The aspects and ability groups in which little fish perform worse than big fish: Examining the big-fish-little-pond effect in the context of school tracking

Yao Ting Sung, Li Ying Huang, Fen Lan Tseng, Kuo En Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The present study focused on junior high-school graduates who were equally able but attended different-rank high schools, comparing their academic self-concept, school adjustment, and academic achievement upon the completion of senior high school. An overall-school analysis was used to replicate previous findings, and an adjacent-school comparison was conducted to compare the performance of students at the bottom of a higher track and their similar-ability counterparts at the top of a lower track. The results indicated that the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) affects the academic self-concept and school adjustment of certain students, but not their academic achievement. Furthermore, the BFLPE was present between the bottom students of the first-ranked school and the top students of the second-ranked school, but not between the bottom students of the second-ranked school and the top students of the third-ranked school. The obtained results indicate that the BFLPE may not necessarily be associated with cognitive outcomes such as academic achievement and tracking contexts with less contrasting groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-232
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul



  • Academic achievement
  • Academic self-concept
  • Big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE)
  • School adjustment
  • School tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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