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Bell, KP 2004, 'Boys' self-esteem: the effect of co-educational schooling', Masters thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright KP Bell 2004


This thesis examined the changes in self-esteem of adolescent boys going through the school transition from a single-sex to a co-educational environment. The study combined an initial quantitative study followed by an in-depth qualitative study. The quantitative study used the Coopersmith self esteem instrument to measure the self-esteem of boys in Years 7 and 8 in the last year of the all boys' school. The same instrument was used twelve months later on the same students in Years 8 and 9 after the school had undergone the transition to co-education. Analysis of the data indicated that the boys' overall self-esteem had dropped significantly. The second part of the study was a qualitative study to investigate more fully the effect of the transition on the boys at the school. This part of the study was based on data collected from interviews with twenty seven boys and nine staff, as well as various informal interviews and observations made by the author over the period 1998 to 2004. The qualitative study used the principles of grounded theory (Glasser & Strauss, 1967) to draw out the factors and related phenomena to crystallize why the boys' self-esteem may have been adversely affected. Through this process, three key factors emerged; Everybody's Looking at Me (reflecting social self-esteem), Girls Hold You Back a Step and Academic Stuff (both reflecting academic self-esteem). The qualitative study pointed to why the boys may have felt less favourably about themselves in the co-educational environment. These findings are discussed in detail in relation to the extant literature.

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