Perceptions versus performance during the transition from primary to secondary school: Effect of gender, school type and contribution from significant others

Year: 1994

Author: Trent, Lynette M.Y., Russell, Graeme, Cooney, George

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Early adolescence has been identified as a time when children are cognitively appraising their competence. The outcome of such an appraisal appears to strongly influence the child's overall feelings of worth as a person. Children's self-definition is based on how they see themselves as well as their perceived appraisal from significant others. Previous research has shown that gender differences in self- concept of ability are quite prevalent in early adolescence. This appears to be reinforced by parental beliefs, education in general (a major contributing factor is attendance at either single-sex or coeducational schools) and treatment by and the beliefs of teachers.

Although previous research data have found a relationship between positive attitudes towards mathematics and better performance on mathematics tests, researchers have expressed doubt concerning whether positive attitudes determine performance or vice versa. The present study investigates the relationship between children's perceived abilities and standardised achievement test scores in the mathematics and English domains. It also examines changes in perceptions of abilities and test scores during the transition, and whether differences resulting from gender and school type are evident. The study also investigates the influences of parents, teachers, classmates and close friends on children's perceptions of their mathematical and English abilities during the transition from primary to high school.

Results from this longitudinal research project and their implications for the development of self-esteem will be outlined as well as recommendations for appropriate interventions and directions for future research.