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The present study examined internet usage, parental involvement and gender as predictors of achievement motivation among secondary school students in Nsukka urban. Three hundred and three (303) Senior Secondary II and III students (163 males and 140 females) accidentally sampled from University Secondary School, St Theresa’s College and Community Secondary School Isienu all in Nsukka urban participated in the study. They were aged between 15 and 20 years, with mean age of 17.5 years. The Internet Use Inventory (IUI), the parent support questionnaire (PSQ) and the Nigerian adaptation of Herman’s questionnaire measure of achievement motivation (HQMAM) were the three instruments used in data collection. Three hypotheses were postulated and tested. Regression analysis result showed that parental involvement and gender significantly predicted achievement motivation (β = – .24, t = – 4.43 P<.091) (β = – .24, t. = – 4.26, P<.001). However, internet usage did not significantly predict achievement motivation. The limitations of the study were highlighted and suggestions made for further studies.




The strive by parents of all classes to give their children the best of education justifies the value placed on education. But how much the children will eventually learn may depend on their level of motivation. Motivating students to achieve in school is a topic of great concern to teachers and parents, and of great theoretical importance to researchers (Tuckman, 1999). According to Tuckman, one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of the 21st century will be for schools at all levels to focus more on assisting students to become motivated in order that they can succeed in school.

The study of motivation is very much the study of why behaviour occurs. This is why motivation can be defined as the desires, needs, and interests that arouse or activate an organism and direct it toward a specific goal (Crider, Goethals, Kavanaugh & Solomon, 1983). Motivation is concerned with factors that energize behaviour and give it direction. It is the basic drive or the driving force behind all individual action (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith & Bem 1993). A hungry man will direct his behaviour toward food and a thirsty man towards drink. Both will engage in activity more vigorously than an unmotivated individual (Atkinson, et al., 1993). Similarly a motivated student is expected to be punctual, attend classes regularly, pay more attention in class, actively participate in class, write tests, examinations, and be involved in group or class discussions than unmotivated student.

According to Guay, Chanal, Ratelle, Marsh, Larose & Boivin, (2010), motivation refers to the reasons underlying behaviour. These reasons therefore, involves a constellation of closely related beliefs, perceptions, values, interests, and actions; and are also based on emotions and achievement – related goals. As asserted by Feldman (1993), the study of motivation looks at the factors that energize and directs people’s behaviour. Such factors involve motivational system-such as the need for food, water, achievement, affiliation and power. While hunger and thirst may represent two of the most potent drives in our day-to-day lives, we are also motivated by powerful secondary drives that have no clear biological basis (McClelland, 1985b; Geen, 1984). Among the most prominent of these is the need for achievement (nAch), which can also be referred to as achievement motivation. Achievement motivation can be defined as an individual’s need to meet realistic goals, receive feedback and experience a sense of accomplishment (McClelland, 1961). This is where the interest of this present study lies, particularly to investigate whether variables such as internet usage parental involvement and gender will significantly predict achievement motivation among secondary school students. The term achievement motivation also implies motivation stemming from a desire to perform well or striving for success (McClelland, 1961). It is evidenced by effort and persistence in the face of difficulties it is regarded as a central human motivation and is a key determinant of aspiration and persistence; when an individual expects that his or her performance will be evaluated on the basis of some standard of excellence. Such behaviour is called being achievement oriented (McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1953). Motivation to achieve is instigated when an individual knows that he or she is responsible for the outcome of a venture and anticipates explicit knowledge of results that will define that venture as a success or failure. McClelland et al, (1953), also believe that there need to be some degree of risk, such as uncertainty about the outcome of one’s effort.

Achievement-oriented activity is aimed at succeeding and performing well in relation to a standard of excellence or when compared with other competitors. This is why the topic – achievement motivation is of interest to the researcher, who wants to explore the contribution of behavioral/demographic variables such as internet usage, parental involvement and gender, in spurring students to succeed and perform well while in school. The topic of achievement motivation is of practical importance in education and industry, and relates to the sociological study of the achievement of mobility through life (Atkinson & Raynor, 1974; McClelland, 1985). Individuals differ in their ability to self-motivate, and different activities each pose different challenges to different people.

