Cognition and Instruction/Motivation, Attribution and Beliefs About Learning

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Our motivations drive and direct our thought processes and actions. People in developed countries spend about 15,000 hours in school by the time they are 20.[1] It is important to understand the effects this extended school experience has on students' lives and well-being.[2] Research has repeatedly found that as adolescents get older, there is a decrease in their motivation to learn.[3] Researchers are now focusing on ways to sustain students' motivation throughout their school experience. This chapter explains how theories and research on motivation and beliefs about one's self can be applied to teaching and learning. It emphasizes the importance of motivation in learning, and how teachers can motivate students by accommodating and adapting to their needs. Motivation has two aspects that are inter-related.[4] One aspect looks at how much motivation a person has, and the second looks onto what type of motivation it is. [5] There are many theories of motivation, and here we examine three that offer understanding of teaching and learning. The first theory we look at is Self-Determination theory, which looks at two types of motivation and the factors that facilitate them by fulfilling psychological needs. The second theory we examine is Goal-Orientation theory, which looks at the power of goals in relation to the environments they are constructed within. The structure of the environment generally aligns with the type of motivational goal students strive to achieve. The third theory we examine is Expectancy-Value theory, which explains motivation in terms of the expectations individuals have for their performance in particular activities, and what value performance in those activities holds for them.

Self-Determination Theory[edit]

Self- Determination Theory, first introduced by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, primarily looks at two different types of motivation.[6] It states that each type of motivation is built upon a reason or goal that eventually develops into a certain behaviour. [7] The first type of motivation is intrinsic motivation, which is motivation that comes within one’s self for enjoyment and self interest without external pressures or reasons.[8] A student who decides to read a textbook for full pleasure and takes interest in the topic, does so because of intrinsic motivation. [9]On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from doing something because it leads to an external outcome. [10]This would be a student who solely reads a textbook because he or she knows there is going to be a test at the end and wants to do well on the test.[11]

Both of these types of motivation topics are extremely important to researchers and educators within the theory, because over the years there have been numerous conclusions, under the view of the Self - Determination Theory, intrinsic motivation facilitated the highest quality of learning because it included using creativity and the existence of psychological needs. [12] With recent research however, there are a few approaches that state that although the highest quality of learning does still involve the core aspects of intrinsic motivation, there are ways to include extrinsic motivators to achieve the same purpose. This will be talked about more in later sections, after defining Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation more in depth.

Intrinsic Motivation[edit]

As mentioned above, intrinsic motivation has been concluded to facilitate the highest quality of learning, as it stimulates creativity and satisfies important yet basic psychological needs.[13] According to the Self-Determination Theory there are three personal physiological needs every human tries to fulfill. [14] The first need is Autonomy. Autonomy is defined as being self regulation and self initiating of ones own behaviour and actions. [15] A student who is autonomous would know exactly what is needed to achieve a given task and feels that they have the individual freedom to do so with effort.The second physological need is Competence which is defined as being the ability to attain different outcomes both externally and internally and is successful in doing so using the environment they are surrounded by. [16] For a student this would mean the ability to do well on a difficult exam with the skills that they already have built from previous experiences.[17] Finally, the third physiological need is Relatedness. Relatedness, would be the level of connection one feels from their social environment,[18] where in the case of a student, would be when a student feels that they can relate and connect to what they’re learning as well as with the subjects around them. [19]

Extrinsic Motivation[edit]

The Self- Determination Theory explains that there are 4 specific types of extrinsic motivation that are different to the degree which they hold autonomy.[20]Starting from the left side of the spectrum, motivation is completely external, and as it moves in the right side direction it moves towards becoming internal.[21] The least autonomous extrinsic motivation on the left spectrum is External regulation. This form of motivation is where behaviours are done to receive an incentive or to avoid a sort of punishment.[22] This would be a student who decides to study for an exam strictly to get a good grade, avoid a punishment by their family members , or not be mocked by external subjects for being incapable.[23] Now moving one to the right side, the next type is Introjected regulation, where motivation would occur solely to fulfill self/internal power and avoid guilt.[24] A student here would change their motive of studying for an exam to elevate their ego and protect their image.[25] Identified regulation comes next, which moves to a more autonomous motivation as its main reason towards acting on something is because it is seen as being valuable and useful for the future.[26] For example studying hard for an exam because you want to do well for your future career would be identified regulation.[27] The final type of extrinsic motivation which is the most autonomous is Integrated regulation, which is closely tied with topics that are being learned combined with one’s self interests.[28] For example, a student might want to study chemistry because it will help them become a doctor which will in turn help others and society. [29]

Promoting and Changing Extrinsic Motivation into Intrinsic Motivation[edit]

A key reason why it is important for students to improve their intrinsic motivation is that it leads to overall improvements in both psychological health and academic success [30]. Knowing this, many educational psychologists are constantly working towards finding ways to promote the benefits of intrinsic motivation for students in both their school subjects and emotional health [31]. We can look at literacy as a clear example. On average, 73% of American children do not read for enjoyment [32] and we can assume that this rate is high due to students not realizing the benefits of finding intrinsic motivation in literacy. Results show that students who enjoy reading perform higher in comprehension and overall feel more contended; [33] similarities were found with Math. Over the K-12 schooling years for students, academic intrinsic motivation for math shows to have the highest decline [34]. Math has shown to be able to energize students, and those who have intrinsic motivation have higher problem solving skills as well as higher confidence levels when solving complex problems in different aspects of life [35] Students with special needs and special education also proved to show higher rates of confidence[36]. For these students, this positive impact can result in higher hopes for high school completion rates and achievements after finding intrinsic motivation.[37] In regards to emotional behaviour and health, students who were found to have high levels of intrinsic motivation were overall happier with life, and further created a friendlier and positive school environment. [38] Increased motivation also promoted positive social qualities such as being helpful, friendly, and caring. Considering this aspect, results also showed a positive decline in drug use, violence and vandalism. [39]

With understanding the benefits of promoting internal motivation and also acknowledging the degrees of extrinsic motivation, we can now work towards looking at a common concern as to how to change external motivation into internal motivation in the classroom. Let us use an example of a grade 7 class that is spending time on a specific chapter in science. Some of the students feel that the content they are being taught is extremely uninteresting and pointless. The approach teachers should take in a scenario like this is the process of Internalization and Integration, which aims to promote and discover the value of what is being taught.[40] Internalization is the method of analyzing the explicit reasons as to why one chooses to do something with external motivation. Integration is process of taking those external reasons and converting them to come from one’s own self [41]. Here we will see motivation transform from something that was once external (left spectrum) to something that becomes more internal (right spectrum). [42] However, this process can only be achieved or facilitated once students are placed into environments that are allowing them to feel self determined and fulfilled in all three psychological needs of competence, relatedness, and autonomy [43]. The ways that teachers can support this is by allowing students to have a voice and and choice in the academic activities that they engage in. [44], assigning learning activities that are challenging with providing them with the tools and information needed to succeed in the activity.[45], in addition, creating an environment that makes them feel valued, respected, and regarded positively by their teachers and peers. [46]

Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Rewards[edit]

On a similar note, The Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) is a sub section of the Self Determination Theory that was presented by Deci and Ryan (1985) [47]. It states that any event that becomes interpersonal or relational, and helps to promote the feeling of both competence and autonomy, will in turn cause intrinsic motivation. [48]The theory however, stresses that they’re both interrelated and that the feelings of competence will not promote intrinsic motivation unless it is aided by the sense of autonomy. [49] Moving this theory into the classroom, when teachers look at assigning a given task or assignment, they should look to see if the guidelines will fulfill the needs of competence and autonomy in the student.[50] For example, this can be seen when a teacher assigns an individual project or presentation for science class. If the teacher allows the students to chose their own topic and pick between giving a project or presentation, it allows them to have control (feeling of autonomy), which in effect allows them pave their own pathway towards feeling successful (feeling of competence). [51]

Under the CET, research has been continuously worked on to find the results of using rewards, feedback, and other external events on intrinsic motivation to see if it further promoted or decreased the feeling of competence and autonomy. [52] The Cognitive Evaluation Theory explains that external events can do either, depending on how one’s self determination or competence is perceived [53]. If an event decreases the way one perceives them, it will decrease intrinsic motivation whereas if it increases the way they perceive them it will increase it.[54] The Cognitive Evaluation Theory also claims that the two aspects of rewards, wether they are either informational or controlling, can answer this question [55] Informational increases intrinsic motivation and controlling decreases it.[56] To determine if a reward is either controlling or informational, it is first important to define the difference between verbal and tangible rewards.[57]

Verbal Rewards are often replaced with the common term “positive feedback ”[58] It has strongly been suggested and assumed that positive feedback will increase intrinsic motivation as it is likely to fulfill a student’s need to feel competence and be informational.[59] However it is important to realize that verbal rewards may have a controlling aspect as well. It can lead to a student doing actions for the sole purpose to gain appraisal and approval. (i.e. teacher or peers)[60]. The CET therefore claims that the rewards must be looked at in the terms of interpersonal context which looks at the social atmosphere that students are surrounded by( i.e. a classroom)[61]

Tangible Rewards are opposite of verbal words and are rewards that are strongly associated with being controlling and contributing to decreasing intrinsic motivation.[62] For them to be controlling, they have to be looked at as rewards that are offered as incentives for students to do things that are out of their regular norm.[63] This could mean that the student would be motivated to do something because they knew what the expected outcome of the reward was going to be. [64]The CET takes this understanding and explains that expected tangible rewards are broken specifically based upon the tasks or circumstances that students are asked to participate in.[65] It outlines that there are three types of reward circumstances.[66]

Task-Non Contingence Rewards that are given to students for participating in an activity
Task-Contingence Rewards given to students for completing an activity
Performance-Contingence Rewards given to students for completing an activity, showing success, and performing well

The use of rewards in the classroom has been a long term debated topic, as both researchers and teachers aim to consider what kinds of rewards are best to give to students and when they are the most appropriate to give as well[67]. A recent meta analysis study was done to test the effects of verbal and tangible rewards in the classroom. The effect of verbal rewards showed exactly what was claimed above.[68] When verbal rewards were informational they increased intrinsic motivation and if they were to be controlling it decreased it.[69] They also found that verbal rewards had a higher significance in increasing intrinsic motivation in adolescents in college than younger students in primary school.[70] Similarly, similar results were found with experiment with tangible rewards as they showed to diminish intrinsic motivation. However, in this situation, the effect on students was higher in younger students than for adolescents in college.[71] In regards to teachers and educators giving rewards, it can be implemented in the classroom but only to be used in an appropriate manner. Verbal Rewards are highly recommended however only when it informational.[72] Although Tangible Rewards show negative results, they too can also be implemented in the classroom, however the best method for implementing them include making the rewards unexpected so that the students are not aware of what will be rewarded to them.[73]

Teachers[edit]

While working to apply the Self Determination theory in the classroom with students, it is important to analyze the environments that students are exposed to and look at the effects of how the external environment plays when working towards creating an environment that creates intrinsic motivation. Here we will look at the effects of teachers, and the effects that teachers have directly upon students.

Because teachers play a major role in a student’s life , there are many ways teachers can influence students. The first way teachers can achieve this is by simply being intrinsically motivated themselves [74] A study was done to see if intrinsic motivation from teachers could disseminate to students in a high school physical education class. Results positively showed that when working with a intrinsically motivated teacher, higher levels of intrinsic motivation in physical education were achieved than working with a teacher who was extrinsically motivated for external rewards( i.e. being paid) [75] Similar results to promote an intrinsic environment were shown when a study was done to look at how teacher’s support for basic needs effected school bullying levels. The study included looking at 536 students, grades 7-9 in different Hong Kong secondary schools, where students were asked to fill out a questionnaire based on different measures they had felt throughout that semester.[76] Some of the questions included asking students how often they excluded someone, how often they felt they were a bully victim, and how often they felt their teacher showed support in relatedness, autonomy, and competence. Results showed that the lowest amount of bullying took place in schools when teachers had shown high levels of support in relatedness, and students had felt that they had a personal bond and open relationship with their teachers. [77]

Expectancy Value Theory[edit]

In a school and learning environment, students are always making choices when it comes to what motivates them and how they act on that motivation. These choices often revolve around how much effort to put into different activities; for example one student might not put any effort into their schoolwork, but may try exceptionally hard in sports, while another student puts effort into every class but physical education. Expectancy Value Theory; which was developed by Atkinson and built upon largely by Eccels and Wigfield, tries to explain this concept by stating that performance and choice are most strongly influenced by the specific understanding a person has on what they are capable of in different fields, and on what they find important to them.[78] Culture, emotion, and outside parties such as parents or teachers have also been deemed by researchers such as Richard Pekrun to be influential in adding value to certain activities.[79]

Wigfield and Eccels' Model of Expectancy Value Theory[edit]

One of the most well received models of the Expectancy Value Theory was initially developed in 1983 by Wigfield and Eccels, with the model still being further developed.[80] What makes Wigfield and Eccel’s model of Expectancy-Value Theory significant is that it easily applicable to teaching and learning as it examines the individual more closely. As a whole, Wigfield and Eccles' model examines ability and expectancy beliefs and personal values as significant to the expectancy-value theory.[81] Expectancies and values are influenced by an individual’s beliefs in their abilities, which tasks they define difficult or simple, goals, and past learning.[82] Expectancies and values are then in turn seen as directly influencing an individual’s choices, performance, effort, and persistence.[83] When discussing the model in the context of schooling, Eccels and Wigfield identify four different values that are present in the classroom.

