09 SES 02 A, Findings from International Comparative Achievement Studies: Frame-of-Reference and School Composition Effects
Parallel Paper Session
Our paper is concerned with a problem of interaction between students’ self-concept and educational achievement, and with conditional effect of school and class on these characteristics. The question is whether student’s self-confidence in learning is affected by the self-assessment both of her/his range in class and of the school’s range among other schools.
As general theoretical background we take environmental theory of development by Urie Bronfenbrenner. As more specific theoretical context for our research we take H.Marsh’s academic self-concept theory. For this study we take international data of TIMSS-2007 data for the 8th grade. We have chosen 8th grade data as we believe middle-school students to be more reflexive in assessing themselves and their environment. Among the TIMSS data we select math as key variable for three reasons. First, math is known to be good variable correlated with social background factors and simultaneously to predict further educational success. Second, we believe students’ ability to solve problems to be more evident to their peers in math rather than in other academic domains like biology or chemistry – math is known to be like sports in this respect. And third, science achievement was measured differently in some countries (e.g. in Russia there were separate questions on physics, biology, chemistry, earth), which makes comparative research more complicated.
In order to assess the relative position of a student in the class ranking on math achievement we use the difference between average math score and individual score. We make an assumption that relative self-concept would be related to the relative position in math test scores, though precise results of the test are not known to students. We tested this assumption on our own survey data of 9th-graders from 15 rural schools comparing independent math test scores (rather similar to TIMSS) with various grades and scores obtained by students at school. The math grades and the math independent test scores are highly correlated.
Herbert W. Marsh et.al. (2000) Longitudinal Multilevel Models of the Big Fish Little Pond Effect on Academic Self-concept: Counterbalancing Contrast and Reflected Glory Effects in Hong Kong Schools. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78:2, 337-49. Herbert W. Marsh, Rhonda G. Craven. The pivotal role of frames of reference in academic self-concept formation: the “big fish – little pond” effect. In: F. Pajares & T, Urdan (eds.) Academic motivation of adolescents. United States: Information Age Publishing: 2004, 83-125. Urie Bronfenbrenner. The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design. Harvard University Press, 1979, pp. 330. Hanna Eklöf (2007): Self-Concept and Valuing of Mathematics in TIMSS 2003: Scale structure and relation to performance in a Swedish setting, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 51:3, 297-313. Herman G. Van de Werfhorst, Jonathan J.B. Mijs (2010) Achievement Inequality and the Institutional Structure of Educational Systems: A Comparative Perspective. Annual Review of Sociology, 36:407–28 Fabian T. Pfeffer (2008). Persistent Inequality in Educational Attainment and its Institutional Context. European Sociological Review, 24(5): 543-565.
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