Assessing „Big Fish Little Pond Effect“ in the context of early tracking in the Czech Republic


26 May 2015, 14:00 – 15:00

David Greger, Petr Soukup

The idea of measuring academic self-concept and its development (change) in relationship with sorting mechanisms comes from a long-lasting tradition of research by Herb Marsh on self-concept theory and measurement (e.g., Shavelson et al. 1976; Marsh 2006). Marsh and Craven (1997) claim that academic self-concept and achievement are mutually reinforcing constructs, each leading to gains in the other.  For the case of the Czech Republic the most relevant is the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLPE), which consistently shows that students have lower-academic self-concepts in schools with higher average achievement. Thus according to the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE), attending academically selective high schools negatively affects academic self-concept.

BFLPE has been confirmed across many countries; however the most relevant for the Czech Republic are studies of BFLPE in Germany. German and Czech Education system have one common feature – its selective nature which sorts students in different types of school based on ability already at lower-secondary education. Marsh, Trautwein, Lüdtke, Baumert & Köller (2007) on data for Germany have confirmed the BFLPE effect and they showed that negative effects associated with school type (academic track -gymnasium) were similar—but smaller—than the BFLPE based on school-average achievement. WE plan to test similar hypothesis.

Analysis is carried out on 2011 IEA TIMSS data and on the data collected in the Czech Longitudinal Study in Education (CLoSE). CLoSE followed pupils participating in 2011 IEA TIMSS and PIRLS at their transition to the second stage of basic school or to eight year gymnasium. 4500 pupils participating in grade 4 in TIMSS and PIRLS were administered questionnaires focusing on various aspects of the transition process at the end of their grade 5. Items measuring academic self-concept were part of the questionnaire for 5th graders. In the grade 6, the original sample was refreshed/enlarged by students from the academic track – so called multi-year gymnasium (1626 students in 43 schools, from these 180 from original TIMSS sample). Overall the sample size of 6 graders in CLoSE study is 6221 pupils. We tested the BFLPE hypotheses on both, TIMSS 2011 and CLoSE 5th and 6th graders using SEM in MPlus software.

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