Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Influence of Family Attributes on College Students' Academic Self-Concept

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Influence of Family Attributes on College Students' Academic Self-Concept

Article excerpt

A student's perceived academic ability is associated with academic achievement (Cokley, 2000; Song & Hattie 1984). In a sample of 230 college students, Choi (2005) found academic self-concept was a significant predictor of academic grades. Kornilova, Kornilov, and Chumakova (2009) found that subjective evaluations of intelligence and academic self-concept accounted for 42% of the variance in a student's grade point average (GPA). The current question is what factors influence academic self-concept? Specifically, what factors affect college students' perceived ability within an academic setting?

The present study was designed to investigate what family attributes, if any, affect college students' academic self-concept. Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory has been used to understand academic behavior (Bandura, 1993; Lent, Brown, & Gore, 1997; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). The theory suggests that an individual's perceived belief about his/her ability to perform a specific task can have an effect on actual performance. Self-efficacy beliefs help determine choice of activities, level of effort, persistence, and quality of work (Lent et al., 1997). Bandura's (1986) theory further posits that people's self-efficacy varies depending on the activity domain. For example, a young adolescent may perceive himself as having strong athletic skills but weak academic skills. Within a specific domain, it is possible that individuals may even hold specific beliefs such as being good at math but questionable beliefs about their academic ability in general. However, studies show that a conviction that one is a good overall student takes precedence over beliefs regarding a particular subject (Lent et al., 1997).

The term self-concept is typically used as a subcomponent of self-efficacy to identify perceived beliefs within a specific domain (Super, 1990). Research suggests self-concept is associated with cognitive development and functioning (Bandura, 1993). Bouffard, Markovits, Vezeau, Boisvert, and Dumas (1998) found that children with higher levels of cognitive development were more accurate in appraising their own self-concept than children with lower levels of cognitive development. In a study comparing birth weight and cognitive functioning in a sample of 14 year-old children, researchers found a reduced self-concept and cognitive functioning in the very low birth weight group when compared to the normal birth weight group (Rickards, Kelly, Doyle, & Callanan, 2001).

Self-concept has an effect on performance in domains such as work environment (Judge, 1998), weight loss (Edell, Edington, Herd, O'Brien, & Witkin, 1987), athletics (Kane, Marks, Zaccaro, & Blair, 1996), and academics (Cokley, 2000; Reynolds, Ramirez, Magrina, & Allen, 1980). Academic self-concept may be defined as incorporating ones feelings, perceptions, and attitudes relative to their academic ability (Lent et al., 1997). When controlling for variables such as school commitment, parental socioeconomic status, gender, and teacher expectations, Daniel (1997) found academic self-concept to be a strong predictor of academic achievement. Reynolds (1988) explored the relationship between academic self-concept and GPA in a sample of 589 undergraduate college students. Results revealed a significant correlation between the students' academic self-concept and GPA. In another study of 235 fourth grade students, researchers found that lower academic self-concept was associated with higher levels of test anxiety (Urhahne, Chao, Florineth, Luttenberger, & Paechter, 2011).

Researchers have explored the influence of various family attributes on a child's academic and social development (Belsky, Rovine, & Taylor, 1984; Kochanska, 1998; Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1997). For the purpose of the present study, family attributes include family communication patterns, parental education attainment, family structure, and parental involvement. …

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