ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (5): 529-539.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00529

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The academic shame of middle school students: Measurement, physical arousal, and its relation with students’ academic achievement

MA Huixia; XUE Yang; LIU Jing   

  1. (Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300074, China)
  • Received:2015-05-29 Published:2016-05-25 Online:2016-05-25
  • Contact: MA Huixia, E-mail:


Academic shame refers to student’s achievement shame experienced under school or university circumstances. The purposes of this study are (1) to develop a questionnaire of academic shame of middle school students; (2) to analyze the physiological response of the academic shame caused by imagination; (3) to explore the relation between academic shame and academic achievement. Shame affects human behavior negatively and positively as well. Researches related to academic shame are scarce, especially the measurement of academic shame, physical arousal and the relation between the academic shame and achievement, which we attempt to explore in this thesis with 3 specific studies successively. In study 1, by using semi-open questionnaires, we investigated 191 middle students about their experiences of shame and the situations that caused their shame. According to the result of this questionnaire, a 26-item preliminary academic shame questionnaire were developed. We then analyzed the preliminary academic shame questionnaire with the methodology of exploratory factor analysis by using SPSS 16.0 and confirmatory factor analysis by using Amos 7.0. Based on the result of the analysis and later adjustments, the formal 17-item questionnaire of middle school students’ academic shame were finally developed. Next, we randomly selected 328 middle school students to complete the formal questionnaire, and after 3 weeks, we asked 84 of them to do it again for us to calculate the test-retest reliability. On the other hand, we measured another 182 students with the academic shame questionnaire and the Academic Emotions Questionnaire to test the criterion validity. By doing these, the Academic Shame Questionnaire for Middle School Students (ASQ-MSS) were developed. The ASQ-MSS includes 4 factors: inconsistence with self-expectation, unfair suffering in class, getting others’ attention, and poor academic performance. The Cronbach’s α coefficient of the questionnaire is 0.867, and the 4 sub-scales are 0.744, 0.738, 0.699, and 0.698. The retest reliability of the questionnaire is 0.731, and the 4 sub-scales are 0.831, 0.79, 0.764, and 0.68. In study 2, we randomly selected 292 middle school students to complete the ASQ-MSS, and then selected 34 of them whose scores are at the high end (> 66) as the high score group, and 30 whose scores are at the low end (< 49) as the low score group. After Randomly allocating the selected 64 students into the experiment group and the control group by the method of ABBA, we played the audio of academic shame scene to the experiment group and meanwhile played the audio of academic pride scene to the control group. During this process, we recorded and collected their spontaneous physiological responses by using a 16-channel physiology recording system. In the end, we found increasing trends of students’ skin conductance responses, finger temperatures and finger pulse rates, and a decreasing trend of their oxygen saturation, which demonstrated our assumption that imagination can arouse participants’ academic shame and academic pride. The results of this experiment also indicated that high score group has stronger responses than low score group, and the shame group has the similar physiological responses with the pride group. In study 3, 347 middle school students were randomly selected to complete the ASQ-MSS, and then 20 percent of these students whose scores are at the high end and the low end of the result were picked out to compose the two groups. We gathered each of these selected students’ grades of Chinese, Mathematical and English in two successive monthly examinations from their teachers. The results of comparing 2 groups’ grades indicated that the group with higher ASQ-MSS scores also has higher scores in their academic achievements. To explore the relation between academic shame and academic achievement, we classified the achievement grades into 6 levels. In conclusion, students with grades around 60 score level and 90 score level experience high academic shame. By this study, we developed Academic Shame Questionnaire for Middle School Students, a tool that has been proved having good reliability and validity. We also found that both academic shame and academic pride have obvious physiological responses. In addition, the pattern of the relation between academic shame and academic achievement is complex. On the basis of this thesis, future academic shame research should focus on the positive effect of academic shame on students’ behaviors and their academic achievements.

Key words: academic shame, middle school students, questionnaire, physical arousal, academic achievement