The nature and development of boys' and girls' self-perceptions and value judgements in maths and English through grades 7 to 11: An application of Latent Growth Modelling

Year: 2001

Author: Watt, Helen

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The present study traces boys’ and girls’ developmental trajectories for key constructs within the Expectancy-Value Theoretical framework in relation to secondary school maths and English, using latent growth modelling. These trajectories are contrasted and explanations for gender and age effects suggested where these occur. Participants span grades 7 to 11 in a longitudinal cohort-sequential design comprising 1323 students in 3 cohorts drawn from three upper-middle class coeducational government secondary schools in metropolitan Sydney. The combined sample provides information on students from grades 7 to 11, with replication of grade effects across cohorts. Growth models were estimated for self-perceptions (perceived talent and success expectancies) and values (interest and utility judgements) in relation to maths and English. Declines were evident for all perceptions, with gender differences in each case excepting maths utility judgements, and English self-perceptions. Results are interpreted in terms of understanding how boys and girls differ and develop with respect to each of these key constructs with respect to operation of sex-typed or gender-differentiated socialisation influences. In addition, the critical intervention points for each attitudinal construct are identified from inspection of when changes occur. The contribution of this study lies first in its empirical clarification of constructs employed, and also in its examination of the development of constructs which have been identified as influential in predicting achievement-related choices and behaviours, and contrasting these developmental trajectories for boys and girls from junior through to senior high. A subsidiary contribution lies in the fact that the study sample comprises Australian students, who have been less prevalent in the expectancy-value literature than students from the United States.