The big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) posits that students with the same ability will have higher academic self-concepts when they are in low ability classes than in high ability classes. Our research puts the BFLPE under scrutiny by examining the potential moderators that may affect the size of the BFLPE. Based on the self-reported mathematics self-concept and mathematics achievement data from 7,334 Hong Kong junior secondary school students in 201 classes, the BFLPE was found to be significant. Further moderation analyses indicated that students’ endorsement of competition and social power would moderate the BFLPE, though the effect size was small. Specifically, the BFLPE was found to be stronger for students who were competitive and those who would like to strive for social power. Yet, the BFLPE was found to be significant even after the moderation effect was controlled for. Our research provides continued support for the BFLPE. The moderation effect of competition and social power also provides important theoretical and practical implications in educational settings.
|Published - 2011