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A study of sources of competency, their value, and their influence on self-worth in children in grades 4 and 7

Memorial University of Newfoundland
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This research study investigates the relationship between domain competency, importance and self-worth in pre-adolescent and adolescent children. The sample consisted of 127 grade 4 students and 144 grade 7 students in 4 schools on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. A questionnaire was developed to measure perceptions of competency, importance of competency and self-worth. This questionnaire was administered to male and female students of all ability levels. -- Data analysis consisted of several phases. In the first phase, a series of factor analyses were conducted to establish the consistency and coherency of each of the scales of the questionnaire. In phase two, analysis of variance procedures were used to examine how competency and importance influence self-worth. Finally, cluster analyses of the competency and importance scales were conducted to determine how competency and importance interact to influence self-worth. At each phase only the second order factors (Social and Academics) were considered in order to allow for ease of interpretation of data. -- Results of this study indicated that there is a decline in perceptions of academic competency as children approach adolescence. Grade 4 students perceived themselves as being more competent academically and placed more importance on academic competency than their grade 7 counterparts. Students at both grade levels perceived themselves as being equally competent in the Social domain and placed equal importance on social competency. In grade 4 a relationship was suggested between academic and social competency and global self-worth. Grade 7 results indicated a relationship between social competency and global self-worth. At both grade levels a relationship was suggested between importance of academic competency and global self-worth. There was no indication of gender differences in perceptions of competency in the Social domain. However, in the Academic domain females at each grade level perceived themselves as being more competent than their male counterparts. There was evidence, particularly in grade 7, that devaluing and/or compensatory strategies were probably being used by some students as a means of sustaining global self-worth. -- Further investigation into the decline in perceptions of academic competency as children approach adolescence is recommended. This investigation should examine the role of the school environment (if any) in this decline. -- This study provides evidence to support the use of cluster analysis methodology. This method of analysis uncovered patterns of interaction between competency and importance and their effects on self-worth which was not possible through factor and correlations analyses. The combination of methodologies resulted in a more effective and thorough study of the sample.

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