How Far Does “Frame of Reference” Matter to Academic Self-concept in a Bilingual Learning Setting?

By Christopher Cheng.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

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The present study aims at investigating the extent of internal/external frame of reference effects of academic achievement on academic self-concept in a bilingual learning environment. A sample of Grade 7 Chinese students (N=222) in a local Hong Kong school are invited to complete an adapted version of the Self-Description Questionnaire after they have received the examination results. Two language subjects, i.e. English, Chinese, and two science subjects, i.e. Math, Integrated Science are included. Results render partial support to the internal/external frame of reference model, such that examination scores of the four school subjects are highly correlated to one another, whereas correlations of their respective self-concepts are much lower; and the achievement of each subject has a positive effect on the corresponding self-concept. However, while English achievement has negative effects on all non-English academic self-concept, no contrast effect has been found in Chinese achievement on any non-Chinese academic self-concept. More interestingly, contrast effect is found between English and Chinese, which are supposedly posited in the same domain - language. As a concluding note, implications of the salience of the English subject are discussed in the contexts of bilingual learners in a globalizing world.

Keywords: Academic self-concept, Academic achievement, Medium of instruction, Frame of reference

International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.19-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 524.955KB).

Dr. Christopher Cheng

Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Dr. Christopher Cheng is an assistant professor in psychology and the program leader of the Bachelor’s Program in Psychology at the City University of Hong Kong. His teaching mainly focuses on research methodology, testing and assessment, and interpersonal psychology. His research interests focus on student learning and achievements, self-esteem and self-concept, bullying and delinquent behaviour, and romantic relationships of young people. He has published over fifty articles in refereed journals or edited books. He has developed the Chinese Adolescent Self-Esteem Scales (CASES) which has been adopted in the Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes (APASO) for Hong Kong students.