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CDI
13,7 Roles of personality, vocational
interests, academic achievement
and socio-cultural factors
630
in educational aspirations
Received 29 April 2008
Revised 5 July 2008
of secondary school adolescents
Accepted 23 June 2008
in southwestern Nigeria
Samuel O. Salami
Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Abstract
Purpose This paper seeks to examine the roles of personality, vocational interests, academic
achievement and some socio-cultural factors in educational aspirations of secondary school
adolescents in southwestern Nigeria.
Design/methodology/approach A survey research design was adopted. The sample comprised
430 (males 220, females 210) secondary school students. Data personality, vocational interests,
academic achievement, socio-cultural factors and educational aspiration were obtained from the
students. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to analyse the data.
Findings The paper finds that specific personality, interest dimensions, academic achievement,
socio-economic status and demands from extended family were significantly related to the students
educational aspirations.
Research limitations/implications The cross-sectional correlational research design does not
permit cause-and-effect inferences to be made. Use of a single-item survey to assess educational
aspirations may limit the results. Future research may add more items to assess educational
aspiration.
Practical implications The adolescents personality, vocational interests, academic achievement
and socio-cultural factors should be identified and included in the career counselling process by
counselling psychologists.
Originality/value This research provides basis for the need to consider personality, interests and
socio-cultural factors in addition to cognitive attainment when explaining the adolescents educational
aspirations.
Keywords Personality, Nigeria, Education, Adolescents
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
Aspiration is a complex concept that can be defined as anything from abstract wishes
and dreams to concrete plans and expectations (Atienza, 2006). In this study,
educational aspirations stand for ones educational plan for the future. For the purpose
Career Development International of this study, it is the level of education one plans to attain in the future. In other words,
Vol. 13 No. 7, 2008
pp. 630-647 educational aspiration is the amount and type of education someone would like to have.
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1362-0436
Educational achievement is defined as the highest educational level achieved by an
DOI 10.1108/13620430810911092 individual (Atienza, 2006). Some researchers found significant relationship between
aspirations and educational attainment (Sewell et al., 1969; Steinberg, 2002). Kao and Factors in
Tienda (1995) also argued that early formation of high aspiration can have mediating educational
effects on the influence of family background and significant others on the ultimate
educational attainment of minority children. aspirations
The decision of the Nigerian adolescents to select a particular educational level
could be explained by means of the theory of planned behaviour developed by Ajzen
(1991) which suggests that intentions are good predictors of behaviours. According to 631
this theory, peoples conscious decisions to engage in specific actions are determined
by their attitudes toward the behaviour in question, the relevant subjective norms and
their perceived behavioural control.
Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) believed that people rationally think about the
consequences of their behaviour prior to acting. In a nutshell, behaviour is intended to
achieve certain outcomes and cognition is the primary process of attitude development.
By knowing the intentions of others in a particular situation, one can predict their
behaviour.
According to this perspective, the most immediate cause of behaviour is not
attitudes but behavioural intentions which are conscious decisions to carry out specific
actions (Franzoi, 2000). This theory argues that attitudes influence behaviour by their
influence on intentions. Apart from a persons attitudes toward behaviour, behavioural
intentions are determined by subjective norms and perceived control.
Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) believed that an attitude toward performing a particular
behaviour is formed depending on:
.
ones beliefs about the consequences of performing the particular behaviour; and
.
ones evaluation of those possible consequences.

