Perceived competence and depressive symptoms in children with reading problems

Sandra Stewart MacPhail, Fordham University


Students with reading problems (RP) exhibit low self-concept in academic and global areas as the result of repeated academic failure and perceived negative feedback from teachers, parents, and peers. Students with RP are also known to experience higher rates of depression in comparison to their normally-achieving (NA) peers. This study explored the relationship between reading self-concept, academic self-concept, global self-concept, perceived teacher support, and teacher ratings of academic competence in students with RP in comparison to NA peers matched by grade. The contributions of self-concept, reading status, and perceived teacher support to depressive symptoms were also examined. Participants from three urban schools in third through fifth grade mainstream classes were assigned to two groups (RP and NA) based upon their performance on a group reading achievement measure. Participants were then administered measures of self-concept, perceived teacher support, and depressive symptoms (positive and negative affect). Teachers completed ratings of academic competence for each participant. Results indicated that students with RP provided significantly lower ratings of positive affect than their NA peers, indicating increased depressive symptoms. Significant contributions to positive affect by academic, reading, and global self-concepts, as well as perceived teacher support were found. Results suggest that these factors are contributors to depressive symptoms in students with RP rather than the existence of RP, per se. These findings are important to consider in planning interventions that target maximizing the effects of teacher-student relationships for improving social-emotional functioning for students with RP placed in mainstream classes.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Educational psychology|Literacy|Reading instruction|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

MacPhail, Sandra Stewart, "Perceived competence and depressive symptoms in children with reading problems" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3523358.