A meta-analytic path analysis of the internal/ external frame of reference model of academic achievement and academic self-concept

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A meta-analysis of 69 data sets (N = 125,308) was carried out on studies that simultaneously evaluate the effects of math and verbal achievements on math and verbal self-concepts. As predicted by the internal/external frame of reference (I/E) model, math and verbal achievements were highly correlated overall (.67), but the correlation between math and verbal self-concepts (.10) was close to zero. Correlations between math and verbal achievement and correlations between achievements and self-concepts within the domains were more positive when grades instead of standardized test results were used as achievement indicators. A path analysis revealed support for the I/E model, with positive paths from achievement to the corresponding self-concepts (.61 for math, .49 for verbal) and negative paths from achievement in one subject to self-concept in the other subject (−.21 from math achievement on verbal self-concept, −.27 from verbal achievement to math self-concept). Furthermore, results showed that the I/E model is valid for different age groups, gender groups, and countries. The I/E model did not fit the data when self-efficacy measures were used instead of self-concept measures. These results demonstrate the broad scope of the I/E model as an adequate description of students’ self-evaluation processes as they are influenced by internal and external frames of reference.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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