The students attitude toward selecting a particular educational level could be


predicted if we know what they believe the consequences of earning or attaining such
educational level will be (obtaining well-paid jobs) and by knowing the students
evaluation of such believes (realistic, favorable and attainable consequences).
According to the theory of planned behaviour, a subjective norm is a persons
judgment about whether other people will approve of a particular behaviour.
Subjective norms are products of the perceived expectations of significant others and
ones motivation to conform to these expectations. The adolescent subjective norms
about selection of a particular level of education as educational aspiration could be
determined by the beliefs that significant others (parents and other extended family
members) have about attaining such level of education and the students motivation to
conform to their expectations. For example, the adolescents may want to please their
parents by selecting high educational levels that will fetch them well-paid jobs.
Another concept in the theory of planned behaviour is perceived behavioural
control. This is ones perception of how easy or difficult it is to perform behaviour.
Ajzen (1991, 2003) argued that when people believe that they have little control over
performing a behaviour because of lack of ability or resources, then their behavioural
intentions will be low regardless of their attitudes or subjective norms. For example, an
adolescent may have positive attitude toward attaining a doctorate degree level of
education and his/her parents may approve of it and he or she wants to please them.
However, over time, he/she may find it difficult to meet the financial resources and
academic requirements to pursue postgraduate studies up to a doctorate degree level
CDI and so he/she may loose confidence in his/her ability to earn a doctorate degree (low
13,7 perceived behavioural control). Despite the positive attitude and subjective norm, the
adolescent may likely change his/her intention to attain a doctorate degree level of
education because of low perceived behavioural control. This theory of planned
behaviour highlights the role of parents socio-economic status, peer group and family
norms as well as individual characteristics such as achievements, beliefs, personality
632 and attitudes in educational aspirations of youth.
A number of studies have examined the influence of individual difference and
contextual environmental factors on work outcomes, (Crant, 2000; Lent and Brown,
2006), choice (Salami, 2004, 2007) and motivation (Olanisimi, 2004). However, we have
little understanding of the impact of personality, interests, achievement and
socio-cultural factors on the aspirations of high school adolescents. Many questions
remained unanswered among which are the inconsistencies in the results of researches
that relate personality and other factors to the aspirations of high school students.
Another unanswered question is the different personality and interest inventories used
to measure different aspects of personality and interests of students which make it
difficult to compare the results of the various investigations on the impact of
personality and interests on the educational and career aspirations of the adolescents.
Similarly, there is the unanswered question regarding the application of the results of
studies on adolescents educational or career aspirations in developed countries to
adolescents from developing countries grappling with economic problems and
different socio-cultural considerations. Therefore, influence of factors such as
personality, vocational interests, academic achievement, parents socio-economic
status and demands from extended family on educational aspirations of students need
to be investigated.
Apart from the issues already mentioned, there are also some methodological flaws
of previous studies that need to be addressed. For example, studies using samples of
wide age range are difficult to interpret (e.g. 18-50 years in the study of Gasser et al.
(2004)). From career development theories, vocational development tasks vary
according to age. Career development activities required of 18 year olds are different
from those of 50 year olds (Super et al., 1996). When samples have been of wide age
range and a proportion of them are adolescents while others are in their 50s, results are
difficult to interpret given that the participants were probably displaying different
levels of educational/career aspirations. Further research will enlighten us on how
certain personality factors, interests, academic achievement, parents socio economic
status and demands from extended family members relate to the educational
aspirations of high school students.
Understanding how the students aspirations are related to their personality,
interests, achievement and socio-cultural factors is vital in making clear how
educational aspirations result in diverse educational outcomes. It is regrettable that
research is limited on how these factors impact educational aspirations of the
adolescents. This is largely because early studies on educational aspiration centred on
cognitive experience of the youth (Abe, 1999; Akotia et al., 2004). While succeeding
studies have investigated the career aspirations of young adolescents in Africa
including Nigeria (Abe, 1999; Akotia et al., 2004; Tlhabano and Schweitzer, 2007),
studies examining the educational aspirations of Nigerian secondary school
adolescents are scarce in published literature (Abe, 1999; Salami, 2004).
The present poor state of the Nigerian economy exerts negative pressures on the Factors in
labour market environment and has the tendency to influence the type of careers the educational
youth aspires to go into. The consequences had been high underemployment and
unemployment rates at all levels of education, (unemployment rate stood at 11 percent aspirations
in 2006 in Nigeria (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2007)), an unrealistic nature of secondary
school students vocational choice (Ogunsanwo, 2000; Salami, 1999, 2000) and the
failure and limited success of the past employment policies of the Federal Government 633
(NISER, 2005). An extensive body of research documents evidence of the impact of
unemployment on happiness, pleasure, life satisfaction, affect, self-esteem, general
distress, anxiety, strain and depression of adults (Payne, 1990; Antonio et al., 2007).
The above submission stresses the importance of finding effective ways to protect
the young adults in the transition from school to work from experiencing
unemployment. There is little dispute on this as most countries, including Nigeria,
implemented a variety of socio-political, labour market, organizational or individual
procedures for this group. Still there has been limited success (Antonio et al., 2007;
NISER, 2005). Besides unemployment, the youth have to cope with another problem of
avoiding underemployment and its consequences. Because of the high unemployment
rate, individuals have to compete intensely for the few available jobs in the country. To
be able to get qualified for a good job, it is likely the Nigerian youth may have high
educational aspirations. In a nutshell, the economic situation in Nigeria has the
tendency to shape the careers of the youth.
Another factor that has the propensity to shape the careers of the Nigerian youth is
the socio-cultural context (Ituma and Simpson, 2006). Prominent among the
socio-cultural institutions is the extended family system practised in all parts of the
country. Within the extended family system, every member is expected to care and
share the resources, hopes and aspirations of one another, for the benefit of themselves
and of the larger society (Ituma and Simpson, 2006).
These socio-cultural practices are likely to influence the career aspirations as these
individuals are most likely to make career choices that will enable them meet these
obligations (Ituma and Simpson, 2006). The implication of the discussed factors on
the careers of Nigerian youth is that they will not always be free to act in ways
consistent with their personal career preferences. They are likely to make career
decisions taking into consideration the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria and
their socio-cultural obligations (Ituma and Simpson, 2006; Salami and Aremu, 2007). In
spite of the fact that prevailing economic situation in Nigeria and socio-cultural
obligations shape the careers of the youth, it is believed that personality, interests and
academic achievement of the youth may influence their career goals and subsequently
their educational aspirations.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which personality,
vocational interests, academic achievement, parents socio-economic status and
demands from extended family predict educational aspirations of secondary school
adolescents.

