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Student Perception of Factors Influencing

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. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

National Built Environment Conference (NABECON)


8-10 November 2017

Ahmadu Bello University
Zaria, Nigeria

Book of Reading

Prof. I. Mbamali

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

Student Perception of Factors Influencing Academic Performance of Architecture

Undergraduates at Ahmadu Bello University and the University Of Jos
Joy Joshua Maina, Aisha Kabir Marafa and Chinnan Katmwan Daful
Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University

Academic performance is affected by a number of factors including environmental, social, economic, cultural status,
school background, lecturer characteristics, school facilities and resources, students' attitude and discipline. This research
is aimed at assessing the factors that affect the academic performance of architecture students in two public universities
employing a descriptive survey design. 140 questionnaires were distributed between July 2016 and March 2017 targeting
architecture students at Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Jos. The questionnaire in this study was designed
to elicit 3 types of information; Section A (Demographics), Section B (school based factors i.e the learning environment)
and Section C (Socio-economic and Socio-cultural-factors). Results were analysed in SPSS v. 21 for means (M), standard
deviation and relative importance index (RII), which were employed to rank importance of variables. Findings reveal
that the first seven variables most influencing academic performance in the two institutions are cost of equipment (M
4.19), quality of natural light in classrooms (M 3.81), relationship with other students (M3.78), quality of natural light in
studios (M 3.76), lecturers’ experience (M 3.7), parents’ income (M 3.68) and quality of air in studios (M 3.61). These
findings imply that both school based and socio-economic factors influence the academic performance of architecture
students. The study recommends that studio and classrooms of architecture students should be designed to standard
considering natural light and ventilation. Architecture schools also need to consider the quality of lecturers employed as
this was ranked highly by students. Economic factors also feature within the highly ranked variables. Consequently
other alternative source of funding such as scholarship schemes should be put in place for architecture students to
further encourage and assist students through their course of study.
Keywords: Academic performance, architecture students, school based factors, socio-economic variables.


Education is usually seen as an investment in human resources. However, it cannot play its role of

manpower development effectively unless the youth and next generation make accurate choices of field of

study that will lead to careers best suitable for them. The academic performance of students may be

influenced by various external factors other than their personal characteristics. Students are the key assets to

universities. The students’ performance plays an important role in producing best quality graduates who will

become great leaders and manpower for any country. Graduating good students is imperative for any

country’s economic and social development (Mustaq & Khan, 2012). Student performance is affected by

social, psychological, economic, environmental and personal factors. These factors strongly influence student

performance and vary from person to person and country to country. School, colleges and universities have

no worth without students as students are the most essential asset for any educational institute (ibid). Due to

the importance attached to academic performance of students, several recent studies focus on the factors and

variables that influence academic performance of students across several disciplines and countries (Mersha,

Bishaw & Tegegne, 2013; Tiruneh & Petros, 2014; Baharin, Othman, Azizan & Isa, 2015; Costa, Cardoso,

Lima, Ferreira, & Abrantes, 2015; Dey, Choudhury, Mollah, & Kim, 2015; Nyadanu, Garglo, Adampah &

Garglo, 2015; Tesfay & Zekiros, 2015). Few of such studies assess these factors for students of architecture

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

(Adewale & Adhuze, 2013; Maina & Aji, 2017). Although Opoko, Oluwatayo and Ezema (2016) established

factors influencing the academic performance of architecture students, the study focused on two private

universities in South West Nigeria. Consequently, a gap exists in establishing what these factors are in

northern Nigeria.

This study aims to establish which factors and variables most influence academic performance of

architecture students in nortthern Nigeria using the oldest public universities offering the course, namely

Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU) and the University of Jos (UJ). Architecture was chosen for this study

because architects are major players in the built environment and collaborators with all professionals in the

Nigerian Construction Industry (NCI). Establishing the factors that influence academic performance of

students of architecture is important towards improving the quality of architects in the country, and by

implication, adding value to quality of the workforce in the NCI and economy as a whole. The paper is

organized in five sections after the introduction. Section two reviews related literature on factors influencing

academic performance while section three explains the methodology employed for the study. Results and

discussion follow in sections four. The paper concludes with recommendations as well as references in

sections five and six respectively.


