Factors influencing the academic performance of undergraduate students of Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) learning in English, with special reference to attitude, motivation and academic self concept.
Many official papers and research studies suggest that the low academic performance of science students in Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman may be due to their being taught in a foreign language, namely English. This belief has prompted the researcher to embark on the present endeavour. Since it would be impractical to investigate within a study of this scale all possible factors relating to the problem, three factors highlighted by previous studies, namely, attitudes, motivation and academic self-concept, were chosen as the focus for this work.This study is a modest attempt to explore the intricacies of the multidimensional nature of attitudes, self-concept and motivation and their relationship to academic performance. Sex, level of education (first and fourth year stages), and also the main subject differences, were also investigated in relation to the above variables.Thus,this study attempts to fulfil the following objectives:1- ascertaining what relationships, if any, exist between attitude, academic self-concept and motivation of students learning science in English.2- finding out to what extent the above variables are mutually influential.3- proposing recommendations.The study is limited to the SQU science students, with the sample taken from the five relevant colleges in the university. Three questionnaires were developed and administered to 565 students of both sexes, drawn from the first and fourth years. 39 lecturers were also interviewed.The study is divided into seven chapters, ending with the appendices to the study, and an introductory chapter which deals with relevant contemporary issues.The principal conclusions reached are:1- A significant correlation was found between students' academic performance and their attitude, self-concept and motivation towards learning science in English.2- A significant difference was found between male and female students in their academic self-concept towards learning science in English, but no significant differences regarding their attitude and motivation in learning science through English.3-Significant differences were found among students of different colleges in their attitudes and academic self-concept towards learning science in English,but not in their motivation towards learning science in English.4- A significant difference exists in attitude academic self-concept and motivation of first and fourth year students. Fourth year students had more positive attitudes and higher academic self-concept than those of the first year, but lower motivation.Recommendations proposed include:1- Building a good relationship between the teaching staff and the students;establishing a counselling body and friendly ecology in the colleges; and providing more positive feedback, which might all help to improve students' academic performance.2- The university administration and lecturers must begin to create an atmosphere more encouraging of female students' attitudes, motivation and academic self-concept.3- Closer ties should be forged with the female students, and more attention paid to them and their problems, as well as developing extra-curricula activities.