Attribution theory refers to the causal explanations that individuals infer for their own behavior, and that of others, in an attempt to interpret their social world (Burgner and Hewstone, 1993. p.125). As Eslea (1999) notes, attributional styles have been found to be an important factor in a number of areas relevant to education, including childhood and adolescent depression, familial abuse, reading achievement, academic task persistence and coping with the problems of low socio-economic status p. 35. The aim of this essay is to discuss the relevance of attribution theory to educational psychology. Specifically, the essay will focus on the success and failure attributions of children who have learning difficulties, the attributions made by children who have behavior problems and the impact that the attributional styles adopted by teachers may have on children's learning.
[...] (1988) Causal attributions of learning disabled children: developmental patterns and relation to academic progress, Journal of educational psychology, 82-89 Kistner, J.A, White, R., Haskett, M. and Robbins, F. (1985) Development of learning disabled and normally achieving children's causal attributions, Journal of abnormal child psychology 639-647 Licht, B.G., Kistner, J.A., Ozkaragoz, Sharpiro, S., and Clausen, L. (1985) Causal attributions of learning disabled children: Individual differences and their implications for persistence. Journal of educational psychology 208-216 Miller, A. (1996) Pupil behavior and teacher culture, London, Cassell. [...]
[...] In a study on the effect of antecedent and programme-specific attribution training in combination with self- control training on the use of strategic behaviors (i.e., rehearsal strategies), Reid and Borkowski (1987) found that children in the combined attribution and self-control training group used more complex rehearsal strategies and developed stronger beliefs about the importance of effort compared to a control group who received only self-control training. Furthermore, children in the combined group showed less hyperactivity in the classroom. However, research suggests that not all learning-disabled or hyperactive children may benefit from reattribution training. [...]
[...] In addition to changing the attributional style of children with learning difficulties, attribution training has proved to be of benefit to children with behavior problems. Contrary to the expectation that behavior problems may reflect an excessive externalization of negative events (i.e. not taking responsibility for one's own misdemeanors), a study by Eslea (1999) revealed that boys in a school for severe behavior problems who were unresponsive to the school's behavior programme in fact made significantly more personal attributions for negative events than for positive events. [...]
[...] (1979) As failures mount: affective and cognitive consequences of ability demotion in the classrooom, Journal of educational psychology 798-808 Craske, M (1988) Learned helplessness, self-worth motivation and attribution retraining for primary school children, British journal of educational psychology 152-164 Croll, P. and Moses, D. (1985) One in Five: The assessment and incidence of special educational needs, Routledge and Kegan Paul Dweck, C.S. (1975) The role of expectations and attributions in the alleviation of learned helplessness. Journal of personality and social psychology 674-685 Elsea, M. [...]
[...] A number of studies suggest that attribution training, i.e., teaching children to attribute learning outcomes to effort, may help children to overcome such problems as learned helplessness (Craske Dweck, 1975), improve performance after failure (Andrews and Debus Craske Dweck, 1975) and improve academic progress in the long term. In a study of strategy-based reading comprehension in children with learning disabilities, Borkowski, Weyhing and Carr (1988) note that because children with learning disabilities develop antecedent attributions (or standing beliefs about personal causality” p.46), they may not be able to appreciate or generalize newly acquired strategy to reading assignments” p.46. [...]
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