An examination of the effect of identifying low self-concept students to elementary school teachers upon the teachers interaction with those students and upon the students self-concept



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The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of identifying students with low self-concepts to the teachers in elementary school. The effect was measured relative to a positive change in the self-concepts of the students and the positive teacher interactions with the students. The sample consisted of eight fourth grade teachers and six students from each of the eight classrooms. The six students in each class were identified as having low self concepts by scoring 47 or lower on the Piers-Harris Children"s Self Concept Scale. From each classroom, each of the six students were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. The identities of the three students in the treatment group were made known to the teachers. The teacher was asked to see if she could help improve the self-concepts of those students. The identities of the six children in each class were known to the observer who was not the same person who administered the instrument and gave the information to the teachers. Nine observations, each one and one-half hours in length, were made over the 12 week period. During each observation, verbatim notes were made of the teachers" interactions with the six students. After all the observations were completed, the interactions were classified by the researcher and three independent judges into three types—positive, neutral, and negative. A count was made of each type of interaction for all 48 students. At the end of 12 weeks the Piers-Harris Children"s Self Concept Scale was administered as a posttest. An analysis of variance on residual gain scores between pre- and posttest scores of the Piers-Harris Children"s Self Concept Scale failed to show a statistically significant difference between the treatment group and the control group. A test of significance was used to determine the difference in the number of positive interactions of the teachers with the two groups. The results showed a statistically significant difference at the .05 level. The results indicate that students with low self concepts whose identities are known to the teachers will receive a significantly greater number of positive interactions from the teachers than students with low self-concepts whose identities are not known to the teachers. The fact that the teachers know the identities of low self-concepts students in their classrooms does not help to improve the self-concepts of those students. Further research is needed in the area of teachers" behavior and students" self-concepts. It seems to this researcher that the aspect of students" perceptions of teachers" behaviors should be an important factor for consideration. Though the literature indicates that teachers" positive interactions is an important variable in this research, it seems that the positive interaction is only one facet of the type of relationship between teachers and students necessary for the development of positive self-concepts of students.