Predictors of Global Self-Worth and Academic Performance among Regular Education, Learning Disabled, and Continuation High School Students

Article excerpt

The present trends associated with K-12 students' academic performance have led to intensified efforts to identify the factors associated with student achievement and their causal relationships. A major focus of such work has been the role of motivational orientation (i.e., intrinsic versus extrinsic) in academic performance. Empirical data have shown that motivational orientation is determined by multiple factors. For example, numerous studies have found that perceived competence, locus of control, and autonomy significantly influence motivational orientation, which, in turn, influences academic achievement (see Anderman & Maehr, 1994, and Ryan & Powelson, 1991, for reviews). Further, external factors, such as parental involvement and teacher warmth and support, are also tied to students' motivation and performance (see Ryan & Powelson, 1991, for a review of the literature).

Recently, motivation has been examined from the organismic viewpoint, which assumes that persons actively regulate their own behavior. Behavior is not simply a response to a stimulus; nor is it a fluid system of homeostasis. Rather, it depends on such factors as competence and autonomy. White (1959), Harter (1981), and Deci and Ryan (1985) have stipulated that while physiological drives play a role, the bulk of behavior initiation rests upon the need to feel effective and master the environment. Specifically, Deci and Ryan (1985) hypothesized that intrinsic motivation is primarily influenced by perceived control over choice of task and the competence one feels to accomplish it. In addition, the individual requires a supportive milieu (e.g., parents who foster autonomy), with a minimum of external control, in order to fully develop the potential for internal initiation of behavior. Without intrinsic motivation, a person is dependent on external validation for decision making, lacks creativity, achieves less, and has lower self-concept.

The purpose of the present study was to examine the efficacy of motivationally related variables as predictors of academic performance and global self-worth. Specifically, regular education, learning disabled, and continuation high school students' self-regulation, academic coping, and perceived control, competence, and autonomy support from teachers, parents, and peers were investigated.

SELF-WORTH AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

Regular Education Students

A considerable amount of empirical research has been devoted to the variables associated with academic achievement among regular education students. A major focus has been the relationship between intrapersonal variables and academic performance. For example, Gottfried (1985) found that students' overall motivational orientation was significantly associated with school achievement and self-perceptions. In particular, students who exhibited higher intrinsic motivation had significantly higher school achievement, more favorable perceptions of their academic competence, lower academic anxiety, lower extrinsic classroom orientation, and were rated by their teachers as being generally more intrinsically motivated. Further, both Harter (1981) and Stipek (1988) reported that perceived competence was associated with academic performance. Specifically, children with high perceived competence earned better grades than did those who had less positive views of themselves.

Likewise, a number of studies have found that perceived control is related to school performance. For example, Connell (1985) and Skinner, Wellborn, and Connell (1990) found that children's perceived control was associated with school grades. Further, Deci and Ryan (1985) found that autonomy-oriented individuals experienced a great deal of freedom in the initiation and regulation of behavior. They organized action in terms of personal goals as opposed to restraints, and exhibited intrinsic motivation. Control-oriented individuals, on the other hand, were externally motivated and felt controlled by deadlines, pressure, or a feeling of "should. …