Personality factors and educational aspirations


The personality factors considered in this study are neuroticism, extraversion,
openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness based on the five-factor
model propounded by Costa and McCrae (1992). Neuroticism refers to lack of positive
CDI psychological adjustment, and emotional stability. Persons scoring high on
13,7 neuroticism are fearful, anxious and depressed. Extraversion is constructed as
sociability. Extroverts are more talkative, active and assertive. Conscientiousness is
characterized by personal competence, dutifulness, self-discipline and deliberation.
Agreeableness a compassionate interpersonal orientation. Openness flexibility of
thought.
634 A number of studies have shown that personality factors play significant roles in
the prediction of educational aspirations of secondary school students. For example,
Gasser et al. (2004) found that students who plan to go into careers such as medicine,
law, engineering, psychology and also aspire to go beyond first degree differ widely in
the variety of psychological variables. Similarly, Rottinghaus et al. (2002) found that
university students with different levels of educational aspirations differ greatly on
some dimensions of personality, self-efficacy and interests.
In a recent study, Gasser et al. (2004) investigated the relationship between
educational aspirations of college students and California Personality Inventory (CPI)
and Strong Interest Inventory (SII) components, and found that there were significant
relationships between educational aspirations and CPI Components (conceptual fluency
and insightfulness) and SII components (investigative and learning environment). Reed
et al. (2004) found significant correlations between some five-factor personality factors
and vocational behaviours of some university students. Salami and Ilesanmi (2004)
examined the relationship between personality and work values of high school students
in Ibadan. They found that there were significant relationships between each of
neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness and leadership; esteem,
self-expression and interesting experience work values.

Academic achievement and educational aspirations


Academic achievement is the clearest indicator of young peoples ability to do well in
educational settings. It can serve as the most immediate reality constraint on young
peoples educational aspirations. Previous researches show that academic achievement
is among the most powerful determinants of both educational aspirations and
participation in post-secondary education (Andres et al., 1999; Butlin, 1999; Looker,
2002). Researchers generally agree that performance in the primary language of
instruction (English or French), mathematics and science courses constitute the most
decisive evidence of the likelihood of doing well in most post-secondary educational
programmes (Human Resources and Skills Development, Canada, 2004).

Parental socio-economic status and educational aspirations


Parental socio-economic status was found from the parents level of education and
occupation. Research has shown that parents socio-economic status is a strong
predictor of youths educational aspirations and their latter attainments (Andres and
Krahn, 1999; Atienza, 2006, Ball and Lamb, 2001; Crysdale et al., 1999; Looker and
Lowe, 2001; McGrath, 1996; Teachman et al., 1997). Atienza (2006) found that higher
levels of socio-economic status of parents were associated with increase in the
educational aspirations of the Asian-American students. Higher levels of income
within the family may allow the children the exposure to activities and programmes
that increase the childs aspiration level.
Demands from extended family and educational aspirations Factors in
Demands from the extended family members are cultural practices that can shape the educational
career of the Nigerian youth. Extended family system is practised in all parts of
Nigeria. Great importance is attached to the extended family system in which parents, aspirations
children, their spouses, grandchildren and other relatives form a social network of
relationships that is based on mutual dependence. Within the extended family system,
every member is expected to care for and share the resources, hopes and aspirations of 635
one another for the benefit of themselves and of the larger society (Ituma and Simpson,
2006). It is mandatory for an individuals family to provide financial support for his/her
children, retired parents, and the extended family members (Ituma and Simpson, 2006;
Salami and Aremu, 2007). Working class persons are expected to send money regularly
to assist in the education and welfare of non-working members of their family.
Essentially, the extended family system provides social security for every member of
the family in need of care and support at all stages of their life. Being a member of an
extended family system will likely influence educational and career aspirations of
individuals so that they could make career choices that will enable them meet their
financial obligations (Ituma and Simpson, 2006). Salami (2004, 2007) found that family
involvement was significantly correlated with the career aspirations and choice of
some Nigerian adolescents.

Vocational interests and educational aspirations


Vocational interests are the vocational activities that people seek after in various jobs.
Educational aspiration is the amount and type of education someone would ideally like
to have. When interests are developed in some vocational activities, individuals may
eventually select their career choices within the relevant field. Such persons might
make their educational aspirations along the career or occupational field where their
interests lie. In short, vocational interests can influence vocational choice and
consequently educational aspirations. A number of previous researchers attested to the
significant roles played by vocational interests in the prediction of educational
aspirations. For example, Gasser et al. (2004) and Rottinghaus et al. (2002) found that
vocational interests significantly predicted educational aspirations.