Intrinsic Value Utility Value Attainment Value Cost
The level of enjoyment a specific activity or task gives an individual. [84] An individual finding a certain task or activity to have a quality of usefulness; whether it is related to a present or future goal, or to please parents or friends.[85] An individual recognizing the success in a certain activity as important.[86] How an individual views a certain task or activity in terms of its cons, such as if any other opportunities will be lost in the place of doing this one and the amount of effort it will take to complete.[87]

These values further tie in with ability beliefs to create the certain expectancies and levels of motivation an individual sets to a certain task. Ability Beliefs are defined as an individual’s insight on how capable they are at certain kinds of tasks.[88] Wigfeild and Eccels state that while ability beliefs are based on present ability, expectancies are based on what they expect of themselves in the future.[89]

Another important aspect of the model to examine in regards to the classroom is how a student’s expectancies and values develop over the years, and when they start to develop. Wigfield and Eccles state that children start recognizing what activities they are good or bad at and what value different activities have from as early as kindergarten or grade one.[90] This includes the various domains found within a school environment, such as math, reading, music, and sports.[91] These insights on what areas they were successful in also changes over the years as students continue learning. For example, ability and expectancy beliefs for reading generally increase from a grade four student to a grade seven or grade ten student,[92] meaning that an individual who does not view themselves as a strong and confident reader may eventually become confident in their reading skills.[93] This is especially significant because it shows that teachers can try to help students develop their values and expectancies in different subjects. However, an individual can also experience a decline in their values and expectancies for different subjects.[94] For example, students tend to value math more in elementary school than they do in high school.[95] Wigfield and Eccel’s model describes that this can be due to two main reasons; first that children become better at self-assessment through criticism and comparison and can therefore highlight weaknesses in their abilities and in what they value.[96] The second explanation is that the school environment changes over the years of elementary and high school by becoming more competitive, which leads to students adjusting their expectancies for achievement.[97]

Raising Value in the Classroom[edit]

A first question to ask when examining ways to increase student value towards class material is what makes value something worth spending time on? In 2012, a research study by Gregory Liem and Bee Leng Chua was done to examine expectancy and value in the classroom and which were more effective in student raising motivation and performance. The study consisted of a sample of 1664 Indonesian high school students in Civic Education classes in West Java.[98] Selected from a total of six schools, the 1664 students included 812 males and 852 females from the Year 7 to Year 12.[99] In order to assess whether expectancies or values were more influential, Liem and Chua gave the students a set of questionnaires that assessed what the students expected from themselves in their civic education classes, how they valued the class, their future goals, their civic capital, and factors such as gender and school level.[100] Overall, the questionnaires showed that though expectancies were effective, values had a much stronger effect on individual students’ motivation and performance (304). This means that in a teaching setting, it is important to try to make connections to the different values that may be present in students. As discussed earlier, Wigfield and Eccles’ model identifies four different values; utility value, intrinsic value, attainment value, and cost.


1. Strengthening Utility and Attainment Values

In Liem and Chua’s study, it was also found that motivation to learn and interest in material in the civic education class were especially strong if the student’s future and career goals were related to civic education.[101] This means that as the subject material had a direct quality of usefulness to those students, they possessed a higher utility value for the subject material.[102] Furthermore, the direct utility value the students shared with the material also raised a higher attainment value, meaning that it was important for them to do well in that class[103]. Therefore an effective way to get students more motivated to engage with certain material is to teach them why education is important, why the specific lesson is useful to them, and how it connects to the future role they will play in society. Though university students have a better understanding of which courses offer utility value, high school and elementary students may need extra help from teachers to explain why the connection is useful to them. For example, for high school students some ways to engage utility value is to discuss any university programs or future career goals they may be interested in and make explain how that course is relevant to them; such as explaining that a programming class can provide a good knowledge base for any who want to go into Information technology. For activities such as essay writing, this may make a student more eager to learn and motivate them to do well in the class; especially as students are starting to look into universities. Engaging utility value in elementary students may be extra beneficial for the students as an early understanding of why education of certain material is important may increase the students overall desire to learn and engage in schooling. As elementary teachers work more closely with the same group of students in every subject, they have a unique opportunity to appeal to their students as to why certain material is important. One of the best ways to do this is to be selective of what material is chosen to teach and how to teach it while still staying within curriculum, which can also be taken into account for high school students. For example, Jere Brophy of the University of Michigan states there are three significant steps that can be taken to aid in this.[104]

Step Significance
1. Curriculum Development Careful selection of curriculum to make sure everything the students are learning is worth learning while still following school requirements.[105]
2. Scaffolding Application Apply scaffolding techniques to make sure students are given plenty of opportunities to develop new skills and learn for themselves how to apply what was learned while making sure they are applying their knowledge in beneficial ways.[106]
3. Lesson Framing Frame Lessons in a way that makes sure to explain the value and application of all material and skills being taught. [107]

Overall, explanation and understanding is the key to engaging student’s utility and attainment value by having students understand how to apply the skills they are learning and why they should want to succeed in learning them.


2. Engaging Intrinsic Value

As stated earlier, intrinsic value is the level of interest or enjoyment a student finds in lesson material. Intrinsic Value is closely related to the Self-Determination Theory aspect of intrinsic motivation that was described earlier, as whenIan individual finds intrinsic value in a task, it can become intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic value and intrinsic motivation can be very varied depending on the individual as all individuals have their own specific interests. This also means that what an individual finds intrinsic value in cannot be changed with extrinsic factors. Therefore, as teachers cannot change what a student finds interest in, one of the most effective ways for a teacher to raise student intrinsic value is to build and maintain a good relationship with their students. Overall, studies show that an emotionally and academically supportive teacher can lead to higher interest and intrinsic motivation, and therefore higher academic effort. A study conducted by Julia Dietrich a, Anna-Lena Dicke , Barbel Kracke and Peter Noack with math teachers shows how positive and negative relationships with teachers can affect both the individual and the classroom.[108] On an individual level, a supportive teacher led to higher positive associations with intrinsic value, effort, and long-term development in math;[109] while an unsupportive teacher led to a negative association and lower development. On a classroom level, a shared perception between students of a teacher as supportive led to a positive association of class levels of intrinsic value and motivation, with increased skill development over the year.[110] However, if a class deemed a teacher unsupportive, class levels of motivation were lowered.[111] This shows that it is overall beneficial try to provide students with emotional and academic support. However, this is further developed by good relationships with multiple teachers, as it leads to positive comparison.[112] Dietrich et al’s paper describes this Comparative Process as comparing one’s own achievements with their own achievements in other classes or with other students.[113] This process can also occur between experiences with other teachers. For example, if a student finds the teacher of one grade or subject to be less supportive than another teacher, their motivation in the class of the less-supportive teacher may decrease.[114] This shows that while it is important to ensure that a teacher is creating an emotionally and academically supportive environment, it is equally important that all teachers and staff work together to ensure that they are all setting a similar teaching standard for their students.

3. Overcoming Cost Of all of the values described in Wigfield and Eccle's model, cost is the most unique as it is influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Though engagement of the other values may limit the amount of negatives a student identifies in a task by increasing its importance, many of the qualities of a task that influence an individual student to make decisions are outside of the teachers control. This increases as students get older and begin to be in charge of more decisions, for example a high school or university student picking their courses. An article by Jessica Flake et al describes how cost can be split into four identifications, Task Effort Cost, Outside Effort Cost, Loss of Valued Alternatives Cost, and Emotional Learning Cost.[115] The chart below is an adaptation of a chart shown in Flake's article that explains how different costs lead to different decisions and behavior. Adapted from work by Jessica Flake et al, in "Measuring cost: The forgotten component of expectancy-value theory"[116]

Though teachers may not be able to limit what cost values a student might be influenced by, learning how these costs affect student's decisions can provide a deeper understanding of why students make specific choices. This can then better prepare a teacher to cater to the needs of individual students and identify specific problems.

Raising Expectancy in the Classroom[edit]

Though the Wigfield and Eccle’s model of Expectancy-Value theory focuses more strongly on values, expectancy and ability beliefs are still fundamental the theory’s application. As mentioned earlier, building on student values within the classroom is an effective way to also raise expectancy. However, there are still other ways that expectancies can be built upon. Furthermore, as expectancy and ability beliefs are considered to be more domain specific over activity specific,[117] they can be improved in a much more general way than values. For example, one of the most applicable ways to raise expectancy in the classroom is by building on base skills.

The Importance of Reading Programs

Improving students' expectancy and motivation in reading is one of the most effective and easily applied ways to increase an individual’s overall expectancy. As reading is a base skill, a higher expectancy in reading skills can then make a student more confident in their overall learning abilities. A study by Christopher Nkechi showed that the implication of Extensive Reading Programs; a program that requires students to read several books over a span of a few months, were beneficial in increasing motivation through raising self-expectancy in reading.[118] Many researchers have done studies showing that these programs are extremely beneficial for students whose first language is not the language being taught, with many examples using English as the second language. However, Nkechi showed that these Extensive Reading Programs are also extremely beneficial for students who already speak the language being taught, using native English speakers in his study.[119] One of the main aspects of the Extensive Reading Program used in Nkechi’s study was Literary Circles. Literary Circles is a group activity that uses scaffolding strategies by assigning each group of students with a novel to read, and then requiring each student to go through a rotation of assigned roles.[120] These roles not only encourage the students that might otherwise be disengaged or unwilling to read the novel in order to keep up with their group, but require the students to find meaning and message in their readings.[121]

For Nkechi’s study, 96 students were split into groups and rotated through three to four novels.[122] Each student was then asked to fill out a questionnaire about their expectations for the program both before and after completion of the program. Once the students completed their program after several months, the results showed that the program overall raised student expectancies and beliefs in their reading ability.[123] Overall, the study showed that Extensive Reading programs help students become more capable in different aspects of language and how to use their capabilities in different forms of media and activities.[124] These ER programs also help develop vocabulary, which is significant as in order to make sense and meaning of texts an individual needs a 97-98% vocabulary coverage.[125] Though lessons can target and teach certain specific words, these reading programs supply students with general vocabulary and how to recognize it.[126] Extensive Reading programs also supply a student with more exposure to grammatical laws, which can provide deeper examples after the basics have been taught to them.[127] As reading provides a base from which to learn many different subjects, increase in expectancy in reading abilities can also help raise expectancy in other subjects where reading in order to understand subject material is required. Therefore, as a whole these programs are easily implemented in a classroom and are successful in increasing students expectancies in reading and comprehension in all subjects.

Goal Orientation Theory[edit]

Early conceptualizations of goal orientation theory are derived from James A. Eison's work on dimensions of student's learning and grade orientations.[128] Eison looked at the structure of student's educational and personal differences; he viewed them in relation to learning for genuine acquirement of knowledge, versus performing for attaining high grades.[129] Subsequently, Dweck postulated similar ideas categorizing mastery and performance goal orientation.[130] Dweck's work established goal orientation theory as a two-dimension construct wherein students either approach situations with the motivation to master and acquire new skills, or perform in order to gain approval and do better in comparison to others.[131] People have different reasons for setting goals and as such, each person approaches their goals differently. Goal-orientation theory seeks to explain the underlying implications of motivation in academics.[132] Students are categorized by their mastery goal orientations or performance goal orientations.[133] A mastery goal orientation reflects genuine purpose as people work towards mastering a set of skills in order to accomplish a task.[134] Students with mastery goal orientations pursue goals for their own sake.[135] It is important for teachers to structure lessons that assist students in obtaining a mastery goal orientation. Teachers can accomplish this by relating learning to personal growth and by co-constructing objectives that are relevant to the student's interests.[136] Consequently, by focusing on personal growth in the learning process, teachers can increase intrinsic motivation which activates a mastery goal orientation.[137]

Studies have also found students that adopt mastery goal orientations demonstrate more adaptive self-regulatory behaviors and social attitudes, which contribute to an increased interest in learning.[138] Teachers must be willing to continually adjust their methods and instructions in order to create optimal learning conditions. In doing so, they create an environment that aligns with their student's goal orientations. The instructional approach must avoid tasks that encourage memorization and rehearsal, for example.[139] However, how can teachers ensure their students are learning appropriate information without incorporating tests and exams? Teachers can facilitate in-class discussions, group projects, papers, and presentations in order to gauge the level of understanding and also the amount of content being absorbed by students.[140]

