A longitudinal study of students' academic self-concept in a streamed setting: the Singapore context.

Research paper by W C WC Liu, C K J CK Wang, E J EJ Parkins

Indexed on: 02 Dec '05Published on: 02 Dec '05Published in: British Journal of Educational Psychology


Although several studies support the existence of a negative stream effect on lower-ability stream students' academic self-concept, there is not enough longitudinal research evidence to preclude the possibility that the stream effect may only be temporary. In addition, not much is known about the effect of streaming on changes in students' academic self-concept over time.The main aims of the study were to examine the effect of streaming on (a) the students' academic self-concept immediately after the streaming process, and at yearly intervals for 3 consecutive years, and (b) the changes in students' academic self-concept over a 3 year period.The sample comprised 495 Secondary 1 students (approximate age 13) from three government coeducational schools in Singapore.A longitudinal survey using a self-reported questionnaire.Results showed that the lower-ability stream students had a more negative academic self-concept than the higher-ability stream students immediately after streaming, but they had a more positive academic self-concept 3 years after being streamed. In addition, it was established that the students' academic self-concept declined from Secondary 1 to Secondary 3. Nonetheless, the decline was more pronounced for the higher-ability stream students than the lower-ability stream students.Streaming may have a short-term negative impact on lower-ability stream students' academic self-concept. However, in the long run, being in the lower-ability stream may not be detrimental to their academic self-concept.