The Academic Performance of Married Women Students in Nigerian Higher Education

ABSTRACT

My aim in this study was to understand and explain the academic performance of married women students in higher education. The study was conducted on married women students who are studying at higher institutions in Nigeria. A mixed research method was used. The study population was drawn from two higher education institutions – a university and a college of education. Focus group conversations and interview protocol were used to gather qualitative data, while a questionnaire and the academic results of participants were used to gather quantitative data. Data were analysed using constant comparative approach – the reported stories that emanated from the conversations with the research participants; the deduced meanings from the interview protocol; and the statistical testing of the generated hypothesis via t-test statistics and Pearson product moment correlation. The findings include the readiness of women students to narrate their experiences, and the hindrances cultural practices impose on their academic performance, amongst other things. This study uniquely reveals that the academic performance of women students in higher education in Nigeria differs between married women students and single women students. However, some women students in this study were satisfied with their academic performance while others were not. They blamed their academic performance on several factors including cultural practices, marital status, financial constraint and so forth. Apart from women students in higher education who were not satisfied with their academic performance, all women students who formed the sample, including those who considered their academic performance to be satisfactory, complained about cultural practices and their effect on academic performance. Despite their complaints, however, the majority of the women student participants in this study, both married and single, continue to support cultural practices. They said that cultural practices, including the ones that are considered harmful to higher education for women and their academic performance, should not be eradicated or changed, as they maintain that these practices make women truly responsible.

KEY TERMS: Married women students, higher education, academic performance, cultural practices, single women students, gender, and feminism.

CHAPTER ONE

OVERVIEW

1.1 Introduction

Education is one of the major linchpins for both the economic and political wellbeing of a society. This study focuses on the education of women in Nigeria and is premised on the belief that women‟s education and national development are fundamental to development in the 21st century. The study seeks to describe and explain the performance of married women students in Nigeria higher education. Bolarin (2005) argues that measures should be put in place to combat barriers to women‟s access to higher education in Nigeria. She believes that this will help to increase their enrollment rate and participation, and improve their academic achievement in higher education.

The Nigerian Policy on Education (2004) refers to higher education as education offered at the tertiary level. In this study, higher education in Nigeria refers to institutions that are post secondary and offer qualifications such as diplomas, bachelor‟s degrees and postgraduate degrees such as masters and doctorates. From a global perspective, economic, social and political development is increasingly being driven by the advancement and application of knowledge, which is anchored, powered, propelled and determined largely by the type of higher education found in a country. Higher education in particular is fundamental to the construction of a knowledge economy and society in all nations (World Bank, 1999; 2000). On account of this, higher education for women should be a critical aspect of national interest, especially in the context of accessibility, enrollment and academic performance. This study assumes that we cannot restrict women from participating in or benefiting from higher education because of their tasks and roles at home and in the larger society. Furthermore, higher education for women should not be merely optional if they are expected to make a positive and meaningful input and impact on society. According to the Nigerian National Policy on Education (2004), higher education for women will help to foster and cement national unity, given their roles and contributions at home which will reflect in them, their husbands and children.

In recent years, there has been a global endeavour to prioritise women’s education as a foundation for further development. Lips (1999) reveals that women‟s access to university-level education has increased in New Zealand and the United States of America, as well as most of the other countries in the world. In this context, most of the women in her study regard higher education as a major route for getting to the top or holding key, sensitive and powerful positions in a country.

In countries like Nigeria and other developing countries, there is still cause for concern as the percentage of female participation in higher education is still very low compared with developed countries (Osisanya-Olumuyiwa, 1998; Lips, 1999; Bolarin, 2001; 2005). In this regard, remarkable efforts have been made by government and other stakeholders to help improve the situation. Such efforts are a response to a variety of complex social issues and economic trends. They include, but are not limited to, societal changes resulting from industrialisation, globalisation, the population explosion, political instability, democracy, women‟s emancipation and liberation strategies. These efforts, especially as they concern women‟s education in tertiary institutions, are greatly determined, influenced and constrained by tradition and cultural practices.