Student performance is affected by social, psychological, economic, environmental and

personal factors. Student academic performance is commonly measured using the grade point

average (GPA) or its cumulative form, the CGPA (Muslim, Karim & Abdullah, 2012; Baharin, et al.

2015; Ranjandran, Hee, Kanawarthy, Soon, Kamaludin & Khezrimotlagh, 2015). Students’ academic

performance can also be measured through the result of a particular subject or the previous year’s

result (Mushtaq & Khan, 2012).

Socio-economic factors such as parents’ qualification, lifestyle, occupation and income,

students’ gender, age, ethnicity, prior educational qualification, city of residence and whether or not

a student received counseling have been discussed in literature as some of the factors which affect

academic performance. Considine and Zappala (2002) note that parents or guardians who have

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

social, educational and economic advantage strengthen the level of their child’s success in future. In

a study of university students in Malaysia, Ali, Haider, Munir, Khan and Ahmed, (2013) found out

that age, father/guardian’s economic status and daily hours of study by students significantly

contributes to the academic performance of graduate students. Gender differences were also found

in academic performances of university students (Meltem, 2004). Thiele, Singleton, Pope and

Stanistreet (2016), in a study of British graduates, establishedthat males enter university with lower

grades than females and were also less likely to achieve a high grade. Females were also found to

have better performance for a core architectural course in architecture (Opoko, Alagbe, Aderonmu,

Ezema & Oluwatayo, 2014).

School based factors such as quality of lecturers, teaching, class, studio spaces,

accommodation, library and security related variables also influence academic performance of

architecture students. Mersha et al (2013) and Tiruneh and Petros (2014) established the negative

influence of poor school environements notably teacher roles and off-campus facilities on female

undergraduates in Eithiopia. Afolami, Olotuah, Fakere and Omale (2013) likewise infer that teaching

methods influence the academic performance in core architecture courses. In essence, the quality of

academic staff has a huge impact on the quality of graduates universities produce. At UiTM in

Malaysia, Baharin et al. (2015) established a significant relationship between academic performance

of students and university facilities notably the library and classrooms largely due to the proximity of

these facilities to academic area. Internet connectivity was also favoured by students. In constrast,

Mersha et al. (2013) assert that the school environment in higher education institutions (HEIs)

entrenches differences of prestige and status among males and females. On the other hand,

inadequate student accommodation was found to affect 82.5% of surveyed undergraduates at the

university of Zambia. Similar findiings were established by Maina and Aji (2017) in a recent study of

architecture students of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The study established that students who

live on-campus would on average, graduate with a second class lower degree as against students who

reside off-campus, who would on average, graduate with a third class degree.

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

Overall, Opoko, Oluwatayo and Ezema (2016) established nine factors that influence the

academic performance of architecture students at private universities in South West Nigeria. These

are the learning environment, parents’s characteristics, ethnicity, mother’s education and source of

counseling, students’ personal characteristics, learning resources, parents’ profession, gender and

couseling services. Learning environment accounted for the most variables which include the

campus environment, relationship with staff, cafeteria, shopping facilities/buttery, relationship with

other students, quality of classrooms, studios and workshops as well as hostels. The study also notes

the implication of dwindling studio culture and peer review in schools of architecture located in

private universities largely due to the fact that many students come from affleunt families who can

afford drawing instruments within their rooms. “Traditionally, the studio is seen as a second home

for architecture students, where they spend greater part of their time. Observations in both schools

studied showed that the studio appears to have lost this unique place” (ibid:1233). The study also

points to the low importance given libraries due to available internet connectivity and availability of

gadgets such as ipads and expensive phones which many affluent students can afford.


