Age and school-type differences in children's beliefs about school performance

Lars Erik Malmberg, Brigitte Wanner, Todd D. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Age and school-type differences (primary school and three types of secondary school) in self-related beliefs about ability, effort, and difficulty were investigated in a study of 1723 Berlin youth. Consistent with selective ability-stratified schooling, multi-group structural equation models revealed: (1) mean-level belief differences reflecting assimilation effects among secondary school students, (2) belief variances were mostly narrower among secondary school students reflecting restricted social comparison opportunities, and (3) school type moderated relationships between beliefs. Primary school students thought ability was fixed, that effort paid off, and they used normative task difficulty for gauging how effortful they were. Haupt-/Realschule and Gesamtschule students thought they were less effortful and put in less effort. Haupt-/Realschule student achievement was unrelated to their agency belief in ability and personal difficulty, reflecting a pattern of educational goal disengagement. Gymnasium school students seemed to maximize the use of their ability through effort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-541
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008


  • Ability-beliefs
  • Agency
  • Difficulty
  • Effort
  • School performance
  • School type


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