; Sulaiman, Hassan, Sapian, & Abdullah, 2009). In 2005, Kumar and Jejurkar found that academic factor like need for achievement and social factor like peer attachment were responsible for high academic stress among undergraduate students. Hence, this study seeks to explore the relative influence of need for achievement and peer attachment on proness to academic stress with a special reference to Lagos State University.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

It is observed that academic stress in the educational system has become one of the cogent factors militating against the performance of students. Students are faced with different challenges which often lead to stress and even burnout and subsequent poor academic performance. Reasons have been advanced that the cause of high rates of stress or burnout among students often includes: environmental factors such as students’ higher need for achievement, students’ misbehaviour, learning difficulties, peer pressures, work overload, and students’ performance (Oredein, 2009).

Many of the studies on need for achievement, peer attachment and students academic stress were done outside Nigeria. In Nigeria, most of the available studies on need for achievement and peer attachment such as Akinyemi, Ofem & Ikuenomore (2012), Oredein (2009), Emmanue, Adom and Josephine (2014) investigated the interplay of such variable like motivation, stress, performance in an organizational setting. These studies were also theoretical in approach whose findings were subjectively based on researchers’ personal opinions. It should also be noted that the past studies did not give adequate attention to the impact of need for achievement, peer attachment on students’ academic stress, as well as highlighting effective stress management strategy that can stimulate better academic performance for students. This observed gap in knowledge necessitated the central research question: What is the influence of need for achievement and peer attachment on proness to perceived academic stress? This issue brings into focus the following research questions:

i.            Will there be a significant positive relationship between need for achievement and academic stress among adolescent undergraduate students?

ii.            Will adolescent who score high on peer attachment significantly score higher on perceived academic stress than student who score low on peer attachment?

iii.            Will female student who score high on need for achievement significantly score higher on perceived academic stress than boys who score low on need for achievement?

iv.            Will there be a significant joint influence of need for achievement and peer attachment on perceived academic stress?

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The major objective of this study is to assess the influence of need for achievement and peer attachment on proness to perceived academic stress. Other specific objectives of this study are:

i.            To investigate the relationship between need for achievement and academic stress among adolescent undergraduate students

ii.            To find out whether adolescent who score high on peer attachment will score higher on perceived academic stress than student who score low on peer attachment

iii.            To examine the relationship between gender and perceived academic stress among undergraduate adolescents

To assess if there is a joint influence of need for achievement and peer attachment on perceived academic stress

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