Children's perceptions of their own and their classmates' ability


Deborah Stipek

Year of Publication: 
Journal of Educational Psychology

Children in kindergarten through third grade rated their own and their classmates' "smartness" and nominated classmates who were the best and worst at specific tasks and the best and worst thinkers in the classroom. These ratings were then compared to teachers' classification of the students as low- or highachievers. Only the second- and third-graders' ratings of their own ability reflected their teachers' ratings and were correlated to classmates' ratings of their ability. At all grade levels children's ratings of their classmates reflected
teachers' ratings of the academic status of the child being rated. Responses to open-ended questions concerning the criteria children used in evaluating their own smartness revealed that older children most often provided examples of their performance on specific tasks to justify their self-ratings, whereas younger children most frequently explained their self-ratings on the basis of their work habits (e.g., following directions). Work habits were also given as the most common explanation for peer smartness ratings.

APA Citation

Stipek, D. (1981). Children's perceptions of their own and their classmates' ability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 404-410.