The present study


This study aimed at overcoming the limitations of previous studies by first limiting the
age group to adolescence period (13-19 years) giving a fairly age-homogeneous sample.
This is because most of the adolescents would be engaged in similar vocational
developmental tasks (Super et al., 1996). Second, a measure of personality NEOPI-R
(Costa and McCrae, 1992) that assessed most common personality traits were used.
Also, a vocational interest inventory by Bakare (1977) that was relevant to the
adolescents interests and occupations available in the country covering a wider range
of interests was used. Third, this study included an index of individual achievement
(academic achievement) and socio-cultural factors (parental socio-economic status and
demands of extended family). Fourth, this study was conducted among secondary
school adolescents in Nigeria (a less developed country) to fill the research gap that
exists in career literature with respect to career dynamics in diverse national contexts.
Given the above scenario and the paucity of studies that investigated the influence
of person-related characteristics (personality and vocational interests), academic
CDI achievement, parental socio-economic status, demands from extended family on
13,7 adolescents educational aspirations, this study examined the relationship among
personality, vocational interests, academic achievement, socio-economic status,
demands from extended family and educational aspirations of secondary school
adolescents in southwestern Nigeria.

636 Research questions


The following research questions were answered in this study:
RQ1. Will personality factors be related to educational aspirations?
RQ2. Will vocational interests be related to educational aspirations?
RQ3. Will academic achievement be related to educational aspirations?
RQ4. Will parental socio-economic status be related to educational aspirations?
RQ5. Will demands from extended family be related to educational aspirations?
RQ6. Will Personality factors combined with vocational interests, academic
achievement, parental socio-economic status, and demands from extended
family predict educational aspirations?

Method
Research design
The research design adopted for this study was a survey research design of the ex post
facto type in which questionnaires were utilized in collecting data from the
respondents.

Participants
The sample consisted of 430 senior secondary two (SS 2) students (male 220, 51.16
percent, female 210, 48.83 percent) randomly selected from twelve secondary
schools in six states of southwestern Nigeria at the rate of two schools per state. A total
of 50 students were randomly selected from each school giving a grand total of 600.
However, data from 430 students with completely filled questionnaires were used for
analysis. Participants were recruited from SS 2 class to obtain a sample for which
career exploration, career decision-making and educational aspiration are important.
They had a mean age of 15.43 years (SD 1.55) and age range of 13-19 years.

Instruments
Personality
The NEOPI-R (Costa and McCrae, 1992) was used to assess the five personality
dimensions. It consists of five 12-item scales developed as a short form of the NEO-PI-R
to assess neuroticism (N), extraversion (E), openness (O), agreeableness (A) and
conscientiousness (C). The item responses adopted a five-point Likert Scale ranging
from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). For the reliability of NEO-PI-R, Costa
and McCrae (1992) reported Cronbachs a coefficients of 0.86, 0.77, 0.73, 0.68 and 0.81,
respectively, for the N, E, O, A, and C scales. Construct validity of NEOPI-R had been
reported by Costa et al. (1998). For this study, the Cronbachs a coefficients ranged
from 0.70 to 0.80 for the NEOPI-R scales.
Vocational interests Factors in
Vocational interest was assessed by means of Vocational Interest Inventory (VII) by educational
Bakare (1977). It consists of the ten-item scales designed to assess outdoor,
mechanical, computational, scientific, persuasive, artistic, literary, musical, social aspirations
service and clerical interest areas. The item responses adopted a five-point Likert
scale ranging from like very much (5) to dislike very much (1). For the reliability of
VII, Bakare (1977) reported reliability coefficients for one group of students from 637
0.67 for artistic to 0.92 for scientific interest areas. For another set of students, the
reliability range from 0.63 for persuasive to 0.91 for the literary interest areas. The
intercorrelations among the ten interest areas point to the construct validity of VII.
The fact that the VII can differentiate between various occupational groups testifies
to its validity.
Parents socio-economic status scale. The socio-economic status of the participants
parents was measured by means of socio-economic status scale (SES Salami, 2000).
The scale asked for information on the educational qualifications and occupational
status of the participants parents (mother and father). The parents educational
qualification (14 points) and occupational status (ten points) were summarized to
indicate the participants socio-economic status/background.
The highest score obtained when the parents education score was combined with
their occupational status score was 24 while the least was 4. On the basis of the scores,
the respondents were classified into lower socio-economic status (1-8), middle
socio-economic status (9-16), and higher socio-economic status (17-24). The test-retest
reliability of the SES scale was 0.73 with an interval of three weeks. The internal
consistency Cronbachs a was 0.83. The instrument was validated by correlating the
scores on the SES scales with scores of SES by Ipaye (1977). The correlation coefficient
obtained between the two scores on the two SES scales was 0.64.
Demands from extended family scale. The demands made on the individuals from
extended family members were measured by means of a ten-item scale that required
the respondents to indicate their agreement or disagreement with items that describe
the demands made by family members on the individuals. The items adopted a
five-point Likert-type scale with response options ranging from SA strongly
agree 5 to SD strongly disagree 1. Typical items are: I am expected to care of
the extended familys financial needs after my education; I have to train my relations
children after my education. I have to train my sibling whenever I am working.
The Cronbachs a for this scale was 0.80.

