Scholarly article on topic 'Self-esteem, self-concept, self-talk and significant others’ statements in fifth grade students: Differences according to gender and school type'

Self-esteem, self-concept, self-talk and significant others’ statements in fifth grade students: Differences according to gender and school type Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Huseyin Yaratan, Rusen Yucesoylu

Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) how the perceptions of 5th grade teachers about the self-esteem of their students, and 5th grade students’ perceptions of statements made by significant others about themselves, their self-concept and self-talk differ with respect to gender of students and type of school (private or state elementary school) they attend; and (2) how these students’ self-esteem perceived by their teachers, and their self-concept, positive and negative self-talk as perceived by themselves relate to their significant others’ statements in private and state elementary schools. The study results revealed a significant difference in the self-esteem of the students with respect to school type but not with respect to gender. Negative statements made by significant others, however, were significantly different for male and female students. Self-reported positive self-talk, positive statements of adults and peers, and negative statements of siblings and peers, and teacher-reported self-esteem were significantly higher for students from private elementary school.

Academic research paper on topic "Self-esteem, self-concept, self-talk and significant others’ statements in fifth grade students: Differences according to gender and school type"

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Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 3506-3518

WCES-2010

Self-esteem, self-concept, self-talk and significant others' statements in fifth grade students: Differences according to gender and school type

Huseyin Yaratana *, Rusen Yucesoylub

aDepartment of Educational Sciences, Eastern Mediterranean University, Gazimagusa, North Cyprus bEnglish Preparatory School, Eastern Mediterranean University, Gazimagusa, North Cyprus

Received October 30, 2009; revised December 8, 2009; accepted January 15, 2010

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) how the perceptions of 5th grade teachers about the self-esteem of their students, and 5th grade students' perceptions of statements made by significant others about themselves, their self-concept and self-talk differ with respect to gender of students and type of school (private or state elementary school) they attend; and (2) how these students' self-esteem perceived by their teachers, and their self-concept, positive and negative self-talk as perceived by themselves relate to their significant others' statements in private and state elementary schools. The study results revealed a significant difference in the self-esteem of the students with respect to school type but not with respect to gender. Negative statements made by significant others, however, were significantly different for male and female students. Self-reported positive self-talk, positive statements of adults and peers, and negative statements of siblings and peers, and teacher-reported self-esteem were significantly higher for students from private elementary school. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Self-esteem; self-concept; self-talk; significant others; gender; private school.

1. Introduction

1.1. 1.1 Background of the Study

During the development of children's personality, the way other people judge their personalities, how they talk with themselves in particular situations, their definition of themselves and their perceptions of the statements made by other significant people around them are interrelated and have powerful effects on each other. Other people, especially mothers, fathers, teachers, brothers, sisters and friends carry a significant role during this development of personality. The Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas at Austin (1999) describes how self-esteem develops and stresses the importance of experiences in early childhood that affect the development of self-esteem as follows:

* Huseyin Yaratan.

E-mail address: huseyin.yaratan@emu.edu.tr

1877-0428 © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.543

Our self-esteem develops and evolves throughout our lives as we build an image of ourselves through our experiences with different people and activities. Experiences during our childhood play a particular large role in the shaping of our basic self-esteem. When we were growing up our successes (and failures) and how we were treated by the members of our immediate family, by our teachers, coaches, religious authorities, and by our peers, all contributed to the creation of our basic self-esteem. (p.2)

Self-talk, on the other hand, is not abnormal, almost everybody talks to himself/herself. Self-talk is the endless stream of thoughts that run through our heads. Paul C. Burnett (1996b) defined self-talk as "... what people say to themselves, with particular emphasis on the words used to express thoughts and beliefs about oneself and the world to oneself' (p.57). These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. If the thoughts that run through our heads are mostly negative, our outlook on life is likely to be pessimistic. If our thoughts are mostly positive, we are likely to be an optimist. Self-talk is our internal dialog, the words we say to ourselves.

Self-concept is another construct that has been defined as "the beliefs that people have about specific characteristics associated with themselves" (Burnett, 1994b; p.165). Even though there is a large accumulation of research related to self-concept of students in school settings, Burnett, Pillay and Dart (2003) assert that learners' self-concept in elementary schools has gained less attention.

Significant others' roles and specially statements they make are extremely important for their children's social and educational development. Humphrey (2003) mentions the important roles of significant others in developing the 'self' and Burns (1982) describes significant others and their roles as:

..those persons who are important or who have significance to the child by reason of his sensing their ability to reduce insecurity or to intensify it, to increase or decrease his helplessness, to promote or diminish his sense of worth. Significant others play a confirming role in the defining of the self. (p.164)

As Burns stressed, significant others play a major role in the development of self of a child. Hence, in the present study, the researchers focused mainly on finding the students' perceptions about significant others' statements as well as their self-concept, and self-talk by having them complete related questionnaires. Perceptions of teachers about self-esteem levels of students who participated in the study were also investigated by administering an appropriate questionnaire to the teachers.

1.2. The context of the study

Cyprus is an island located in the east of the Mediterranean Sea. The research will be held in North Cyprus which has a population of about two hundred and sixty thousand.

