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Academic underachievement occurs when a persons actual academic achievement is significantly lower than their predicted achievement levels developed on the basis of scholastic aptitude and intelligence tests.

An underachiever is a person and especially a student who fails to achieve his or her potential or does not do as well as expected. Studies of individuals who have not realised their apparent potential have identified learning disabilities, ADHD, and many other educational problems, and enabled methods of addressing these problems. Current theories among academic scholars prefer to address underperformance problems with remedial help.

Academic under-achievement can also be attributed to relatively intelligent or gifted students, who do not perform as expected either because they are bored or choose not to excel. For example, the academically successful daughter of two college professors who drops out of university may be looked upon as an underachiever.

Individual causes[edit | edit source]

Social and cultural causes[edit | edit source]

Male academic underachievement in the Caribbean ==[edit | edit source]

Mark Figueroa wrote that the “decline of male, relative to female, academic performance in the Caribbean… has captured the attention of professionals.”[1] At the common entrance examination, the first level of testing, Jamaican females achieve a higher number of places than males. This includes discriminatory practices employed in some Caribbean territories, which favor male students to redress the balance.[2] The imbalance in academic performance continues at the University level. By the end of 1992, seventy percent of graduates from the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies were female, and Odette Parry’s sample of Jamaican schools revealed that there is less than one male teacher for every four female ones.[3][2]

Although the theory of male marginalization, introduced by Miller, is popularly held, it has been suggested that male “Academic Underperformance” is rooted in male privileging and gender socialization.[1] At home boys are “expected to misbehave while girls are expected to conform to a rigid code. If a boy misbehaves it is essentially expected, but if a girl does so it is a serious matter.”[1] Research has also indicated that male academic under-performance is misleading and that it is actually a matter of differential gender performance. Within Caribbean academia traditional patterns of study exist. Boys have identified English and reading as “too girlish” for males,[2] and Parry’s study indicated that even female teachers perceived English and grammar as being women’s subjects.[2] Female dominance can be explained in certificate programs because “their male counterparts do not need further qualifications to get ahead.”[1]

Jamaica’s recent statistics on education have indicated that females now outperform males at all levels and in a wide range of disciplines, including some formerly dominated by males.[1] Women have been the majority among Jamaican students since 1974-75 across all three campuses of UWI. In 1974 women made up nearly 80% of students in the arts and education disciplines but less than 40% of students in law, medicine, and natural sciences.[1]

Research has also indicated an anti-academic male sex/gender identity. Parry wrote that “according to teachers, males are sexually rejected by their female peers”.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

References & Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Figueroa, Mark. (2004). "Male Privileging and Male "Academic Underperformance" in Jamaica". In Rhonda Reddock (Ed.), Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses, pp.137-166. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Parry, Odette. (2004). "Masculinities, Myths and Educational Underachievement: Jamaica, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines". In Rhonda Reddock (Ed.), Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses, pp.167-184. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press
  3. Barrow, Christine. (1998). "Caribbean Gender Ideologies: Introduction and Overview". In Christine Barrow (Ed.), Caribbean Portraits: essays on Gender Ideologies and Identities, pp.xi-xxxviii. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers.

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