Nigeria, like most African countries, is vastly culturally endowed and is multicultural. This explains and determines to a large extent the knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs and habits acquired by the people of a society (Owolabi & Olatunde, 2004). Culture is a package, which draws from the beliefs, taboos, superstitions, customs and traditions of a society or nation. Culture in Africa is knowledge-based and includes and influences what we teach, how we learn, and our history and values in all spheres of our environment, be it at home, in the workplace or at school. Evidence abounds (Aikenhead, 1999; Owolabi & Olatunde, 2004) that indigenous groups have their own knowledge – African knowledge – which could mirror significantly the attitudes of women themselves towards higher education. For married women, the pressure to conform to traditional and cultural practices is powerful and has a profound effect on how they live their lives. As such, the study aims to document and understand the influence these cultural factors may have on the performance of women students, with particular reference to married women in Nigeria.

1.2 Background to the study

The population of the world is estimated to be 6.8 billion (Population Reference Bureau, 2009). Women constitute more than half of this number and more than 70 per cent of them are illiterate and poor (Haese & Kirsten, 2006). The ones who are receiving schooling at various levels, especially at the tertiary level, are constrained or handicapped in various ways, making successful academic performance far from the reach of many. Many experience a life that is a complex web of many roles and many tasks, which require the average women to perform “different roles” at different times in a bid to fulfill her family‟s needs. These roles have been theoretically characterised as reproductive, productive and community roles (Bakare-Yusuf, 2003:10; Haese & Kirsten, 2006). Bakare-Yusuf, like many other feminist scholars, argues that women, both now and in the past, play pivotal reproductive and productive roles that facilitate patriarchal economic and productive dominance.

The role of women across the world is changing but not always to their advantage. The most visible example of this is their contribution to economic development, but owing to the limitations arising from stagnancy or little progress being made in women‟s education, that is, enrollment rate and academic performance in tertiary institutions of learning, women and, in particular, married women have yet to reach self-fulfillment and to achieve in all aspects of life. In this regards, Ossat (2005) views higher education for women as an achievement and a task.

In May 2002, the federal government of Nigeria, in a joint venture with UNICEF, published the findings on an analysis of the situation of women and children in Nigeria. Education and women‟s development were key issues on which the searchlight was focused and these were discussed intensively. Both are regarded as being inseparable and complementary. In a different study conducted in South Africa, a further assessment shows that higher education – any type, not excluding women – has come under considerable pressure to be more responsive to the marketplace and to produce new kinds of knowledge workers (Jansen, 2001).

Women are workers at home, although most of them are not remunerated for the services they render there. In addition, poorly remunerated in their various places of work, women in Nigeria are among the poorest in Africa and the developing world. Also, they are less empowered, thereby making it difficult for them to perform their tasks and roles at home (Potokri, 2010), in the workplace and in the larger society efficiently and effectively because of the improperly connected variables: women, education and development. To be precise, higher education for a married woman cannot be neglected, quantified or overemphasized.

Arguably, there is no African country that does not want to increase the educational participation of woman at tertiary institutions of learning, or, better still, enhance their academic performance, given its importance as highlighted above. Higher education for women is worth prioritizing, hence it cannot be overemphasized. Although most countries consider higher education for women a desirable instrument for development, its current under provision is a major stumbling block to economic, social, mental and political development. On account of this, the low participation and low enrollment of women in higher education has been viewed as being synonymous with low economic productivity, the prevalence of preventable diseases, malnutrition, the population explosion and mass poverty (Bolarin, 2005). Similarly, Dike (2002) reveals that higher education for women gives them a greater sense of how to reduce risks in life and change their behaviour.