All schools and educational institutions are under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Culture located in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus (Yaratan, 1998). It has a central educational system which necessitates a curriculum which is generic and scholar-dominated in nature and has to be implemented as directed (Short, 1983). Recently, with the goal of 'giving a better education to students' educational system has been reconstructed (Educational Planning Department, 2005). The new system is divided into three main phases as 'Basic Education', 'Secondary Education' and 'Higher Education'. The old system was also divided into three phases, but as 'Elementary Education', 'Secondary Education' and 'Higher Education'. In the new system 'Basic education' phase covers pre-school education, elementary education and middle school education, and 'Secondary Education' phase covers only high school education; but in the old system 'Elementary Education' phase covered only the elementary education and 'Secondary Education' phase covered both middle school education and high school education. The reason behind this new design is to get rid of the considerable gap which existed between the three separate stages of pre-school education, elementary school education and middle school education. By joining these three separate stages under the heading 'Basic Education', transition from one stage to the other is expected to occur without interruption.

In general, children start their education at the age of four and between the ages zero and three children are taken care of by their parents. Hence, parents have an important role in the development of the self of children at these early ages.

North Cyprus is a small country with only five districts. For convenience Famagusta District has been chosen as a pilot region for this study. There are 101 state elementary schools and six private elementary schools in North Cyprus (Director of the Department of Elementary Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture in North Cyprus, personal communication, September, 2007) and eleven of those state elementary schools are in the city of

Famagusta. In this district, however, there is only one private elementary school. Generally, parents with low income prefer sending their children to the state schools that are close to the area where they live and/or work because they are for free. However, private schools are chosen by the parents who have high socio-economic status and who can afford to pay tuition for their children to attend a private school. State schools are open from 8 a.m. till 1 p.m., whereas education in private schools begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. This is another reason for parents who work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to send their children to private schools if they can afford it.

This study was conducted in one private elementary school and one state elementary school on the 5th grade students. One hundred and seven elementary school children in grade five at these two different schools participated in the study.

1.3. Problem statement and research questions

role. The students' self-esteem, self-concept and self-talk are all related with these statements in students' lives. Quayle and Holsworth (1997) stated that self-esteem builds up from the experience and relationship with others. What other people tell children is what develops their feelings and views. In their study Elbaum & Vaughn (2001) found that teachers play an important role in the development of students' self-concept at schools. Students who perceive approval and success in their educational lives start developing their self-concepts to be better persons and students (Harter, 1999). Another study was conducted about the relationship between self-talk and statements made by significant others and it was found that there was a strong relationship between positive self talk and positive statements made by significant others (Burnett, 1996b).

The researchers investigated to find out whether or not similar studies were done in North Cyprus. As a result it was discovered that no such research had been conducted. Since the relationship between these concepts is important, the extent of possible relationship and any existing differences with respect to gender and school type have to be investigated for informing responsible people of the results, so the necessary arrangements could be done for better development of the self of students. The researchers also hope that the results of the study will hold a light to educators and teachers of other similar small communities all around the world. Hence, to investigate the problem the following research questions were set:

1) How do the perceptions of 5th grade teachers about the self-esteem of their students, and 5th grade students' perceptions of statements made by significant others about themselves, their self-concept and self-talk differ with respect to

a) gender of students; and

b) type of school (private or state elementary school) they attend?

2) How do the 5th grade students' self-esteem perceived by their teachers, and their self-concept, positive and negative self-talk as perceived by themselves relate to their significant others' statements in

a) private elementary schools; and

b) state elementary schools?

1.4. Significance of the study

Children begin establishing their self-esteem, self-concept and self-talk at an early age and this development can be either positive or negative, mostly depending on their relationships with people around them. The study becomes significant in making people around the students be aware of the relationship between the statements made by significant others and self-esteem, self-concept, and self-talk of students. In several studies that investigated the relationship among statements made by significant others, self-esteem, self-concept and self-talk, researchers found that positive statements made by significant others were related to high self-esteem and that negative statements were related to low self-esteem (Burnett, 1996a; Blake & Slate, 1993; Campbell, 1989; Elgin, 1980; Joubert, 1991). Research also has demonstrated the importance of early social interactions in the development of self-talk. Studies showed that perceived positive and negative statements from others are related significantly to the amount of positive and negative self-talk found in elementary school children (Burnett, 1996b; Burnett & McCrindle, 1999).

To sum up, the present study is considered as significant, as it gives opportunities to elementary school teachers, school principals, school counselors and students' families to be aware of the importance of their relationships in the development of children's personalities.

1.5. Limitations of the study

Limitation of the study is that the findings are based only on the perceptions and ideas of the participants. For this reason results might have been overstated with common method variance. To minimize the effect of common method variance, future studies should obtain data with longitudinal designs.