Academic achievement tests


The individual achievement of the participants was measured by means of academic
achievement tests which consists of three sub-scales viz: English achievement tests
(EAT), Mathematics achievement tests (MAT), and Science achievement tests
(SAT).Each of the sub-scale tests was made up of ten multiple-choice items selected
from the past three years junior secondary school final year examinations for Nigerian
students in English Language, mathematics, and integrated science set by the West
African Examinations Council.The Cronbachs a for the sub-scales reported for the
current study are EAT, a 0.75; MAT, a 0.80 and SAT, a 0.78, respectively.
The test-retest reliability for the sub-scales reported for the current study are
EAT, r 0.76; MAT, r 0.79 and SAT, r 0.75, respectively, with an interval
CDI of three weeks. The composite score obtained when the scores from EAT, MAT, SAT
13,7 were summed up represented the respondents academic achievement score.

Level of educational aspirations


The participants were required to tick only one of the following five levels of
educational aspirations. They stand for the highest educational level a person will wish
638 to attain in his/her life:
(1) Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSSC; n 0).
(2) Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE; n 20), National Diploma (ND; n 20).
(3) Bachelors Degree (BA, BSc, BEd/HND; n 64).
(4) Masters Degree (MA; MEd, MSc; n 174).
(5) Doctoral Degree (PhD, MD, DEd, DSc; n 152).

Procedure
The researcher and five research assistants who were university undergraduates and
postgraduate students administered the questionnaires to the participants in 12
secondary schools randomly selected from six states in southwestern Nigeria. Informed
consents of the students were obtained by the researcher. The nature of the study was
explained to the students after they completed the questionnaires anonymously.

Data analysis
The data collected were analysed using hierarchical multiple regression analysis in
which the five personality factors, vocational interests, academic achievement,
parental socio-economic status, and demands from extended family served as
independent variables and the educational aspirations served as the dependent
variable. Age and sex served as control variables since empirical evidence showed that
they might have significant influence on the students educational aspirations.

Results
Table I shows the means, standard deviations and correlations among sex, age,
personality, vocational interests, academic achievement, parental socio-economic
status, demands of extended family and educational aspirations of secondary school
adolescents. Results in Table I revealed that sex and age did not have significant
correlations with the personality factors, vocational interests, academic achievement,
parental socio-economic status and demands from the extended family.

Personality factors and educational aspirations


Correlations were computed between personality factors and level of educational
aspirations as shown in Table I. Of the five personality traits, extraversion,
agreeableness and openness had significant positive relationships with level of
educational aspirations.

Vocational interests and educational aspirations


Educational aspirations had positive, moderate and significant correlations with
artistic, (r 0.25, p , 0.05), literary (r 0.34, p , 0.05), musical (r 0.31, p , 0.05)
and social service (r 0.33, p , 0.05), interests.
Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