The barriers to women‟s participation, enrollment and academic performance, as well as to completing their education are numerous and have been documented by several studies (Howard, 2001; Jamil, 2003). These barriers are related to policy, infrastructure, household and family resources and community beliefs and practices. Jamil (2003) articulates that many notable barriers to women‟s education are not by law within the limits or responsibility of the government or the education sector. Household circumstances and community beliefs and practices are examples of the types of barrier that may not be affected by government leadership and action, but that seriously affect women‟s education. He further states that the relationship is indirect and subject more to influence than control. On the other hand, while policy, school-related infrastructure, and schooling and instruction may be difficult to change, they are within government‟s mandate and organisational control (Jamil, 2003; USAID, 2000).

Buttressing the opinion of Jamil, Administrator J Brandy at the USAID Symposium on Girls‟ Education (2000:7) stated: “It is apparent to say that these barriers affect female students‟ enrollment and completion rates; and each is related to the others, comprising parts of an interlocking social system that includes national and local, private and public, and group and individual dimensions.”

In addition, Noah (1997) rightly states that these barriers or problems could be attributed to three broad factors: the mode of introduction of Western education to most African countries, the absence of critical research and the dearth of essential political will on the part of African leaders and the elite. Lips (1999) suggests that if we are to grapple successfully with the problems of women‟s education and economic development, of preparing women to take their rightful place in society, there are a number of issues on which to focus, one of them being indispensable higher education for women. In addition, she affirms that pay equity, the “glass ceiling”, work and family balance and the feminization of poverty, among other things, must be addressed in order to promote and encourage women to pursue higher education.

1.3 Statement of the problem

Marriage is an important cultural, traditional and religious event in Nigerian society, particularly for women and young girls. Statistics in the CBN (2000) survey show that 86.6 per cent of women in Nigeria are married, while 3.7 per cent are widowed and 5.2 per cent are divorced or separated. In addition, cultural practices distance a huge number of women from higher education.

In Nigeria there is a popular saying that states “women‟s education ends in the kitchen”, implying that education is not useful to them; in other words, education is not meant for them. The situation is exacerbated when they get married. At that point the chances of women furthering their education are very slim. Women, especially married women, in Nigeria are relegated to the kitchen and their major role is childbearing (Abe, 1987; Okeke, 2001). As such, right from early childhood, the Nigerian female child is psychologically attuned to see herself as a future homemaker and mother of children. In a nutshell, married women are restricted to the home, primarily because it is believed that their husbands will provide for all their needs. Thus, higher education for women is seen as useless and a waste of time, money and resources generally. In addition, elders and traditional chiefs regard it is as a gateway for prostitution and non-submissiveness in women, and the forfeiting of their marriage prospects. Simply put, some traditional chiefs maintain that it takes women beyond the shores of tradition and culture, thereby making them behave and live contrary to existing customs, norms and beliefs. On this basis, it is largely believed that once they are married and in their husband‟s house, they have no need for more education and can cope with whatever form or type of education they had before marriage. Elders and traditional chiefs (male) maintain that primary and secondary education at most is enough for a married woman to run the affairs of her home as expected of her (Falola, 2001).

Higher education, especially university, is in theory an area of equal opportunity today. A century ago this was not the case, and anyone who argued for a university education for women, not to speak of married women, was regarded as eccentric. It was widely believed that higher education for women would lead to brain fever, sterility and even death; suggesting that they could not cope with studies at that level.

With regard to the above, most married women made little or no effort to enroll in higher education; this was made even more difficult for them as admission policies and programmes did not favour them and some universities and tertiary institutions of learning did not admit married women. For example, the Ewha Women‟s University in South Korea banned married female undergraduates from attending for 57 years until the ban was lifted recently (Breder, 2003). In Makerere University, Uganda, women were only allowed to enter in 1945 (Morley, 2004).

Equal educational opportunity at all levels is one aspect of the Millennium Development Goals that one cannot lose sight of if women are to be truly empowered. The Nigerian government has tried to move towards the attainment of this goal, but cultural practices and religion, among other things, have jeopardized their efforts immensely. At this juncture, it becomes not only necessary to take a look at the participation of married women in higher education, but also to look at how those studying are achieving academically.

