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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of an instructional program on the self-esteem of elementary school children Hogan, Marcia E.


Research shows that the level of self-esteem which students bring to the learning environment influences their receptiveness to instruction. While high self-esteem creates a climate of empowerment, low self-esteem leads to dependency. Authors of self-esteem programs believe students can be taught self-esteem. Empirical research has only begun to test the validity of such beliefs. This study investigated the effectiveness of an instructional program designed to enhance self-esteem. It predicted a greater increase in self-esteem for those students receiving self-esteem instruction than for those who did not, a greater increase for students who began the program with low self-esteem than for those with average or high levels, and a high correlation between student self-reports and teacher ratings of student self-esteem. The subjects in the study were 107 students in four intact classes, two of Grade 5 and two of Grade 7, at an elementary school in Surrey, B.C. There was one Treatment group and one Comparison group at each grade level. The repeated measures design included a pretest, treatment, and a posttest. Treatment consisted of a12-lesson (nine week) self-esteem instructional program, based on the work of Michele Borba, for the treatment group. The Comparison group received regular class instruction. A mixed model ANOVA found no differences in self-esteem for the main effects of treatment and grade, but a significant increase in self-esteem mean scores for both Treatment and Comparison groups. An ANCOVA found no significant difference for the Treatment group by level of self-esteem on the pretest adjusted mean scores. Ecological factors, such as teacher behavior, may have confounded treatment effect. Teacher ratings of student self-esteem showed a weak correlation with student self-ratings. Item analysis of the Piers-Harris Indicated some effect due to instruction and suggested qualitative measures may more accurately assess short-term interventions. The results of this study indicate lack of empirical support for the effectiveness of self-esteem enhancement through instructional interventions. Future research should determine the effect of teacher behavior, isolate the ecological factors which contributed to increased self-esteem, establish effective qualitative measures, and plan furlong term follow-up.

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