Academic Self-Concept: An Overview

The academic self-concept (ASC) is an important construct in research on human development and educational psychology. It has been defined as an individual’s perception of their own academic abilities and potential (Damon & Phelps, 1989). It is closely related to the broader concept of self-concept, which is the individual’s subjective representation of their own attributes and capabilities (Harter, 1988). The ASC is important because it can influence both academic performance and well-being (Harter, 1988; Marsh & O’Mara, 2008). This article reviews the research on ASC, examining its structure, antecedents, consequences, and measurement.

Structure of Academic Self-Concept

ASC is typically conceptualized as a multidimensional construct that includes cognitive, affective, and behavioral components (Marsh, 1990). The cognitive component includes an individual’s beliefs about their ability to learn, understand, and think critically. The affective component is composed of an individual’s feelings and emotional reactions to their academic performance. Finally, the behavioral component includes an individual’s preferences for classroom activities, such as lectures or discussions (Marsh, 1990).

Antecedents of Academic Self-Concept

Research has identified several antecedents of ASC. These include demographic factors such as gender (Hershberger, 2004), ethnicity (Cole, 2008), and socioeconomic status (Gunderson, 2009). Additionally, parental involvement (Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991) and academic performance (Crocker & Park, 2004) have been identified as important predictors of ASC.

Consequences of Academic Self-Concept

The ASC is associated with important academic outcomes, including grades (Marsh & O’Mara, 2008), school engagement (Shrout & Bolger, 2002), and academic motivation (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000). Additionally, research suggests that the ASC is associated with psychological well-being (Harter, 1988).

Measurement of Academic Self-Concept

The ASC is typically measured using self-report questionnaires. Examples of such measures include the Self-Description Questionnaire II (SDQ-II; Marsh, Trautwein, Lüdtke, Köller, & Baumert, 2005) and the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985).


This article provided an overview of the academic self-concept. It discussed its structure, antecedents, consequences, and measurement. The ASC is an important construct in research on human development and educational psychology, as it can influence both academic performance and well-being. Further research is needed to understand the role of the ASC in educational and psychological outcomes.


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