Author: Walker, Emma, Hay, Ian, Reynolds, Bronwyn
Type of paper: Refereed paper
This study investigated the interactions between self-concept, behaviour, and gender for young children in recognition that these relationships are still poorly understood within the early childhood and self-concept research frameworks. The research questions investigated were: (1) What are the inter-relationships between self-concept and behaviour for Year one children? (2) Are there any gender differences in these domains for Year 1 children? The participants were 21 Year (Grade) one children and their teachers, located in a Tasmanian regional town. After ethical approval was obtained, the children were first, individually administered the Self-Description Questionnaire for Preschoolers (Marsh et al., 2002) by an experienced administrator to ascertain the children's self- concept profile. Second, the regular classroom teachers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goodman, 1997) on each child, to rate the children's multidimensional in-class behaviour. Along with this the children's in-class behaviour was systematically monitored by an observer over a two week period to validate the teachers' ratings of the children's behaviour. This research identified a low correlation between Year 1 children's self-concept and their teachers' rating of their behaviour (r =.03), with the children with higher self-concepts being more outgoing. Girls were rated by their teachers as having more peer and social problems than the boys with the boys reporting higher physical ability self-concept. Because these results are different from that typically demonstrated with older children the results are discussed from a developmental and a socialisation perspective. The results suggest a change in traditional gender socialisation given the similarity of the boys and girls on these two instruments. One implications of this research is that teachers need to accommodate greater gender role diversity within their school program.