Academic self-handicapping: The role of self-concept clarity and students' learning strategies

Authors

  • Cathy R. Thomas,

    1. Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada
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  • Shannon A. Gadbois

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Brandon University, Canada
      Correspondence should be addressed to Shannon Gadbois, Department of Psychology, Brandon University, 270–18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada (e-mail: gadbois@brandonu.ca).
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Correspondence should be addressed to Shannon Gadbois, Department of Psychology, Brandon University, 270–18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada (e-mail: gadbois@brandonu.ca).

Abstract

Background. Self-handicapping is linked to students' personal motivations, classroom goal structure, academic outcomes, global self-esteem and certainty of self-esteem. Academic self-handicapping has yet to be studied with respect to students' consistency in self-description and their description of themselves as learners.

Aims. This study examined students' self-esteem and self-concept clarity as well as their tendencies to employ deep- or surface-learning approaches and self-regulate while learning in relation to their self-handicapping tendencies and exam performance.

Sample. Participants were 161 male and female Canadian, first-year university students.

Method. Participants completed a series of questionnaires that measured their self-esteem, self-concept clarity, approaches to learning, self-regulation and reflections on performance prior to and following their exam.

Results. Self-handicapping was negatively correlated with self-concept clarity, deep learning, self-regulated learning and exam grades, and positively correlated with surface learning and test anxiety. Regression analyses showed that self-concept clarity, self-regulation, surface-learning and test anxiety scores predicted self-handicapping scores. Self-concept clarity, test anxiety scores, academic self-efficacy and self-regulation were predictors of mid-term exam grades.

Conclusions. This study showed that students' self-concept clarity and learning strategies are related to their tendencies to self-handicap and their exam performance. The role of students' ways of learning and their self-concept clarity in self-handicapping and academic performance was explored.

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