Title: Students’ trajectories in academic self-concept and interest in learning tasks: The impact of schools and its effect on future academic career choice and success
Authors: Van de gaer, Eva
De Fraine, Beatrijs
Van Damme, Jan #
Issue Date: Apr-2009
Host Document: Proceedings of the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Conference: Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) location:San Diego, California date:13-17 April 2009
Abstract: Investigating the development of academic self-concept and interest in learning tasks is important in order to understand not only why certain students show a less favorable development than others, but also how this may impact future academic related career choice and success (Finn, 1993; Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004).
The purpose of the study is threefold. First, we want to investigate whether we can identify different types of developmental trajectories using growth curve mixture modeling (Muthén, 2004). Second, we want to investigate whether certain typical trajectories are related to a distal outcome: success in future academic career choice. We expect that if students become increasingly less interested in learning tasks and if their academic self-concept decreases over time, then their future academic career choices will be less successful. Finally, we want to examine whether different types of trajectories can be predicted by individual and school characteristics. We expect that boys, ethnic minority students, students from a lower socio-economic background, and less intelligent students are more at risk. In addition, we expect that school environments that promote autonomy, a sense of relatedness, and competence may enhance interest in learning tasks and academic self-concept (Eccles, Midgley, & Adler, 1984, Finn & Voelkl, 1993; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Lee & Smith, 1995; Newmann, Wehlage, & Lamborn, 1992; Roeser, Eccles, & Sameroff, 2000; Zimmer-Gembeck, Chipuer, Hanisch, Creed, & McGregor, 2006).

Data are drawn from the ‘LOSO’-project, which is a longitudinal project in Flanders (Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). The academic self-concept and the interest in learning tasks were measured four times during secondary school (Grade 7, 8, 10, and 12). Growth curve mixture multilevel models will be used to estimate different classes of trajectories. The variables at the individual level are gender, intelligence, SES, and ethnicity. At the school-level, we will use school climate (emphasis on discipline, relationship with teachers, orderly atmosphere, decision making), group composition, and the type of the school as possible predictors of the developmental trajectories. The distal outcome will be operationalized as a dummy variable ‘success in higher education (1) or not (0)’.

The results showed two latent classes for academic self-concept as well as for the interest in learning tasks. One class can be characterized by a declining trajectory whereas the other class showed a stable trajectory across secondary school. As expected the students with the declining trajectories in academic self-concept and interest in learning tasks were less likely to succeed in higher education. Further results concerning the effects of student background and school characteristics on the development of academic self-concept and interest in learning tasks will be discussed.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Education and Training
# (joint) last author

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