Performance goal orientations highlight how well an individual can demonstrate success in tasks and understanding.[141] Performance-oriented individuals are competitive and focused on personal gain prompted by extrinsic rewards.[142] Furthermore, mastery and performance goals can be divided into subcategories of avoidance.[143] The former, describes students who wish to avoid misunderstanding tasks, lessons, or instructions; the latter, describes students who wish to avoid appearing incompetent during performance.[144] Overall, students with mastery avoidance and performance avoidance goals fear failure.[145] Teachers must avoid creating a class atmosphere that is high risk and high reward. That is, they must place less emphasis on external motivation and achievement in relation to others.[146] The structure of the classroom is contingent on the teacher's representations of goals, values, and beliefs; for example, does the teacher focus on how well students perform in comparison to one another, or how the students improve throughout the year?[147]

Students can have adaptive goal orientations because they engage in multiple goal paths.[148] Studies also identify a combination of learning and performance cues that exist outside the classroom; two prime examples are the ways in which parents and peers influence student motivation.[149] Consequently, teachers need to be aware of how parents and peers contribute to shaping of a mastery goal orientation. [150] In a longitudinal study conducted by Juyeon Song, Mimi Bong, Kyehyoung Lee, and Sung-il Kim, surveys were administered to assess variables in learning and home environments that influenced student's motivation; psychological attitudes students felt towards school were included in the assessment as well.[151] Subsequently, the data was used to measure the degree of perceived support from parents and teachers; they found that certain types of support promoted different types of goal orientations.[152] Parents and teachers that stressed achievement increased test anxiety, compared to parents and teachers who supported students with emotional encouragement.[153] The preceding study supports the notion that teachers need to foster intrinsic motivation in the classroom.[154] They can do so by continuing to nurture student's emotional development so there is no discrepancy between the care and support they receive at home and at school; in this way, teachers are also able to combine the student's home and school lives representing a comfortable space for students to develop their learning.[155] Moreover, offering emotional support shows student's that they are worthy of care and this can reverse adverse effects of achievement pressure.[156]

Another study by Javier Fernandez-Rio, Jose A. Cecchini, and Antonio Mendez-Gimenez tested cooperative intervention programs against traditional teaching programs in order to find out which method generated more intrinsic motivation.[157] The study participants were university students between their early twenties and early forties.[158] The participants were split into either an experimental condition in which they were taught through cooperative reciprocal learning, or they were placed in the control condition wherein traditional unilateral instruction was applied. [159] The cooperative intervention program influenced positive perceptions of competence and enhanced intrinsic motivation.[160] In addition, cooperative learning encouraged students to work with one another and problem solve together.[161] If applied in a classroom setting, cooperative learning supports mastery goal orientations through peer to peer interaction as they learn to work together and not against each other; as they are required to solve problems and work through differences to achieve a common goal.[162]

Both of the studies presented above hold important implications for the classroom. Finding the source of motivation can also assist in guiding future goals, achievement goals, social goals, and personal well-being goals towards a more mastery oriented goal state.[163] Parents and peers are significant influences in a student's motivation and as such, teachers must learn to implement their influence in the class. The studies presented above provide teachers with strategies and techniques to approach their class with. Applying social goals in particular, can create more opportunities for peer to peer involvement and can foster a cooperative class climate as well.[164] Feeling comfortable and connected to peers helps students discover meaning which enhances the development of a mastery goal orientation.[165] The sociocultural framework helps teachers investigate motivation through its use in cross-cultural contexts.[166] It enables teachers to identify aspects of the class climate that sustain mastery; for example, by allocating more time for group work and discussions.[167] Parent, teacher and peer involvement are intertwined; teachers must always keep this in mind so they can understand their students and their intentions for learning. Consequently, teachers can support mastery by guiding future goals, achievement goals, social goals, and personal well-being goals if they involve all aspects of the student's home, school, and social life.[168]

Assessment and intervention are two methods in goal-orientation theory that can help identify and shape the types of goal orientations that will persist in the class.[169] One way teachers can assess whether a mastery or performance goal orientation exists is by applying interventions such as the Likert scale.[170] Questionnaires help teachers get a feel for the class’ impressions and expectations. Surveys also assist teachers in acquiring important information about their student’s beliefs regarding success in the class.[171] Teachers can use this data to reorder their instructional process and better explain a path to meaningful success. Surveys are beneficial because they can vary in specificity and target information.[172] For example, asking students to share their aspirations and motivations can provide insight into student conceptualization of the learning process and therefore, assist teachers in setting classroom objectives that support a mastery goal orientation. In the same way mastery goal orientations can balance performance goal orientation, qualitative methods can complement quantitative methods.[173] In applying a diverse range of methodology such as open and structured observations, talk-aloud protocols, conversation analysis, life history and ethnography, teachers can gain a fuller understanding of the nature and origins of goal orientations.[174]

Goal Structures[edit]

There are two types of goal structures that align with the mastery and performance goal orientations.[175] The goal structure however, refers to the environment and the ways in which outside conditions can affect student’s motivation, cognitive engagement and achievement.[176] It emphasizes the specific goals to be achieved in the classroom by way of instruction and practice.[177] The teacher must be cautious when organizing the curriculum as the types of tasks delegated and marking process influence goal structure.[178] In addition, the level of freedom students are given to explore and group arrangement, both contribute to forming a particular classroom goal structure.[179]

As noted above there are two types of goal structures known as mastery goal structure and performance goal structure.[180] A mastery goal structure embodies a learner focused environment wherein the standards and policies encourage students to try hard and do their best.[181] Teachers can create a mastery goal structure through clear explanations of the objectives; for instance, by telling students the purpose of performing tasks is to expand their knowledge.[182] Teachers that offer choice in their activities, such as allowing students to pick their own essay or presentation topics, piques interest by targeting subjects students are passionate about. Students are taught to value themselves as well as the learning process in this way as well.[183]

A performance goal structure creates an atmosphere of rivalry and competition.[184] Success comes from obtaining extrinsic rewards and performing competently in various tasks.[185] Teachers can better shape their classrooms by determining which goal structures foster approach and avoidance goals.[186] For example, mastery goal structures foster mastery approach goals.[187] Teachers can administer anonymous surveys and the questions can help indicate whether students acquire more of a mastery or performance goal orientation. In addition, because goal structures usually mirror the environmental conditions, they are observed as impacting the specific goal orientations that students adopt.[188] Applying this to a classroom setting, teachers must remain cognizant of the goals students perceive as being important in the class because they will correspond to their personal goal orientations.[189]

Research has proposed that teachers who placed higher worth on learning and working hard resulted in students viewing their environment as mastery structured; therefore, students were more likely to assume a mastery goal orientation.[190] Teachers can implement classroom contracts at the beginning of the school year to solidify the working conditions. Cultivating mastery goal structure enhances student drive for more challenging work and they are better able to adapt in order to succeed.[191] Students learn to effectively employ learning strategies in the presence of mastery goal structures as well.[192] Self-report measures assist teachers in identifying connections and discrepancies within student’s goal structures and goal orientations; they are able to analyze reported levels of choice, effort and persistence in order to understand a student’s adaptive motivational engagement.[193] Ultimately, mastery goal structures promote mastery goal orientations that encourage intrinsic motivation, cognitive engagement and achievement.[194]

Mastery Goal Orientation and Performance Goal Orientation[edit]

Goal orientations originate in schemas and can be made purposeful in context.[195] Students perceive cues and prompts from the situation that leads them to adopt either mastery goal orientations or performance goal orientations.[196] Asking student’s questions about their past can trigger positive intrinsic experiences that reactivate their schemas for mastery goals.[197] By asking students to draw upon experiences of happiness and success during their academic careers, teachers place more of an emphasis on mastery goal orientation that can be similarly attained in the class.[198] Questions that require deep reflection also help students continually adapt and challenge their goals to coincide with their mastery goal structures.[199] Students can recognize differential emphases on mastery goal orientation and performance goal orientation.[200] Subsequently, they align their perspectives and behaviors accordingly.[201]

Tasks, authority, recognition, grouping, evaluation and time are all aspects of the class setting that influence goal orientation.[202] The following examples illustrate the implications and relationships to instruction.

Tasks

Teachers must consider what they are asking their students to do when assigning specific tasks.[203] What is the outcome they wish to obtain? If teachers are asking students to listen to a lecture and soon after write a quiz, students will adopt a performance goal orientation.[204] The demand level and structure of such a task places external pressure on students and detracts from a meaningful experience.[205] In order to prevent this from happening, the teacher can engage students through a more flexible task structure.[206] For example, allowing students to participate in an online discussion forum allows them to go at their own pace and use their creativity.[207] Discussion forums are powerful because students can internalize input from their peers in order to create meaning.[208]

Authority

Authority refers to the teacher’s dominancy or openness towards the structure of the class rules and regulations.[209] Strict regulations and rules reflect intolerance for change insinuating students are not active participants in decision-making for their own learning.[210] However, teachers can create contracts with students in order to layout guidelines and responsibilities.[211] Furthermore, instructors can assign a date in the middle of the school year to request feedback and make revisions if necessary.[212] In this way teachers demonstrate their concern for student's wellbeing and personal growth.[213]

Recognition

Recognition addresses the outcomes and actions that must be attended to in order to foster mastery goal structures.[214] Extending effort, taking risks, being creative, sharing ideas and learning from mistakes are all acceptable and functional behaviors to encourage within the classroom.[215] In addition, teachers should express praise in private because publically commending students can foster competition and undermine the abilities of others.[216]

Grouping

Grouping takes different dynamics into consideration.[217] Criteria includes appreciating differences by grouping students with different domains of interests together; in doing so, students are given the opportunities to share, interact and interpret perspectives outside their own.[218] Groups represent the inherently social climate embedded in the class.[219] Mastery is co-constructed as teachers and peers participate in guided meaning making.

Evaluation

Evaluation communicates much about task, teacher and overall course objectives.[220] Therefore the manner in which evaluation is carried out holds vast implications for both instructors and students.[221] Teachers must avoid comparing students based on final outcomes and they can do so by evaluating based on progress, creativity and mastery of skills.[222] Much like recognition, evaluations should also be conducted in private.[223] Teachers can implement weekly progress reports and students can track their personal growth. Allowing students to measure their mastery of skills also allows the teacher to gauge what types of adjustments and provisions could be offered.

Time

Time is a critical factor in establishing a mastery goal structure and mastery goal orientation appropriately.[224] Time restrictions communicate completion over quality. For this reason, teachers should be accommodating by letting students work at their own pace.[225] Teachers must also be open to allocating time according to the level of task difficulty.[226] For example, although some students can complete their work by the end of class, other students may feel anxious from the time pressure and thus, require more time. Moreover, teachers can leave more class time to complete work, but allow students to take the material home as homework if work remains incomplete.[227] Mastery goal orientations maintain a stronger motivation to learn because they nurture personal growth in the learning process while fostering an ongoing desire to improve.[228]

Tasks Authority Recognition Grouping Evaluation Time
Allowing student to choose their own topics for research Instructor is open to collaborating with students Identifying creativity and learning from mistakes Grouping by diversity; pairing students with a variety of learning strategies Holistic approach reviewing progress and development; encouraging reflection Allocating an adequate amount of time for learning and structuring knowledge

Mastery Avoidance and Performance Avoidance[edit]

Mastery avoidance goals and performance avoidance goals are concerned with the image one reflects.[229] For example, students with a desire to avoid performing poorly and appearing incompetent in comparison to others are concerned with performance avoidance goals; whereas, students concerned with mastery avoidance goals strive to avoid misunderstanding the task or material presented.[230] Performance avoidance goals have been tied to negative outcomes and low achievement.[231] Generally, performance orientations are less adaptive than mastery orientations regardless of the approach or avoidance orientation that results.[232] Moreover, in relation to the self, performance avoidance goals are associated with negative emotions and overall, wellbeing. Subsequently, students characterized by mastery avoidance fear becoming incompetent as a task and strive to evade it at all costs.[233] Akin to performance avoidance goals, findings have revealed that mastery avoidance goals are also linked to maladaptive outcomes including poor implementation of cognitive strategies and procrastination.[234] It is not enough to encourage mastery goal structures and mastery goal orientations in the class; teachers must also understand the roles that avoidance orientations play and their implications for instruction.

Summary of Motivation[edit]

The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how motivation can be increased in the classroom through certain popular theories such as the Self-Determination Theory, the Expectancy Value Theory, and the Goal Orientation Theory. In general, we can see that a good reason to encourage intrinsic motivation is because it leads to increased levels in both psychological health and academic success. Setting the context for learning is an important aspect of the teaching environment because it influences the goals set out for the class. Encouraging intrinsic motivation supports student's genuine purpose and passion to master skills. In the self-determination theory we saw that intrinsic motivation is triggered once students feel fulfilled in three psychological needs which are autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In the expectancy value theory we looked at how a student's performance and choice are influenced by what they expect of themselves as well as what they value. More importantly, we look at how to increase expectancy and value in the classroom in order to raise motivation. In the goal-orientation theory we saw that evaluations hold important implications in the classroom by allowing time for reflection on the development of mastery. Through this chapter we hope that present and future educators can use these applications as a way to increase motivation in the class.