2. Methodology

2.1. 2.1 Purpose of the study

The present study aimed at finding out the possible relationships that existed among the fifth grade private and state elementary school students' perceptions of positive and negative statements made by significant others, their self-concept and self-talk, and their teachers' perceptions of their self-esteem. For this purpose, four questionnaires were administered - three of them were developed for students to find out their own perceptions about their self-concept, self-talk and significant other's statements and the fourth questionnaire was prepared for teachers to manifest their perceptions about students' self-esteem. The results obtained from private and state elementary school fifth grade students' perceptions about significant others' statements (positive and negative) were compared with their perceptions about self-concept, positive self-talk and negative self-talk. Also, fifth grade students' perceptions about significant others' statements (positive and negative) were compared with their teachers' perceptions about their self-esteem. Possible differences among these concepts with respect to gender and type of school were also investigated.

2.2. Population and sampling procedures

Participants selected for this study were fifth grade elementary school students. The reason why the fifth grade students were chosen was that some of the items of the questionnaires required skills such as interpretation, ability to think abstractly and draw conclusions from the information available. Hence, fifth grade students were chosen as participants who would have the above mentioned skills because they were at the age of completing concrete operational stage and passing to the formal operational stage according to Piaget's (1983) stages of cognitive development. Grades which were lower than the fifth grade were not taken into consideration. Another reason for choosing the fifth grade students as participants was that the goals of elementary education were not fully attained at lower grades; and if lower grade students were chosen as participants the total effect of elementary education on the concepts that were investigated could not be acquired.

The study was planned to be conducted in elementary schools in urban areas. The most convenient urban area was the city of Famagusta. Hence, twelve existing elementary schools in the city of Famagusta formed the elementary school population. There were two types of elementary schools in urban areas of Famagusta that could be categorized as private elementary schools and state elementary schools. Since there was only one private elementary school it was automatically chosen for the study. Among eleven state elementary schools one elementary school was chosen randomly.

In these chosen schools there were only 49 fifth grade students in the private elementary school and 58 fifth grade students in the state elementary school. Hence, they were all chosen automatically for the student sample as shown in Table 1 below. Three teachers participated in the study; one teacher from the private school and two teachers from the state school. Total number of student participants was 107 which included 56 (52.3%) female and 51 (47.7%) male students as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Elementary School Types; Number of Students and Teacher Participants

School Type

No. of Student Participants

No. of Students with Siblings

No. of Teacher Participants

female male total

State School

Private School 27 22 49 41 1

Total 56 51 107 91 3

Two children from the state elementary school were from one-parent families due to the loss of their fathers. Eight children from each school came from one-child families and had no siblings as can be seen from Table 1.

2.3. Data collection procedures

2.3.1. Description of the instruments and permission for utilization.

Primary data collection was based on four different sets of questionnaires, three for students and one for teachers. In general, the questionnaires were designed to investigate students' perceptions about statements made by significant others, self-concept and self-talk of students, and teachers' perceptions about students' self-esteem. All four questionnaires are from the study of Professor Paul C. Burnett who is a Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Graduate Training) at the Charles Sturt University. The researchers got in touch with Professor Paul C. Burnett and asked his permission for using his questionnaires. Via electronic mailing, he was informed that the researchers intended to translate the questionnaires into Turkish Language because the target population were Turkish speaking fifth grade elementary school students. Professor Paul C. Burnett gave the necessary permission and the questionnaires were translated into Turkish for administration to the samples representing the target population.

First questionnaire which included 54 items measured students' perceptions about positive and negative statements made by significant others. These significant others were specified as the student's mother, father, teacher, siblings and peers. Students responded to each questionnaire item by choosing one of the three alternatives set as "Often", "Sometimes", or "Never".

Second questionnaire which assessed self-concept of students included 44 items. Students exposed their self-concept by responding to these items. The questionnaire in itself was divided into ten subscales which could be listed as Physical Appearance Self-Concept Subscale, Physical Ability Self-Concept Subscale, Peer Relations Self-Concept Subscale, and Relationship with Mother Self-Concept Subscale, Relationship with Father Self-Concept Subscale, Reading Self-Concept Subscale, Mathematics Self-Concept Subscale, Learning Self-Concept Subscale, School Work Self-Concept Subscale, and Global Self-Esteem Subscale. In this questionnaire five point Likert scale in each item was arranged in a vertical descending order and students were asked to choose an alternative which described their perceptions best. Additionally, this questionnaire included items for demographic information such as age, gender, number of siblings, mother and father's educational background, and their employment status.

Third questionnaire included 36 items on which students indicated their perceptions about self-talk. Eighteen of the items focused on Positive Self-Talk and the rest on Negative Self-Talk. Students responded to each questionnaire item by choosing one of the three alternatives set as "Often", "Sometimes", or "Never".

The teacher questionnaire included 13 items for exposing the teachers' perceptions about self-esteem of their students. Teachers responded to the questionnaire by choosing one of the alternatives on a five point Likert scale set as "Always", "Often", "Sometimes", "Seldom" or "Never".

2.3.2 Validity and reliability of data collection instruments

While translating, the content of the questionnaires were not changed and hence it is assumed that they all have high content validity. After translating the questionnaires into Turkish a piloting had been done before the actual administration of the questionnaires. Another urban elementary school was chosen for the piloting study and translated questionnaires were administered for the first time to twenty five fifth grade students. A meeting was arranged with the teacher at the mentioned school and by using group administration procedure the students completed the questionnaires. According to the piloting data analyses the reliability of the questionnaires is given in Table 2.

