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Grade retention and academic self-concept: A multilevel analysis towards the effects of school retention composition

Timo Van Canegem (UGent) , Mieke Van Houtte (UGent) and Jannick Demanet (UGent)
(2019)
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Abstract
Most grade retention research focuses on cognitive learning effects, while research into non-cognitive outcomes, such as academic self-concept, is scarcer and remains largely inconclusive. Therefore, our objectives are to investigate if there is an association between academic self-concept and grade retention, if this association is mediated by sense of belonging and if the retention composition influences academic self-concept in both a direct and indirect way. We aim to contextualize retention research by using the reference group theory (RGT). Multilevel analyses were performed on data from the first wave of the International Study of City Youth (ISCY), gathered in Ghent (Belgium). The sample consisted out of 2354 students (56.5% female) in 30 schools, most of whom were born in a West European country (91.46%). Following the comparative reference group theory (CRGT), we expected that retainees make an assessment of the prevalence of grade retention among their peer group and adjust their interpretation of the event accordingly: the more people repeat a grade, the less a stigma it becomes for the retainees, which should result in a higher academic self-concept. On the other hand, we also expected that, based upon the normative reference group theory (NRGT), schools with a high retention composition would have a lower academic self-concept, since the norms of retainees are more likely to be reproduced by all students. Results showed that academic self-concept is negatively related to grade retention. This, however, stems from a mediation effect of sense of belonging. Grade retention is associated with a lower sense of belonging, which, on its turn, associates with a lower academic self-concept. Results further showed that there is no significant interaction effect of retention composition, so we were not able to confirm the CRGT. There was, however, a direct negative effect of retention composition upon academic self-concept, which supports the NRGT. In summary, we can conclude that academic self-concept is negatively related to school composition in a direct way and negatively related to individual grade retention in an indirect way.
Keywords
academic self-concept, grade retention, sense of belonging, normative reference group theory, comparative reference group theory, multilevel research, self-determination theory, school effects study

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Citation

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Chicago
Van Canegem, Timo, Mieke Van Houtte, and Jannick Demanet. 2019. “Grade Retention and Academic Self-concept: A Multilevel Analysis Towards the Effects of School Retention Composition.” In Manchester.
APA
Van Canegem, T., Van Houtte, M., & Demanet, J. (2019). Grade retention and academic self-concept: A multilevel analysis towards the effects of school retention composition. Presented at the Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging, Manchester.
Vancouver
1.
Van Canegem T, Van Houtte M, Demanet J. Grade retention and academic self-concept: A multilevel analysis towards the effects of school retention composition. Manchester; 2019.
MLA
Van Canegem, Timo, Mieke Van Houtte, and Jannick Demanet. “Grade Retention and Academic Self-concept: A Multilevel Analysis Towards the Effects of School Retention Composition.” Manchester, 2019. Print.
@inproceedings{8627785,
  abstract     = {Most grade retention research focuses on cognitive learning effects, while research into non-cognitive outcomes, such as academic self-concept, is scarcer and remains largely inconclusive. Therefore, our objectives are to investigate if there is an association between academic self-concept and grade retention, if this association is mediated by sense of belonging and if the retention composition influences academic self-concept in both a direct and indirect way. We aim to contextualize retention research by using the reference group theory (RGT). Multilevel analyses were performed on data from the first wave of the International Study of City Youth (ISCY), gathered in Ghent (Belgium). The sample consisted out of 2354 students (56.5% female) in 30 schools, most of whom were born in a West European country (91.46%). Following the comparative reference group theory (CRGT), we expected that retainees make an assessment of the prevalence of grade retention among their peer group and adjust their interpretation of the event accordingly: the more people repeat a grade, the less a stigma it becomes for the retainees, which should result in a higher academic self-concept. On the other hand, we also expected that, based upon the normative reference group theory (NRGT), schools with a high retention composition would have a lower academic self-concept, since the norms of retainees are more likely to be reproduced by all students. Results showed that academic self-concept is negatively related to grade retention. This, however, stems from a mediation effect of sense of belonging. Grade retention is associated with a lower sense of belonging, which, on its turn, associates with a lower academic self-concept. Results further showed that there is no significant interaction effect of retention composition, so we were not able to confirm the CRGT. There was, however, a direct negative effect of retention composition upon academic self-concept, which supports the NRGT. In summary, we can conclude that academic self-concept is negatively related to school composition in a direct way and negatively related to individual grade retention in an indirect way.},
  author       = {Van Canegem, Timo and Van Houtte, Mieke and Demanet, Jannick},
  keywords     = {academic self-concept,grade retention,sense of belonging,normative reference group theory,comparative reference group theory,multilevel research,self-determination theory,school effects study},
  location     = {Manchester},
  title        = {Grade retention and academic self-concept: A multilevel analysis towards the effects of school retention composition},
  year         = {2019},
}