STUDENTS’ MATH SELF-CONCEPT IN SECONDARY EDUCATION: PREVALENCE AND GENDER DIFFERENCES

L. Yáñez-Marquina, L. Villardón-Gallego

University of Deusto (SPAIN)
The aim of the this study was twofold:
a) to estimate the proportion of secondary students who report low, moderate and high levels of math self-concept, and
b) to test whether these proportions differ by educational level and gender.

Data were collected from 736 secondary school students from Biscay (Basque Country Autonomous Region, Spain) with an average age of 13.94 (SD = 1.09) years. Overall, results showed that a great percentage of students reported high levels of math self-concept both in second-grade (59.69%) and in fourth-grade (59.31%), followed by those who reported moderate levels in second- (28.42%) and fourth-grade (30.09%). Noteworthy, when analyzed by gender, the prevalence rates of females overpassed those of their male counterparts both in the low and moderate category. Also, the corresponding mean scores for math self-concept were lower in females compared to males in the previously noted categories. This result suggests that overall, females reported lower-moderate levels of math self-concept; whereas males showed upper-moderate levels. Interestingly, gender differences only tended to be statistically significant when the full sample was considered (t(734) = -4.72, p < .001, d = .35), with an effect size which was considered to be medium. Indeed, when broken down by educational level, gender differences remained non-significant in the three level categories for math self-concept. These findings are discussed based on evidence from previous literature and some educational issues are suggested for future research to address.