Reading acquisition and self-concept
Abstract: The main purpose of the present dissertation was to dismember and reconstruct some aspects of the complex relationship between literacy development and self-concept. Two main principles were included in the general design of the longitudinal investigation. The first principle involved an increasing level of specificity in three steps where the starting point was an overall picture of 700 pupils' reading acquisition and self-concept. The second step was a more detailed analysis with the focus upon 80 pupils. The third step finally entailed intense case-oriented analyses of a few students. The second principle required both a description of the situation for pupils in general and a mapping of pupils with learning disabilities. A multiple-method strategy as a set of converging operations was used to capture the underlying structures in the large bulk of data from 9 years.The results indicated a weak but significant relationship between reading acquistion and self-concept with classroom achievement standard as a moderating factor. LISREL-analyses supported those hypotheses suggesting a reciprocal causality between self-concept and reading acquisition. The influence from performance to the self-concept of ability was shown to be much stronger than the influence from the self-concept of ability to performance. Furthermore, the best fitting models indicated that the influence from self-concept of ability is probably stronger on reading comprehension than on reading and spelling in general. The hypothesis of strategic behavior as a mediating factor between selt-concept and later reading and spelling performance was partially confirmed.Comparisons between two groups of pupils with approximately the same cognitive level, one with underachievement in reading and/or spelling and the other group without such problems, revealed that the former group had significant lower self-concept in grades 1-6. As a group these underachievers did not catch up in reading and spelling during the whole school-period. Attention and strategic behavior seemed to be critical factors distinguishing learning disabled pupils from normal achieving ones and unsuccessful underachievers from successfuI " underachievers ".In comparison with normal achieving pupils and with pupils who managed to overcome their early reading problems, pupils with persisting problems were shown to have a lower self-concept and more negative memories from school. At the end of the school-period, they had lower aspirations and expectations for the future and were less inclined to consider school subjects as important and also less inclined to use their reading ability to read books. Thus, self-concept, reading acquisition, aspiration and strategic behavior are connected, and this dissertation is an attempt to reveal the pattern of these relations.
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