1. Educational aspiration 1.00


2. Neuroticism 0.08 1.00
3. Extraversion 0.26 * 0.09 1.00
4. Openness 0.19 * 0.16 0.76 * 1.00
5. Agreeableness 0.40 * 0.16 0.59 * 0.85 * 1.00
6. Conscientious 0.11 0.21 * 0.69 * 0.87 * 0.93 * 1.00
7. Outdoor 0.12 20.11 20.13 20.24 * 20.27 * 20.30 * 1.00
8. Mechanical 0.18 20.10 20.15 20.17 20.14 20.21 * 0.52 * 1.00
9. Computational 0.14 20.08 20.15 20.05 0.04 20.06 0.26 * 0.45 * 1.00
10. Scientific 0.12 20.02 20.03 0.00 0.04 20.06 0.27 * 0.45 * 0.72 * 1.00
11. Persuasive 0.11 0.07 20.06 0.01 0.11 0.02 0.03 0.20 * 0.63 * 0.62 * 1.00
12. Artistic 0.25 * 0.05 20.21 * 20.19 * 20.07 20.09 20.04 0.01 0.05 0.04 0.27 * 1.00
13. Literary 0.34 * 20.06 20.47 * 20.27 * 20.08 20.20 * 0.05 0.23 * 0.34 * 0.24 * 0.32 * 0.36 * 1.00
14. Musical 0.31 * 20.19 * 0.38 * 20.22 * 20.00 20.12 0.00 0.24 * 0.36 * 0.25 * 20.29 * 0.32 * 0.61 * 1.00
15. Social service 0.33 * 20.07 20.37 * 20.27 * 20.01 20.13 20.14 0.04 0.15 0.12 0.27 * 0.27 * 0.41 * 0.61 * 1.00
16. Clerical 0.11 0.03 0.04 0.16 0.23 * 0.16 0.05 0.00 20.03 20.01 20.18 20.16 0.00 20.02 0.05 1.00
17. Sex 20.09 0.04 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.01 0.06 20.04 20.02 0.06 0.00 0.03 20.03 20.01 20.08 0.01 1.00
18. Age 0.01 0.11 0.01 0.10 0.04 0.08 0.00 0.03 0.00 20.02 0.05 0.08 20.03 0.01 20.02 20.04 0.00 1.00
19 Socio-economic status 0.28 * 0.03 0.07 0.04 0.12 0.09 0.12 0.02 0.03 0.07 0.13 0.10 0.06 0.08 0.09 0.07 0.11 0.12 1.00
20 Extended family
demands 0.35 * 0.02 0.12 0.06 0.08 0.05 0.06 0.10 0.01 0.03 0.11 0.09 0.08 0.13 0.16 0.03 0.09 0.05 0.14 1.00
21 Academic
achievement 0.30 * 0.10 0.08 0.12 0.04 0.13 0.07 0.03 0.18 0.19 0.02 0.03 0.06 0.10 0.01 14 0.05 0.09 0.12 0.06 1.00
Mean 4.25 21.67 31.33 31.48 32.65 32.62 36.07 36.55 37.47 37.63 38.69 39.11 39.01 38.76 38.55 32.71 15.43 16.75 25.26 20.20
SD 0.69 1.55 2.50 3.50 5.86 4.21 2.63 2.28 3.17 2.74 2.49 1.96 2.36 2.29 2.10 3.09 1.55 3.20 3.50 2.50

Notes: n 430; SD, Standard Deviation; sex (male 0, female 1); *p , 0.05 (two-tailed test)
educational
aspirations

Means, standard
deviations and
correlation matrix of all
variables in the study
639

Table I.
Factors in
CDI Academic achievement, socio-economic status, demands from extended family and
13,7 educational aspirations
Educational aspirations had significant positive correlations with academic
achievements (r 0.30, p , 0.05), socio-economic status (r 0.28, p , 0.05), and
demands from extended family (r 0.35, p , 0.05).

640 Predicting educational aspirations


A hierarchical regression analysis was conducted with level of educational aspirations
as the criterion variable and age, sex, personality (NEOAC), vocational interests,
academic achievement, parental socio-economic status and demands from extended
family as predictors.
The regression results on Table II showed that in step 1, age and sex did not
contribute significantly to the prediction of educational aspirations (R2change 0:008;
F change 2;427 0:86; p . 0:05).
Results on Table II further indicate that personality (step 2) made significant
contribution to the prediction of educational aspirations (R 2 0:124; F change 5;422
5:29; p , 0:05). Personality thus accounted for 12.40 percent of the variance in

Variables R R2 R2change Fchange df b t P

Step 1 0.091 0.008 0.008 0.86 2,427 0.42


Sex 2 0.09 21.31 0.19
Age 0.00 0.12 0.89
Step 2 0.352 0.124 0.115 5.29 * 5,422 0.00 *
Personality
Neuroticism 0.11 1.68 0.10
Extraversion 0.22 2.00 * 0.04 *
Openness 0.27 1.97 * 0.04 *
Agreeableness 0.48 2.29 * 0.02 *
Conscientiousness 0.19 0.87 0.38
Step 3 0.55 0.302 0.178 5.81 * 10,412 0.00 *
Interests
Outdoor 0.09 1.58 0.11
Mechanical 0.10 1.66 0.09
Computational 0.17 2.20 * 0.03 *
Scientific 0.18 1.98 * 0.04 *
Persuasive 2 0.06 20.89 0.37
Artistic 0.20 2.10 * 0.04 *
Literary 0.04 0.61 0.54
Musical 0.09 1.96 * 0.05 *
Social service 0.05 0.85 0.39
Table II. Clerical 0.06 1.34 0.18
Hierarchical multiple Step 4
regression analysis for Academic achievement 0.67 0.448 0.146 16,70 * 11,411 0.54 10.52 * 0.02 *
prediction of educational Step 5
aspirations from Socio-economic status 0.73 0.533 0.085 12,50 * 12, 410 0.48 9.80 * 0.04 *
personality (NEOAC), Step 6
vocational interests (VII), Extended family demands 0.78 0.608 0.075 10,78 * 13,409 0.52 8.73 * 0.04 *
academic achievement
and socio-cultural factors Notes: n 430; *p , 0.05 (two-tailed test); sex (male 0, female 1)
educational aspirations. Extraversion (b 0.22, p , 0.05), agreeableness (b 0.48, Factors in
p , 0.05) and openness (b 0.27, p , 0.05) made significant separate contributions to educational
the prediction of educational aspirations of the adolescents.
In step 3, addition of vocational interests showed a significant contribution of aspirations
interests to the prediction of educational aspirations (R 2 0:302; F change 10;412
2:81; p , 0:05). Thus, vocational interests and personality combined accounted for
30.20 percent of the variance in educational aspirations. 641
Of the ten interest areas, only computational (b 0.17, p , 0.05), scientific
(b 0.18, p , 0.05), artistic (b 0.20, p , 0.05) and musical (b 0.09, p , 0.05)
interests made significant separate contributions to the prediction of educational
aspirations of the adolescents.
In step 4, addition of academic achievement made significant contribution to the
prediction of educational aspiration, (R 2 0:448; F change 11;411 16:70; p , 0:05),
accounting for 44.8 percent of the variance in educational aspirations of the
adolescents.
Addition of parental socio-economic status in step five contributed significantly to
the prediction of educational aspirations (R 2 0:533; F change 12;410 12:50;
p , 0:05) accounting for 53.3 percent of the variance in educational aspirations.
Similarly, the demands of extended family added in step 6, made significant
contribution to the prediction of educational aspirations (R 2 0:608; F change 3;409
10:78; p , 0:05). This accounted for 60.8 percent of the variance in educational
aspirations of the adolescents.

