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STUDY: Self-concept, Hope and Achievement

 Self-concept, Hope and Achievement:A look at the relationship between the individual self-concept, level of hope, and academic achievement
Teresa L. Hunt
Missouri Western State College
May 1, 1997

This study provides a supportive and expounding structure to The Mind Accelerator.

 

ABSTRACT

 

A review of the available literature reveals a link between factors of an individual's self-concept, their level of hope and achievement. The Generalized Expectancy for Success Scale (Fibel & Hale, 1978) represents a reliable measure of generalized expectancy that is defined as the expectancy held by an individual that he/she will be able to achieve desired goals. This scale is a useful tool for the study of aspects in the development of and influences on an individual's expectancy, and the impact of a generalized expectancy for success on goal-oriented behaviors. Degrees of hope can have an impact on an individual's confidence in his or her ability to perform a behavior that will lead to a goal. These levels can be measured using the Hope Scale (Snyder, et al.). This study uses these two scales in conjunction with a measure of achievement among first and second year college students (GPA). Although this particular study does not indicate a significant correlation among the variables; possible improvements could be to increase the sample size, include some upper level classes, and to distribute the survey at a community or vocational college as well.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Do the factors that contribute to the development of an individual's self-concept have an impact on their level of hope and future success? A review of the available literature reveals a link between several aspects. In a study of generalized expectancy (Fibel & Hale, 1978) a scale was developed that allowed researchers to control for individual differences in expectancies for success. The Generalized Expectancy for Success Scale represents a reliable measure of generalized expectancy that is defined as the expectancy held by an individual that he/she will be able to achieve desired goals. This scale is a useful tool for the study of aspects in the development of and influences on an individual's expectancy, and the impact of a generalized expectancy for success on goal-oriented behaviors.

With the onset of adolescence there is an increase of elements that affect the shaping of goals and goal-oriented behaviors (Jarvinen & Nicholls, 1996). It is at this time that an individual begins to spend less amounts of time with their family and more time with their peers. The satisfaction with these peer relationships is important to the development of a good self-concept. Adolescents are more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem and academic achievement if they are accepted by their peers. Those who are less accepted tend to be at greater risk for problems in later social and psychological functioning (Parker & Asher, 1987). Academic performance and educational aspirations have also been shown to have an affect on self-concept (Richman, Clark, & Brown, 1985).

Difficulties during adolescence can result in adolescent depression, however it is known that the majority of teens are able to get through this period of development with a positive sense of personal identity (Powers, Hauser, & Kilner, 1989). It is a phase of life characterized by change in every aspect of individual development, from social to biological. Negative reactions to the normal onset of puberty can have a serious effect on the perceived body image and self-esteem of a young adolescent. Adolescents who report having anxiety and depression along with other symptoms like feeling sad, lonely and worthless are considered to have what is known as depressive syndrome (Peterson, et al., 1993). For a large number of the teens who experience depressive symptoms, the feeling may just be a temporary response to the changes they are experiencing. Recent literature has emphasized the need for parents, teachers and counselors to pay close attention to these symptoms, so that help can be offered in the early stages, which can lessen the chances of more serious problems in the future (Taylor, Miller, & Moltz, 1991). Although there may be existing counseling services available, many students are not made aware of them or simply do not ask for help (Culp, Clyman, & Culp, 1995).

One of the core characteristics of depression is a sense of hopelessness (Beck, Weissman, Lester, & Trexler, 1974). Snyder, et al. defines hope as a cognitive set that is composed of agency (goal-directed determination) , and pathways (planning of ways to meet goals). These components add up to the capacity for subjective evaluation of goal-related capabilities. There are individual differences of cognitive and emotional dispositions involving degrees of hope that can be measured using the Hope Scale. The components of this hope model are similar in comparison to the motivational theory of efficacy and outcome expectancies (Bandura, 1977, 1982); where efficacy refers to an individualÕs confidence in his or her ability to perform a behavior that will lead to a desired outcome (agency), and outcome refers to the belief that a certain behavior will produce a certain outcome (pathways). Higher levels of hope lead to greater perceptions of agency and pathways as people consider their goals. When compared with the specific area of college academic achievement, the results suggest that success in achievement appears to be related to higher hope (Snyder, et al.).

 

The goal of this study is to determine the relationship between self-concept developed in adolescence, level of hope and self-satisfaction with academic achievement among college students. There is an additional interest in the effects of adolescent depression and low self-esteem on goal direction and motivation in college; with hope that the findings may generate interest in the development of more programs for adolescents aimed at minimizing the stress involved with the factors that shape the individual self-concept.

 

Subjects

 

The participants consisted of 69 students from introductory psychology classes, 20 males and 49 females.

 

Materials

 

The Generalized Expectancy for Success Scale (GESS) (Fibel & Hale, 1978) was used, in conjunction with the Hope Scale (Snyder, et al., 1991), as measures of individual self-concept and level of hope. Also included was the demographic information of age and sex, along with grade point average, as a measure of achievement.

 

Procedure

 

Participants were asked to read the instructions and complete the survey. This was conducted by myself, with the cooperation of the instructors. All information was kept confidential.

 

RESULTS

 

I first conducted a Pearson product-moment correlation between the scores of the GESS and the Hope Scale. Results were r (68) = -.377, p < .01, which was a significant negative correlation.
I then conducted a Pearson product-moment correlation between the scores of the GESS and GPA. Results were r (68) = -.103, p > .01, which was not significant.

Finally, I conducted a Pearson product-moment correlation between the scores of the Hope Scale and GPA. Results were r (68) =.127, p > .01, which was also not significant.

 

DISCUSSION

 

The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between factors of self-concept, levels of hope and academic achievement among college students. Research has shown that these elements are often interrelated. The existence of depression can also have an effect on achievement, and may be reflected in the scores of the scales that were used. Although this particular study did not indicate a significant correlation among the variables, future replications may generate different outcomes. One puzzling item was the negative value that resulted from the comparison between the factors of the GESS and the Hope Scale, which was probably due to a mistake in the way in which they were scored. The effectiveness of the study was inherently limited by the population from which the sample was obtained, from introductory classes, which are made up of mostly first or second year college students. Possible improvements could be to increase the sample size, include some upper level classes, and to distribute the survey at a community or vocational college as well. This would produce a greater control for the individual differences in self-concept and grade point average.

 




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