Self-concept and academic motivation of Chinese students in Hong Kong

Year: 2005

Author: Hau, Kit-Tai, Marsh, Herb, Seaton, Marjorie, Ho, Irene, Li, Xiaoxu

Type of paper: Refereed paper

We examined the frame-of-reference effects of potentially important self-constructs (e.g., self-concepts, values, goals) among Grade 7 Hong Kong Chinese students (N=1950). Specifically, the study analysed how the immediate context of schoolmates’ ability affected students’ perceptions of their own ability. It was postulated that students formulated their self-concept by comparing their own performance (e.g., math achievement) with that of other students (i.e., the external frame) as well as their own performance in other academic areas (e.g., language; the internal frame). This would have negative effects on the self-concept of students studying in schools with high average student ability (big-fish-little-pond effects, BFLPE). In this study, we explored how other individual difference attributes moderate the frame-of-reference effects on self-concept. Results showed that in general stronger mastery goal, persistence strategies, and utility (value) helped to reduce the negative BFLPE, while stronger avoidance goal, and ability attribution (for Mathematics) further increased this negative BFLPE.