Discussion
This study sought to determine the roles of personality, interests, academic
achievement, parental socio-economic status and demands of extended family factors
in predicting the educational aspirations of secondary school adolescents.
Results from the hierarchical regression showed that addition of the Big Five
personality factors predicted educational aspirations of the adolescents. These results
corroborated the findings of previous researchers who reported that different
personality factors predicted educational aspirations of their samples (Gasser et al.,
2004; Rottinghaus et al., 2002). The results indicate that certain personality factors
favour higher educational aspirations.
Adolescents with high scores on agreeableness reported higher educational
aspirations because agreeable people tend to be more altruistic, sympathetic and
trusting of others (Reed et al., 2004). Such adolescents in this study might have agreed
with their parents wishes and extended family demands in setting high career
and educational aspiration. Adolescents with high scores on extraversion and
openness had high levels of educational aspiration. Individuals who are high on
extraversion are sociable, assertive, active, cheerful, energetic, and optimistic. They
might have been influenced to set high educational aspirations by their beliefs in their
abilities to accomplish various tasks and activities (Reed et al., 2004). Adolescents who
are high on openness could be described as intellectually curious, original, creative and
attentive to inner feelings. Such characteristics of open individuals might have
increased the likelihood that they would set higher educational aspirations.
Addition of vocational interests also made significant contribution to educational
aspirations. Computational, scientific, artistic and musical interests made significant
CDI contributions to educational aspirations of the adolescents. These results support the
13,7 findings of previous researchers who reported that some vocational interests
significantly predicted educational aspirations (Gasser et al., 2004; Rottinghaus et al.,
2002). Students who endorsed computational, scientific, artistic and musical interests
indicated higher educational aspirations.
The rationale for these findings is that the students in computational scientific,
642 artistic, and musical activities might have motivated them to endorsed higher levels of
educational aspirations. These are in agreement with Super et al.s (1996) work on
career development in which career choice was described as implementing ones
interest or self-concept. Also one can explain the results based on Ajzens (1991) theory
of planned behaviour which suggest that behaviours are directly linked to intentions,
beliefs and attitude of people toward certain behaviours which leads to certain
outcomes. In this study, the students interest in certain vocational activities made
them to take action by endorsing higher educational aspirations.
Findings from this study indicate that academic achievement predicted educational
aspirations of the secondary school adolescents. These results are in support of the
work of Andres et al. (1999), Butlin (1999), and Looker (2002), who found that academic
achievement was a powerful determinant of educational aspirations. An explanation
for these findings was that students who are good in English Language, mathematics
and science are likely to do well in most post-secondary education programmes.
Furthermore, these results are in agreement with the theory of planned behaviour
by Ajzen (1991) which suggests that peoples conscious decisions to engage in specific
actions are determined by their attitudes toward the behaviour in question, the relevant
subjective norms and their perceived behavioural control. The adolescents involved in
this study might have had positive attitude toward selecting higher level of education.
Their parents and friends might have supported that decision since it might assist the
adolescents in getting well-paid jobs later. Also the adolescents might have perceived
that they have behavioural control in engaging in higher levels of education because of
their higher academic achievement.
Parental socio-economic status predicted educational aspirations of secondary
school adolescents. This finding lent support to the work of previous researchers who
found that parents socio-economic status was a strong predictor of youths educational
aspirations (Andres and Krahn, 1999; Atienza, 2006; Ball and Lamb, 2001; Looker and
Lowe, 2001). Higher levels of income within the family may allow children the exposure
to activities and programmes that increase their aspiration levels.
Demands from extended family predicted educational aspirations of the secondary
school adolescents involved in this study. These findings are in consonance with the
work of Ituma and Simpson (2006) who found that being a member of an extended
family system influenced the educational and career aspirations of some Nigerian
youth so that they could make career choices that would enable them meet financial
obligations of caring for the financial problems of extended family members.
One can also explain these findings from Ajzens (1991) theory of planned behaviour
which suggests that intentions are good predictors of behaviours and that actions are
determined by the relevant subjective norms, attitudes toward the behaviour and
perceived behavioural control. The adolescents involved in this study might have been
aware of the expectations of significant others (meeting the demands from extended
family) and were motivated to conform to their expectations. The adolescents might
have selected higher levels of education so that, they would be able to get well-paid Factors in
jobs after their education and as such be in a position to meet the demands from educational
extended family.
Results from this study further revealed that a combination of personality factors, aspirations
vocational interests, academic achievement, socio-economic status and demands from
extended family significantly predicted 60.8 percent of the variance in educational
aspirations of the adolescents. While 39.2 percent of the variance remained 643
unaccounted for. These results are in agreement with the work of Gasser et al.
(2004) and Rottinghaus et al. (2002) who found that personality factors combined with
vocational interests significantly predicted educational aspirations of college students.
These results demonstrate that a combination of certain components of personality,
interests, achievement and other socio-economic factors relate to some aspects of
higher levels of educational aspirations among secondary school adolescents.
However, of considerable importance is the societal context in Nigeria. The economic
problems and socio-cultural context (extended family obligations) might have played
major roles in influencing the adolescents in having higher career/educational
aspirations to be able to meet the extended family commitment.

