Why self-concept matters for Teacher Education: Examples from performance, mathematics and reading, and Aboriginal studies research

Year: 2008

Author: Craven, Rhonda, Yeung, Alexander

Type of paper: Refereed paper

There is a revolution sweeping psychology that emphasizes a positive psychology and focuses on how healthy, normal, and exceptional individuals can get the most out of life. Self-concept has been established as one of the most important constructs in of itself in the social sciences and as fundamental to psychological wellbeing. Self-concept is one of the most important constructs in education and as such many educational policies around the world advocate the development of positive self-concepts as an important outcome of schooling. Self-concept has also been demonstrated to be an important mediating factor that facilitates the attainment of other desirable psychological, behavioral, and educational outcomes that underpin human potential. Recently a body of research has demonstrated that specific domains of the multidimensional construct of self-concept positively impact on achievement and also display a causal positive impact on achievement over and beyond prior achievement. As such self-concept theorists advocate that educators seeking to maximise educational outcomes can best enable students' potential by simultaneously enhancing students' self-concept and learning. The purpose of this paper is to provide teacher educators with an overview of recent advances in self-concept theory and research in order to inform their work with student teachers, children, and schools. Firstly, a brief rationale for the centrality of the self-concept construct for teacher education is presented in order to demonstrate that enhancing self-concept is a highly desirable goal and a vital key to wellbeing. Secondly, recent theoretical advances in conceiving self-concept as a multidimensional hierarchical construct are summarized. Thirdly, findings from meta-analyses and key recent research studies are presented to identify important directions in research and practice and to demonstrate the pervasive significance and salience of the self-concept construct for teacher education. Finally, based on a synthesis of the findings from this article the implications of this body of research for theory, research, and practice are discussed.