Knightley, Wendy M and Whitelock, Denise M
Assessing the self-esteem of female undergraduate students: an issue of methodology.
Educational Studies, 33(2) pp. 217–231.
For many students, embarking on higher education can pose particular threats and challenges, not
only to academic identity, but also to fundamental, personal aspects of the self. This paper reports
a methodological study that employed quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the
impact on the sense of self and self-esteem of a group of female first-year undergraduates. Results
from a Self-esteem inventory, a variation on Q Methodology, an Ideal-self inventory and a semi-structured
interview revealed different but complementary aspects of the self and indicated that participants’
self-esteem increased over the duration of the study, as recorded on all four measures. It is
suggested that the most appropriate way of uncovering and understanding mediators of self-esteem
may be through a mixed-method approach.
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