Suggested Reading[edit]

Motivational Beliefs, Values, and Goals

Eccles, Jacquelynne, & Wigfield, Allan. (2002). Motivational Beliefs, Values, and Goals. Annual review of Psychology, 53. 109-132.

Expectancy-Value Theory of Achievement Motivation

Wigfield, Allan, & Eccles, Jacquelynne. (2000). Expectancy-Value Theory of Achievement Motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68-81.

The Contributions and Prospects of Goal Orientation Theory

Kaplan, A., & Maehr, M. L. (2007). The Contributions and Prospects of Goal Orientation Theory. Educational Psychology Review, 19(2), 141-184.

Advancing Achievement Goal Theory: Using Goal Structures and Goal Orientations to Predict Students' Motivation, Cognition, and Achievement

Wolters, C. A. (2004). Advancing Achievement Goal Theory: Using Goal Structures and Goal Orientations to Predict Students’ Motivation, Cognition, and Achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(2), 236-250.

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Goal Contents in Self-Determination Theory: Another Look at the Quality of Academic Motivation."

Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 41(1), 19-31. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4101_4

Glossary[edit]

Ability Beliefs: Ability Beliefs are the beliefs an individual has on how capable they are at certain kinds of tasks.

Attainment Value: Attainment Value is the value an individual finds in a certain task or activity from recognizing that success in that activity is important to them.

Autonomy: Autonomy is the ability to be self regulated and self initiating of ones' own behaviour and actions.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET): The Cognitive Evaluation Theory is a sub section of the Self Determination Theory that was presented by Deci and Ryan (1985). It states that any event that becomes interpersonal or relational, and helps to promote the feeling of both competence and autonomy, will in turn cause intrinsic motivation.

Competence: Competence is the ability to attain different outcomes both externally and internally by using the environment they are surrounded by.

Cost: Cost is the negative qualities that an individual attaches to certain activities or tasks. Examples of this include missed opportunities from selection of that task over others, and the amount of effort the activity will take.

Curriculum Development: Curriculum Development is the careful selection of curriculum and content to ensure that everything students are being asked to learn is worth learning.

Expectancy Value Theory: Expectancy Value Theory is a theory first developed by Atkinson that defines performance and choice as being influenced by the certain values and self-expectations an individual has for certain activities.

Extensive Reading Programs: Extensive Reading Programs are programs that require students to read several books over a span of a few months, and are beneficial in increasing motivation through raising self-expectancy in reading.

Goal-Orientation Theory: Goal-orientation theory explains the reasons and choices individuals make that maintain motivation. The theory states that individuals have two major goal orientations; mastery goal orientations and performance goal orientations.

Goal Structure: Goal structures embody the learning environment. Goal structures are shaped by the language used by an instructor, the assigned tasks, and the incentives employed to facilitate learning.

Intrinsic Value: Intrinsic Value is the level of enjoyment and interest an individual finds in a specific activity or task.

Lesson Framing Lesson Framing is the structuring of lessons in a way that makes sure to explain the value and application of all material and skills being taught.

Literary Circles: Literary Circles is a method used in Extensive Reading Programs that uses scaffolding strategies by splitting students into groups, assigning each group of students with a novel to read, and then requiring each student to go through a rotation of assigned roles. Each group typically reads more than one novel together.

Mastery Avoidance: Mastery avoidance is the desire to avoid misunderstanding tasks and information.

Mastery Goal Orientation: Mastery goal orientation focuses on intrinsic growth and development. Individuals who acquire a mastery goal orientation are genuinely motivated and value the learning process.

Mastery Goal Structure: Mastery goal structures influence mastery goal orientations. Mastery goal structures foster learner focused environments based on intrinsic motivation.

Performance Avoidance: Performance avoidance is the desire to avoid performing poorly and appearing incompetent in comparison to others.

Performance Goal Orientation: Performance goal orientation focuses on extrinsic rewards such as grades, prizes, and praise. Individuals who acquire a performance goal orientation only wish to appear competent in relation to others.

Performance Goal Structure: Performance goal structures influence performance goal orientations. Performance goal structures foster competitive environments based on extrinsic reward.

Relatedness: Relatedness is the level of connection one feels from their social environment.

Scaffolding Application: Scaffolding Application is the application of scaffolding techniques to ensure that students are given opportunities to develop new skills and learn for themselves how to apply the skills they have learned.

The Self- Determination Theory: Self- Determination Theory , first introduced by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, and is a sub section of motivation that primarily looks at two different types of motivation. It states that each type of motivation is built upon a reason or goal that eventually develops into a certain behaviour.

Utility Value: Utility value an individual finds in a task or activity related to the degree to which an individual finds a certain task or subject to be useful to any short term or long term goals.

Wigfield and Eccles' Model of Expectancy Value Theory: Wigfield and Eccles' model of the Expectancy-Value theory states that expectancies and values are influenced by an individual’s beliefs in their abilities, which tasks they define difficult or simple, goals, and past learning.

This chapter examines the role of attribution and emotion in teaching and learning. We will be discussing attribution theory, the four stages of the attributional process, methods for helping students cope with emotions, attributional retraining and implications for instruction. Any event that occurs in our everyday lives can be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on what we identify as the cause of the event. Our causal attributions have consequences for our emotions and behaviours which, in turn, affect learning and achievement. Attribution theory classifies emotions and links them to types of attributions. As educators, we can take our student's affective and behavioural responses into consideration to ensure that they know how to cope with their emotions. In addition to our student's emotions, we should also be aware of our own feelings and how they are expressed towards our students. Attribution theory can be applied in the classroom environment by providing attributional retraining to students identify and change their maladaptive attributional responses.

Attribution Theory[edit]

We often come across events in our lives that can be interpreted in several different ways. The explanation that we come up with to describe the cause of an event is referred to as an attribution. [235] The way an event is attributed causes us to react with a variety of responses. To study how people interpret events taking place in their lives, researchers use attribution theory. Attribution theory gives insight into why people have different responses to the same outcomes.

To illustrate the theory, imagine that two students take a math test and both end up receiving 60 percent. One student is very disappointed with herself and vows to create a study group in order to earn a better grade for the next test. She also goes to her teacher for extra help. The second student is angry when she sees her test grade and goes to her friends to see how they did. When she discovers that a few of her friends also performed poorly, she attributes her failure to a poorly written test. Although the outcomes of the situation are the same for both students, the way they interpret and respond to the experience is very different. Later on in the chapter, we will take a more in-depth look into how different attributions affect the way we cope with failure. We can gain a deeper understanding of why people make specific attributions, what the most common attributions are, what types of affective responses are elicited and the effect that attributional judgments have on our behaviour by studying the attributional process.

Importance of Attributions as a Predictor of How People Cope with Failure[edit]

The significance of attributions is highlighted in the study "Importance of Attributions as a Predictor of How People Cope with Failure" done by Follette and Jacobson. [236] The purpose of this study is to replicate and expand on the research of Metalsky et al. (1982), which focuses on the reformulated learned helplessness model (RHL). Measuring general attributional style, specific attributions for examination performance and the prediction of motivational deficits, this study aims to emphasize the significance of attributions to help predict how people cope with failure in a classroom setting. We will be referring back to this study throughout the attribution theory section of this chapter.

One hundred and ten subjects from an upper division, undergraduate psychology course participated in the study. There were 28 men and 82 women. The participants were asked to complete the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, 1967), the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire (EASQ; Peterson & Seligman, 1984) and an additional questionnaire including the following questions: “What grade do you expect to get on the next exam?”, “What grade would make you happy?” and “What grade would make you unhappy?” The questionnaire period was labelled as Time 1. Following this, the students completed an adjective checklist (Zuckerman & Lubin, 1965). It was used to assess three types of moods, including anxiety, hostility and depression. This assessment took place 12 days after Time 1 and 2 days before the actual examination. Seven days after Time 2, students completed the last step in the study, designated as Time 3. Their actual examination grades were returned along with the final package of questionnaires. The package included the checklist for assessing mood, two forms soliciting the students’ attributions for their examination performance, a questionnaire asking about their future plans to help prepare the next examination and a request asking them to report their actual grade. The study concluded with a final debriefing of the participants.

The materials used in this study include the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire, Mood Affect Adjective Check List, Exam attributional measures and the Planned Behaviours Questionnaire.

The EASQ distributed to the students measures attributional style for negative hypothetical events. The participants were asked to imagine themselves in each situation and write down a possible cause for the event. There was an equal distribution of both affiliative and achievement situations. Examples include, “You have been looking for a job unsuccessfully for some time” and “You meet a friend who acts hostilely to you”. The participants were then asked to rate the cause of each situation using a 7-point Likert scale. The first three dimensions are internal-external (ranging from completely due to others to completely due to my own efforts), stable-unstable (ranging from will never be present again to will always be present) and global-specific (ranging from influences only this situation to influences all situations). Peterson and Seligman added a fourth dimension, control-no control that asked subjects of the study to rate the degree of control that they believed they would have in each event. The calculated score of this study was only based on the first three scales.

The Mood Affect Adjective Check List Today Form (MAACL; Zuckerman & Lubin, 1965) is comprised of 132 items that are used to detect the subjects’ moods based on three dimensions: depression, anxiety and hostility. In addition to measuring depressed mood at one point in time, the MAACL was also used to assess the change in participants’ mood over a short period of time in this study.

Students’ attributions for their grade on the examination were measured in two ways. Firstly, participants were given an indirect probe, which requested that they list their thoughts and feelings about their performance on the exam. There were several boxes on the form, in each of which subjects were asked to list one thought or feeling. The participants were told that they did not have to fill in all the boxes. This method of examining attributions allowed for more spontaneous thinking and was potentially less reactive compared to some of the instruments traditionally used in attribution research. For the second part of the exam attributional measures, the subjects were then asked to rate the cause of their examination performance with the Likert ratings that were used in the EASQ. The cause of the event was rated on the four dimensions: internal-external, stable-unstable, global-specific, and control-no control dimensions. For each of the student’s responses to the indirect probe, two trained undergraduate coders rated whether an attributional thought was developed. Statements that explained possible causes for a participant’s examination performance were coded as attributions. Examples include: “The test was deceptively easy,” “My score reflected the fact that I had two midterms and an assignment due on the same day,” and “I should study harder.”

The Planned Behaviours Questionnaire (PBQ) was designed by the authors specifically to use in this study. Participants were asked to give an estimate of the number of hours they spent studying for the examination they had just completed. Following this, they were then asked to estimate the number of hours they intended to spend studying in preparation for the next exam. Finally, the questionnaire was concluded with this final question: “Do you intend to do anything different from what you did to prepare for this exam when studying for any future exams in this class? “Please list anything new that you plan to do in preparation for the next exam” The new behaviours listed were counted to see how many participants chose the same method in order to study for the next exam in this class.

The regression analyses of the study were comprised of several factors. The preexamination MAACL depression score was a covariate that was entered in into the equation first. Next, the degree of stress was added into the equation. This variable was the difference between the score that would make the participant happy and the actual examination grade that they received, based on the traditional 0.0-4.0 grading scale. The greater the discrepancy between the two grades, the higher the stress score the participant received. The third component that was entered into the equation was the composite attributional style variable. This variable was calculated by taking the sum of internal-external, stable-unstable and global specific dimensions for hypothetical situations on the EASQ. The final and most important component entered into the equation was the product vector of the interaction between attributional style and stress level to test the diathesis-stress model of depressed mood. Table 1 and Table 2 can be found with the study here. [237]

Additional results of the study showed that under high stress conditions, the tendency to make internal, stable and global attributions resulted in greater depression. For students that received a grade within close proximity to the grade that would make them happy, their attributional styles did not have an effect on their mood. Because no correlation was found between the attributions made for hypothetical events and real life stressors, a similar correlation was calculated for the study. The results showed that only the attributions made based on real life situations were useful in explaining variability in mood.

The Four Stages of the Attributional Process[edit]

The attributional process is comprised of four main components. One is outcome evaluation, the process of determining whether or not an outcome is favoured. The second is attributional responses, the explanations we attribute to causing the result. The third is affective responses, the emotional responses that follow the interpretation of the outcome and the last is behavioural responses, the course of action that we take to respond to the experience. One main aspect of the attributional process to keep in mind is that specific events do not trigger behavioural reactions directly. These responses only take place after the outcome is cognitively interpreted. All four of these stages can be observed in the previously mentioned study.

Outcome Evaluation[edit]

Outcome evaluation refers to the process by which we determine whether an outcome is desired or not. These evaluations are based on several criteria. One is the individual’s prior history to encountering similar outcomes. An example of this could be a student that consistently excels in math class, but receives an average test score on his final exam. He could interpret this outcome as undesirable. Another aspect of outcome evaluation is performance feedback. A student that falls below a pre-established standard may view his performance as unfavourable. Evaluations of various outcomes are also dependent on the characteristics of the person, such as the need for success, the perceived value of the task and the expectations of others. The final standard for outcome evaluation is based on cues from others. When a student regularly exceeds expectations, submitting an average assignment may be deemed unfavourable by their teacher, while his classmates can turn in work of the same quality and receive praise from the teacher. [238] These four components make up the criteria for outcome evaluation. Using our previous example from above, we can say that both of the students deemed their math test outcome unfavourable, leading them to make their own attributional responses.