Respondents from the study were drawn from the oldest public universities offering architecture in

northern Nigeria, namely ABU and UJ. Data were collected through a self-reported questionnaire, which

targeted undergraduate students of both institutions. However, at the time the research was conducted, the

300L students were away on SIWES, so respondents were mainly from 200-400L. Academic performance

was captured through the class of degree of students andrespondents were requested to rate on a likert scale

form 1 to 5 the degree to which 43 variables (Table 2). Responses were analysed for descriptive statistics

namely the mean (M), standard deviation (SD) as well as relative importance index (RII) which is the ratio of

actual scores for a variable rated by all respondents and the maximum possible score of the variable. The

latter is a product of number ot respondents who rated a variable (N) and the maximum rate (5) any variable

can be rated by. The variables were then ranked based on the computed RII scores employing criteria in table

1. Results from the analyses are presented in the next section.

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

Table 1: Guide to rating using RII

Degree of Importance RII score/rating

Highly important 0.76 above
Important 0.66-0.75
Low importance 0.45-0.65
Not important 0.44 - below
Adapted from Waziri & Vanduhe (2013)



Out of a total of 140 questionnaires distributed, 126 (90%) were retrieved and employed for analyses.

A larger proportion of this number were from ABU (N 97, 77%). Similarly, respondents from 400L recorded

a higher proportion (N 90, 71.4%). The average respondent was male, aged between 18-25 with a CGPA in

the second lower class (Table 2). The age and gender profile of respondents supports results from other

studies employing a similar category of respondents (Kehinde, 2016; Samaila, 2016; Maina & Aji, 2017).

Fathers of architecture students are on average, more educated than mothers as over 60% of fathers had

attained at least a BSc degree compared to 46.7% of mothers for the same level of education.

Although most demographic variables had missing data, an expected finding for research involving

human perception, the proportion of missing data for CGPA which measures academic performance is

relatively high compared to other variables (Table 2). Approximately a fifth of respondents (21.4%) had

missing data for this variable, in spite of respondents being within the academic community. This finding has

methodological implications for research where self-reported values are employed and presents an area for

further research

Table 2: Demographic profile of respondents

Variable Sub-category N %
UJ 29 23
GENDER Male 97 76.9
Female 26 20.6
Missing 3 2.5
AGE 18-25 101 80.1
26-35 21 16.7
36-45 2 1.6
Missing 2 1.6

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

SSCE/JAMB 60 47.6
SBRS 43 34.1
HND 5 3.9
IJMB/Direct Entry 6 4.7
Others 2 1.6
Missing 10 8.1
CGPA <1.00(Fail) 0 0
1.00-1.49(Pass degree) 0 0
1.50-2.39(Third Class) 13 10.3
2.40-3.49(Second Class Lower/2.2) 55 43.7
3.50-4.49 (Second Class Upper/2.1 30 23.8
4.50-5.00 (First Class degree) 1 0.8
Missing 27 21.4
LEVEL 200 29 23
400 90 71.4
Missing 7 5.6
FATHER'S Primary Education 4 3.1
Secondary Education 5 3.9
Diploma 7 5.5
HND 4 3.1
BSC 20 15.9
MSC 40 31.7
PhD 20 15.9
Missing 26 20.9
MOTHER'S Primary Education 7 5.6
Secondary Education 17 13.5
Diploma 13 10.3
HND 12 9.5
BSC 38 30.1
MSC 17 13.5
PhD 4 3.1
Missing 18 14.5

In line with the aim of the study which was to establish variables most affecting architecture students

studying in public universities in northern Nigeria, four school based variables recorded RIIs equal to or

more than 0.76 (Table 3). These are cost of equipment and assignments, quality of natural light in classrooms,

relationship with other students and quality of natural light in studios. Closely following these are lecturer’s

experience, parents income, quality of air in the studios, collaboration with colleagues as well as parent’s

occupation. In essence, the most influential variables affecting the academic performance of architecture

students studying in public universities relate to economic factors (such as cost of materials, parents income

and occupation) as well as quality of principal spacesin terms of natural lighting and ventilation and

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

relationship/collaboration with other students. Lecturers’ experiences, and by implication quality of teaching,

also matter. In contrast, respondents rated indoorscaping, age of respondent, availability of shopping

facilities, the environment/landscaping of the department, cafeteria, gender, availability of non-academic staff

and ethnicity of lower in affecting academic performance.

