Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Second Committee Member

Gregory Schraw

Third Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Fourth Committee Member

Linda Quinn

Number of Pages



The purpose of this mixed methods study was to understand how environmental factors contributed to identity achievement with potentially positive effects on academic performance for fifth grade students. Early adolescents have not been studied partly because of the predominant acceptance of Erikson's (1968) theory of identity development. Four questions guiding the study were (a) whether adolescents acquired an Achieved identity status earlier than previous research has suggested, (b) if environmental issues such as familial obligations expedited identity achievement, (c) if identity status impacted academic performance, and (d) what was the impact of an Achieved identity on academic performance. Participants were 78 fifth-grade students (39 girls and 39 boys) ages 10-13 from two schools in the southwestern United States. Their ethnicities included Latino (51%), Black (18%), White (10%), Other (9%), Biracial/Multiracial (8%), and Asian/ South Pacific Islander (4%).

The organizing theory for the study was Marcia's (1966) development of identity statuses and its constructs of exploration and commitment as determinants of identity status (Diffused, Foreclosed, Moratorium, and Achieved). Participants completed two quantitative measures of ego identity--the Ego Identity Process Questionnaire (EIPQ) by Balistreri, Busch-Rossnagel, & Geisinger (1995) and the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (EOM-EIS-II) by Adams, Bennion, & Huh (1989) and one semi- structured interview. The results identified a majority of the participants as Diffused status (n = 11, 55%), or Foreclosed status (n = 6, 30%). Only three were Moratorium status (n = 3, 15%), and none were Achieved status.

Children who appeared mature and responsible, for example taking care of younger siblings, were burdened with issues of daily survival that took precedence over school. Conversely, children without responsibilities could focus on school and think about their future.


Academic achievement; Academic performance; Ego (Psychology); Fifth grade (Education); Identity (Psychology); Students


Developmental Psychology | Education

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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