Therefore, in summary, this research seeks to understand the experiences of married women students in higher education in Nigeria.

1.4 Purpose of the study

Through this study, I wish to show the experiences of women students in higher education and how their experiences influence their academic performance. The fundamental purpose of this study is to understand and explain the academic performance of married women students in higher education in Nigeria. It is my contention that there may be a relationship between cultural practices and the academic performance of women students in higher education; that there may be differences in the academic performance of married women students as they progress from one year or level of study to another; and that there is the possibility of differences in the academic performance of married women students and single women students in higher education.

1.5 Rationale for the study

My love for education and my quest for knowledge have known no bounds. This may be attributed to my family background, a family that sees education as a pinnacle, a family for whom a large part of the family business is education, as my mother is the proprietor of a group of schools. I have been lucky enough to have had the encouragement and support of my parents especially my mother and this has spurred me on to pursue a career in education. Steiner (1998) argues that, in the educational process, interest in academic subjects is related to passion for knowledge for its own sake and for the forms in which knowledge is represented. Where this passion is present, it leads to discovery and learning, occurring not only as an end in itself, but as a necessary means to mastering a field of study in which the student has a strong and personal interest.

As a teacher who has taught in secondary schools and at tertiary level for over ten years; I have noticed with keen interest that there seems to be an increase in the number of women willing to participate in higher education given the number of female students that I taught at the Polytechnic. Furthermore, my interactions with female students as a principal of a college, when registering them for senior secondary certificate examinations, have given me an indication of their interest in higher education. In addition, the campaign for women‟s empowerment, gender equality, education for all and the like in recent times could also account for their interest. In sum, women are truly interested in higher education, but for some reason many who complete secondary school do not proceed to tertiary institutions (Bolarin, 2003; Okeke, 2001).

This observation on female secondary school students and a curiosity about female students‟ academic performance at the Polytechnic prompted my interest in women students‟ academic performance in higher education. To know about this, I started to read more on related issues in the various literatures locally and internationally. It was interesting to note that there have been quite a number of related and similar studies on higher education for women in connection with access, participation, enrollment rate, dropout rate, and so on. I have noted and appreciated the work of other researchers in this regard, and their call for further research left me with no option but to take up the challenge of carrying out this study. However, there seems to be little, if any, literature on the academic performance of married women students in higher education in Nigeria. This further increased my interest and curiosity on the subject.

More importantly, and in addition to the above, is my wife. After I got married in 2005, I became convinced that this study was worth carrying out. I am married to a woman from Owerri, in the Imo State of Nigeria, an area that demonstrates a number of cultural differences compared with Kokori in the Delta State of Nigeria where I hail from. I taught her in her final year at high school and I married her when she was in her first year at university. While she was at high school, she was known for her high academic performance as reflected by her internal examinations, tests and continuous assessment scores. Her final academic performance, given her grades in the senior school certificate examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), speaks for and confirms her high academic performance on aggregate.

At the end of the first academic year at university, I observed from her results that her academic performance was not as impressive as it had been. This was worrisome and I began to consider what might be wrong. What factor(s) could be responsible for such a performance? Besides these, other questions arose like why, how and the extent to which these factors could affect married women students in tertiary institutions of learning when compared to single women students in the same institutions, were all on my mind begging for answers. Considering these issues was difficult and meaningless without hearing from her. So, I had to initiate a discussion with her.

I started the discussion by saying to her: “Honey, I know you to be a very brilliant and intelligent woman, but it appears something is wrong because of your academic performance, as you can see yourself, is not impressive. This is not you,” It took some persuasion for her to say a word. Then she burst into tears and told me about the pressure from my parents, especially my mother, to live up to the traditions and cultural practices of my people. She said that she was confused and did not know how to deal with these pressures. “This is killing!” she said. “It creates some kind of imbalance in me that I cannot explain,” she emphasized. She further said that it did not give her room to enjoy studying anymore. In fact, she felt the marriage to be frustrating, “I feel like quitting my studies,” she said. Suddenly, the magnitude of the problem dawned on me. It is a problem she has tried to live and cope with. As I listened to her, emotion overwhelmed me. I did not know what to do at that moment but at least I managed to encourage her a little the best way I could then.

