The relationship of self-concept, ethnic self-identification to the academic achievement of Puerto Rican elementary school students

Ismael Rivera-Rivera, Fordham University


The main purpose of this study was to determine the degree of self-concept (either negative, low positive, or high positive) among Puerto Rican elementary school students and their degree of ethnic self-identification (i.e., how Puerto Rican students in the United States identify themselves as either Puerto Rican, bicultural, or Anglo). The study also investigated whether the self-concept and the ethnic self-identification of Puerto Rican elementary school students influenced their academic achievement. The data for the study were acquired from: (a) the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventories (SEI), measuring self-concept--the beliefs participants have about themselves; (b) the Puerto Rican Ethnic Self-Identification Scale (PRESIS), measuring how participants identified themselves in relation to their ethnic group; and (c) school records of participants' achievement in reading (measured by the Degrees of Reading Power test-DRP) and achievement in mathematics (measured by the California Achievement Test-CAT-5). The data were analyzed using frequency distributions, correlation coefficients, and one-way ANOVA. The findings of the study revealed that most participants (83.3%) did not perceive themselves as having a high positive self-concept. In the area of ethnic self-identification, most participants were identified as bicultural (i.e., a mixture of Puerto Rican and Anglo cultural characteristics). In the language preference area (a subscale of the ethnic self-identification scale), most participants reported a preference (speaking, TV viewing, reading, etc.) for the English language over the Spanish language. Through the use of correlation analysis, it was found that these two main variables, ethnic self-identification and self-concept, were statistically not significant; self-concept, positive or negative, was not a predictor of ethnic self-identification. In the academic achievement area, participants did not achieve at grade level in reading and mathematics. In the reading achievement area, for instance, it was found that 90% of the participants were performing below grade level. In mathematics achievement, 76.7% were performing below grade level. To answer the question whether self-concept and ethnic self-identification had any influence on academic achievement, the analysis of the data showed that the participants' self-perception was not related to academic achievement (i.e., reading and mathematics). The study found that the participants' self-concept and ethnic self-identification were not among the factors that may account for the academic underachieving and failure of Puerto Rican elementary school students in the United States.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Rivera-Rivera, Ismael, "The relationship of self-concept, ethnic self-identification to the academic achievement of Puerto Rican elementary school students" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9729607.