Variations in levels of aspirations of children grouped by class, race, sex and grade level

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Josephine A. Foster (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Irwin Sperry

Abstract: The objective of the present study was to investigate the levels of aspiration of children and discrepancy between their levels of aspiration and performance on two somewhat different tasks when the children were grouped by: (a) middle-and lower-classes; (b) white and Negro races; (c) males and females; and (d) three grade levels. The operational measurement of level of aspiration was accomplished by using a physical task, a ring-toss game, and an intellectual task, spelling. In the investigation, children were asked to state how many of ten rings they would like to throw onto a peg and how many of ten words they would like to spell correctly. The response given by each child for each task was recorded as his level of aspiration. Following responses for both task questions, the child was asked to perform on the two tasks. The difference between the level of aspiration set by the child and his performance score provided a discrepancy score for each child. Subjects were children enrolled in the second, fourth and sixth grades in ten elementary schools in Greensboro, North Carolina. Schools were randomly selected after they had been stratified as predominantly white and Negro in enrollment. Each child was classified according to his sex, race and grade level from cumulative folders and teachers' records and class position was determined by the head of the household's occupation. A total of 2,741 children were classified into combination categories and ten children were randomly selected from each category. Two hundred and forty children comprised the sample. The analysis of variance, fixed treatments model with multiple classification of subjects, was the statistical test employed for analyzing the data. The F value for all main factors and interactions was computed. The .05 level of significance was the criterion for making the decision about rejection or retention of the null hypothesis. The hypothesis that middle-and lower-class children would differ in levels of aspiration was not supported by the findings on either the physical or intellectual tasks except when the variable of sex was combined with the class variable on the physical task. Significant differences were found, however, in performance and discrepancy scores on the intellectual task. Middle-class children performed higher than lower-class children and lower-class children had higher discrepancy mean scores than middle-class children. The hypothesis that white and Negro children would differ in levels of aspiration was not supported by the findings on either task. Significant differences were found between the races, however, in performance and discrepancy scores. White children performed significantly higher than Negro children on the intellectual task. White children had higher discrepancy scores than Negro children on the physical task, whereas on the intellectual task, the Negro children had higher mean discrepancy scores. It was inferred that boys and girls would differ in their levels of aspiration according to the type of task. On the physical task, the boys were found to aspire and to perform significantly higher than girls, whereas for the intellectual task the same finding was not true. On the intellectual task the girls performed higher than the boys. The mean discrepancy score for boys on the intellectual task was more than twice as high as the mean discrepancy score for the girls. It was hypothesized that differences in levels of aspiration would be found between children in different grade levels. This hypothesis was supported on the physical task but not on the intellectual one. As grade level increased, level of aspiration progressively increased for the physical task. Significant differences were found in performance and discrepancy scores on the intellectual task. Second graders performed lowest and sixth graders performed the highest. The hypothesis that discrepancy scores would decrease with increased age (or grade level) of children was supported for the intellectual task but not for the physical task.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1964
aspirations, child psychology
Level of aspiration
Student aspirations

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