Year of Publication


Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Charles M. Galloway

Second Advisor

Dr. Henry B. Thomas

Third Advisor

Dr. G. Pritchy Smith

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John J. Venn

Department Chair

Dr. John J. Venn

College Dean

Dr. Katherine Kasten


This study focused on the causes of student underachievement in a selected high school in Ghana. The anonymous name chosen for the school was Northside New Era Secondary School. The participants in the study were administrators, teachers, and students. They were selected from the same school where the researcher conducted the study. The school was located in the Northern Region of Ghana. It had proven records of underachievement compared to other schools in the country according to the Ministry of Education's recent statistical report on education. The criterion for measurement was based on the results of the final examination conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for the years 1996 to 2000.

The study employed a qualitative methodology to examine student learning. A list of guiding interview questions were developed and validated prior to the study. Seven categories were identified to be the main contributing factors to student underachievement in the school. The categories fell under two main themes: external and internal factors of underachievement.

The external factors included the lack of government intervention in the provision of educational materials, the socio-economic background of people in the demographic settings, unworkable educational policies, and poor working conditions for teachers and administrators. The internal factors were comprised of the apathy and passivity with which teachers conducted themselves in the school, parents' beliefs and psychological underpinnings of what an ideal school should be, and the school's lack of educational resources. This study found that both external and internal factors contributed significantly to student underachievement in schools.

Participants' knowledge of the implications of the themes, and their understanding of all the educational stakeholders' role in the provision of a sound-learning environment in the school became the bedrock of the study. The researcher challenges all educational authorities everywhere, especially those in the third world countries, to consider student academic achievement as a major priority, necessary for strong nation-building into the 21st century and beyond.