A qualitative study of self-esteem, peer affiliation, and academic outcome among low achieving students in Hong Kong

Chi Hung LEUNG, Eudora CHOI

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A limited amount of research has been conducted on children and adolescents who are low achievers. In Hong Kong, educators describe low achieving students in terms of academic performance, they seldom focus on socio-emotional aspects, such as self-esteem, peer affiliation, and inter-personal relationships. However, low achieving students could also be described differently in different contexts. Students who experience difficulties academically are characterized as having difficulties in studying, completing assignments and organizing information Therefore, this study attempts to explore the impact of the transitions from primary school to secondary school among low achieving students on their peer affiliation and the reciprocal effect of self-esteem and academic outcomes, using data triangulation and methodological triangulation (different methods, i.e., observation, journal entries, portfolios and interviews) (Denzin, 1978). Aims: This study examined the effects of a peer support programme in smoothing the transition to adolescence and secondary school for students in the first year of secondary school by enhancing self-esteem, peer affiliations and academic performance. Sample: Participants in the study were students from a secondary school in Hong Kong. Seven form-one students participated three times weekly in groups facilitated by a trainer and older students. Method: The methods of data triangulation and time series design were employed. Data was collected from teacher interviews, observational field notes, inter-rater checklists, and conversations with students. Results: The results suggested that the peer support programme has significant effects on students’ academic outcomes and peer affiliations. Conclusion: Three major findings arise from this investigation. First, the overall effectiveness of the peer support programme could enhance the students’ academic performance and peer affiliations, this was agreed by the participants, teachers, trainer and researcher. Second, the school plays an important role in young adolescents’ lives. Relationships between teachers and students could improve if there is more peer interaction. Third, a warm and supportive network has been established among the participants. The in-group bonding among the young students was very strong, so as to equip them with better social skills and positive interpersonal relationships with other classmates. Copyright © 2010 New Horizons in Education, Hong Kong Teachers' Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-42
JournalNew Horizons in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


Leung, C. H., & Choi, E. (2010). A qualitative study of self-esteem, peer affiliation, and academic outcome among low achieving students in Hong Kong. New Horizons in Education, 58(1), 22-42.


  • Low-achieving students
  • Peer affiliation
  • Self-esteem
  • 香港低成就學生自尊心、朋輩親和性、及學術成果的質性研究


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