Students poor performance: An analysis of causative factors

  • It’s clear that education is one of the critical factors in the development of any field of life. Therefore, the success achieved in education goes a long way in determining the level of growth both in individuals and countries as well as the maintenance of several developments, just as stated in 2009 by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). However, it has been observed that poor performance among students keeps increasing, not only among the poor and average students alone but also among the brilliant ones. This trend leaves us with many questions as to what could have been the cause. Is it the result of students’ attitude towards learning and other school activities or the teachers’ approach to teaching and use of instructional materials? These are questions that continue to bother on this scenario.

    Since education is a complex process based on a mutual interaction of many factors, school failure is known to be based on different and versatile reasons. According to various researches carried out already in this context, the reasons for failure have been explained with not only characteristics related to family and school but also individual characteristics of students, school resources and institutional environment (Crossley 2005; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Bean et al.,2003). From these researches, various factors were identified to be contributing to students’ failure in school works:

    Lack of academic support from family

    It’s been identified that the first factor that contributes to students’ failure is not the students nor is it the teachers but the family background of many of the students found within the walls of academic institutions. Lack of academic support and an appropriate physical environment that encourages studying has hindered many students from studying at home. Findings from Gelbal and Davis-Kean, in 2008 and 2005 respectively revealed that the low socioeconomic level of many families, their fragmented structures and lack of importance attached to education are parts of what is majorly contributing to the failure puzzle being experienced among students. Hashima and Amato (1994) together with other studies pointed out that, students who often come from low socioeconomic levels cannot receive enough support from their families on their education, they do not have friends to study together, and they are often afraid to ask questions from their teachers about subjects they do not understand and thus leading to poor performance.

    Have a look at this article, which deals with the imperatives of parental participation in their children schooling.

    The students themselves

    Following the motivation that should come from the family as a factor in this puzzle, the next important factor contributing to students’ failure is the students themselves. Student’s inability to express themselves and put away shy personality together with the failure to take notes during classes is a significant driving force behind the poor performance in students. More so, when students become too shy to ask questions, and don’t revise what has been taught in class, they are most likely to do poorly in their performance.

    Lack of resources in schools

    Though depends on the development level of a country, UNESCO in 2000 and 2007 reported that physical facilities and equipment of schools have been found to be negatively contributing to the quality of education and hence the result of the students. Also, many studies have intricately linked lack of school resources to the reason of students’ poor performance. In Kurul Tural publication in 2002, some teachers gave their thought about the subject matter and said the absence of a guidance counsellor in schools is also one of the contributing factors to students’ failure.

    Teachers and teaching strategies

    Incompetent teachers flooding the education sector is also a critical factor to also consider. Many teachers are unable to give clear knowledge-based teaching to the student even with the availability of many teaching aids. A large number of them have been teaching for years without any further professional development. In some cases, though is not the teachers' problem, the authorities concerned don’t often give them the opportunity to update their skills. If teachers must teach well, their knowledge must constantly be updated. There should be a departure from purely traditional method to a more modern and student-centred approach.

    Therefore, to see students’ performance improve, every factor contributing to this failure puzzle must be adequately addressed, especially reorienting the thought pattern of the students towards education and learning. However, it is imperative to conclude that the factors that lead to poor performance in students might not be limited to just the ones mentioned here. Other known factors (base on location, country laws etc.) should also be explored to address the problem of students poor performance in school.


    Crossley, M. (2005). Comparative perspectives on the quality of education. Comparative Education

    Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). Thе Influеnсе оf раrеnt еduсаtіоn аnd family income оn child асhіеvеmеnt: Thе іndіrесt rоlе оf parental еxресtаtіоn & thе hоmе еnvіrоnmеnt. Jоurnаl оf Fаmіlу Pѕусhоlоgу.

    PISA (2009). What students know and can do – student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Volume I)

    Hashima, P. Y. & Amato, P. R. (1994). Poverty, social support, and parental behaviour. Child Development

    UNESCO (2007). Global monitoring report, education for all 2008. New York: Oxford Press

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