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The influence of self-concept on academic performance

The influence of self-concept on academic performance

May 10, 2021

Since Howard Gardner published his theory of multiple intelligences in 1993 and Daniel Goleman published his book "Emotional Intelligence" in 1995, a new paradigm has been opened up in research that seeks to study which factors are those that really relate to the level of academic performance.

Leaving aside the traditional conception of the early twentieth century about the value of CI as the only predictor of intelligence in schoolchildren, let us analyze what science has to say about the link between the nature of self-concept and school results.

Academic performance: what is it and how is it measured?

Academic performance is understood as the result of the response and learning capacity internalized by the student derived from the confluence of various factors , as can be deduced from most constructs in the field of psychology or psychopedagogy.


Internal factors include motivation, the student's aptitudes or self-concept and, among those external to the individual, is the environment, the relationships established between the different contexts and the interpersonal relationships incrusted in each of them. In addition, other aspects such as the quality of the teacher, the educational program, the methodology used in a particular school, etc., can also be decisive in the learning acquired by schoolchildren.

How to define the concept of academic performance?

The definitions provided by the authors of this field are diverse, but There seems to be a consensus in qualifying the performance as a measure of obtaining knowledge and knowledge assimilated by the student , for which it becomes the final objective of education.


For example, the authors García and Palacios grant a double characterization to the concept of academic performance. Thus, from a static view refers to the product or learning outcome obtained by the student, while from the dynamic point of view performance is understood as the process of internalization of such learning. On the other hand, other contributions suggest that performance is a subjective phenomenon subject to external assessment and is ascribed to goals of an ethical and moral nature according to the social system established at a specific historical moment.

Components of academic performance

1. The self-concept

The self-concept can be defined as the set of ideas, thoughts and perceptions that the individual has of himself . Therefore, self-concept should not be confused with the "I" or "the self" in its entirety; it is only a part of this.


Self-concept and self-esteem are not the same

On the other hand, a distinction must also be made between self-concept and self-esteem, since the latter also becomes a component of that. Self-esteem is characterized by its subjective and evaluative connotation of self-concept and is shown by behavioral manifestations consistent with the values ​​and principles of each person.

Otherwise, a more recent meaning, such as that of Papalia and Wendkos, contemplates the link between the individual and society, understanding self-concept as a construct based on the relationships that each subject maintains with their environment and social beings that the latter includes.

Self-concept from a cognitive dimension

On the other hand, Deutsh and Krauss, contribute a meaning of system of cognitive organization to the self-concept, which is in charge of ordering the individual regarding the relationships with their interpersonal and social environment . Finally, Rogers differentiates three aspects of the self: the evaluative (self-esteem), the dynamic (or force that motivates the coherent maintenance of established self-concept) and the organizational (oriented to rank hierarchically or concentrically the multiple descriptions of the elements with which it interacts). the subject and also those corresponding to his individual self).

Thus, it seems to be accepted that there are diverse external factors that can determine the nature of the self-concept of each individual: interpersonal relationships, the biological characteristics of the subject, the parental educational and learning experiences of the early childhood stage, the influence of the social system and cultural, etc.

Factors to develop a good self-concept

The contributions of Clemes and Bean They indicate the following factors as fundamental for the development of self-esteem and self-concept be carried out properly:

  • The connection or the manifest feeling of belonging to the family system in which there are demonstrations of concern for the welfare of the other, affection, interest, understanding and consideration, etc.
  • The singularity related to the feeling of knowing a special, unique and unrepeatable individual.
  • The power referred to the ability to achieve the goals established in a satisfactory and successful way, as well as the understanding of the factors that have intervened in case contario. This will allow learning in the face of future experiences and emotional self-control in adverse and / or unexpected situations.
  • A set of guidelines that establish a stable, safe and coherent framework of behavior, counting on positive models, encouraging in the promotion of the appropriate aspects and that know how to reason the causes that motivate the modifications of said behavioral framework.

