Self-concept in learning disabled children : relationship to perceived competence, social support and task performance : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science at Massey University
Examined how some children with learning disabilities (LD) sustain higher levels of general self-worth despite academic difficulties. Global self-worth was examined for a relationship with academic self-concept, non-academic self-concept, and perceived social support. Self-concept was additionally examined for any relationships with task performance indicators. Data were collected from 41 students aged between 7 and 15 years using a multitrait-multimethod assessment methodology. Self-concept was assessed by the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985a), and perceived social support was assessed by the Social Support Scale for Children (Harter, 1985b). Task performance was assessed by a battery of academic and motor skill measures. Findings indicated that most LD children in this sample reported low levels of academically based self-concept. However, most also reported high levels of global self-worth. The study found students with high global self-concept perceived they were more competent/adequate in some non-academic domains (e.g., physical appearance and behavioural conduct), and perceived being socially supported, particularly by teachers. Perceptions of academic self-concept were not found to be as related to perceptions of global self-concept as non-academic domains. In regression analyses, perceptions of physical appearance followed by perceptions of athletic competence were found to be predictors of global self-worth. No predictors were found to be significant for academic self-concept. Classmate support predicted aspects of social self-concept (i.e., social acceptance). No pattern of significant relationships were found between task performance indicators and various domains of self-concept. Discussion includes using data to dispel myths some may have about the global self-worth of LD children as well as in intervention programmes. This study replicated and extended research in this area. Caveats and recommendations for future research are discussed.