Vol.1 No.1 July - December 2013ISSN: 2321-6530

Motivation: Prime Critical Factor of Academic Achievement between High & Low Social Factor Students

Kiran Kumari
Dept. of Psychology
KSR College, Sarairanjan, Samastipur


Social support is an important element in students'life. The support from family and friends were found to be one of the factors that can influence students' academic achievement. This study was conducted to examine the difference between low and high achieving students in their social support. The social Support Behavior (SSB) scale was used to measure the level of social suport among students. The findings of this study revealed that there were significant differences between low and high achieving students in their social support. High achieving students received more support from family and friends compared to low achieving students. The findings of the study will be useful in assisting educators, counselors, psychologist, and researchers to develop strategies to enhance students'academic achievement.


Performance in academic life demands all aspects of well-being, those that include physical, social emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being (Crystal, Chen, Fuligni, Stevenson, Hsu, Ko, Kitamura & Kimura, 1994). Students who are physically, mentally and psychologically fit. Those who are experiencing psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress, may face problems in managing their academic performance. Psychological stability is indeed an important predictor that could contribute to high academic achievement. Hence, it is very much crucial to review and examine the psychological well-being of the students. The findings of such research may be used to develop strategies and approaches to help students to excel in their academic life.

Social Support

Social support refers to the experience of being valued, respected, cared about, and loved by others who are present in one's life (Gurung 2006). It may come from different sources such as family, friends, teachers, community or any social groups to which one is affiliated to social support can come in the form of tangible assistance provided by others when needed which include appraisal of different situations, effective coping strategies, and emotional support. Social support is an element that can help individuals to reduce the amount of stress experienced as well as to help individuals to cope better in dealing with stressful situations. Several studies indicated that supportive contacts correlate negatively with symptoms and psychological disorder such as stress, depression and other psychiatric disorder and positively correlate with physical and mental health. A study by Nahid & Sarkis (1994) for example found that social support protects people in crisis such as bereavement illness and other major stress and moderates the effect of stressors on psychological well being. It has long been recognized that the characteristics and quality of social support are central to the individual's adjustment. The quality of social support perceived and received has been reported by several studies to correlate more positively with mental health than the quantity of support received ( Nahid & Sarkis 1994; Holahan Valentiner & Moos 1995). To understand the role of perceived and received social support in dealing with mental health, we have to look into the research on the stress buffering effect, which focuses on both types of social support. The former refers to the belief that helps are available if needed whereas the latter refers to the actual helps obtained. Both of these are thought to protect against stress by decreasing the extent to which situations are perceived as a threat to well being and increasing the belief that necessary resource are available. Investigation of mechanisms underlying the stress-buffering effect of social support has focused on how social support influences stress-related appraisals and coping (Lakey & Cohen 200). Social support was found to be one of the most important protective factors for students (Tao, Dong, Pratt, Hunsberger & Pancer, 200). This is because social support includes social resources that individuals perceived to be available or that are actually offered to them which could help to protect against psychological problems. According to Teoh and Rose (2001), lower level of social support is one of the predictors of psychological problems. It is associated with higher level of depression, anxiety, attention problems, thought problems, social problems, somatic complaints and lower self esteem. These notions are supported by the study of Friedlander, Reid Shupak and Cribbie (2007) on 128 first year undergraduate students. It was found that students who perceived that their social resources increased had lower level of psychological problems. This shows that the impact of a stressful situation for example can lessen if students have good social support. Advice and encouragement from source of support may also increase the likelihood of an individual to rely on active problem solving and information seeking. These may assist students in dealing with various stressors in the environment and facilitate a positive adjustment process.

Social Support and Academic Achievement

Support from family and friends have been found to influence students' achievement and can be regarded as one of the indicators of academic competence and psychological well-being (Steinberg & Darling 1994). Support from family and friends are known to positively affect student's achievement. Social support has also been recognized to have significant impact on the achievement of the students. Since family and friends are the individuals' first source of reference supports from these two sources have been found to give a significant influence on academic achievement (Steinberg & Darling 1994 Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline & Russel 1994). There are three dimensions of support provided by family and friend and they are warmth, behavioral control and psychological tonomy-granting.