As I write this, the words of Betty Freidan “the problem with no name” in her book titled Feminine mystique, published in 1963, and those of Patricia Hill Collins “the problem women live with” in her Black feminist thought, published in 1991, kept ringing a bell. To my understanding, the problem is concerned with liberation and empowerment bottled in cultural practices. Cultural practices take on different facets. With regard to my wife‟s story, it is difficult to find a name in the literature for the problem she is faced with.

The cultural practice at work here is what I refer to as “ceremonial husband and real husband”, a cultural practice in Nigeria where the husband‟s parents are the real husband who decide, instruct, manage and run the affairs and activities of the woman (wife), using traditions and customs as an instrument or vehicle. Here, the husband is ceremonial because he is only known by the immediate community to have performed the marital rites on a particular day. Thereafter, the parents take total control of the woman‟s (wife) home and her world. They decide for and regulate the woman in terms of what she should do, how and when she should do such things, also where she should be at any given time. Preferably, she must live with them, do all the domestic work, and carry the in-law‟s bags wherever they go. She is on standby for errands and her personal programme is not considered. Her husband‟s house is seen as her second home where she can only go with their permission. This scenario is exacerbated if all the brothers and sisters of the husband are grown up and are no longer living with the parents or if the husband is the only child or the first son. She must listen to and obey every word without question. In fact, she is no different to a robot that can be remote controlled. In terms of this practice, the husband is voiceless, as his parents still treat him like the baby they gave birth to, who cannot think and do things on his own without their permission. When the husband tries to speak out, the parents frustrate him and the wife in different ways. This leaves me in no doubt that there must be other married women students studying in higher education with similar problems and experiences.

However, on reading the existing related literature, I became increasingly unhappy because of the lack of attention given to higher education for women in developing countries; the neglect; and the huge attention and emphasis on cultural practices, particularly their applicability to women. At this time, my quest to know more about the problem had increased tremendously. The reasons given above, together with the emotions I experienced, are the motivation for my decision concerning the study. I understood that my decision to carry out the study on the academic performance of married women students in higher education has been greatly influenced by the relationship between emotions, knowledge and decision making (Damasio, 1999; Thagard, 2000; Thagard, 2006; Jansen, 2005). Emotion has often been theorized as a “private”, “natural”, and “individual” experience that is “essentially” located in the individual (Boler, 1999).

Jansen (2005) in “Black dean: race, reconciliation and the emotions of deanship” reveals the relationship between emotion, knowledge and decision. Through this study, he was able to understand and describe the complex and difficult process of institutional transformation from records of personal observation and through the lens of human emotion. This understanding and being able to describe his experiences as a black dean in a formerly all-white university in South Africa (the University of Pretoria) helped to transform his knowledge about deanship. As the dean of a faculty, vested with authority and numerous responsibilities, including decision making on balancing tensions of affirmation and inclusion, retention and restitution, caring and correction, accommodation and assertion, and racial reconciliation and social justice, his decisions had to be tailored or were influenced from time to time by the knowledge given birth to by his emotions. This study, too, seeks to explore, and agrees with Boler (1999) and Thagard (2006), who argue that emotions allow us to explore the revealed “space” between ideology and internalized feeling.

Conclusively, and deduced from the above, it is evident that my experience reveals that there might be a strong link between culture and the academic performance of married women students, as was the case with my wife. It is on this note that I engage in research that seeks to understand and explain whether this link is at all significant.

1.6 Research Questions

What is the understanding of and explanation for the academic performance of married women students in Nigeria?