Attributional Responses[edit]

The second step of the attributional process is explaining the outcome with a particular cause. Follette and Jacobson's study shows examples of various attributional styles using the hypothetical situations of the EASQ and the exam attributional measures. Examples from the study show attributions based on internal and external sources, stable and unstable conditions and global-specific influences. We can also consider our previous example. Upon seeing her mediocre test mark, the first student attributes her poor performance to her lack of preparedness. The second student responds by putting the blame on the quality of the test written by her teacher. The difference in the two students’ responses can be better explained by the locus of control.

Locus of Control[edit]

Attributional responses are interpreted in three dimensions. The first dimension is the locus of control, which defines the outcome as being caused by an internal or external source. [239] One example of an internal cause is mood. The performance of a student can be affected by mood, which is controlled by the student himself. An external variable affecting performance may be the student’s parents. This is an example of an external variable because the student’s parents have an effect on his performance but the student himself has no control over the situation. In reference to the study, both internal and external attributions were made about the students' examination scores. One student attributes their score to having two midterms and an assignment due on the same day. This student attributes their failure to an external source rather than considering a lack of preparedness. An example of an internal cause from the study is a student that attributes their below average test score to the minimal effort that they put into studying for the exam.

Stability[edit]

The second dimension of attributional responses is stability. It is defined by how consistent the factor is when encouraging success. Various aspects of performance such as ability, effort and luck can be ranked in terms of how stable each condition is. The dimension of stability is frequently connected to a person’s expectancy of success. If a student attributes their success to a typically stable variable such as ability, it is highly plausible that past success will occur again. On the other hand, if a student attributes their success to a more random cause such as luck, there is a much smaller chance of seeing repeated success. Participants of the study were asked to rate the cause of an event ranging from never being present again to always being the reason for this situation to occur.

Controllability[edit]

Controllability is the third and final dimension of the attributional responses. It describes the degree to which the individual can influence the cause behind the outcome. Several factors such as effort and strategy use can be highly controlled whereas ability and interest are considered less controlled. Uncontrollable causes, such as the difficulty of a task and luck do not contribute to an individual’s repeated success. There is a strong connection between the controllability dimension and the amount of effort and persistence an individual puts into completing a task. Outcomes deemed more uncontrollable tend to encourage anxiety and avoidance strategies while more controlled variables can lead to increased effort and persistence.that appear from the matrix can elicit numerous affective and behavioural responses.

Affective Responses[edit]

The various attributional combinations that result from the three dimensions produce different, though highly predictable emotional responses. The locus of control is most commonly linked to the affective response an individual experiences after a specific outcome. Drawing back on our previous example, the first student attributes her poor performance to lack of preparedness, which is an internal cause involving the amount of effort put into the task. This results in the student feeling a sense of disappointment or shame because effort is a controllable factor. With these same conditions, pity is most appropriate to be elicited by others. In contrast, the second student interprets her mediocre grade as being caused by an external factor. She experiences anger because the situation has external, controllable and stable causes. Other combinations of the three dimensions can produce different results. For a student feeling gratitude, it is most likely due to an external, uncontrollable and unstable factor such as an easy test. For all the emotional responses that are elicited, they are followed by a behavioural course of action. Follette and Jacobson's study showed that participants displayed feelings of disappointment following the reveal of their exam scores.

Behavioural Responses[edit]

The understanding of an outcome determines what an individual will do after the situation is interpreted. For attributions in which the locus of control is the prominent dimension, the individual elicits internal feelings of confidence, satisfaction and pride. The behavioural responses resulting from an external locus are help seeking in a positive manner, learned helplessness, avoidance, and lack of persistence when the situation is interpreted negatively. With attributions critically relating to stability, the behavioural response elicited commonly results in higher success expectancies. In turn, the individual develops higher levels of task engagement, seeks out challenges more often and performs to a higher standard. When attributions are more closely linked to controllability, the individual becomes more persistent and puts in a greater amount of effort to complete a task. The two students from our above example display contrasting behavioural responses to their same outcome. The first student vows to put in more work to receive the grade she deserves. In the future, if she succeeds in earning a higher grade on her next math test, she can attribute her success to her increased effort and persistence. In turn she will feel more confident and proud of her abilities. For the second student, her attributions cause her to feel anger due to an external source. Because her interpretation of the event is negative, it is highly predictable that she will develop a sense of learned helplessness, become avoidant towards taking math tests and lack persistence in preparing for test taking. Drawing on the study "Importance of Attributions as a Predictor of How People Cope with Failure," students showed different behavioural responses based on what they attributed their test scores to. Responses from the study included: "I will ask the teacher what I did wrong," "I plan to do the reading earlier in preparation for the next exam," and "I will stay on campus to study with my friends that are also in the class." [240] These are some of the behavioural responses that can occur due to a variety of attributions.

Emotions[edit]

Emotion is a state of feelings. It represents human reactions and responses to the stimuli. [241] It can foster humans well-being, or can contribute to psychological and physical function. There are two main types of emotions that can be classified: positive emotions and negative emotions. Positive emotions can include happiness, compassion, gratitude, hope, interest, enjoyment, joy, love and pride. [242]Whereas negative emotions can include anger, fear, disgust, sadness, anxiety, shame, hopelessness and boredom. [243] These two emotions both consist of a pattern of cognitive, physiological and behavioural reactions to events that have relevance to important goals such as learning. In order to understand the reason why people respond to learning differently, we could look at the impact of emotions. There are four types of components: attribution response, emotion, learning and achievement. We will first look at how emotion is a response to learning, and vice versa. Different learning patterns, styles and outcomes that people are attributing will represent different emotions. Also, different emotions will impact different academic achievements.


Positive Emotions Negative Emotions
happiness sadness
joy fear
gratitude disgust
hope hopelessness
interest anxiety
enjoyment boredom
pride anger

Attribution and Learning about Emotions[edit]

Learning and Emotion[edit]

In the Learning Theory, it states that effective learning is depending on emotional responses. In different learning environment and situations, it will trigger different emotions in learning. Individuals differ in emotional responses to situations. When the learners are feeling comfortable and in control with the learning environment, learners will have a better performance. It is because the learners would adapt the environment when they are learning. They would feel comfortable and help increase the learning process. In contrast, if learners are feeling uncomfortable and not in control of the environment, the learner will not perform as well. [244] It is because the learners can not adapt the learning environment while learning, which negatively affects the learning process. Therefore, they may perform worse. In the learning environment, it is necessary to have certain emotions present: Learners must be able to control and overcome negative emotions like fear, anxiety and sadness. Therefore, positive emotions such as the sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm can be increased. It is because negative emotions are negatively affecting the learning and positive emotions are positively affecting the learning. This mean that, positive emotions are more likely to achieve higher academic performance while negative emotions are more likely to achieve lower academic performance.

In a study of The relations between students' approaches to learning, experienced emotions and outcomes if learning, it stated that there is a relationship between the emotions and academic performance in students experience. [245] The sample of this study was studying the first year biology course in University of Sydney. They are all age 18 to 25 years. The participants took The Revised Study Process Questionnaire to self-report their learning strategy and learning motives. The researchers linked emotions with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which are associated to learning performance. The study showed that students with anger and boredom avoided engaging in learning the resulting learning outcome. Also, students with anxiety and shame reduced their intrinsic motivation in learning activities that lower their academic achievement. Students who were angry and frustrated were less likely to adopt strategies in learning and have a more negative learning outcome. In contrast, all students with positive emotions engaged in learning, being motivation during activities and adopted strategies in learning, which have a more positive learning outcome. This means that, motivation and self-efficacy are also related the students' emotions in learning. The following table shows different emotions affect learning patterns and styles and results different learning outcomes in the study.

Emotions Learning patterns and styles Learning outcomes
Pride, hope, confidence, enjoyment, optimistic and proud
  • prepare the assessment for the course
  • contribute course materials
  • make sure everything is going well for the course
  • feeling pride and confident of the result
  • follow the progress in the course
increase academic performance
Frustration, anger and boredom
  • feeling bored of the course
  • get angry with the course
  • get annoyed when trying the learning activities for the course
decrease academic performance
Anxiety and shame
  • ashamed thinking for the assessment
  • become panicky about the course
  • feeling embarrassed for not contributing to learning activities
  • ashamed of not preparing for course
  • do not contribute to class discussion
  • do not ask question during class
decrease academic performance
A graph of emotion and academic achievement. As students experienced more positive emotion, their academic achievement will increase. While students experienced more negative emotions, their academic achievement will decrease.

Attribution and Emotion[edit]

Rainer Reisenzein, a psychologist in University of Greifswald, who interests in computational belief-desire theory of emotion. He focuses research on theoretical and empirical questions related to emotion and motivation by interdisciplinary orientation toward philosophy and cognitive science. In one of his attributional approach studies, he addresses that our belief is based on the causes of the events that determine emotion and behaviors. He also states that the attributional theory of emotion provides a cognitive analysis for the cause of emotions. The appraisal dimensions related to causal attribution is also generally the appraisal theory of emotion. [246] Different from other cognitive appraisal theories, the attributional theory of emotion provides not just the analysis of the cognitive causes of emotions, but also emphasizes the effects of the emotions, especially focusing on the functional effects in emotions. There are two effects in emotions. First, the motivational emotion effect. It means that emotions evoke people’s action tendencies to the situation as appraised. Second, the communicative emotion effect. It means the emotions provide information about people's experiences in situation appraisals and action tendencies to the environment. [247] It can show that attribution is related to emotions. Moreover, the impact of attributions and emotions are connected in learning behavior, which in turn, influences subsequent academic achievement. Self-control is one of the characteristic in attribution. Individual differences in self-control associates different self-regulatory abilities. It is defined as the capacity to modify one’s internal responses of impulses, emotions, thought and behaviors. [248] The conceptualization of self-control guides individuals towards goals and standards. This mean that, self-control can alter learners to achieve their desired goals. [249] In King et al’s 2014 study, it investigated how self-control is related to students' experience of academic emotions by taking individual differences for the examination. It found that self-control is positively predicts positive academic emotions. Having higher self-control can predict more positive emotions, with better engagement and higher achievement in school. In the Control-Value Theory, control and values-related appraisals are the predictors of achievement emotions. When learners have a high control-related appraisal and high value-related appraisal, they will be more likely to experience positive academic emotions. When learner has a low control-related appraisal and low value-related appraisal, they will be more likely to experience negative academic emotions. [250] . Figure 1 shows the basic propositions of the control-value theory.

Furthermore, self control has proved that it can be a negative predictor of behavioral and emotional disaffection. It can inhibit learners to display disengaged behaviors and emotions. This means that self-control had a direct affect on academic achievement, which will be discussed later.

Fig. 1 Basic propositions of Control-Value theory of achievement emotions

Emotions and Attributional Responses[edit]

Different attributions in individual can predict emotions. A study from Follette and Jacobson shows that different learning styles and patterns that attribute to examination could predict emotion reactions. [251] They examined that the causal attributions were predictive of depressed mood in college students who experienced the negative event. They found that internal, global and stable attributional responses have a tendency toward depression. [252] In order to understand how emotions and attributional responses are related, individuals need to understand more about their own self. [253]

In 2006, Bar-On addressed that understanding of yourself and others, relating well to people and adapting to attribute with the immediate surroundings will help you to be more successful in dealing with environmental demands. Adapting attribution associates to our emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional Intelligence is an ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions. It can discriminate different emotions and label them appropriately and to use the emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. [254] There are three components that contribute to EI: persistent effort, locus of control and self-efficacy. If learners are high in these three components, they will have a high EI and they will more likely to be successful. In contrast, if learners are low in those three components, they will have a low EI and they will more likely to have failure and emotion problem. To maintain and develop a high EI, learners can focus on their stress management, which is emotional management and regulation. [255] There are two elements in stress management: stress tolerance and impulse control. Learners need to manage and control emotions effectively and constructively to achieve the stress management.

Attributions vary along three dimensions: locus of control, stability and controllability. Each dimension is related with a type of affective response. Different combinations of the dimension will have different emotional reactions. [256] This means that, different combinations in attributions dimensions will result different emotions. In Weiner's attribution theory, the three dimensions shows different emotion results. For example, internal, controllable and stable factors will experience pride and confidence; external, uncontrollable and unstable factors will experience gratitude; external, controllable and stable will cause anger; and internal, uncontrollable and stable will cause a feeling of shame. As different attributional responses will cause different emotions, in turn, it is affecting the academic achievement as well. The following table shows attributional dimension emotions.

Different combinations of attributional dimension results different emotions.

