Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Brady

Abstract

This study investigated whether reading problems affect adolescents' self-concept and examined adolescent opinions regarding the consequences of reading ability. Three groups of adolescents participated: 68 special education students (SE), 41 regular education poor readers (REP), and 164 regular education students (RE). Two surveys were administered to the participants, the Multidimensional Self Concept Scale (MSCS) and the Meyer Reading Opinion Survey (MROS), along with standardized measures of reading ability and intelligence.

Results indicated that on the MSCS, RE students had significantly higher academic self-concept than REP and SE students; differences were not noted between the latter two groups. RE students also demonstrated significantly higher family and total self-concepts than SE students. On the MROS, significant group differences in opinions were noted on several constructs: the importance that reading plays in achieving success in life, the concept that poor reading skills result in negative consequences student ratings of their reading skills, and whether students had negative reactions to school related to reading difficulties. The last two constructs, rating of reading and reactions to school, accounted for the greatest amount of variance between the three groups, with the SE students judging their reading skills to be the weakest and indicating some occurrences of difficult school-based experiences pertaining to reading. Results from MANCOVAs showed that IQ was not a predictor of the scores of the dependent measures from either survey. Correlations of the constructs on the two surveys resulted in moderate correlations between academic self-concept on the MSCS and opinion of reading ability on the MROS (r=.40, p<.001) and between academic self-concept and the reaction to school (r=-.37, p<.001). Other significant correlations occurred, but accounted for less variance.

The results support previous findings (e.g., Harter, 1990) that negative effects of reading difficulties for self-concept largely occur in academic domains, although there were indications in the present study of consequences in other areas of self-concept as well. Further, though the two groups with reading difficulties were not matched in reading level or IQ, the results of the surveys suggest more extensive problems in self-concept and in school experiences for the Special Education students.

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