As stated earlier, while hunger and thirst may represent two of the most potent drives in our day – to – day lives, we are also motivated by powerful secondary drives that have no clear biological basis (McClelland, 1985; Geen, 1984). Among the most prominent of these is the need for achievement. The need for achievement is a stable, learned characteristic in which satisfaction is obtained by striving for and attaining a level of excellence (McClelland, Atkinson, Clark & Lowell, 1953). People with a high need for achievement seek out situation in which they can compete against some standard – be it grades, money or winning at a game – and prove themselves successful. But they are not indiscriminate when it comes to picking their challenges (Feldman, 1993). They tend to avoid situations in which success will come too easily (which would be unchallenging) or those in which success is unlikely (as can be seen in school setting). Instead, people high in achievement motivation are apt to choose tasks that are of intermediate difficulty.

In contrast, people with low achievement motivation tend to be motivated by a desire to avoid failure. As a result, they seek out easy tasks, being sure to avoid failure, or they seek out very difficult tasks for which failure has no negative implications since almost anyone would fail at them (Feldman, 1993). People with a high fear of failure will stay away from tasks of intermediate difficulty, since they may fail where other has been successful (Atkinson & Feather, 1966). These theoretical propositions has delineated as well as credenced two categories of achievement motivated individuals – high and low, which the researcher intend to investigate. The outcome of a high need for achievement are generally positive, at least in a success-oriented society (Heckhausen Schmalt, & Schneider, 1985; Spence 1985). For instance, people motivated by a high need for achievement are more likely to attend college than their low-achievement counter parts, and once in college they tend to receive higher grades in class that are related to their future careers (Atkinson & Raynor, 1974). Furthermore high achievement motivation is associated with future economic and occupational success (McClelland, 1985a). Underscoring the need to assist and encourage students to be highly achievement motivated.

In a more specific term we can define achievement motivation as an individual’s need to meet realistic goals, receive feedback and experience a sense of accomplishment (McClelland, 1985). In other words, achievement motivation is a construct which refers to the desire to do well in order to attain an inner feeling of personal accomplishment (McClelland 1987). It is based on reaching success and achieving all life aspirations. Thus, achievement goals can affect the way a person performs a task and represent a desire to show competence. According to Onyeneje and Ugwu (1997); need to achieve (nAch) is defined as latent disposition to compete with a standard of excellence. It involves both a persistent desire for such competition and an emotional concern with it. Onyeneje and Ugwu asserts that this nAch is learned and again it is an inclination to compete or to achieve. Emphasizing the role of socialization in achievement motivation, and relying on the social learning theory, it has been pointed out that it occurs more frequently and strongly in families that give children early opportunities and even put pressure on children to be independent and self-reliant (Onyeneje & Ugwu, 1997). This calls for inculcating the consciousness for achievement value early enough in our children. This also appears in line with the cognitive theories of motivation which focus on the role of our thoughts, expectations and understanding of the world. For instance according to one kind of cognitive theory; expectancy-value theory, two kinds of cognitions underlie our behaviour the first is our expectation that a behaviour will cause us to reach a particular goal and the second is our understanding of the value of that goal to us (Tolman, 1959). For example, the degree to which students will be motivated to study for a test will be based jointly on their expectation of how well their studying will pay off (in terms of a good grade) and the value they place on getting a good grade. If both expectation and value are high, students will be motivated to study (achieve) diligently; but if either one is low, their motivation to study will be relatively low.

Cognitive theories of motivation makes a key distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation causes us to participate in an activity for our own enjoyment, not for any tangible reward that it will bring us. In contrast, extrinsic motivation causes us to do something for a tangible reward (Feldman, 1993). According to research on the two types of motivation, we are more apt to persevere, work harder, and produce work of higher quality when motivation for a task is intrinsic rather than extrinsic (Lipper, 1983; Deci & Ryan, 1985). Furthermore, some psychologists suggest that providing rewards for desirable behaviour may cause intrinsic motivation to decline and extrinsic motivation to increase (Feldman, 1993). So effort should be made to understand various motivational principles and methods in order to apply it for a more effective learning in schools. This need for improved learning and motivation to achieve among secondary school students informed the interest of the present research on the first or major independent variable of the study – Internet usage.

Internet usage refers to the use of internet facilities, or the extent to which individuals or group of individuals make use of the internet. The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defined internet as an international computer network connecting other networks and computers from companies, universities, etc. In recent time people often talk about the world becoming a global village. This is made possible because of the advent of the internet. In companies, business, schools, higher institutions, sports and entertainment etc; people are deriving strategic value from the internet, which enables them disseminate information globally. It makes communication easier and faster and serves as a major tool for collaborative research among students, academicians and higher institutions.

