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Self-Concept, Social Comparison, and Ability Grouping: A Reply to Kulik and Kulik

Herbert W. Marsh
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 21, No. 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 799-806
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1163002
Page Count: 8
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Self-Concept, Social Comparison, and Ability Grouping: A Reply to Kulik and Kulik
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Abstract

Self-concept, like other psychological impressions, is relativistic and depends on some frame of reference. In educational settings, for example, the other students in the same classroom serve as one basis of comparison. According to the frame of reference model, academic self-concept will depend on a student's own academic ability and the ability levels of other students within the same class. Thus academic self-concept is expected to vary with the average ability level in a classroom. However, Kulik and Kulik (1982), on the basis of their meta-analysis, found that the average student self-concept in classes where students were grouped according to ability level did not differ from those in comparable ungrouped classes. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that ability grouping is likely to have substantial effects on self-concepts within different ability groupings, even though these effects may be lost when data are averaged across ability groupings. This contention is consistent with predictions from the frame of reference model of self-concept and data that support the model.

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