Depression and Stress as Determinants of Academic Underachievement of High Ability Learners

Umar Salman Adeyemi 146 PAGES (37572 WORDS) Project
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Academic achievement of learners is an important indicator of the academic success in school. However, some high-ability learners who show great academic potential fail to perform at a level commensurate with their previously displayed abilities. Meanwhile, it has been largely discovered that these discrepancies resulted from some affective and psychological factors. Depression and Stress are linked to lower academic performance. It is proposed that academic performance is reduced in young people with high levels of stress or depression as a function of increased test-specific worry that impinges on working memory central executive processes. Thus, this study investigated depression and stress as determinants of academic underachievement of high-ability learners in selected secondary schools in Oyo State, Nigeria. 

The Social Cognitive Model of Achievement, Beck’s Cognitive Theory of Depression and Cognitive Activation Theory of stress provided the framework while the descriptive survey research design was adopted. Simple random sampling technique was used to select five secondary schools in Ibadan to cover for the research scope in Oyo State. However, purposive sampling was adopted to select 94 high-ability learners from SS1 and SS2 classes in the selected secondary schools in Ibadan, Oyo State. To screen for their eligibility as high-ability learners, students’ academic records were obtained from their class teachers in the various schools used in this study and those whose scores are above 70 on the scale of 100 in the key subjects like English and Mathematics were selected; about 8-10 students were selected from each class in the schools.  

The respondents’ age was dominated by the age bracket of 13-16 which represents 84% of the total number of the respondents. Out of the 94 respondents, 55 were females (58.5%) while 39 were males representing 41.5%. likewise, those from the SS2 class were 55 (58.4%) while SS1 were 39 (41.5%). The study found out that depression (r=0.150) and stress (r=0.025) had negative contribution to academic achievement of high-ability learners. It was revealed that a unit increase in depression and stress will cause a decline in academic performance of high-ability learners- academic underachievement by 0.148. The findings from this study also revealed that gender has a significant influence on the effect of depression and stress among high-ability learners’ academic underachievement, even though gender in this study is a moderator variable. This was predominant in the Beck’s depression scale which showed that female high-ability learners are more prone to having mild mood disturbance, moderate depression, and borderline clinical depression than their male counterparts.    

Depression and stress determined academic underachievement among high-ability learners in Oyo State. Therefore, it is recommended that Educators, Counselors, Psychologists, Parents, Researchers and Policy Makers should develop strategies to reduce psychological problems like depression and stress among students and organize intervention programs to enhance high-ability learners’ psychological well-being which helps to increase their academic performance.

Keywords: depression, stress, academic achievement, underachievement, high-ability learners.

Word count: 464    



Title page i

Certification                                                                  ii

Dedication                                                                 iii

Acknowledgements                                 iv

Abstract                                                                         vii

Table of Contents                                                        ix


1.1 Background to the Study 1

1.2 Objectives of the study 5

1.3 Significance of the study 6

1.4 Scope of the study 7

1.5 Statement of the Problem 8

1.6 Research Questions 9

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms 9


2.1 Conceptual Review 10

2.1.1 General Concept of Academic Underachievement among High-Ability Learners10

2.1.2 General Concept of Depression among High-Ability Learners 33

2.1.3 General Concept of Stress Patterns among High-Ability Learners 37

2.2 Theoretical Framework 432.2.1 Social Cognitive Model of Achievement  43 Mandel   and   Marcus,   (1988);   and   Rimm,   (1995)   Underachievement   Theory  ix

2.2.2 Cognitive Theories of Depression 51 Beck’s Cognitive Theory of Depression 54 Hopelessness Theory 56 Response Styles Theory   57

2.2.3 Cognitive Activation Theory of Stress (CATS)  60

2.3 Empirical Review 63

2.3.1 Academically Underachieving High-Ability Learners  63

2.3.2 Depression and Academic Underachievement among High-Ability Learners 70

2.3.3 Stress Patterns and Academic Underachievement among High-Ability Learners72

2.4 Appraisal of Literature Reviewed 74


3.1 Research Design 77

3.2 Population of the Study 77

3.3 Sample and Sampling Technique 77

3.4 Research Instruments 78

3.5 Procedure for the Administration of Instruments 79

3.6 Method of Data Analysis  79


4.1 Demographic Information and Variables of Respondents  80

4.1.1  Socio-demographic information of the respondents  80

4.1.2 Depression level of respondents based on Beck’s Depression Inventory  83x

4.1.3 Distribution of Respondents based On Perceived Stress Scale  85

4.2.      Research Questions 87

4.3.      Discussion of Findings  90


5.1.      Summary 95

5.2       Conclusion 97

5.3.      Recommendations 98

5.4 Limitations of the study 99

5.5 Suggestions for further studies 100



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Umar Salman, A (2020). Depression and Stress as Determinants of Academic Underachievement of High Ability Learners. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from

MLA 8th

Adeyemi, Umar Salman. "Depression and Stress as Determinants of Academic Underachievement of High Ability Learners", 23 Sep. 2020, . Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.


Adeyemi, Umar Salman. "Depression and Stress as Determinants of Academic Underachievement of High Ability Learners".,, 23 Sep. 2020. Web. 25 Oct. 2020. < >.


Adeyemi, Umar Salman. "Depression and Stress as Determinants of Academic Underachievement of High Ability Learners" (2020). Accessed October 25, 2020.