A number of studies have supported the contention that positive self-concept and academic achievement are closely interwoven (Beck, 1984; Purkey, 1970). Fitts (1972) has suggested that persons with optimal self-concept are apt to use their intellectual resources more efficiently. Educators and those involved in improving academic achievement should, therefore, strive to enhance students' self-concept.
The present study sought to extend these ideas by seeking additional correlates of academic achievement, including extracurricular activities, the family environment, and gender.
The 7th- and 8th-grade students studied included 33 academically gifted students (average percentile on academic tests = 93, SD = 5) and 33 academically weak students (average percentile = 12, SD = 10). Twenty students were black, 5 Hispanic, 1 native American, and 40 white.
Students were administered the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Fitts, 1965). They were also asked whether they lived with their natural parents or stepparents, and to indicate the extracurricular activities in which they participated.
The academically weak students were more often male (79% versus 42%; ||chi~.sup.2~ = 9.14, p |is less than~ .01), black (55% versus 6%; ||chi~.sup.2~ = 18.37, p |is less than~ .01), more often lived with a stepparent (33% versus 3%; ||chi~.sup.2~ = 10.20, p |is less than~ .01), and participated in fewer extracurricular activities (mean = 1.4, SD = 1.2, versus mean = 2.3, SD = 1.3; t = 2.89, p = .005) than did the gifted students. The academically weak students did not differ significantly in self-concept from the gifted students (mean = 321, SD = 30, versus mean = 335, SD = 31, respectively; t = 1.88).
Interestingly, for the academically weak students, self-concept was associated with extracurricular activities (Pearson's r = .29, |rho~ |is less than~ .05), but …