JOURNAL ARTICLE

Academic self-concept, learning motivation, and test anxiety of the underestimated student

Detlef Urhahne, Sheng-Han Chao, Maria Luise Florineth, Silke Luttenberger, Manuela Paechter
British Journal of Educational Psychology 2011, 81 (Pt 1): 161-77
21391968
BACKGROUND. Teachers' judgments of student performance on a standardized achievement test often result in an overestimation of students' abilities. In the majority of cases, a larger group of overestimated students and a smaller group of underestimated students are formed by these judgments. AIMS. In this research study, the consequences of the underestimation of students' mathematical performance potential were examined. SAMPLE. Two hundred and thirty-five fourth grade students and their fourteen mathematics teachers took part in the investigation. METHOD. Students worked on a standardized mathematics achievement test and completed a self-description questionnaire about motivation and affect. Teachers estimated each individual student's potential with regard to mathematics test performance as well as students' expectancy for success, level of aspiration, academic self-concept, learning motivation, and test anxiety. The differences between teachers' judgments on students' test performance and students' actual performance were used to build groups of underestimated and overestimated students. RESULTS. Underestimated students displayed equal levels of test performance, learning motivation, and level of aspiration in comparison with overestimated students, but had lower expectancy for success, lower academic self-concept, and experienced more test anxiety. Teachers expected that underestimated students would receive lower grades on the next mathematics test, believed that students were satisfied with lower grades, and assumed that the students have weaker learning motivation than their overestimated classmates. CONCLUSION. Teachers' judgment error was not confined to test performance but generalized to motivational and affective traits of the students.

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