Table 2: Alpha Values Obtained from the Reliability Tests of the Instruments

Questionnaire Participants No. of Items Alpha Value

Self-Esteem Self-Concept

Teachers Students

0.94 0.80

Self-Talk

Students Students

0.81 0.82

Significant Others' Statements

For self-esteem questionnaire the alpha value was 0.94 which could be considered to have excellent reliability. For self-concept questionnaire the alpha value was 0.80, for self-talk questionnaire the alpha value was 0.81 and for significant others' statements questionnaire the alpha value was 0.82. Questionnaires with these values which were greater than or equal to .80 were considered to have good reliability.

2.3.2. Administration of the instruments.

After the Department of Educational Sciences granted the required permission, a letter with questionnaires attached was sent to the Ministry of Education and Culture for the next and final approval. The Ministry of Education and Culture granted the permission for the questionnaires to be administered in schools that has been requested. The researchers got in touch with the teachers and principal of each school to set up a date for administration of the questionnaires. After arranging a date for each school, the researchers started data collection procedures which lasted nearly four weeks.

Participants from the two elementary schools shown in Table 1 were informed about the aim of the study, and were given directions for completing the questionnaires. To make them feel secure in responding to the items accurately they were guaranteed that their names would not appear anywhere. The researchers used group administration method and each item was read loudly by the administrator to the whole class and after every student responded to that item the administrator read the next item until all the items were completed. There was another colleague in the classroom with the administrator who was ready to assist any student who could not complete responding in time to any of the items. The class teachers were also present during the administration of the questionnaires.

The teachers were given the questionnaires on the day that the students' questionnaires were administered. After giving a brief explanation of the questionnaire, each teacher was asked to complete the questionnaire by the following week. After one week the researchers collected the questionnaires from the teachers.

When all the questionnaires were collected data were entered into the SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) program for analyses.

3. Analysis of Data

This section presents an analysis of the data collected to find answers to the two research questions stated earlier.

Thirteen items in the Self-Esteem Inventory (see Appendix A) were presented on a five point Likert scale with the options Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Often, and Always. The teachers of the students involved in the study were asked to rate the frequency of each of the 13 behaviours. Eight items which comprised positive behaviours such as "Was confident in what he/she did", the following coding format was used: Never = 1, Seldom = 2, Sometimes = 3, Often = 4 and Always = 5; whereas for items which comprised negative behaviours such as "Was withdrawn from others", the scores were reversed and the following coding format was used: Never = 5, Seldom = 4, Sometimes = 3, Often = 2 and Always = 1. Scores of thirteen items were added to obtain a total Behavioural Indicator of Self-Esteem for each student.

In the self-concept inventory items that measured both descriptive (I like....., I enjoy....., I feel......) and

comparative/evaluative (I am good at......, I get good marks in....., I have lots of.....) beliefs about ten specific

characteristics of the self were included. These characteristics were measured by ten subscales of the Self-Concept Inventory. These sub-scales can be listed as Physical Appearance Self-Concept Subscale, Physical Ability Self-Concept Subscale, Peer Relations Self-Concept Subscale, and Relationship with Mother Self-Concept Subscale, Relationship with Father Self-Concept Subscale, Reading Self-Concept Subscale, Mathematics Self-Concept Subscale, Learning Self-Concept Subscale, School Work Self-Concept Subscale, and Global Self-Esteem Subscale.

The items in the Self-Concept Inventory were coded using the vertical descending order five-point Likert scale from 5 to 1. If the first alternative from the top of an item was marked 5 points were given; if the second alternative from the top was marked 4 points were given; if the third alternative from the top was marked 3 points were given; if the fourth alternative from the top was marked 2 points were given; and if the fifth alternative from the top was

marked 1 point was given for that item. To obtain a total self-concept score for each student, scores assigned to the 33 items of the questionnaire were added up.

The items in the Self-Talk Inventory (see Appendix A) were presented on a three point scale with the options Often, Sometimes and Never. The students in the study were asked to rate the frequency of each item using the following response format: Often=3, Sometimes=2, and Never=1. A total of 36 items were divided into two main categories. Eighteen items included positive statements such as "I am going to do well." and were added to find the positive self-talk rating. The other eighteen items included negative statements such as "This is going to be awful." and were added to find the negative self-talk rating.

