Why fellowship? Peak professional bodies, peer recognition and credentialing in Australia

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Results from prior research indicate that a student’s academic self-concept is negatively influenced by the achievement of others in his or her school (a frame of reference effect) and that this negative frame of reference effect is not or only slightly reduced by the quality, standing, or prestige of the track or school attended (a “reflected glory” effect). Going beyond prior studies, the present research used both between-school and within-school approaches to investigate frame of reference and reflected glory effects in education, incorporating students’ own perceptions of the standing of their school and class. Multilevel analyses were performed with data from 3 large-scale assessments with 4,810, 1,502, and 4,247 students, respectively. Findings from all 3 studies showed that, given comparable individual achievement, placement in high-achieving learning groups was associated with comparatively low academic self-concepts. However, students’ academic self-concept was not merely a reflection of their relative position within the class but also substantively associated with their individual and shared perceptions of the class’s standing. Moreover, the negative effects of being placed in high-achieving learning groups were weaker for high-achieving students. Overall, the studies support both educational and social psychology theorizing on social comparison.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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