Sub questions

1. What are the dominant cultural practices that impact the education of married women in Nigeria?

2. What are the key trends in the academic performance of married women students in higher education in Nigeria?

3. What are the differences/similarities in the academic performance of married women students and single women students in Nigerian higher education?

1.7 Research Hypotheses

Before conducting an empirical investigation to determine relationships and differences between variables, I deem it necessary to formulate hypotheses. Hypotheses are educated “guesses about how the social world works” (Neuman, 1997:128). Tredoux and Durrheim (2002) state that a hypothesis is a tentative statement of a relationship between two variables. In order for the research questions to be answered, I formulated hypotheses, which helped me to remain focused as I conducted and wrote the study (Knight, 2002:15).

For the purpose of this study, the hypotheses were stated in null form. A null hypothesis is a statement in which it is maintained that there is no difference or relationship between groups or variables (Tredoux & Durrheim, 2002). I opt to state the hypotheses in the null form because I do not know the level of significant difference or the relationship between the research question variables. Therefore the following hypotheses were formulated:

Ho1: There is no relationship between cultural practices and the academic performance of women students in higher education.

Ho2: There is no significant difference in the academic performance of married women students in year 1 and in year 2 of study.

Ho3: There is no significant difference in the academic performance of married women students and single women students in higher education.

NOTE: Year 2 has been chosen as a comparison with the entry point (year 1) because I believe that in year 2 the students are no longer new to the higher education environment. Also, they would have seen their results for year 1, which would motivate those who probably did not do well to improve and those who did do well to remain on track or improve on their performance.

1.9 Philosophical Assumptions

By philosophical assumptions I mean my research entry perspectives. Denzin and Lincoln (2005) write that every researcher has his or her own perspective before carrying out any research. A research entry perspective is referred to as a “basic set of beliefs that guide research actions” (Lincoln & Guba, 2000; Mertens, 1998). These sets of beliefs are the fundamental model or frame of reference that helped me in organising my data and reasoning (Babbie, 2001:42). On account of this, I reveal that, as a researcher, I am aware that I speak from a particular class, gender, racial, cultural and ethnic community perspective. In common with Machawira (2008), I entered the research scene or site with my own interpretive frame of reference, my own belief system or worldview (paradigmatic perspective).

My paradigmatic perspective was necessary and important because it guided me through the entire research process especially in the context of ontology, epistemology and methodology. Besides, and given the cultural sensitivity of my research site, the status and gender of the research participants/respondents, I also considered and went into the research with my own axiology and rhetoric.

My ontology – my philosophy of reality and how I got to know that reality (epistemology) – was an important factor that guided and led me in the way in which I went about finding out what I believe should be known (methodology). Ontologically, I believe that reality is subjective and that there are multiple realities as demonstrated or shown by the participants/respondents in this study. My epistemological view is that knowledge is a creation of the interaction between the researcher and the researched. Moreover, knowledge is achieved, attained or unveiled when the voices of research respondents/participants are heard either through writing or speaking. In this study, I identified myself with pragmatic paradigms which focus on the outcomes of the research – the actions, situations and consequences of inquiry rather than antecedent conditions (Creswell, 2007; Tashakkori & Teddle, 2003; Cherryholmes, 1992; Patton, 1990). My identification with a pragmatic paradigm is linked to the assumptions discussed in the paragraphs that follow (Cherryholmes, 1992; Rossman & Wilson, 1985).

Firstly, I do not see the need to use only one method or approach for collecting and analysing research data. Secondly, I agree that research always occurs in a social, cultural, historical, political and other context, which is subject to continuous change. Hence, it can be best researched using a pragmatic lens instead of positivism or constructionism, which take a narrow, static and traditional view at research phenomena. Thirdly, I believe in the realities of happenings in the larger society that are independent of the mind as well as those lodged in the minds of individuals. Lastly, from personal observation I have noted that the world is not an absolute unity. Therefore, one meaning and one approach would not be ideal for my research.

