Educational Psychology: What are the effects of low social economic status on the intellectual achievement of learners?

Chapter Six

Individual Differences in Learning 

6b i). Explain the effects of low social economic status have on the intellectual achievement of learners.

Effects of low SES on Achievement

There are cases where poverty acts as a motivator. This happens when parents have encouraged their children or individual children have worked hard to excel in academic work in order to get a good job and escape from poverty. This scenario is very familiar to many educated people. These are people whose efforts have been recognized and they have received support from well-wishers and bursary awarding bodies. There are many children who are not this lucky and who seem bound in completely difficult situations where they are unable to rise above average performance or even mediocre ability even when they have above average intelligence. This picture is occasioned by many factors that exist and which help to maintain the cycle of poverty: Limited resources, family stress, interruptions in scholarship and discrimination. All these factors lead to school failure or even school drop out for both boys and girls. When a girl or boy drops out of school they get poor paying jobs, they tend to marry and get children earlier than their age mates who continue with their education. This leads to another generation born in poverty. Children raised in low SES are exposed to hostile psycho-sociological environments.

  • They may wear old and torn clothes.
  • They experience problems in verbal and non-verbal skills-speaking ungrammatically.
  • They are less familiar with books and school activities. They experience problems in verbal and non-verbal skills, speaking ungrammatically.
  • They experience difficulties with reading and comprehension, mathematics and general information.
  • Consequently, teachers and other children may assume that these children are not bright.
  • They believe that these children are not good in schoolwork and show a negative attitude towards them.
  • The low SES children may respond;
  • By being more inhibited and withdrawn leading to repeated failure.
  • Repeated failure leads to learned helplessness where the pupil comes to believe that doing well in school is hopeless. The child has experience of many of his friends and relatives who never finished school anyway. So it is normal to quit school as well. As we noted earlier if he does not finish school.
  • He finds a less rewarding job where he barely ekes a living and continues to live below the poverty line.
  • This kind of person tends to get more children than his income can support. These children also drop out school early and the poverty cycle continues.
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