The items presented in the Significant Others' Statements Inventory had a three point Likert scale with options Never, Sometimes and Often. The students involved in the study were asked to rate the frequency of statements made by their fathers, mothers, teachers, siblings and peers using the following response format: Never=1, Sometimes=2 and Often=3. Ratings for six items such as "How often does your DAD say to you: 'I'm proud of you.'" were added to get the total rating of father's positive statements, and ratings for six items such as "How often does your DAD say to you: 'You're very disobedient.'" were added to get the total rating of father's negative statements. For the total mother's positive response rating, ratings of six items such as "How often does your MUM say to you: 'I love you.'" were added, and for mother's negative response rating, ratings for six items such as "How often does your MUM say to you: 'You're a naughty boy/girl.'" were added. Ratings for five items such as "How often does your TEACHER say to you: 'Good work. Well done!'" were added to get the teacher's total positive response rating and ratings for five items such as "How often does your TEACHER say to you: 'That's not good enough.'" were added to get the teacher's total negative response rating. To get sibling's total positive response rating, ratings for five items such as "How often does your BROTHER/SISTER say to you: 'You look good.'" were added, and for sibling's total negative response rating, ratings for five items such as "How often does your BROTHER/SISTER say to you: 'Get lost!'" were added. Finally, ratings for five items such as "How often do your FRIENDS or OTHER KIDS at school say to you: 'Let's go and play a game.'" were added to get peers' total positive response rating and ratings for five items such as "How often do your FRIENDS or OTHER KIDS at school say to you: 'I'm not your friend any more.'" were added to get peers' total negative response rating.

The first research question set for the study was: "How do the perceptions of 5th grade teachers about the self-esteem of their students, and 5 th grade students' perceptions of statements made by significant others about themselves, their self-concept and self-talk differ with respect to

a. gender of students; and

b. type of school (private or state elementary school) they attend?"

Independent samples t-tests were conducted to investigate the above mentioned research question. The test results, as can be seen in Table 3 below, revealed no

Table 3: Independent Samples t-test Results on Self-Esteem, Self-Concept, Self-Talk, and Statements Made by Significant Others with

Respect to Type of Schools, and Gendera

Gender_ _School type

Construct df t p df t p

Self-Esteem 105 -.956 .341 98.378 4.992 .000

Self-Concept 105 1.468 .145 105 .869 .387

Positive Self-Talk 105 .826 .411 105 2.920 .004

Negative Self-Talk 105 -.730 .467 105 1.432 .155

Dad's negative statements 85.7 -2.109 .038 103 1.049 .297

Dad's positive statements 103 .847 .399 103 2.054 .042

Mum's negative statements 105 -2.651 .009 105 1.283 .202

Mum's positive statements 105 .997 .321 104.981 2.211 .029

Sibling's negative statements 69.659 -2.501 .015 89 2.054 .043

Sibling's positive statements 78.824 1.640 .105 89 .684 .496

Teacher's negative statements 105 -2.636 .010 105 1.754 .082

Teacher's positive statements 105 .689 .492 105 2.085 .039

Peer's negative statements 87.230 -2.741 .007 67.641 3.212 .002

Peer's positive statements 105 1.479 .142 105 2.443 .016

Negative statements total 67.421 -3.211 .002 68.167 2.104 .039

Positive statements total 87 1.305 .195 87 2.368 .020

Sig. others' statements total 71.877 -1.015 .314 87 3.268 .002

a Significant findings were given in bold face.

significant difference between male and female 5th grade students in relation to their self-esteem perceived by their teachers, their perceptions about their self-concept, positive and negative self talk, and positive statements made by all their significant others. Significant differences between male and female students were found with respect to the negative statements made by all significant others where the value of t ranged from -2.741 to -2.109 and the value of p (significance) from .007 to .038. Hence, it can be concluded that negative statements by significant others were being used more for the male students than for the female students. The result of the independent samples t-test for the difference between male and female students in relation to the total score of the negative statements made by all significant others revealed t(67.421) = -3.211, p = .002 which indicates that male students (M = 41.91, SD = 10.15) on the average are exposed to significant others' negative statements more than the female students (M = 36.29, SD = 5.71).

From Table 3 it can also be seen that independent-samples t-tests for differences between 5th grade students from private and state elementary schools revealed no significant differences in relation to students' self-concept and negative self-talk, adults' (fathers', mothers' and teachers') negative statements, and siblings' positive statements. Significant differences, however, were specified between students from these two types of schools with respect to their self-esteem perceived by their teachers, t(98.38) = 4.99, p = .000; their positive self-talk, t(105) = 2.92, p = .004; siblings' negative statements, t(89) = 2.05, p = .043; peers' negative statements, t(67.64) = 3.21, p = .002; peers' positive statements, t(105) = 2.44, p = .016; fathers' positive statements, t(103) = 2.05, p = .042; mothers' positive statements, t(104.98) = 2.21, p = .029; and teachers' positive statements, t(105) = 2.09, p = .039. Test results also revealed significant differences between students from these two schools in their total scores for both negative, t(68.17) = 2.10, p = .039, and positive, t(87) = 2.37, p = .020, statements made by significant others. Hence, students from the private elementary school (M = 41.17, SD = 10.08) on the average were caused to experience negative statements more than the students from the state elementary school (M = 37.27, SD = 6.78). Similarly, students from the private elementary school (M = 68.63, SD = 9.53) on the average were exposed to positive statements more than the students from the state elementary school (M = 63.75, SD = 9.84).

The second research question of the study was: "How do the 5th grade students' self-esteem perceived by their teachers, and their self-concept, positive and negative self-talk as perceived by themselves relate to their significant others' statements in

a) private elementary schools; and

b) state elementary schools?"

