Psychological correlates of academic and athletic achievement in high school students

Scott Michael Smickley, Pace University


Participation in school sports may be, for many students, as important as the degree of success attained in the classroom. This study investigated the relationships between academic achievement, athletic achievement, self-concept, locus of control, and achievement motivation. The Tennessee Self Concept Scale, Locus of Control Scale for Children, Achievement-Related Affect Scale, and Measure of Achievement Motivation were administered to 130 male and 59 female urban high school students. Of these, 79 participated in school sports and were called school sport participants, while the remaining 110 did not and were termed school sport nonparticipants. Academic achievement was defined as the students' grade point averages, and athletic achievement was assessed by a newly developed 31-item scale in which coaches rated the school sport participants. Academic achievement and athletic achievement were not significantly associated, but athletic achievement was positively related to self-concept (p $<$.03). School sport participants rated themselves higher in athletic ability (p $<$.03) and possessed higher personal and social self-concepts (p $<$.05, for both) than the school sport nonparticipants, while subjects with higher academic achievement had higher moral-ethical self-concepts (p $<$.003). Group differences were also found with respect to gender and whether the subject participated in sports outside of school. The results suggest that athletic participation and success are significantly related to adolescents' self-concepts, and that a situation specific model of self-concept is useful in evaluating achievement motives and outcomes. School psychologists can utilize these results to assist educators and coaches in developing programs that will enable students to achieve at optimal levels, whether in the classroom or on the playing field.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Smickley, Scott Michael, "Psychological correlates of academic and athletic achievement in high school students" (1989). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9015217.



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