According to Turturean (2012), the internet is found to have a big influence in students’ learning and their performance. There is the introduction of the internet and new technologies by many universities to facilitate student learning, to enhance their motivation for study and to improve their academic performance (Turturean, 2012).

It is true that students visit cyber cafe and some make use of their global system for mobile communication phones (G.S.M.P) for browsing. Some even spend all night assessing the internet. Studies are yet to reveal whether this frequent internet use is as a result of adolescents need for social identity or that it propels them for more knowledge and the need to achieve. According to the social identity theory, people will always like to identify as well as conform with their ingroup (adolescents) behaviour. One would expect that the frequent visit of the internet by students should aid and ease learning, and therefore serve as a motivator for students. This may also translate into higher academic engagement and performance. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between academic engagement and academic success (Griffiths, Sharkey, & Furlong, 2009; Skinner, Furrer, Marchand & Kinderman, 2008; Suarez – Orozo & Todorova 2008). These studies suggested that academic engagement may not only predict students’ academic learning, school grades, and standardized achievement test scores in the short term (Finn & Rock, 1997; Jimerson, Campos, & Greit, 2003), but also predict students’ pattern of school attendance, retention graduation and academic resilience in the long term (Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994; Skinner, Zimmer-Gembeck, & Connell, 1998).

Students may also use the internet for purposes other than learning and academics; such as entertainment, sports fashion or even pornography. In this study the researcher aims at finding out whether high internet usage will translate to high achievement motivation among secondary school students. However, the poor performance of students in both internal and external examinations seem to suggest that they are either unmotivated or demotivated. According to the statistics released by West African Examination Council (WAEC), in December, 2012, only 35% of the candidates who sat for the secondary school exam in May/June, 2012 passed in English, Maths and three other subjects (Bello–Osage, 2012). Thus, 65% of these candidates could not get the basic requirements to secure admission into any Nigerian University. Similarly, Nnamdi (2013) reported that, in the last Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the exam body said that only ten candidates out of close to two million Nigerian students were able to score above 300 marks. He further stated that many parents are complaining bitterly about the result of their children in the just concluded examination; even the House of Representatives Summoned the JAMB Registrar over the mass failure… Few days to examination, so many candidates were running from one cyber café to the other in search of answers to supposed leaked question papers, as early as 6:am on the day of the examination, so many candidates were already copying answers from their phones into pieces of paper which they stucked into different parts of their bodies. The answers were said to have been circulated by internet froudstars who claimed to have hacked the exam body’s computer systems. Their websites include “”, “gistmania”, “princejess”, among others, pp. 17. This scenario in every sense of it depicts negative use of the net, and will not in any way motivate students or enhance learning.

Many studies has focused on internet usage among college students in relation to Race/Ethnicity, Equity, Gender, outside/inside school learning issues, addiction etc. (for example, Korgen, Odell, & Schumacher, 2001; Anderson, 2001; Nachmias, Mioduser & Shemla 2001). And a few on internet usage and motivation (eg. Turturean, 2012). However, most of these research studies was carried out outside Nigeria, hence the need for the present study.

Another variable of interest to the present study is parental involvement. Parental involvement can be defined as how well individuals get along with their parents, it is the level of concern by parents in the  activities of their school children and the quality of their interactions with their parents (Nwafor, 2007). The present economic challenges and loss in core moral values, has made many parents to abandon their primary responsibility of care and attention to their families. When children are denied necessary attention and care, early in life, it may affect their psycho-social development, resulting in a pattern of maladaptive behaviour in later life (Erikson, 1982, as cited in Ibeagha, 2006). This denial of care and attention may hinder the individuals motivation to achieve in life. There seem to be a gap created by the family (parents in particular) as agent of socialization. This is because children in general and secondary school students in particular appear to be left at the mercy of other agents of socialization, mainly schools (school teachers and peer group). This trend appear not to be too good for the students better performance; as studies suggests that the quality of parents involvement seen to be a more potent issue in a developing child and adolescence than in adults. According to (Fantuzzo, Davis & Marika, 1995, as cited in Nwafor, 2007), students with high parents involvement have significantly higher self-concept than students with low parent involvement. In a related study Steinberg, Dornbusch, and Brown (1992), also found that students with high parental involvement have higher self-esteem, compared with children with low parent involvement. Nwafor (2007), reported a significant main effect of parent involvement on self-concept; with high parental involvement predicting high self-concept. Self esteem is a dimension of self-concept – a social psychological construct that has been implicated in individuals’ confidence and achievement (Brehm & Kassin, 1996).