Bivariate correlation analyses between students' self-esteem perceived by their teachers and statements about students made by significant people around them were done for private and state elementary schools separately and the results were recorded in Table 4. Correlation coefficients were computed between self-esteem and each significant other's positive and negative statements. Finally, correlation coefficients between self-esteem and total scores obtained for positive and negative statements were also computed.

The results of the correlation analyses revealed significant correlations between self-esteem of students from the private elementary school and mother's positive statements, r(47) = .315, p = .027, teacher's positive statements r(47) = .315, p = .027, and total score obtained for positive statements, r(39) = .367, p = .018. The rest of the significant others' statements had lower correlation coefficients and did not have any significant relationship with the self-esteem of students from the private elementary school.

Table 4. Bivariate Correlation Results Between Significant Others' Statements and Self-Esteem of Students for the Two Types of Elementary

Schools'

Private School State School

Significant others' statements N r P N r P

Father's positive statements 49 .269 .062 56 .286 .032

Father's negative statements 49 -.024 .872 56 .090 .509

Mother's positive statements 49 .315 .027 58 .255 .053

Mother's negative statements 49 -.073 .619 58 .154 .249

Teacher's positive statements 49 .319 .025 58 .438 .001

Teacher's negative statements 49 .080 .584 58 .230 .083

Sibling's positive statements 41 .138 .388 50 .244 .087

Sibling's negative statements 41 -.180 .259 50 .373 .008

Peers' positive statements 49 .256 .076 58 .345 .008

Peers' negative statements 49 -.096 .512 58 -.069 .607 Positive statements total 41 .367 .018 48 .273 .061 Negative statements total_41_-.119 .459_48_.302 .037

a Significant findings were given in bold face.

As presented in Table 4, bivariate correlation analyses on data obtained from the students of the state elementary school revealed significant relationships between self-esteem of students and father's positive statements, r(54) = .236, p = .032; teacher's positive statements, r(56) = .438, p = .001; sibling's negative statements, r(48) = .373, p = .008; peers' positive statements, r(56) = .345, p = .008; and total score obtained from the sum of negative statements made by all significant others, r(46) = .302, p = .037. The correlations of self-esteem with the statements made by the rest of the significant people around the students from the state elementary school tended to be lower and not significant.

The results of bivariate correlation analysis presented in Table 5 indicated that in the private elementary school some of the significant others' statements related to the self-concept of students at some level of significance as follows: Fathers' positive talks r(45) = .348, p = .014; mothers' positive talks r(45) = .404, p = .004; teachers' positive talks r(45) = .428, p = .002; peers' positive talks r(45) = .374, p = .008; and total score obtained for positive statements, r(39) = .550, p = .000 were significantly related to the self-concept ratings of students perceived by themselves. Among all significant others' positive statements only siblings' positive statements did not have any significant relationship with the self-concept of students, r(39) = .220, p = .167.

Negative statements made by people around students from both private and state elementary schools tended to have low correlations with the self-concept of students between -.221 and .100 and all were not significant.

For the students from the state elementary school positive statements made by all significant others had positive correlations with the self-concept of students at some level of significance as follows: Fathers' positive talks r(54) = .485, p = .000; mothers' positive talks r(56) = .486, p = .000; teachers' positive talks r(56) = .407, p = .002; siblings' positive talks r(48) = .407, p = .003; peers' positive talks r(56) = .517, p = .000; and total score obtained for positive statements, r(46) = .623, p = .000 were all significantly related to the self-concept ratings of the students perceived by themselves.

Table 5: Bivariate Correlation Results Between Significant Others' Statements and Self-Concept of Students for the Two Types of

Elementary Schools'

Private School State School

Significant others' statements N r P N r P

Father's positive statements 49 .348 .014 56 .485 .000

Father's negative statements 49 -.004 .977 56 -.099 .467

Mother's positive statements 49 .404 .004 58 .486 .000

Mother's negative statements 49 -.159 .275 58 -.146 .275

Teacher's positive statements 49 .428 .002 58 .407 .002

Teacher's negative statements 49 -.221 .127 58 .100 .456

Sibling's positive statements 41 .220 .167 50 .407 .003

Sibling's negative statements 41 -.001 .994 50 -.093 .519

Peers' positive statements 49 .374 .008 58 .517 .000

Peers' negative statements 49 -.205 .158 58 -.170 .201

Positive statements total 41 .550 .000 48 .623 .000

Negative statements total 41 -.145 .367 48 -.107 .467

a Significant findings were given in bold face.

Correlation coefficients were computed between significant others' statements and positive self-talk of students from the two types of elementary schools and the results were recorded in Table 6. Statements made by all significant others except

Table 6: Bivariate Correlation Results Between Significant Others' Statements and Positive Self-Talk of Students for the Two Types of

Elementary Schools"

_Private School___State School_

Significant others' statements N r p N r p

Father's positive statements Father's negative statements

49 .362 .011

49 -.006 .965

56 .475 .000

56 .144 .290

Mother's positive statements 49 .299 .037 58 .478 .000

Mother's negative statements 49 -.130 .372 58 -.058 .664

Teacher's positive statements 49 .353 .013 58 .650 .000

Teacher's negative statements 49 .124 .396 58 .238 .071

Sibling's positive statements 41 .263 .096 50 .510 .000

Sibling's negative statements 41 .057 .726 50 .108 .453

Peers' positive statements 49 .327 .022 58 .517 .000

Peers' negative statements 49 -.059 .685 58 -.163 .222

Positive statements total 41 .448 .003 48 .596 .000

Negative statements total 41 -.016 .921 48 .065 .661

a Significant findings were given in bold face.