In this study, the pragmatic paradigm provides me with a pervasive lens for all aspects of a mixed method research; the research method I employed in this study (Ladson-Billings & Donnor, 2005; Creswell, 2007). Creswell emphasises that the problems explored, viewed through pragmatism, are concerned and aimed at disadvantage and include individuals or culture, and include hierarchy, hegemony, racism, sexism, unequal power relations, identity or inequalities in our society. The intellectual puzzle of this study lies in the aforementioned. In an attempt to specifically ascertain my speaking or reporting position – whether I would speak for participants/respondents or speak about them – I found parallels with the feminist lens (one among many pragmatic paradigms), particularly in the domain of women‟s studies concerned with women‟s experiences and lives, how gender is constructed, and how and why gender roles are developed and perpetuated in terms of dominant culture and power issues.

Based on the above, I align my belief to that of Machawira (2008), that speaking about others (participants/respondents) would be an act of representation while speaking for others would be a process of appropriation. I maintain that my philosophical assumptions have, to a large extent, helped me to achieve what I wanted to achieve in this study in terms of the purpose of the study and answering the research questions. In short, I speak about women students in higher education in Nigeria in this study as a matter of representation.

1.10 Organisation of this Thesis

This study centres on the academic performance of married women students in Nigeria, particularly in terms of the context in which their academic performance in higher education can be understood and explained. In this study, I seek to find out what cultural practices are dominant with regard to women and pervasive in their academic performance. Also, I seek to understand their experiences and the key trends in their academic performance. Lastly, I seek to compare the academic performance of married women students and single women students in higher education.

This thesis comprises seven chapters and its organisation is discussed below:

In chapter 1, I introduce the study and provide some background to it. Here, the purpose of the study and the problem statement are clearly stated, and the research questions and hypotheses are identified. I provide the intellectual rationale for the study and I sum up the chapter with an outline of the organisation of the thesis.

In chapter 2, I offer a critical synthesis of the literature on the topic of study. To do this, I focus on a review of the literature related to married women‟s academic performance in higher education. This includes research done locally and internationally on the research topic and related topics. My aim here is to articulate the strengths and shortcomings in the existing literature base. I highlight the fact that there is little evidence of empirical research on married women students‟ academic performance in higher education at national or local level. Moreover, I argue that, by focusing on married women‟s academic performance in higher education, my research will address a gap in the literature, and possibly motivate scholars to carry out further research.

Chapter 3 illuminates the theoretical framework: Expanded achievement attribution model and standpoint theory. In this chapter, I demonstrate how and why the theoretical framework fits into my study.

In chapter 4, the research methodology used in this study is described and discussed. I provide a detailed discussion on the journey I took in the entire research process, as well as identifying my personal research beliefs and thereafter discussing their connections or links to the research process.

Chapter 5 deals with the quantitative data analysis. It provides a brief introduction to the chapter, included in which are the frequencies procedure and the outputs derived from research questionnaires that were administered. The chapter discusses the way in which the derived frequencies procedure and outputs were statistically computed to test the research hypotheses, as well as the decisions the researcher made regarding the research hypothesis on the basis of the results that emanated from the statistics computations.

Chapter 6 centres on the qualitative data analysis. This chapter discusses the process during which the researcher engaged the research participants in conversation/discussion, during which they narrated their experiences as students studying in higher education institutions. In addition to the conversation/discussion, I requested research participants to complete an interview protocol, which was intended to create an understanding of the additional experiences of research participants. The findings in this chapter were discussed.

Chapter 7 is the final chapter and discusses the analysis and conclusion. In this chapter, conclusions for the entire study were drawn based on the findings of the study. These findings were extensively analysed, conclusions were drawn and recommendations were made. Besides the conclusions and recommendations provided, this chapter also highlighted the significance of the study, the future research direction, and the limitations of the study. Importantly, this chapter illustrates the extension and advancement of the theoretical framework that informs this study. The references and appendices appear at the end of the document.