These three dimensions facilitate the development of positive self conceptions and social skills responsibility and competence and impulse control and deterrence of deviance which in turn lead to high level of academic achievement of the students. This support has also been found necessary for healthy level of development (Oswald & Suss 1944). For example, these two sources of social support; family and friends'and support with acceptance and emotional warmth has been associated with higher grades in schools and colleges, less misconduct less psychology distress and less delinquency among students of all social classes which would produce significant effects on adolescence academic achievement (Sibersisen & Todt 1994). Other studies have also indicated the importance of social support from family and friends. One such study conducted by Steinberg and Darling (1994) found that both parents and friends influence youngsters' educational achievement and long-term educational plan. In a cross sectional study, Holahan et al. (1995) found first-year students with higher levels of perceived parental support were better adjusted (i.e. higher well - being and happiness and less distressed (i.e. less depression and anxiety) then those with lower levels of perceived parental support. Cutrona et al. (1994) examined perceived social support from parents and peers at the beginning of the first semester and GPA at the end of the following semester. Perceived parental and peer social support predicted academic adjustment after controlling the academic aptitude (i.e. college admissions test). Consistent with previous researches social support has been found to be an important protective factor that assisted students in making the transition to university level. These studies support the general argument that family support contributes high academic achievement. It could also be concluded from previous studies that the presence of social support from family and friends could affect students' academic achievement. Supports provided by family and friends could enhance students' academic achievement students with high social support are perceived to have better academic achievement compared to those with lower social support received by the students could help them to perform well in academic life the knowledge on how social support could help students to excel in their studies and to cope with any psychological disturbances will help educators to decide the amount of support needed by students to ensure their academic achievement.

Motivation and Adjustment

Motivation and adjustment Beliefs about one's self as competent when confronted with difficulties, in conjunction with a worldview that complements one's competence beliefs, promote motivation (i.e., an adaptive belief profile). In the literature, we find two relevant approaches using motivational constructs. The first approach views motivation using the end-poles of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, and fine-tunes the continuum in referred to as "a motivation". The second approach focuses on the use of achievement goals as proxies of underlying motivational orientations (Elliot, 1990). Although the two perspectives on motivation use different concepts, some overlap appears. Performance-approach goals indicate that one wishes to outperform others, while performance-avoidance goals, low positive effect, and high levels of self handicapping.

Agency and Difficulty

School-aged children's and youths' agency beliefs in ability and effort have been systematically related with school achievement across a range of educational systems (Little, 1998; Little, Oettingen, Stetsenko, & Baltes, 1995; Skinner, 1995). However when task difficulty has been included as a construct, it correlates weakly to moderately with competence beliefs (Malmberg et al. 2007; Schmitz & Skinner, 1993) and achievement (Ames & Archer, 1998; Nicholls & Miller, 1984). In fact the relationship between ability and difficulty has been described as rather complex. For example , heider (1958) defined competence ("Can") as ability minus difficulty. In experimental studies, interaction effects between competence and success-feedback conditions on the selection of subsequent task difficulty have been observed (Heckhausen, 1991; Mueller & Dweck 1998). For example low achievers who were given failure feedback after an easy or moderate task could either choose an easier subsequent task (to be sure to make it) or a very difficult one.


An individual's history of successes and failures forms a basis for further goal- setting, perceptions of the self and perceptions of how the world works (e.g., means ends beliefs; Little, 1998). Means ends beliefs have been found to be quite similar across school systems and correlated with achievement to a lesser extent than competence beliefs (Skinner, Chapman & Baltes, 1988). This frame of personal interpretation is closely linked with naïve theories about ability and effort. Believing that a certain cause (i.e., ability or effort) is effective or important for an outcome (i.e. a means ends beliefs in ability or effort) and believing that one is capable of utilizing these means (e.g., ability), when one believs that the means (e.g., ability) is important for succeeding undermines motivation1 (Patrick, Skinner & Connell 1993; Skinner et al 1998 ). The extent to which such complex relations among these agent means and means ends distinctions would emerge in our analysis would support our choice to examine profiles derived from the ability effort difficulty nexus. A second type of worldview is the individual's beliefs about the nature of ability, referred to as entity beliefs (i.e., the belief that intelligence is fixed) and incremental beliefs (i.e., the belief that ability is malleable; see Dweck, Chiu & Hong 1995; Grant & Dweck, 2003; Henderson & Dweck, 1990; Stipek & Gralinski1996). Dweck (1986; Henderson & Dweck, 1990) found that students who thought that their ability was fixed (held entity beliefs) set performance goals (wanting to gain favorable and avoid unfavorable judgment about their achievements). If their confidence in their ability was high they showed mastery-oriented achievement behavior, sought challenges, and were persistent. Students who had low confidence in their ability displayed helpless behavior avoided challenges and were low in persistence. Students who thought that their ability was malleable set mastery-learning goals to improve their competence. Those who had both high and low confidence in their ability and set mastery-oriented goals, sought challenges and were highly persistent. If our ability effort difficulty profiles reveal such characteristic constellation of entity and incremental beliefs it would provide criterion validation for the cluster profiles.


There are many studies showing the differences in social support between low and high achieving students. The findings of the studies indicated that student with low academic achievement reported lower level of social support compared to the students with high academic achievement. Support received by the students either from the family and /or friends can contribute to the academic performance of the university students. It is indeed important to realize that students excellence in academic life is determined not only by academic-related matters but also the social support that they get from people around them.


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