Internal/external frame of reference model and dimensional comparison theory: a novel exploration of their applicability among Arab high school students

Joana Stocker*, Maher Abu-Hilal, Ehab Hermena, Maryam AlJassmi, Mariapaola Barbato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study aims at testing the generalisability of Marsh’s Internal/External (I/E) frame of reference model as well as its Dimensional Comparison Theory (DCT) extension in a sample of United Arab Emirates (UAE) high school students. Relationship between self-concept and achievement in Arabic, English and mathematics were explored. A sample of 990 students (532 girls; age 13–20) participated in this research. Arabic, English and maths self-concepts from the Self-Description Questionnaire were used. Results revealed positive paths between the same domains for achievement and self-concept and negative paths cross-domains. Significant negative paths were also found between English and Arabic, suggesting that languages sharing the same alphabet/characters could belong to the same ‘family’ and be considered as a near path, while languages from different families could be a far path. Differences in achievement were in favour of girls, although boys presented higher maths self-concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-501
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic achievement
  • dimensional comparison theory (DCT)
  • internal/external (I/E) frame of reference model
  • self-concept
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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