The Relationship between Self-Concept and Academic Achievement in African American Middle School Students: A Correlational Study

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Susan Panichelli Mindel, PhD

Third Advisor

Leophus S King, PhD


The academic failure of African American children continues to be a critical issue of study within the social science disciplines (Cokley, 2003). African American middleschool students, in grades 5-8, were administered the Harter Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC) (Harter, 1985). The standardized scores gained from this measure were compared with the students' academic performance in school, as measured by report card grades, to determine if a relationship exists between ratings of self-competence and overall academic success in school. A correlational analysis was used to ascertain which aspects of self-competence, as measured by the Harter, were most correlated with academic achievement. Student open-ended responses, from six qualitative questions answered upon completion of the SPPC, were analyzed to determine if they revealed any specific cultural information that could provide additional insight into the relationship between self-concept and academic achievement in middle-school African American children. A discussion of the findings, their relevance for psychologists and educators, and recommendations for future study are provided.

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