siblings tended to have positive correlations with positive self-talk of students from the private elementary school at some level of significance as follows: Fathers' positive talks r(47) = .362, p = .011; mothers' positive talks r(47) = .299, p = .037; teachers' positive talks r(47) = .353, p = .013; peers' positive talks r(47) = .327, p = .022; and total score obtained for positive statements, r(39) = .448, p = .003 were significantly related to the positive self-talk ratings perceived by the students. Statements made by siblings, however, did not have a significant correlation (r(39) = .263, p = .096) with positive self-talk of the students from the private elementary school.

Negative statements made by people around students from both private and state elementary schools tended to have low correlations with the positive self-talk of students which ranged from -.163 to .238 and all were not significant.

Statements made by all significant others tended to have positive correlations with positive self-talk of students from the state elementary school at high levels of significance as follows: Fathers' positive talks r(54) = .475, p = .000; mothers' positive talks r(56) = .478, p = .037; teachers' positive talks r(56) = .650, p = .000; sibling's positive talks r(48) = .510, p = .000; peers' positive talks r(56) = .517, p = .000; and total score obtained for positive statements, r(46) = .596, p = .000 were significantly related to the positive self-talk ratings perceived by the students from the state elementary school.

As can be seen in Table 7 the results of bivariate correlation analyses revealed that only fathers' negative talks r(47) = .280, p = .051; teachers' negative talks r(47) = .422, p = .003; and total score obtained for negative statements, r(39) = .338, p = .031 were significantly related to the negative self-talk ratings perceived by students from the private elementary school. Negative statements made by the rest of the significant others did not have any significant relationships with the negative self-talk of the students.

Table 7: Bivariate Correlation Results Between Significant Others' Statements and Negative Self-Talk of Students for the Two Types of

Elementary Schools'

Private School State School

Significant others' statements N r P N r P

Father's positive statements 49 .084 .566 56 -.134 .326

Father's negative statements 49 .280 .051 56 .025 .853

Mother's positive statements 49 .059 .685 58 -.240 .070

Mother's negative statements 49 .186 .202 58 .134 .315

Teacher's positive statements 49 .095 .518 58 -.162 .223

Teacher's negative statements 49 .422 .003 58 .230 .083

Sibling's positive statements 41 .276 .081 50 -.171 .235

Sibling's negative statements 41 .114 .476 50 -.084 .560

Peers' positive statements 49 .113 .440 58 -.264 .045

Peers' negative statements 49 .222 .126 58 .145 .277

Positive statements total 41 .203 .203 48 -.316 .029

Negative statements total 41 .338 .031 48 -.006 .965

a Significant findings were given in bold face.

Negative self-talk ratings perceived by students from the state elementary school, however, did not have any significant relationship with any of the negative statements made by significant others and instead, had significant negative correlations with peer's positive talks r(56) = -.264, p = .045; and total score obtained for positive statements, r(46) = -.316, p = .029.

In summary, self-esteem, self-concept, and positive and negative self-talk were analyzed with respect to gender and type of school. Relationship between significant others' statements and student' self-esteem, self-concept and positive and negative self-talk were also investigated. These results will be discussed further in the next section.

4. Conclusions and Discussion

The self-esteem, self-talk and self-concept are the key constructs that have to be investigated to have an understanding of the social, educational and personal development of children. The improvement of these concepts is enormously affected by the way significant people interact with the individual child. Children's reflection on the opinions or perceived opinions of significant others contribute to the formation of their self-esteem, self-talk and self-concept. Juhasz's (1989) found that parents were nominated as the most significant people followed by peers, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives and teachers. However, Juhasz neither investigated the separate influence of mothers and fathers nor did he investigate the intensity of the relationship with significant others. Burnett and Mccrindle (1999) investigated mothers' and fathers' roles separately for children from middle class families in a metropolitan area. Furthermore, siblings', peers' and teachers' roles were also investigated.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible relationship among the teachers' perceptions of self-esteem of the students, students' perceptions of their self-talk, their self-concept and significant others' statements. The study also investigated the effects of gender and school differences on self-concept, self-talk, self-esteem and significant others' statements.

4.1. Findings, discussion and implications for responsible people

As can be seen from Table 3 no significant differences were noted between male and female students in their self-esteem, self-concept, positive and negative self-talk and positive statements made by all significant others. Negative statements made by significant others, however, were significantly different for male and female students. Although boys and girls received the same amount of positive statements, boys were exposed to negative statements more than the girls. The difference in this behaviour of significant others could have been due to cultural values of the Turkish Cypriot people who respect females more than the males and that it would not be nice to convey negative statements to girls. Another reason might be that the boys could be more belligerent than the girls making them attract more negative statements than the girls. Further research has to be done to find the causes of this difference, but necessary counselling and guidance has to be done immediately for changing the attitudes of significant others to make them reduce the rate of negative statements they say to the boys.

