Academic self-handicapping: The role of self-concept clarity and students' learning strategies

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Abstract

Background.

Self-handicapping is linked to students' personal motivations, classroom goal structure, academic outcomes, global self-esteem and certainty of self-esteem. Academic self-handicapping has yet to be studied with respect to students' consistency in self-description and their description of themselves as learners.

Aims.

This study examined students' self-esteem and self-concept clarity as well as their tendencies to employ deep- or surface-learning approaches and self-regulate while learning in relation to their self-handicapping tendencies and exam performance.

Sample.

Participants were 161 male and female Canadian, first-year university students.

Method.

Participants completed a series of questionnaires that measured their self-esteem, self-concept clarity, approaches to learning, self-regulation and reflections on performance prior to and following their exam.

Results.

Self-handicapping was negatively correlated with self-concept clarity, deep learning, self-regulated learning and exam grades, and positively correlated with surface learning and test anxiety. Regression analyses showed that self-concept clarity, self-regulation, surface-learning and test anxiety scores predicted self-handicapping scores. Self-concept clarity, test anxiety scores, academic self-efficacy and self-regulation were predictors of mid-term exam grades.

Conclusions.

This study showed that students' self-concept clarity and learning strategies are related to their tendencies to self-handicap and their exam performance. The role of students' ways of learning and their self-concept clarity in self-handicapping and academic performance was explored.

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