Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Involving Students/Locus of Control

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LOCUS OF CONTROL AND EDUCATION


by Lucyna Russell


Learning Targets


1. Readers will be able to understand what is locus of control.

2. Readers will know the difference between an internal and external locus of control.

3. Readers will learn how locus of control can affect student achievement.

4. Readers will learn what attribution training can do to help an external locus of control.


Table of Contents


1. What is Locus of Control?

2. What are the Differences Between Internal and External Locus of Control?

3. How does Locus of Control Affect Student Achievement?

4. Can an External Locus of Contol be Changed?

5. Conclusion

6. Quiz

7. Answers

8. References


What is Locus of Control?


Do you believe that you are responsible for your fate or that fate is something that is determined. Depending on your answer can tell you what type of locus of control you may have. Locus of control is a psychological term that was developed by Julian B. Rotter in the 1950's (Neill,2006).

"Julian B. Rotter has been cited as one of the 100 most eminent psychologist of the 20th centrury. Rotter was 18th in frequency of citations in journal articles and 64th in overall eminence." (Haggbloom, 2002)

Locus of control refers to an individuals beliefs about what determines their rewards or outcomes in life. Individuals locus of control can be classified along a specteum from internal to external (Mearns, 2006).



What are the Differences Between Internal and External Locus of Control?


A person who has an internal locus of control believes that their rewards in life are guided by their own decisions and efforts (Neill,2006). If they do not succeed at something, they believe it is due to their own lack of effort. For example, a student with an internal locus of control doesn't receive a good grade on his exam. He, therefore, concludes that he did not study enough for the exam. He realizes his efforts are what caused the grade and will have to try harder next time (Grantz, 2006).

A person who has an external locus of control believes that rewards or outcomes in life are determined by "luck, chance, or powerful others" (Mearns, 2008). If they do not succeed at something they believe that their lack of success is due to forces beyond their control. For example, a student with an external locus of control doesn't receive a good grade on his exam. He concludes that the test was written poorly and the teacher was incompetent. He blames the grade on external factors that were out of his control and doesn't see the need to try harder (Grantz, 2006).

  • "Males tend to be more internal than females"
  • "As people get older they tend to become more internal"
  • "People higher up in organizational structures tend to be more internal"

(Neill, 2006)




How does Locus of Control Affect Student Achievement?


There have been a number of studies that conclude that there is a correlation between locus of control and academic achievement. These studies concluded that students with an internal locus of control had higher academic achievement than students with an external locus of control (Uget, 2007). The reason for the internals performing better academically comes from their belief that if they work hard and study, they will receive good grades. Therefore, they tend to study longer and spend more time on their homework (Grantz, 2006). On the other hand, externals believe they have no control over what grade they get. This belief may have been caused by many attempted school assignments that they failed, leading them to have low expectations of studying and school (Grantz, 2006). Any success that they might experience will be rationalized as luck or that the task was too easy. They have come to expect low success and whatever goals they do set are unrealistic (Uget, 2007).


Can an External Locus of Contol be Changed?


When there is a student in the classroom that seems to be having a hard time with his grades and shows no motivation for improvement that student may have an external locus of control. (Grantz, 2006). What can be done to help this student? Is there a way to motivate him? "Attribution training which concentrates on strenghthening the student's internal locus of control, may be helpful in increasing motivation" (Grantz, 2006). Part of attribution training is having say positive things about themselves. Some examples are, "I can do this" or "This can be done with hard work". Students train themselves into believing that they do have the control to change things (Grantz, 2006). Students should be encouraged to associate their academic hardships with the cause of their difficulties as they are being guided to see the effect of their actions (Uget, Habibah, Jegak 2007).


Conclusion


It seems that a persons locus of control can greatly affect their academic achievemnet. The way they perceive themselves and the world around them affects how well they will do in school. It only makes sense that if you work hard and study, then you will do well. However, students with an external locus of control do not feel that way and feel there is no need to try. This, of course, will greatly affect their academic achievement. Although there are ways of trying to change their thinking process, it may not be successful every time. It is important that we encourage our children at an early age and show them that hard work and diligence does make a difference.


Quiz


1. A student that believes he will get good grades if he works hard and studies has an/a


a. internal locus of conrol

b. external locus of control

c. locus of control

d. strong self esteem


2. A student that fails a test and says it was the teachers fault is said to have an/a


a. internal locus of control

b. external locus of control

c. locus of control

d. low self esteem


3. Caleb is a third grade student who constantly says he cannot do the work, that it is too hard, and refuses to complete his tests would most likely have an/a. locus of control


a. locus of control

b. internal locus of control

c. low self esteem

d. external locus of control



4. Andrea is a fifth grade student who just failed a test. Andrea says to herself that she has to study more next time and try harder. Andrea has an/a. locus of control


a. locus of control

b. external locus of control

c. internal locus of control

d. high self esteem


Answers


1. a

2. b

3. d

4. c


References


Grantz, Mandy. (2006). Do you have the power to succeed? Locus of control and its impact on education. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://www.units.muohio.edu/psybersite/control/education.shtml.


Haggbloom, S.J. et al. (2002). The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century. Review of General Psychology,6,139-152.


Mearns, Jack. (2008). Social learning theory of Julian B. Rotter. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://psych.fullerton.edu/jmearns/rotter.htm.


Neill. James. (2006). What is locus of control? Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://wilderdom.com/psychology/loc/LocusOfControlWhatIs.html.


Uget, A, Habibah, B., & Jegak, U. (2007). The influence of causal elements of control on academic achievement satisfaction. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34(2), 120-8 Retrieved March 21, 2009, from education Full Text database.