Academic self-handicapping among high-school students  [presentation, ppt, 170 kB]

Šimek D.
Srednja ekonomska šola Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

In comparison to French and English school systems relatively competitive and achievement-oriented Slovene system offers fewer possibilities for less successful students to maintain positive self-esteem within the system (Kobal in dr., 2003). One of the strategies students employ to protect their self-worth and self-esteem is self-handicapping. Although strategic creation of obstacles to successful performance increases the likelihood of failure, it permits the self-handicapper to externalize poor performance and protect self-worth and self-esteem (Jones in Berglas, 1978). The study aimed at investigating dispositional academic self-handicapping among 747 Slovene secondary-school students (NM=371, NF=377). Using the Academic self-handicapping scale (Midgley et al., 1998) the Slovene participants showed lower level of self-handicapping than the American students (e.g. Thomas and Gadbois, 2007), which may be a reflection of historically higher collectivism and less profound individualism, intertwined with Slovenian teachers' negative attitude toward using competition in the teaching process (Smart et al., 2006). While self-handicapping in academic setting remains stable through the secondary school years, boys showed significantly higher level of self-handicapping than girls; decrease of self-esteem in academic setting is found to represent a bigger threat for boys than for girls (Ferrari, 1991). Higher level of academic self-handicapping was established among students with low academic performance and among those who subjectively overestimated their school performance. Socio-economic status of the family proved less impact on self-handicapping than the quality of interactions within the family: attendants who had a trusted person within the family self-handicapped less then those who did not or had one outside the family, yet no significant differences in academic self-handicapping were observed with regard to formal education of the parents. Self-handicapping can represent the last connection to the school and the possibility for the teachers to channel students' self-worth motivation in a more constructive direction.