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Attainment-aspiration gap in students with a migration background: The role of self-efficacy
McElvany, N., Ferdinand, H. D., Gebauer, M. M., Bos, W., Huelmann, T., Köller, O., Schöber, C.

Attainment-aspiration gap in students with a migration background: The role of self-efficacy

Learning and Individual Differences, 65, 159-166. DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2018.05.002

Academic aspirations are important for academic success. Students with migration backgrounds tend to report high academic aspirations despite low success in school, a phenomenon known as the attainment-aspiration gap. This paper investigates whether the self-perception of ability (here, academic self-efficacy) can explain aspirations better than actual attainment in students with migration backgrounds. Data from 380 seventh-grade students enrolled in German schools showed background-specific patterns in multigroup structural equation analyses: In students without migration backgrounds, attainment and self-efficacy both predicted academic aspirations. In students with migration backgrounds, attainment in reading and mathematics did not predict aspirations, whereas academic self-efficacy did. Furthermore, a differential pattern of results for family background variables emerged across students depending on their familial countries of origin. As aspirations can influence behavior and facilitate academic and employment-related success, understanding factors that lead to their formation in students from diverse backgrounds is important for research and practice.