Emotion and Academic Achievement[edit]

Emotion and psychological state can determine learning productivity. Higher learning productivity will more likely to have a more positive emotion. [257] As positive emotions can stimulate self-motivation, it is saying that learner’s self-control would be stimulated as well. [258] Learners that have a higher self-control are more successful in school because it is also relating how learners feel in school, and which of the emotions are affecting school activities. [259] In addition, to study the relationship between emotions and academic achievement, academic emotions are involved. Academic emotions are identified in enjoyment, hope, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, boredom and hopelessness. [260] Different emotions can be classified into different valence and activation circumstances. Positive-activating emotions are enjoyment, hope and pride; the positive-deactivating emotion is relief; negative-activating emotions are anger, hope and pride; and negative-deactivating emotions are hopelessness and boredom.

Emotions can also facilitate academic engagement, which in turn, influences subsequent academic achievement. [261] Positive emotions are more likely to increase learning engagement, which is positively to achieve a higher academic grade. In contrast, negative emotions are more likely to be disengaged from schooling process, which is negatively to receive a lower academic grade. [262] Learners who passively withdraw and feel boredom and anxiety in school will increase disaffection. Therefore, they will be more likely to experience low academic achievement. Emotions and academic achievement have a direct relation. Reason why learners who experience low school outcome are because their negative emotions promote withdrawal and disengagement in school. As learners who experience positive emotions will engage in their studies, which is beneficial to their academic career. However, there are exceptions too. Emotions and academic achievement can be affected inversely.

King et al.’s study examined the possibility that positive emotions lower academic achievement. There is a diminishing return on emotions and achievement. When the learner’s positive emotions achieved to the optimal level of academic score, his or her academic achievement will return to the marginal. However, differences are individual as different people experiences different circumstances. [263] Moreover, a study found that students in China who dispose negative emotions such as anger would increase their grade point average (GPA). Yet, there are no relation between anger and GPA. [264]Furthermore, lacking school attention has shown that positive emotions would increase. However, the experimenter explained that positive emotions are difficult to recognize. Even though experiments can be recorded in a digital way, many positive emotions share a similar facial expression. There are no significant differences that can be recognize in positive emotions, as a result, the outcome might not be accurate. Also, many studies stated that positive emotions usually appear after a solving problem task, which people are less likely to be aware of. Negative emotions are generally to be viewed as more troublesome in children’s development and functioning. This is saying that, negative emotions are more likely to have investigating attention.

In conclusion, emotion is associated with academic competences. Individual differences in emotions are engaging into different attribution styles. Self-control, self-motivation, engagement, locus of control and stability are affecting learners and which behaviors they present. Positive emotions are more likely to increase academic achievement, while negative emotions are less likely to decrease academic achievement. Emotions are related to academic success because it contains a useful information to guide and predict cognition and actions. In addition, to help low academic achievement learners to improve their learning, educators should encourage students to minimize the experiences of negative emotions. Students should engage in positive thinking to attribute for their academic styles. Furthermore, student can seek help from family and professionals. To discuss more about how students attribute learning and emotions, a classroom setting can be looked at.

Attributions and Emotions in the Classroom[edit]

Students all bring different emotions and attributions with them into the classroom. Although many of these students may bring in positive attributions, equally as many students may carry negative attributions with them into their academic lives. The teacher plays an essential role in helping students figure out their emotions at school, why they feel them, and how they could possibly improve. By helping students learn about their emotions in the classroom, the students are better able to focus on how emotions and what other extraneous factors may affect how they learn. Once students understand how their emotions affect their learning, they are better able to create a learning environment and figure out which strategies for dealing with their emotions work best. It is important that teachers show students’ how emotions affect how they attribute both positive and negative situations and to learn about unfavorable behaviors and attributions early on so that they are better able to learn to avoid them throughout their academic career.

Attributional Retraining[edit]

One of the main ways teachers can help students improve their mindset is by attributional retraining which is helping students get a better understanding of their attributional responses and how to change their response so that they are more encouraged to stay focused. The main focus of attributional retraining is to shift student’s focus from their ability shown to the effort put forth in the classroom.[265] By doing this it emphasizes to students that their performance and success or failures in class are due to controllable factors such as their effort. Whereas if students attributed their successes and failures on something uncontrollable such as their ability, they would quickly become discouraged after receiving negative feedback or a low score as many students attribute one’s ability with self-efficacy. As a result, attributional retraining could help assist students in motivation, task persistence and achievement levels. There are many ways that teachers can help students understand their attributions. One of the main ways this can be done is simply by reminding the students that their scores are not attributed to their ability. School is becoming increasingly competitive and many students are focused on the marks that they are receiving. By constantly reminding students that any low mark they are receiving is attributed to their effort in the classroom, it may encourage them to try harder during their next assignment.

There are four main steps to attributional retraining. The first step is getting individuals to identify undesirable behaviors that they may have. These behaviors could include things like task avoidance. Being able to identify these behaviors early allows these behaviors to be easily evaluated and changed. It is important for both the student and the teacher to work together on identifying these behaviors early on. By not identifying these problems early, students may lose learning opportunities that could be easily fixed. The second step is evaluating the underlying negative behavior. This could be evaluating how serious the situation and behavior may be and what could be causing the student to have such behaviors. Generally these could be due to internal factors, which require immediate attention or could be caused by extraneous factors that may be hindering that student’s performance at that moment. The third step is considering how to change the student’s attributional response. It is important to figure out what is best for the student and what kind of attributions could take its place. By implementing the wrong new attribution, it could potentially hinder the student’s performance further. Depending on the student, finding a new attribution could be a difficult task or it may be very clear. Every student is different. And the last step is implementing the new attribution, which must be done by finding the most suitable way to implement the new attribution. It is not beneficial for students to implement the new attribution if it does not work well with their learning style. Students and teachers must work collaboratively to ensure that the new attributions being implemented are what is most suitable for the student.[266]

Understanding Our Own Emotional Reactions[edit]

Teachers should be wary of how their students perceive success and failure and which ones make negative attributions after experiencing failure. Showing negative emotion is normal, however some emotions can be perceived as more harmful than others. It is important for the teacher to educate and remind students that learning how to redirect their attributional thinking can change their emotions.[267] However it is equally as important to teach students about emotional intelligence, which is learning to understand one and others emotions, relating to people, and learning to deal with environmental demands by adapting to the new surroundings.[268] By teaching emotional intelligence, students and teachers are better able to understand their emotions in the classroom and why they feel them in different situations. Students would also learn to control their emotions during both success and failures in and around the classroom. It is important to emphasize positive emotions as it has been seen to have more positive effects on students. The broaden-and-build theory states that positive emotions can help expand a student’s engagement in activities as well as encourage students to delve deeper into learning materials and expand their focus whereas negative emotions narrow the focus of students and do not allow for optimal learning.[269] Having positive emotions towards learning provides a better learning environment for students, which may allow for more positive attributional thinking when feedback is given. Although it is important to emphasize positive emotions, it is also important to remind students that it is okay to feel negative emotions as well. Negative emotions are a regular occurrence in the classroom and should not be discouraged. All students handle situations differently and showing negative emotion might be a way for the student to cope with a situation that they are not used to. As educators, it is important to figure out with the student why they may be feeling this negative emotion and how to best handle it.

Implications for Instruction[edit]

Effects on Students[edit]

One of the most important things educators can do is begin discussing attributions and their effects from an early age. It is an integral part of the classroom and is something that should be focused on. By explaining to students the subtle differences between attributing something to ability rather than lack of effort, you remind them that knowledge is not innate and is something that can be learned.[270] This is especially important when students are first beginning school so that it builds a strong foundation for them as they progress through the grades. It should also be reminded to students throughout the school year as students can often become discouraged when they find tasks difficult or receive unfavorable marks. Since school is becoming increasingly competitive in terms of admission standards to post secondary institutions, it is important to remind students constantly that although grades are important, they are not tied to a low mark that they may receive.

Commonly, students may find that they experience difficulty in the classroom, which is due to many controllable factors. These factors may include a lack of prior knowledge, and automaticity.[271] It is important to remind these students that the difficulty they experience is due to extraneous factors and not themselves so that they do not become discouraged when learning new material or understanding new concepts. By creating a student-centered approach in the classroom, we are creating a learning environment where personal growth and change are prioritized.[272] This kind of approach allows the students to be less frustrated when they do not understand a concept right away or when they receive negative feedback. The emphasis of this approach is that knowledge can always be learned and is not dependent on your innate ability or prior knowledge. By approaching learning in this kind of way, it is teaching and instilling in students to be persistent and to keep trying even if it takes them longer to understand concepts or they do not succeed the first time around. Students may also seek help if they believe that what is holding them back is an environmental factor rather than a personal one.[273] This is because they do not hold their difficulties personally but rather believe other things cause them. Whereas many students may not seek assistance in class if they are struggling because they do not want to be perceived as incompetent in the eyes of their peers or their professor. It is important to instill early on in students that the difficulties they face are due to controllable factors.

There are many extraneous factors that could be affecting student performance. Students may be struggling in class for many different reasons. One of the main reasons that students could be struggling is by not knowing how to best apply appropriate strategies that maximize their learning potential. As educators it is important to try to help students learn what methods work best for them in acquiring new information. Another reason that students could be struggling is lack of prior knowledge. If students are unable to best apply learning strategies and it is not noticed by an educator, students may fall behind and not have the appropriate prior knowledge to learn new concepts. It is important as an educator to remember that these extraneous factors are controllable causes which may be hindering the student’s ability to reach their fullest potential. Reminding the students that these things can be changed as well is important so that the students may not become discouraged for something that can be fixed. Monitoring and discussing with students regularly what may be affecting their performance is important as it allows the teacher to have a better understanding of how the student is doing and how it can be bettered.

When teachers are providing feedback to students, it is important to be mindful of how it is given. Students who have a lower self-esteem may benefit from feedback that is given privately rather than in front of the class. It may also be beneficial when directing praise in front of the class as it may cause provide low-ability cues to students unintentionally.[274] One way to effectively provide feedback is to provide information-oriented feedback rather than performance-oriented feedback. Information-oriented feedback emphasizes how a student’s performance can improve where as performance-oriented feedback emphasizes how a student is progressing in relation to their peers.[275] If students are provided feedback in relation to the other students, they may attribute their lower score to their ability and become discouraged in class, as they may not be progressing as quickly as some of the other students. As educators it is important to try to keep students from comparing themselves to each other as students will be discouraged and feel negatively about school. But by providing feedback basked solely on the students’ progress, it allows for personal growth rather than comparison to others, which is more beneficial for students with low self-esteem. This also teaches students that education is about personal progress and knowledge acquisition rather than comparing themselves to other students. The lack of comparison may keep students motivated to continue pursuing new knowledge.

According to the control value theory, emotions are directly related achievement, cognitive, motivational processes.[276] Generally positive emotions are correlated with an increase in students’ motivation while negative emotions reduce students’ motivation. It is important that students use these positive emotions to attempt to become intrinsically motivated in school. When students are intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to persist when they encounter difficult problems or concepts in their learning. Teachers are a large part of helping students develop these behaviors. It is important that teachers create a learning environment that sets a positive example for the student. Students are greatly influenced by the teacher and the environment of the classroom. By creating a positive learning environment, students may feel more inclined to be positive about their learning. The teacher student relationship is also one of the most important things that can help students academically. By having positive, nurturing and supportive teachers, students are able to develop self-confidence and a sense of self-determination, which will in turn affect their learning behaviors.[277] Once students are intrinsically motivated to do well in school, they will be more likely to create positive attributions between themselves and what they are learning.

However it is important to remember that all students begin with different attributions and ways to deal with them and they learn and process information differently. Techniques used in helping students change their attributions and learn to control their emotions vary greatly between students. As with all techniques, it is important for the teacher and student to work collaboratively in finding out what works best for that individual. One of the ways that this can be done is by discussing with the student different learning strategies that may work best for them and having the teacher monitor the student in class to see if it is effective. This can also be done through trial and error of different techniques until one is found to be most effective for that student or group of students. Once an effective method is found, it can be implemented not only in academic situations, but also in all aspects of a student’s life. By learning what methods works best and really understanding the student, it creates an easier learning environment that is more beneficial for everyone involved.The most important aspect is merely teaching students about their attributions and how it affects them in the classroom. Learning how to affectively attribute their successes and failures will help to further their academic career. Even though it may take some time to fully understand their attributions, the mere knowledge of it will help students to become aware of why they may feel a certain way in class. It definitely will take time for students to fully learn what methods work best for them but by teaching them about their attributions early, they are better able to carry this knowledge with them throughout their academic career.

