Wouters, S., Germeijs, V., Colpin, H. & Verschueren, K. (2011). Academic self-concept in high school: Predictors and effects on adjustment in higher education. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 52, 586–594.
Academic self-concept is considered a relevant psychological construct influencing many educational outcomes directly or indirectly. Therefore, the major focus of the current study is on the predictors and effects of academic self-concept in late adolescence. First, we studied the simultaneous effects of individual, class-average and school-average achievement (i.e., assessed by school grades) on academic self-concept in the final year of high school, thereby replicating and extending previous research on the big-fish-little-pond effect model. Second, the predictive value of high school academic self-concept for academic adjustment and success in the first year of higher education was examined. The sample comprised 536 twelfth grade students (44% boys) recruited from 24 schools (67 classes) that were representative with regard to geographical region and educational network in Flanders. Structural equation modeling showed that, when examining the joint contribution of school- and class-average achievement, only class-average achievement was significantly and negatively associated with academic self-concept. Furthermore, a significant effect of academic self-concept in high school on academic adjustment and success in higher education (in addition to any effects of high school academic achievement) was found. These results highlight the importance of considering academic self-concept in educational research and policy.