International Journal of Education and Psychological Research

(Print and Online Peer Reviewed Journal)

Print - ISSN: 2349 - 0853
e - ISSN: 2279 - 0179


(June 2017)

Effects of ability grouping and self-perceived performance on secondary school students’ self-concept: An investigation of the big-fish-little-pond theory in Hong Kong

Authors: Christopher H. K. Cheng, PhD

Pages: 78-83


The present study attempts to investigate the effects of academic achievement and ability grouping on students’self-concept. While ability grouping is a common and convenient practice to group students into classes or schools on the basis of their academic performance, its effect on the students’performance and self-esteem has been highlights of concerns. A total of 359 Secondary 3 to 4 (grade 9 to 10) students were sampled from three schools ranging from Band 1 to Band 3. Participants completed a global measure of self-esteem (General Self) and the academic and social self-concept subscales (Intellectual Self and Social Self) of the Chinese Adolescent Self-Esteem Scales (CASES) and made self-ratings on their academic achievement; information of their ability grouping in terms of schools (Bands) and of classes (Streams) was collected and analyzed. Results showed that self-perceived academic achievement had the strongest and positive effect on self-concept, while stream and band would have less though significant effects. The social self-concept was found to have a curvilinear relationship with the stream of class. Furthermore, the moderating effects of band and stream were found in academic self-concept but not on other self-concept facets or global self-esteem, and were more apparent among average and low performers but not quite on high performers. Findings and implications were discussed in the light of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect theory.