Suggested Readings[edit]

  1. Zahed-Babelan, A., & Moenikia, M. (2010). The role of emotional intelligence in predicting students’ academic achievement in distance education system. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 1158-1163.
  2. Valiente, C., Swanson, J., & Eisenberg, N. (2011). Linking Students’ Emotions and Academic Achievement: When and Why Emotions Matter. Child Development Perspectives, 6(2), 129-135.
  3. King, R., & Gaerlan, M. (2013). High self-control predicts more positive emotions, better engagement, and higher achievement in school. European Journal of Psychology of Education Eur J Psychol Educ, 29, 81-100.
  4. Follette, V. M., & Jacobson, N. S. (1987). Importance of attributions as a predictor of how people cope with failure. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 52(6), 1205-1211. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.52.6.1205
  5. Trigwell, K., Ellis, R., & Han, F. (2011). The relations between students' approaches to leaning, experienced emotions and outcomes if learning' Studies in Higher Education, 37(7), 811-824.
  6. Matuliauskaite, A., & Zemeckyte, L. (2011). Analysis of interdependencies between students’ emotions, learning productivity, academic achievements and physiological parameters. Science - Future of Lithuania, 3(2), 51-56.
  7. Naude, L. n., Bergh, T., & Kruger, I. (2014). 'Learning to like learning': an appreciative inquiry into emotions in education. Social Psychology Of Education, 17(2), 211-228.

Glossary[edit]

  • Affective responses: the emotional responses that follow the interpretation of the outcome
  • Behavioural responses: the course of action is taken to respond to the experience
  • Controllability: the degree to which a factor can be influenced
  • Attribution: explanation to describe the cause behind an event
  • Attributional responses: the explanations attributed to causing a specific result
  • Attribution theory: the study of how people interpret various events
  • Locus of control: defines the outcome as being caused by an internal or external source
  • Outcome evaluation: the process by which an outcome is considered a success or a failure
  • Stability: how consistent the factor is in encouraging success
  • Learning theory: a conceptual frameworks on how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning
  • Control- value theory: relationship between level of controllability and value and the achievement in emotions
  • Achievement emotions: the mental state of feeling that attribute to achievement
  • Emotion Intelligence: ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, to communicate effectively and to overcome challenges
  • Diminishing Return: a decreasing effect on a product that passing to marginal level after the optimal point
  • Attributional Retraining: helping students better understand their attributional responses
  • Information-oriented Feedback: feedback regarding how an individual student's performance can be improved
  • Performance-oriented Feedback: feedback regarding how a student is progressing in comparison to their peers

References[edit]

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In order for education to be the most successful, educators need to understand not only the various ways in which intelligence and knowledge is acquired, but also the beliefs surrounding them which are held by students and teachers. These beliefs are influenced by hope and impact students' behaviors and what they believe they can achieve academically. The way teachers view these beliefs will influence the way they structure their classrooms and curriculum, which in turn has an effect on students educational experiences. This chapter will further explain hope and the beliefs about knowledge and intelligence and the impact they have on learning.


Beliefs[edit]

Implicit and Explicit Beliefs[edit]

Beliefs are personal opinions about the environment and the self. Each person holds both implicit beliefs and explicit beliefs. Implicit beliefs are subliminal beliefs that influence an individual’s behaviour [1]. For example, an international student who attended schools that only taught in Chinese, might develop an implicit belief that he or she has poor English pronunciation. Subsequently, this belief causes him or her to avoid reading or speaking aloud in an English-speaking school. In addition, implicit beliefs help the construction of an implicit theory, which involves an individual making unspoken speculations about the causes of an event [2]. As an example, the aforementioned international student might state that he cannot pronounce English words properly because English is not the student’s mother tongue and the student’s family does not speak English at home. Consequently, the student has implicitly attributed his failure of pronouncing English words to both innate ability and practice. Explicit beliefs are conscious beliefs that impact a person’s behaviour [3]. For example, a student who is consciously aware of his or her excellent speaking and writing in English class might develop an explicit belief that he or she has proficiency in English.

It is important to transform implicit beliefs to explicit beliefs because many attributions that people place upon their learning performance are implicit [4]. The unconsciousness of certain beliefs will likely prevent people from discovering the reasons behind behaviors which might not be effective and/or healthy. In order to reflect on and to modify one’s beliefs, an individual should spend time trying to express their implicit beliefs to themselves and to the people around them. For example, a person can write in a journal or participate in group discussions [5].

Development and Effects of Beliefs[edit]

Before we can understand how to change beliefs, it is important to understand how beliefs come to exist. It has been found that for many teachers, beliefs are derived as a result of their own personal experiences in education growing up [6]. As a result, elementary teacher who are pre-service, enter programs with preconceived beliefs and attitudes towards education and how it should be approached [7]. Beliefs about knowledge and intelligence is very important in classroom environments, as it provides the structure and base for organizing these environments [8]. They impact how a teacher designs his or her classroom in terms of curriculum, methods, techniques and skills [9]. Even the teaching of specific subjects such as math is impacted by the way teachers view knowledge and intelligence, as discovered by Stohlmann et. al (2014), which will be discussed later in this section [10]. One area of beliefs teachers may hold is in regards to the roles of students and how information is attained. One theory, described by Bas (2015) is that teachers maintain either a traditional view, or a constructivist view about education [11]. On the one hand, the traditional view is where teachers act as the authority figure towards students who are passive recipients of knowledge. On the other hand, a constructivist view sees the teacher as a guide who helps students in obtaining knowledge, in this view students are active participants in their own learning [12]. A similar but more detailed view is the epistemological belief which consists of four categories, in which students progress through in their educational development [13]. These categories include dualism, multiplism, relativism, and commitment [14]. Dualism acts similarly to a traditional view, while multiplism shares views with a constructivist perspective.

Changing Beliefs of Students and Teachers[edit]

It can be very difficult for people to change their beliefs and attitudes, Brownlee et al. (2001) found this to be especially true the more a belief is connected with other beliefs within an attitude structure [15]. Whether information has been acquired as affective knowledge, which is subjective and based on emotional reactions or as cognitive knowledge, which is knowledge obtained objectively and rationally, will also impact the difficulty of changing ones beliefs [16].

While beliefs may be difficult to change, it is still possible to achieve with the proper understanding of how to implement beneficial change. When it comes to changing beliefs which have been attained through affective knowledge or cognitive knowledge, how the information was originally obtained plays a significant role in how the belief should be challenged. It has been found that information which is obtained through cognitive knowledge, is resistant to change through affective means and vice versa [17]. This means that information which has initially been obtained through cognitive means, is more prone to change through cognitive means, and information initially obtained through affective means, is more susceptible to changing beliefs through affective means [18].

Figure 1 Changing Beliefs Mind Map

Another way in which beliefs can be changed was found in a study which compared techniques teachers in the US used, with techniques used by teachers in China [19]. It was found that Chinese teachers had a greater coherent understanding of the concepts and were therefore better able to provide flexibility in their explanations, these teachers were also better able to provide meanings to their students [20]. In contrast, teachers from the US were procedure based, and were not able to provide the same rich explanations to their students [21]. US teachers beliefs about the best approach to teaching math changed once they were able to see the difficulties students had when they were taught only procedurally and not conceptually, and when a change in student learning was evident [22]. While it may be difficult to change student or teachers views about knowledge and intelligence may be difficult, by providing environments where students and pre-service teachers are able to reflect on their own beliefs and shift into new modes of thought, a change in belief can be possible [23].

Beliefs about Intelligence[edit]

Intelligence[edit]

Figure 2 Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
Figure 3 Carroll three stratum model of human Intelligence

Intelligence can be defined in multiple ways. According to Sternberg, intelligence is based on three components: adjusting to, shaping and choosing an environment [24]. It is also related to discovery and invention[25]. Throughout history researchers studied intelligence to determine its nature and outcomes. In addition, social and cultural factors influence the ways people interpret intelligence [26]. Moreover, intelligence is viewed as a general ability or as multiple abilities. For instance, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences involves seven intelligence aspects: logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence (refer Figure 2) [27]. Similarly, Sternberg discovered three types of intelligence: emotional, creative and practical intelligence[28]. Lastly, Carroll’s hierarchy of intelligence represents intelligence as a general ability that is made up of broader abilities, which can be further broken down into more specific abilities (refer to Figure 3) [29].

Entity and Incremental Theory[edit]

Two implicit theories of intelligence pioneered by Dweck are known as the entity theory and incremental theory. The entity theory presents the belief that intelligence cannot be changed; whereas, the incremental theory demonstrates that gradual modifications of intelligence are possible [30]. Entity and incremental theorists differ from each other based on their understanding of an individual’s behaviour [31]. For instance, entity theorists explain a person’s behaviour due to his or her genetically determined characteristics [32]. Incremental theorists however, focus on identifying certain factors such as, intentions, necessity, previous behaviour and emotions, which give rise to an individual’s behaviour [33]. Consequently, entity and theorists have different responses toward negative consequences. Individuals who believe in the entity theory will have a higher chance of demonstrating helplessness when they are facing challenges in terms of their performance [34] . Furthermore, they will attribute their poor performance to their unchangeable traits; therefore, they feel that they have no control over their intelligence. On the other hand, those who believe in the incremental theory of intelligence will likely use controllable factors to counter negative effects to improve their performance [35].

Entity Theory Incremental Theory
Intelligence is Changeable No Yes
Explanation of Behaviour Genetics Intentions, necessity, previous behaviour, emotions
Reaction to Negative Consequences Helplessness, giving up Persistence, problem-solving by regaining control

As mentioned earlier, intelligence can be viewed as multiple abilities. Furnham conducted a study recently on entity and incremental beliefs about the multiple intelligences. The goals of the study was to see whether students believe that each of the fourteen intelligences is changeable or fixed and whether personality (e.g. Big Five and CORE self-beliefs) has a role in these entity and incremental beliefs[36]. The fourteen intelligences were divided into three categories: abstract, skillful and classical[37]. Abstract intelligences, such as naturalistic, sexual and intra-personal intelligences are easier to change[38]. In addition, skillful intelligences, such as musical and creative intelligences are less easy change because they are believed to be based on innate ability as well as practice[39]. Moreover, classical intelligences which include verbal and logical intelligences are easy to change[40]. The CORE self-beliefs in the study were measured based on self-esteem, self-efficacy, internal locus of control and emotional stability[41]. Regardless of holding incremental beliefs, high CORE self-beliefs help people see that intelligence can be increased because these beliefs cause a person to see that change and improvement are possible[42]. The study also demonstrated that people who are introverts are more likely to hold entity beliefs; whereas, people who are extroverts are more likely to hold incremental beliefs. Furthermore, the openness personality trait appeared to promote incremental beliefs[43]. Overall, Furnham's study raises awareness for the need to understand the diversity of students in the classroom when observing their entity and incremental beliefs about intelligence. The multiple intelligences model along with the entity and incremental theories help educators to pinpoint students' beliefs about a specific intellectual ability, which can be useful since different disciplines request different skills. Also, educators can gain knowledge on what types of intelligences are harder to change from a student's perspective. Although the study only found correlations between personality traits, such as openness, extraversion and CORE self-beliefs and incremental beliefs about intelligence, it might still be useful to try to promote these traits and see if they are of any help to students' incremental beliefs.

Goal Orientation and Learning Performance[edit]

Initially, Dweck and Leggett stated that the implicit theories of intelligence give rise to two separate goal orientations, which are known as the performance orientation and the mastery orientation. The performance orientation involves the belief in the entity theory and the display of proficiency; whereas, the mastery orientation includes the incremental theory and the desire to improve one’s proficiency[44]. This goal orientation model suggests that people are either performance-oriented or mastery-oriented. Over time researchers discovered that people could be performance-oriented and learning-oriented at different degrees depending on the task[45]. Additional features were added to this model, such as approach and avoidance[46]. Both of these components are applicable to performance and learning orientations. As a result, research on the beliefs about intelligence throughout history has led to the creation of four goal orientations that influence learning performance:

Figure 4 Goal Orientations
  • Performance-approach goals

Concentrate on the desire to show proficiency by making other people targets for competition[47]. For example, a student decides to work and pay attention in class because he or she wants to get the top grade, subsequently the grade gives him or her the motivation to study. However, once this grade is no longer achieved, the student will likely lose interest in learning.

  • Performance-avoidance goals

Focus on the finding ways to avoid tasks that will likely reflect failure when compared to others[48]. For instance, a student wants to do well in a class because they do not want to lose and be embarrassed. However, if the student cannot perform well, then he or she will choose to avoid any task that they cannot succeed in. Subsequently, they will likely miss many learning opportunities.

  • Mastery-approach goals

Bring about a commitment to improve competence and to engage in meaningful learning, in which understanding is highly valued[49]. For example, a student chooses to learn by obtaining a strong understanding of the knowledge that is imparted in the classroom. The student will take the time to self-regulate his or her learning by posing questions to teachers when confused or when they want to learn something new and improving their understanding and knowledge through consistent discussion with teachers and classmates.

  • Mastery-avoidance goals

Give rise to hiding from inadequacy in relation to the self and to an undertaking[50]. For instance, a student does not believe that he or she has the ability to learn and understand something. As a result, the student often thinks negatively of him or herself by saying "I am not smart" or "This question is too hard". Overall, they believe that they cannot improve their ability which means they cannot deal with the difficult task at hand.