Implications for counselling practice


The findings from this study have implications for the work of counselling
psychologists in the schools. Counselling psychologists working with secondary
school adolescents need to identify and consider the personality factors, vocational
interests, academic achievement and some socio-cultural factors such as socio-economic
status and demands from extended family of students when counselling those having
problems with their vocational and educational aspirations. Based on the results from
this study, academic achievement alone is not enough to predict students educational
aspirations. Secondary school adolescents having different educational aspirations also
differed substantially on some key dimensions of personality, interests and
socio-cultural factors in addition to different academic achievement.
Therefore, counselling psychologists should consider using the NEOPI-R when
engaging in career counselling with school adolescents. Because the NEOPI-R consists
of personality characteristics that are relatively easy to describe, clients can be taught
how their personality styles can facilitate or inhibit their career development and
educational aspirations in addition to the socio-cultural factors. Further more, when
assisting students in formulating their educational aspirations, assessment of their
personality factors, academic achievement, interests, parental socio-economic status
and demands from extended family members may enable the counsellor to identify the
strengths and weaknesses of the adolescents so that they could have appropriate and
realistic educational aspirations. For example, if a client is high in neuroticism, it
suggest that counsellors could assess the degree to which feeling of anxiety or
depression may influence the decision making and consider how counselling could
decrease anxiety or depression to build self-efficacy and self-confidence in the client
regardless of the socio- cultural factors. Also, if a client scores low on openness and
contentiousness, then exercises and experiences that would build their self-confidence
and self-efficacy, leading to improved openness, should be planned than for a client
who is average or high on the two factors.
CDI Another implication of the findings from this study is that certain vocational
13,7 interests that correlated significantly with educational aspirations should be identified
by the counselling psychologists. Such information should be considered along with
socio-cultural factors such as parental socio-economic status and demands from
extended family members when designing and developing career management
strategies for the adolescents. It is therefore, suggested that future career studies
644 should consider a more contextualized approach in studying careers of adolescents and
not assume that the existing career models developed in western society will reflect the
career experiences of individuals in every national context.

Limitations
One limitation of this study is that as a cross-sectional and correlational study one
cannot make cause-and-effect inferences from the relationships observed. Future
research could benefit from a longitudinal design that would identify cause-and-effect
relationships. Data for educational aspirations came from a single item survey. There
is need to expand the measurement of educational aspirations beyond the one item
used to assess that construct in this study. Future research may add more items to
measure educational aspirations.

Conclusion
Despite the above limitations, results from this study showed that certain dimensions
of personality, interests, academic achievement and some socio-cultural factors are
related to secondary school adolescents educational aspirations. Those aspiring to
higher educational levels tend to be higher on personality dimensions of extraversion,
openness and agreeableness. They also had higher interests on the VII scales for
computational, scientific, artistic and musical interest areas. Students who had higher
academic achievement and those from higher socio-economic status parents and who
have higher demands from extended family endorsed higher levels of educational
aspirations.

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About the author


Samuel O. Salami is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Guidance and Counselling,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He teaches counselling psychology courses. His research
interests include career development, organizational commitment and citizenship behaviour,
academic performance, job stress, conflict resolution and leadership behaviour. He is the current
Sub-Dean (Postgraduate) of the Faculty of Education and has published extensively in national
and international journals. Samuel O. Salami can be contacted at: drsosalami2002@yahoo.co.uk

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