Table 3: Ranking of factors affecting academic performance of architecture undergraduates in public


Variable Category N M SD Sum RII Rank

Cost of equipment and assignments Sch 124 4.19 4.723 520 0.84 1
Quality of natural Lighting in classrooms Sch 122 3.81 3.8 465 0.76 2
Relationship with other students Sch 125 3.78 0.9 473 0.76 2
Quality of Natural Lighting in studios Sch 125 3.78 1.0 472 0.76 2
Lecturer's experience Sch 125 3.7 0.8 463 0.74 5
Parents' income SEF 124 3.68 1.024 456 0.74 5
Quality of Air in studios Sch 123 3.61 0.9 451 0.73 7
Collaboration with colleagues Sch 124 3.66 0.9 454 0.73 7
Parents' occupation SEF 124 3.57 1.156 443 0.71 9
Level of study SEF 122 3.5 0.99 427 0.70 10
Secondary School education SEF 122 3.44 1.157 420 0.69 11
Entry qualification SEF 121 3.42 1.055 414 0.68 12
Parents' qualification SEF 125 3.39 1.276 424 0.68 12
Power supply Sch 124 3.34 1.249 414 0.67 14
General state of Cleanliness Sch 126 3.33 1.0 419 0.67 14
Availability of worship areas Sch 124 3.31 1.2 410 0.66 16
External lighting Sch 124 3.31 2.917 410 0.66 16
Availability/access to lecturers Sch 125 3.25 1.1 406 0.65 18
Quality of Air in classrooms Sch 118 3.25 1.0 383 0.65 18
City of Residence SEF 120 3.24 1.053 389 0.65 18
Interactive Sessions Sch 125 3.24 1.0 405 0.65 18
Acoustic quality in class Sch 125 3.18 1.0 397 0.64 22
Campus Environment Sch 124 3.12 1.0 387 0.62 23
Hostels Sch 124 3.12 1.2 387 0.62 23
Primary school education SEF 121 3.12 1.246 377 0.62 23
Availability of furniture Sch 125 3.11 1.094 389 0.62 23
Internet connectivity Sch 125 3.34 1.346 387 0.62 23
Lack of adequate Workshops Sch 122 3.08 1.25 376 0.62 23
Library Sch 124 3.08 1.123 382 0.62 23
Lack of adequate classrooms Sch 124 3.05 1.1 378 0.61 30
Counselling before Architecture SEF 123 3.04 1.351 374 0.61 31
Security Sch 126 3.03 1.252 382 0.61 32
Source of counselling SEF 122 3.02 1.314 369 0.60 33
Lack of adequate studios Sch 123 3.01 1.2 370 0.60 33
Water supply Sch 126 3 1.246 378 0.60 33
Ethnicity SEF 121 2.94 1.051 356 0.59 36
Availability of non-academic staff Sch 123 2.86 0.9 352 0.57 37
Gender SEF 119 2.8 1.154 333 0.56 38

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

Cafeteria Sch 123 2.75 1.1 340 0.55 39

Department's environment/landscaping Sch 124 2.75 1.0 341 0.55 39
Shopping facilities Sch 124 2.75 1.1 341 0.55 39
Age SEF 120 2.75 1.063 330 0.55 39
Indoorscaping Sch 121 2.64 1.063 320 0.53 43
Note: Sch. = School based factors, SEF = Socio-economic factors


Results from this study reveal the variables most affecting the academic performance of architecture

students are largely school based, with a few socio-economic and demographic attributes of parents. Cost of

equipment was ranked highest among the variables, underscoring the relatively expensive nature of the course

especially for students of the middle and lower class who study at public universities. Parents’ income and

occupation, ranked fifth and seventh respectively, are related economic variables that affect the academic

performance of respondents. Although parents’ characteristics also recorded the second set of factors

influencing architecture students in private universities (Opoko, Oluwatayo & Ezema, 2016), the influence

seems to be relatively muted, judging from the lower values of factors influencing academic performance in

private universities. This finding may not be unrelated to the fact that parents’ and guardians of respondents

are affluent and able to afford the latest gadgets (ibid). Consequently, cost and economic related problems are

unlikely to adversely affect students in private universities. Modeling and drawing materials are relatively

expensive. It is important that courses within the curriculum be designed to maximize recycling and optimum

use of materials and resources. Students also need to be more proactive in creative innovative designs and

models with recycling as a priority. Scholarship opportunities and funding also need to be initiated to support

the less privileged students who in spite of all economic barriers and poor backgrounds, make the effort to

excel (Considine & Zappala, 2002).

