Self-concept during the transition to secondary school: Turmoil or normative adjustment?

Year: 2003

Author: Downs, Jacqueline

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Transition to secondary school embraces substantial changes in the educational environment (in structure, delivery and expectations) and typically coincides with the physiological, psychological, and social changes associated with young adolescence. It therefore provides an opportunity to examine the question of the extent to which adolescent transitions are characterised by turmoil or normative adjustment. From a longitudinal study exploring 74 adolescents' subjective experiences of the transition to secondary and boarding school in North Queensland, this paper reports high levels of stability in self-concept across the school year, as measured by the SDQ-II (Marsh, 1990). Girls' Total Self-Concept and scores on Math, Verbal Ability, Honesty and Trustworthiness scales improved. However, related levels of depression and homesickness (examined as a distinct phenomenon) raise questions about the influence of such factors and the protective function of positive self-concept in perceived adjustment to the transition.