A model of academic self-concept: Perceived difficulty, social comparison, and achievement among academically accelerated secondary school students

Date of Completion

January 2009


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Education, Secondary




This study investigates the relationship of ability, academic achievement, social comparison, perceived level of difficulty, academic self-concept, and future goals in three populations of accelerated high school students. Structural equation modeling was used to model the relationships between each of the variables for each of the groups. It was found that students in Advanced Placement (AP) programs, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, and residential schools on college campuses have different patterns of self-concept according to the present model. For the IB students, academic achievement and perceived level of difficulty proved to be full mediators for the relationship between ability and student self-concept. For all three populations of students, perceived difficulty and achievement were larger predictors of academic self-concept than the social comparison variables. This provides evidence that the curriculum provided to academically talented students is an important component of how they develop their perceptions of themselves as students and learners. This has important implications for educators, because the study also found a strong relationship between a student's academic self-concept and his or her future educational aspirations. ^