The study results revealed a significant difference in the self-esteem of the students with respect to school type but not with respect to gender. Although a few studies (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974; Watkins, Dong, & Xia, 1997) found no significant differences in self-esteem with respect to gender, others found differences of some significance. While some researchers (Knox, Funk, Elliott, & Bush 1998; Skaalvik, 1986) found higher self-esteem scores for males than females, others (e.g. Watkins, et al.) found higher self-esteem scores for females than males. Sahlstein and Allen (2002) found that females scored higher than males on comprehensive measures and the cognitive aspect of self-esteem, but males scored higher than females on social and physical aspects of self-esteem.

As can be seen from Table 3 no significant differences between students from private and state elementary schools were noted in their self-reported self-concept, negative self-talk, adults' negative statements and siblings' positive statements. Self-reported positive self-talk, positive statements of adults and peers, and negative statements of siblings and peers, and teacher-reported self-esteem were significantly higher for students from private elementary school. In other words, students from the private elementary school had higher self-esteem, their positive self-talk was more frequent, and although they were more exposed to positive statements of adults and peers, their siblings and peers made negative statements more often. Both positive and negative statements made by peers of students from the private school are higher. Hence, while trying to increase the frequency of positive statements and decrease the frequency of negative statements made by children in both schools, more effort must be exerted by

parents, teachers, counsellors and school administrators to reduce the rate of negative statements made by peers of students in the private school and increase the rate of positive statements made in the state school. Although student-reported self-concept of students was not significantly different for the two schools teacher-reported self-esteem of students from the private school was significantly higher. This difference could have been due to either one or both of the following two reasons: (1) There was really a significant difference in the self-esteems of the students from the two schools; (2) Teachers of the private school had more positive thoughts about their students although there could have been no significant difference between the students from the two schools. If the first reason caused the difference then more guidance and counselling should be done in the state school to increase the self-esteems of students, but if the second reason was the cause then teachers of the state school should change their attitudes to have more positive thoughts about their students. Further research is necessary to investigate the real causes for the difference in the self-esteems of students from the two schools.

Correlation results in Table 4 revealed that teacher-reported self-esteem had no significant relationship with adults' negative statements, siblings' positive statements and peers' negative statements for students from both schools. Student-reported positive statements made by teachers and mothers, as expected, had a significant positive relationship with teacher-reported self-esteem of students from both schools. Positive statements made by fathers and peers and negative statements made by siblings had positive relationships with the self-esteem of students only from the state school but not from the private school. For the students from the private school there is a significant relationship between their self-esteem and total positive statements made by significant others but not for the students from the state school. Although no significant relationship was noted between self-esteem and total negative statements made by significant others for students from private school, the study results revealed a positive correlation between self-esteem and total negative statements made by significant others for students from the state school. This result indicates that as the frequency of the negative statements made by significant others increase the self-esteem of students increase. Of course, this does not imply a causal relationship and further research must be done to find the causes of this relationship.

Analysis results listed in Table 5 depicted positive correlations between student-perceived self-concept and positive statements made by almost all significant others from both schools. The only difference between the two schools was in the relationship of the sibling's positive statements with the self-concept of students from the private school. None of the negative statements made by significant others had a significant correlation with the self-concept of the students from both schools. Although it can be concluded that those students who are exposed to positive statements made by their significant others more have higher self concept ratings, further research is necessary to investigate whether there is a causal relationship.

As can be seen from Table 6, fathers', mothers', teachers' and peers' positive statements had a significant positive relationship with positive self-talk of students for both types of schools. The only difference between the two schools existed in Siblings' positive statements which also had a significant positive relationship with positive self-talk of students from the state school but not with students from the private school. Although the relationship between siblings' positive statements and positive self-talk of students from private school was not significant, it was not negative either. Hence, as the analysis results dictate total positive statements made by significant others have a high positive correlation with positive self-talk of students from both schools. Burnett (1996b) found similar results for the relationship between children's self-talk and significant others' positive and negative statements. According to Burnett's study children who perceived that significant others talked positively to them appeared to have higher positive self-talk. For both school types, it can be seen from Table 6 that teacher's positive statements had a high relationship with the students' positive self-talk. Dohrn & Bryan (1994) described teachers as important role models for children, emphasizing that teacher's feedback especially shape the students' self talk.

Negative self-talk of the students from the private elementary school had positive correlations with negative statements made by fathers and teachers as can be seen from Table 7. Peer's positive statements on the other hand had a negative correlation with the negative self-talk of the students from the state school. The rest of the positive and negative statements had no significant correlations with negative statements of students from both schools. As a result negative self-talk had a positive correlation with total negative statements made by significant others of students from the private school and a negative correlation with the total positive statements made by significant others of students from the state school.

The findings of this study appear to indicate that significant people around the students should be careful to make positive statements more often and especially teachers should be careful not to make negative statements because as

Burnett (2003) stresses ".teachers should be aware of the negative effects resulting from their negative statements". Further research to find causal relationships between variables that have significant relationships is warranted.

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