(1) What is the self concept

(2) The characteristics of the self concept

(3) The importance of the self concept

(4) How the self concept is changed

Shavelson (et al, 1976) assumed that the schooling or counseling would affect the self concept which acted as a mediating variable to initiate motivation for academic achievement. Saxena (1979) reported that the educational institution was also an important factor in the development of identity and self-evaluation. Pugh (1976) proposed a more detailed relationship as shown in Figure 2 below.


In this model, teacher and parent are the two factors giving attribution to the academic achievement. Sarbin (1952) stated that the four human factors related to the development of personality as the parent, teacher, peers and the child himself. Jones & Grieneeks (1970) reported that the self-perception was the most accurate predictor of academic achievement. Lenh (et al, 1980) even reported that the readin gtest was a better predictor of achievement than self concept. But Gose (et al, 1980) recommended that the content-area-specific self concept measures were good predictors of achievement. Matthews and Chan (1980) concluded in their studies that the motivations in subjects were not correlated, so that, the self concept of one subject could not be an effective predictor of another subject achievement. Therefore, the self concept was the index of the overall achievement, but not the index of the achievement in a specific subject.

Billy (et al, 1972) proposed a model illustrating how the behavior of significant others affected the behavior of an individual. It is shown in Figure 3 below.


In relation with this model is the report of Brochner & Eckenrode (1979). They reported that the higher self monitoring individual would guide their own behavior on the basis of situational cues. Steenbarger & Aderman (1979) concluded in their study that self-focused attention only generated aversive reactions when it brought to an estimated unchangeable negative real-ideal discrepancy. Hull & Levy (1979) objected to the definition of self-awareness in terms of self-focused attention, self-evaluation and motivated affect reduction. They proposed that the self-awareness phenomenon was a function of a particular form of informational encoding rather than the attentional activation of a self-evaluative process. Therefore, the self-awareness was not so much closely related to the negative self concept.

Sharan (1978) reported a high discordance (ideal self, perceived self discrepancy) was accompanied by a lower self-satisfaction. Harigopal (1979) reported that the extreme discordance would have a lower emotional stability, superego strength and adjustment, but a higher anxiety and neuroticism. Kureshi & Husain (1979) reported the same relationship. The above reports can be interpreted as that a high self-parent expectation disparity would cause a higher level of anxiety. Monte (et al, 1978) reported that on a higher socio-economic class background, high achievement students had higher self concept. They received a higher effect of adult expectancy and showed a better performance also. If they had a low academic achievement (implying a high real-ideal self disparity), their self concept would be lowered. Shoemaker (1980) confirmed the same relationship. Tanwar (1979) established the relationship among the low school reputation, low socio-economic class and the higher rate of intense inferiority complex. Bingham (1980) stated that the individual with specific learning disabilities had loer self-esteem scores. Scheier (et al, 1979) reported that person high in private self consciousness were less affected by the expectancy of parent.

In the light of these researches we may try to construct a framwork for the relationship between the self concept and achievement. If the parent expectancy is high and the student can reach the target, their self concept will be high. The parent's expectancy will not cause any side effect to the student, and the student will settle the problems by himself, and taking other factors as situational. If the student cannot reach the target, then, there will be a great real-ideal self disparity and cause anxiety. This may become a good drive. But if the student feels that it cannot be changed, he will quit. If the parent expectancy is low, there will be no real-ideal self discrepancy. The student is not motivated to achieve. Therefore, how to develop a higher self concept will be an important topic in education.

Takahasi (1977) reported a change in self concept in smokers by causing a high discrepancy between ideal self and the real self. Amundson (1975) stated the success in inducing a positive shift of self concept by the manipulation of a treatment programme of transactional analysis. Some other reports stated that the change in self concept was temporary after the application of the Gestalt therapy (Nichols & Fine, 1980), planning workshop (Franklin-Panek, 1978), social skill training (Spence & Spence, 1980), or self-confrontation (Jonassen, 1979). Fadiman (1979) reported the reframing of client's self-description thoughts, ideas and statements induced positive change in self concept, academic performance and physical skills.

In Hong Kong we do not have the above stated facilities to enhance students' self concept. But at least, we have to find out, and to remove the factors which obstruct the development of students self concept.

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