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Positive social relationships with peers and teachers as moderators of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect

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Abstract

Students' academic self-concepts (ASCs) are largely formed relative to the ability of their reference group. The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLPE), according to which equally able students have lower ASCs in high-achieving classrooms than in low-achieving ones, is extremely robust. Social relationships are known to be important for self-perception. This study aims at analyzing social relationships as potential moderators of the BFLPE, focusing on two core partners in classrooms: peers and teachers. Multilevel structural equation modeling was applied to test the moderator hypotheses, drawing on data from a sample of N = 7004 secondary school students. Whereas no support was found for a moderating effect of peer relationships, data supported the assumed moderation of the BFLPE through student-teacher relationships. Students with positive teacher relations experienced smaller BFLPEs than students with negative or average teacher relations. The study illustrates how relationships moderate frame of reference effects that are central to the formation of ASCs.

    Research areas

  • Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect, Academic self-concept, Relationships, Moderation, ACADEMIC SELF-CONCEPT, SCHOOL-AVERAGE ABILITY, MIDDLE SCHOOL, FIT INDEXES, TEST-SCORES, ACHIEVEMENT, STUDENTS, MOTIVATION, ENGAGEMENT, GRADES
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume70
Issue numberFebruary 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019