An investigation into factors that influence the sense of competence of six high school girls

Susan R Jay, Florida International University


The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of environment, behavior, capabilities, beliefs and values, and identity, based on Dilts' (1990) levels of cognitive alignment, on the cognitive construct of sense of competence and related constructs of self-efficacy, motivation, expectations, and goal-setting among adolescent girls. An individual who is aligned is free from conflict among the interaction of these levels. In addition, academic achievement, adolescent culture, parental involvement, and school environment were four of several issues in the lives of adolescent girls examined to explore how these issues might interact with the levels of alignment and sense of competence. A case study approach used in-depth interviews with six female seniors from private single-sex and mixed-sex high schools organized around the levels of alignment and school environment. Response patterns were analyzed to determine each girl's varying evidence of alignment or freedom from conflict within her environment. The findings indicated that none of the girls were able to meet the conditions for alignment in Dilts' model or a sense of competence. School environment, parental involvement, and adolescent culture were important factors influencing the extent to which conflict was experienced by each girl. The girls with domain-specific successes developed strategies that concentrated their efforts in the domains in which they could demonstrate their best abilities. The results contribute to current theory and research on adolescent girls: and have value for practitioners working with adolescent girls in developing strategies to improve their self-efficacy, motivation, expectations, goal-setting, and overall sense of competence.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Womens studies|Educational sociology|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Jay, Susan R, "An investigation into factors that influence the sense of competence of six high school girls" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9903430.