Correlation between academic performance and self-concept

The investigations carried out and exposed in the text lead to extract the following conclusions in reference to the relationship between self-concept and academic performance: the correlation between both elements is significantly positive , although three types of relationship between both concepts can be differentiated.

  • The first possibility considers that the performance determines the self-concept, since the assessment made by the closest significant people of the student greatly influence how he perceives himself in his role as a student.
  • Second, it can be understood that it is the self-concept levels that determine academic performance in the sense that the student will choose to maintain qualitatively and quantitatively the type of self-concept adapting its performance to that, for example in relation to the difficulty of tasks and the effort invested in them.
  • Finally, self-concept and academic performance can maintain a bidirectional relationship of mutual influence, as proposed by Marsh, where a modification in some component leads to a change in the whole system to reach a state of equilibrium.

The role of family education

As indicated above, the type of family system and dynamics established on educational guidelines and values ​​transmitted from parents to children and between siblings becomes a fundamental and determining factor in the construction of the child's self-concept. As referring figures, parents must devote most of their efforts to teach appropriate and adaptive values ​​such as responsibility, autonomous capacity in decision making and problem solving, the sense of effort invested, tenacity and work to achieve goals, as a priority.

Secondly, It is very important that parents are more oriented to offer recognition and positive reinforcement before the appropriate actions of behavior carried out by the small ones, to the detriment of focusing on the criticism of those aspects that are more negative or susceptible to improvement; Positive reinforcement has a greater power than punishment or nagative reinforcement in relation to the acquisition of behavioral learning. This second point is determinant in the type of attachment established between parents and children, since the application of this methodology facilitates a more affective bond between both parties.

The third element is the promotion of social relationships with peers (friendships) and other people of the interpersonal environment, as well as the structuring and balance in the use of leisure time so that it is enriching (based on the variety of types of activities) and satisfactory in itself; being understood as an end instead of as a means. In this aspect parents have a limited margin of maneuver since the choice of the peer group should start with the child. Still, it is true that the type of environment in which it interacts and develops is more subject to more conscious choices and preferences, so that parents can take a relative position in selecting a type of context ahead of others.

As a last important factor, knowledge and the establishment of a series of effective study guidelines that facilitate the student's academic performance must be taken into account . Although it seems more frequent than expected that the decrease or alteration of school results is derived from factors other than this (such as all those discussed in previous lines), the fact that parents can transmit and enforce certain rules in The study habits of the child is of vital importance in obtaining adequate qualifications (establishment of a fixed schedule of study, the creation of an adequate work environment in the home, promotion of active autonomy in solving their school tasks , reinforcement of achievements, having the support of the teaching team, being consistent in the indications transmitted, etc.).

In conclusion

The previous lines have shown a new conception in reference to the aspects that determine the obtaining of good results at school level. Research has incorporated other elements than the intellectual capacity extracted from the Intellectual Coefficient as possible predictors of academic performance.

Thus, although there is no clear consensus on the exact relationship that exists between the self-concept and the qualifications of the students (what phenomenon causes the other), It seems to be clear that the link between both constructs has been validated by different experts in the field . The family, as the main primary socializing agent in childhood, plays a very important role in the formation and development of the image that the child makes about himself.

In this way, the application of educational guidelines that facilitate the attainment of this goal, such as those that have been exposed throughout this text, should be prioritized.

Bibliographic references:

  • Gimeno Sacristán, J. (1977). Self-concept, sociability and school performance. Madrid: MEC.
  • Andrade, M., Miranda, C., Freixas, I. (2000). Academic performance and modifiable variables. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 6, No. 2.
  • Elexpuru, I. (1994). How can teachers favor the self-concept of their students in the classroom? Educational Community, No 217.
  • Galileo Ortega, J.L. and Fernandez de Haro, E (2003); Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education (vol2). Malaga. Ed: Aljibe

Developmental: 12.2 Self Esteem and Academic Self Concept (May 2021).


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