Coursework selection: A frame of reference approach using structural equation modelling

Dickhäuser, Oliver ; Reuter, Martin ; Hilling, Christine

British Journal of Educational Psychology/Coursework selection (2005).pdf - Accepted

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-425812
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2010
The title of a journal, publication series: British Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume: 75
Issue number: 4
Page range: 673-688
Place of publication: Oxford [u.a.]
Publishing house: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0007-0998 , 2044-8279
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Pädagogische Psychologie (Dickhäuser 2008-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Keywords (English): academic-achievement , academic-self-concept , choice-behaviour , dimensional-comparison
Abstract: Background. Choice behaviour has far-reaching consequences on students’ educational careers. Previous models on course selection -- like the model of achievement-related choices (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000) and self-efficacy-theory (Bandura, 1997) -- stress the importance of ability-perceptions (self-concept of ability) as a major determinant of choice. Aim. The article suggests a model of course selection, which assumes, that comparisons within an internal frame of reference (which were proposed by Marsh, 1986, for the association between achievement and self-concepts) also can be applied on the association between self-concepts and course selection. Therefore it is hypothesised that course selection is not only positively influenced by the self-concept with respect to the corresponding subject but also negatively by the self-concept with respect to alternative subjects. Moreover it should be tested, if the effects of previous achievement on course selection are completely mediated by the self-concepts. Sample. The assumptions were empirically tested using a sample of 296 students from secondary school classes who could specialize for example in Chemistry or Biology in the next term. Method. Self-concepts and course selection were assessed via questionnaire. The postulated models were tested using a structural equation modelling approach for ordinal variables. Results. The core assumption, that course selection is determined by dimensional comparisons was supported by significant negative paths from self-concepts on the selection of non-corresponding subjects. Moreover, the effects of previous achievement on selection were completely mediated by self-concepts. Conclusion. Previous models of choice behaviour should be extended, by considering not only the selected alternatives but also the unselected ones. The finding that the influence of achievement on choice is completely mediated by self-concepts demonstrates, that subjective interpretations of previous achievement influence subsequent behaviour.

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