More importantly, Hoover-Dempsy and Sandler (1997), model of parent involvement, stated that a major reason for parent involvement is student achievement. Thus emphasizing the role of parent involvement in the achievement motivation of their children. The present study intend to investigate the role of parent involvement in achievement motivation of secondary school students as theorized by Hoover- Dempsy and Sandler (1997); collaborating the study earlier done by Winter bottom (1958), which found that mothers of boys with a high need for achievement are concerned that their sons learn to be independent at an early age. They demand self sufficiency and are usually less protective of their children when they are relatively young. However, if parents react positively to success and if they are supportive and affectionate, they are more likely to instill the motivation to gain success. If they punish failure, their children are likely to develop a fear of failure (Teevan & McGnee, 1972).

According to 2012 report, by the center on education policy of George Washington University; Research has long documented a strong relationship between family background factors, such as income and parents’ educational levels and student achievement. Studies have also shown that parents can play an important role in supporting their children’s academic achievement. Research has shown a clear link between parent involvement and children’s success in school. Further studies have also demonstrated a correlation between parent involvement and children’s educational development and subsequent intrinsic academic motivation (Gottfried, Fleming & Gottfried, 1994). Most of these studies are conducted outside Nigeria and many focused on specific dimension of motivation (for example academic achievement motivation).

In the present study, the researcher’s interest is on achievement motivation and on whether parental involvement will significantly predict achievement motivation among a sample of secondary school students in Nsukka, Enugu State. As asserted by Drafke and Kossen (1998), achievement oriented parents tend to reinforce achievement behaviour by encouraging their children with recognition and praise when they do well.

According to McClelland (1985) individuals differ in their ability to self-motivate and different activities each pose different challenges to different people. Therefore, personality should be considered alongside environmental factors when accounting for the strength of achievement motivation in a particular parson. In the present study, a third independent variable under investigation is gender.


The study of gender variable by researchers in the field of psychology is quite usual. Irrespective of how much research has been conducted on this concept; it can not be said to be saturated. Two reasons could account for this; first the study of psychology is centered on human behavior and mental processes (Eyo 2003). As we know human beings can only be conveniently categorized into two, male and female. Secondly, we are in the era of increasing demand for gender equality and other gender related challenges, even in the face of obvious imbalance and differences. So investigating gender differences as suggested by; Halpern  (2000) in relation to achievement motivation is worthwhile.

According to Meece, Glienke and Burg (2006), the role of gender in shaping achievement motivation has a long history in psychological and educational research. Mandel and Marcus (1988) stated that achievement motivation has been correlated with gender differences. Motivation often determines whether and to what extent students actually learn a challenging task, especially if the cognitive and behavioral processed necessary for learning a challenging task is voluntary and under their control (Meece etal, 2006). It has become necessary to understand gender role in achievement motivation because of its contribution to students performance, career choice and future job success (Maclelland, 1985). As will be seen in the reviewed literature; while some reveal differences others shows no difference except as moderated by culture, economic factor, education, family sex role orientation and the socialization process. As asserted by Drafke and Kossen (1998) achievement oriented parents tend to reinforce achievement behavior by encouraging their children with recognition and praise when they do well. However,  by encouraging some behavior and discouraging some in their children depending on gender parents tend to influence in a particular direction the achievement behavior of their children. The present study intends to collaborate studies conducted outside the country on gender and achievement motivation with particular focus on senior secondary school students in Nsukka urban in Enugu state Nigeria.


Statement of the Problem

The poor performance of secondary school students in both internal and external examinations seem to suggest that most students are not motivated to achieve while in school. There seem to be a downward trend in students’ motivation and achievement (Bello-Osage, 2012; Nnamdi, 2013). Renchler (1992) suggested that every educator needs to be concerned about students’ motivation. In his assertion, it is a quality that students, teachers, parents, school administrators and other members of the community must have if our educational system is to prepare young people adequately for the challenges and demands of the coming century. McClelland (1971) also discovered that there are reliable differences in achievement motivation among individuals and among groups of individuals. (for e.g., Some college students have a strong need to achieve relative to other peers. What could account for these differences? In this era of technological advancement (internet facilitated studies and activities), in this era of high economic challenges (leading to workaholic parents), and in this era of gender inequality, discrimination and bias, the researcher would like to find out if high internet usage, high parental involvement and gender will significantly predict achievement motivation among secondary school students in Nsukka urban educational Zone.

In view of the aforementioned challenges, the present study is intended to provide answers to the following research questions:





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