Another set of variables, which influence academic performance of architecture students, is quality of

natural light in the classrooms and studios (Table 3). These were ranked second and fourth respectively.

Quality of natural air in studios, ranked seventh is a related variable, which all suggest the preponderance of

studio use in both universities by respondents, in contrast to observations made for the dwindling studio

culture in private universities (ibid). Studio is the core learning space in architecture, where students spend

the vast majority of their working hours drawing and carrying out academic functions. The architecture

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

curriculum is organized around design studio (Ibrahim & Utaberta, 2012; Bashier, 2014; Nazidizaji, Tome &

Regateiro, 2014). Consequently, quality of natural light and ventilation is critical. It is important that

management of architecture schools ensure that these environmental features are taken into adequate

consideration for present and future designs of architectural studio and classroom spaces.

The quality of lecturers’ experiences was also ranked highly by respondents, in part supporting the

argument put forward by Mersha et al. (2013) as well as Tiruneh and Petros (2014) that quality of teachers

affect the academic performance of students. This finding underscores the issue of appointing only lecturers

who have the passion and drive to teach, alongside good academic qualifications. In an era where nepotism

and favoritism abound, it is important that lecturers be appointed based on merit. One can only give what

he/she has. Low quality of lecturers is bound to negatively affect the quality of graduates which overall, has a

negative effect on the nation’s economy. The results also reveal the influence of peer relationships (ranked

second and seventh in Table 3). In architecture and most disciplines in the built environment, studio culture

imparts and grooms students in ways formal training often does not. In studio, students self-criticize their

work as well as that of colleagues. This way, salient knowledge is passed on from one generation (or level) to

another. It is important that students are actively encouraged to foster these relationships as results from the

present study reveal the impact of such relationships on academic performance. The advent of mobile

technologies and social media in fostering such relationships is an area worthy of further study in design

related and built environment disciplines.

Socio-economic variables were ranked lowest by respondents as affecting the academic performance

of architecture students (Table 3). For this set of respondents, age, gender, indoorscaping and landscaping,

cafeteria, availability of non-teaching staff as well as ethnicity were unimportant factors influencing academic

performance. In essence, a student’s personal background and support facilities in the schoolhave relatively a

low impact when it comes to academic performance.


This study set out to investigate factors that affect the academic performance of architecture students in

public universities located in northern Nigeria. Overall, results from this study reveal that school based

factors, notably the cost of materials and assignments, quality of natural lighting in classrooms and studios

. National Built Environment Conference (NABECON 2017) .

and relationship with other students most affect academic performance of architecture students from the

student perspective. The socio-economic background in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, state of support

facilities as well as availability of non-teaching staff were rated lowest as affecting academic performance of

the respondents.

Consequently, this study recommends the following, that:

1. Staff and students should brainstorm on creative strategies of maximizing meager resources

in terms of materials employed for teaching and learning purposes in architecture education.

2. Critical facilities notably studios and classrooms be frequently appraised by the school’s

management especially in terms of natural lighting and ventilation.

3. Alternative avenues for funding students’ work such as grants and scholarships be actively

sought to encourage critically disadvantaged but promising students in architecture.

4. Avenues for student collaboration be encouraged to foster better relationships among peers

and colleagues.

5. Studio culture should be vigorously revived. This is directly linked to the quality of

environmental variables such as natural lighting and ventilation in studios

6. Further studies using a larger sample need to be conducted to ascertain these highlighted

variables and factors. A limitation for this study is the exclusion of 300L which may have

added greater value to the findings.


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