How Does Self-Concept Impact Learning?

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Self-concept, or the awareness or understanding of one's self, is a factor that is often considered by teachers and educational experts to play an important role in the education of children. There is some dispute as to the relationship between self-concept and learning, however, so teachers must explore the issue in their own classrooms to come up with the most accurate conclusion.

Understanding Self-Concept

  • Self-concept is the way in which people view and understand themselves. Self-concept should not be confused with self-esteem, which deals with how confident students are in their abilities. Students often develop much of their own self-concept in school because self-concepts are developed as the child grows and develops and students spend a large amount of time during their development in the classroom environment. Thus, many teachers, administrators and educators wonder how self-concept affects how students learn.

Self-Concept and Learning Debate

  • There is a lot of debate among scientists and psychologists about whether or not self-concept actually has an effect on learning. An article from the National Association of School Psychologists states that "self-concept is frequently positively correlated with academic performance, but it appears to be a consequence rather than a cause of high achievement." Students may develop their self-concept more easily after demonstrating high achievement in school, instead of high achievement in school being a result of a student's self-concept.

Academic Self-Concept

  • Academic self-concept is one specific aspect of a student's self-concept. Academic self-concept refers to how the student understand their academic abilities. For example, a student who sees herself as intelligent, an excellent reader and good at mathematics has a positive academic self-concept. A study conducted by Investigacian Psicopedagogica found that "academic self-concept powerfully and positively predicts both general achievement as well as that in language arts and mathematics." Thus, if students has a positive academic self-concept, they will perform better in school and vise versa.

Activities to Improve Self-Concept

  • Teachers can incorporate activities into the learning environment for their students to help students develop their self-concepts. Use activities that fit in with the class you are teaching. For example, if you teach a language arts class, assign students to write one journal entry a week in which they reflect about something that has gone on at school that week. This activity will help students learn to see themselves in a new way. Use the activities to help students determine their academic strengths and weaknesses.

References

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