Western and Chinese Beliefs about Intelligence[edit]

Beliefs about intelligence are mostly tied to the Western culture. However, these western beliefs are often not applied to other cultures, such as the Chinese culture, which is a significant problem because schools contain students from various cultures. In addition, Sternberg stated different cultures will have some dissimilar interpretations of intelligence, which in turn leads to varying behaviours. We dedicated a section for differences between Western and Chinese beliefs about intelligence because the recent success of Chinese students in international, academic assessments has produced a desire to discover whether the Western beliefs about intelligence affect these students’ learning performances[51].

Chen and Wong’s study compare Western and Chinese students’ beliefs about intelligence and their academic performance. In the Chinese cultural context, performance-approach goals are very common because the schools promote competition, which in turn encourages a social hierarchy that forces students to obtain high academic achievement [52]. Moreover, the academic achievement in Chinese culture is viewed as a child's obligation to his or her family [53]. Consequently, Chinese students are constantly competing to honour their families. Furthermore, mastery goals are prevalent as well because the Chinese culture values Confucian philosophy, which promotes self-development and self-fulfillment [54]. The results from the study demonstrated that like Western students, Chinese students who hold incremental beliefs are more likely to utilize mastery goals, which help them build effective learning strategies. Subsequently, these students' academic performance are likely to be more successful [55]. However, the study showed that Chinese students' academic achievement might be due to their use of performance-approach goals. Also, even though performance-avoidance goals are often negatively associated with learning, it is positively correlated with mastery goals in Chinese students [56]. Overall, the desire for self-development, competition and avoidance of failure in the Chinese culture give rise to the positive correlations between mastery, performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Unlike Western students, Chinese students might be able to obtain academic success with both performance and mastery goals[57]. More research will need to be conducted to prove this phenomenon because the current study has a limitation of the participants being university students with high academic success. Therefore, future research should involve middle and high school students with varying academic achievement.

Wang and Ng's study focused on grade seven and ten Chinese students' implicit beliefs about intelligence and school performance. The results of the study showed that Chinese students viewed the changeability of intelligence and school performance separately and that the two have a role in developing helplessness [58]. The Chinese culture emphasize the importance of effort over ability in terms of academic achievement, but this does not necessarily mean that they automatically believe that intelligence is changeable [59]. In fact effort can be associated with improving performance or counteracting substandard intelligence in Chinese students[60]. Also, Wang and Ng found that Chinese students believed that school performance was more changeable than intelligence[61]. Therefore, Chinese students might be more likely to avoid helplessness and might even have higher academic achievement than Western students[62]. This is because Western students view intelligence and school performance as related. Western students that hold entity beliefs about intelligence focus mainly on innate ability, which in turn hampers their academic achievement. For example, if they believe that intelligence is fixed, then their school performance cannot be changed. Lastly, the study found that like Western students, Chinese students that strongly believe that intelligence or school performance are not changeable, will more likely develop helplessness[63].

Hope[edit]

For a student to reach a high level of hope, two components are necessary. These are agencies which is goal-directed determination, and pathways which is the planning of ways to meet goals [64]. Agencies are also referred to as willpower or ‘will’ and pathways are also commonly referred to as ‘ways’ for one to reach their goals [65]. Mellard, Krieshok, Fall and Woods (2013) provide an example for understanding how pathways and agencies work by considering a highschool dropout working in the food industry who wants to earn more money. He may consider pathways such as working hard at his current job and try to get promoted, look for a better paying job for his current skill level. He may also consider a larger goal, but break it up into smaller achievable goals such as obtaining his GED, then getting a certification in trades. He would then move onto the agency stage, where he would choose one of his options and put it into action with thoughts such as “I’m capable of getting my GED”. If he were to encounter obstacles such as requiring transportation to get to school, he would use the same patterns and consider possible pathways such as asking a classmate for a ride or taking public transit [66]. In order for high hope to develop both components must be present as neither alone is sufficient [67]. External agents can influence hope as well, as external resources can help people increase the perceived pathways and agencies rather than thinking goal setting and hope are only individual pursuits [68].

Figure 5 Hope Mind Map[69]

Benefits of Hope[edit]

There has been lots of research to show that high hope has several benefits for students mental well-being. It has been shown to increase optimism and happiness in students, and students with high hope are less likely to have anxiety or depression as students who have low hope [70]. Higher hope has also shown to increase academic achievement, especially in students around the 7th grade [71]. Research has also shown that these students are more likely to prepare to achieve academically by studying more and getting involved in extracurricular activities [72]. When students have a higher level of hope they are also more likely to set more challenging goals for themselves at school [73], and focus on success over failure [74]. This alternative focus leaves these students to perceive they will be successful at attaining the challenging goals they set for themselves [75].If students however, fail to obtain this perception they are likely to experience learned-helplessness. This maladaptive strategy commonly develops in performance-oriented students who have experienced failure and come to believe that anything they try will result in failure [76]. As a result, these students refuse to engage in tasks because they assume they will not succeed [77]. By failing to participate in anything, these students prevent themselves from being successful and therefore have a difficult time increasing their levels of hope for future accomplishments. The overwhelming research shows the importance of increasing levels of hope in students, not only for the benefits of mental well-being but also for the effects it has on students academic performance.

Importance of Hope in the Education Process[edit]

It is important for parents and educators to create resilient learners by encouraging students to not only succeed but also stumble and fail [78]. By doing so, students are able to recognize failure as something which they can overcome and learn from. It is also important to encourage a realistic understanding of a student's potential [79]. Students who create goals which are too far out of their capacities are likely to fail more frequently and decrease their level of hope. Goal related experiences in general can be beneficial in increasing a student's level of hope [80], especially By creating goals which are realistic but still maintain some level of challenge, students are able to achieve goals and increase their level of hope for future challenges. Another recommendation to increase hope is to promote mastery goals in teaching [81]. It is also beneficial for students to have role models to encourage students to stay mentally energized to continue to pursue their goals and assist in finding pathways to achieve them [82].

Beliefs about Knowledge[edit]

Models of Knowledge[edit]

Epistemological beliefs are the beliefs about what knowledge is and how one acquires that knowledge (Otting)Epistemological beliefs are the individually based systems of beliefs that are more or less independent from one another. They differ according to the age and the nature of education [83] Younger learners are said to be more naïve, for instance, they quickly accept the knowledge without questioning it. Older learners, however, approach the knowledge in a more critical manner. In addition, one's type of the education affects one's epistemological beliefs. For example, the people who are in the soft sciences (e.g. psychology) approach the type of knowledge with uncertainty, which means that there are several answers or ways to solve a problem. On the other hand people in the hard sciences (e.g. chemistry) approach knowledge with the belief that it is fixed, thus there is one answer and not the several answers [84]. Epistemological beliefs predict numerous aspects of academic performance, including comprehension, cognition in different academics domains, motivation, learning approaches and self-regulation. Therefore, it is important for the teachers to understand epistemological beliefs. This subsequent sections will discuss the three different models of knowledge that were suggested by Perry, Schommer and Kitchner&King.

Perry's dualist and relativist model of knowledge

Perry states that students pass through two stages of knowledge which are the dualistic and the relativistic.[85] The dualist knowledge is when the knowledge is either right or wrong. There is no ambiguity. As the students’ progress, they tend to now think in a relativist manner. This approach states that knowledge can be evaluated based on personal experience. There is no one answer but rather the knowledge is uncertain. Knowledge approaches are very important because they affect how the students approach learning. Students who are in the dualistic stage are most likely to be looking for the fact-oriented information when they are studying. They study like they are memorizing the information and they do not take time to break down the information so that they could deeply understand it. This is different from the student who use the relativistic approach. When they are studying they tend to search for context-oriented information. This means that they break down the information through paraphrasing, constructing what they have understood and they also summarize their information. This leads to the students who use the relativist approach to learning, to do better in their classes when they are getting graded.

Schommer's four dimensions of knowledge

Schommer came up with four separate dimensions about knowledge [86] The first one was simple knowledge this is when knowledge is organized in bits and pieces, meaning that for one to understand it, it has to be broken down into smaller simple parts. The second one was certain knowledge which is the belief that knowledge is absolute, for example the student believes that there is one answer. The third one is fixed ability is the belief that one’s ability to learn is innate and cannot be changed for example the student will believe that it is either they are born to grasp materials. The fourth one is the quick learning which is the belief that learning is fast process or it completely does not occur. The earlier research that was done by Schommer, showing the effects that these beliefs had on the individuals learning were as follows: those who believed that knowledge was certain & simple tend to not use critical thinking skills, self-regulating skills and meta cognitive skills which resulted in them not acquiring the deeper knowledge since they were not questioning what they were learning[87]Those who believed that knowledge was fixed resulted in students engaging in superficial learning because they was no deep and thoughtful thinking when they were tuckling materials that were presented to them. This resulted in them giving up when they were faced with challenges [88] Those who believed in quick knowledge, were presented with a text and told to write a conclusion, most of them tent oversimplify the conclusion. Meaning that they just scrapped on the surface without asking themselves why they would think that would be the conclusion [89]

Kitchener and King's Reflective model

This is framework of work was coined by Kitchener and King, in which explains the different stages that the students go through in seven stages of reflective knowledge. These seven stages are dived into three stages which are pre-reflective judgment (stages 1 to 3 knowledge is certain), quasi- reflective judgment (stages 4 and 5 knowledge is not certain)and reflective judgment (stages 6 and 7 knowledge is context based) [90]. This model is important in that it focuses on the reasoning behind the answers of the open-ended questions and also the individual’s problem solving skills. Also, the model is affected by the age, education level and major that one is in. Consequently, this is significant in the learning process because those who believe that knowledge is simply something that is handed done from authority learn differently from those that believe that knowledge is constructed. The studies that were done about the different stages show that those who value the teacher’s expertise and think that knowledge is certain tend to follow a more traditional manner of learning [91]. This means that they wait to be handed over materials by the teacher. However, students that are in stages 6 and 7 recognize that knowledge is something that is personally constructed and not handed down by an expertise. These students are able to challenge their learning environments and are more open to the collaboration of information with the other students, because they also believe that peers like teachers can be a source of knowledge.

Figure 6 Reflective Thinking Model

Western Culture vs Eastern Culture[edit]

There are cultural differences in the beliefs in epistemology. [92] The two views that are going to be discussed are the Western culture and Eastern culture. The Western culture emphasizes more on the Socratic view, in which the students are taught to question and challenge the information that they are given. Therefore they are more active in their learning because they are expected to reflect on the given information. The Eastern view of learning is mainly based on the Confucius. This is the belief in the student’s effort and willingness to learn. The students were expected to respect the authority that is imparting information to them because they are seen as the ones that are always correct and needs to be constantly followed and be obeyed if one wants to learn. Learning is not something that the students just do, but they do it for a purpose. Most of the time the purpose of learning was for the students to go work as civil servants [93]. These differences in cultural beliefs does not mean that these students are in the different stages of knowledge but rather that they have different ways to acquire knowledge. It is important that the teacher does not become bias about this views, by thinking that those students who value the what the authority is says without questioning it or those who come from the Eastern culture are in the early stages of knowledge.[94].

Application to Instruction[edit]

Awareness and Discussion of Beliefs[edit]

It is important for educators to be aware of the various beliefs relating to knowledge and intelligence. By making students aware of what their beliefs are, through group discussions and reflection journals, teachers are better able to help students identify and change their beliefs [95]. Moreover, teachers should also explicitly teach students how beliefs about intelligence and knowledge affect learning. For example, if someone believes intelligence is something which is fixed, they will be less likely to pursue in learning when faced with a challenge [96]. In addition, if someone believes knowledge is fixed, then they are less likely to reflect or question their thoughts because they think what they know is always true. Similarly, these beliefs can change the opportunities in which we expose ourselves to [97]. If an individual does not believe they have the knowledge or intelligence required for a certain career opportunity, they are not likely to attempt to pursue that career. With appropriate belief strategies, nearly all students can attain a high academic achievement as these strategies can encourage students to use previous knowledge and develop advanced critical thinking skills [98]. In this respect, classroom environments play a significant role in shaping students beliefs as they can enhance beliefs already held by students, challenge them, or introduce new ideas [99].

Not only is it important to be aware of the different beliefs about intelligence and knowledge held by students, but teachers should be aware that these beliefs change as the students age. For example, elementary school students tend to believe intelligence entails capacities based on cognition. This is determined by how much knowledge an individual possesses and how well they read and comprehends visuospatial relationships [100]. These students believe intelligence involves non-cognitive factors, such as communication and interaction skills, work habits, and athleticism [101]. High school students however pay more attention not only to a person’s cognitive abilities when judging an individual’s intelligence but also their performance [102]. Jones’ study presents five themes of how high school students define intelligence: knowledge, skills and abilities; academic effort; achievement; decision making and personal characteristics [103]. Taking the age of the student into consideration is important in understanding how they perceive intelligence. If teachers are aware of these beliefs, they can better recognize how it impacts students learning and organize their classroom environments and curriculum accordingly.

Epistomological knowledge is also believed to depend on the age and experiences of the child. According to studies done by Perry, as children progress through levels of education, so did their level of knowledge. As individuals mature, their beliefs about the complexity of knowledge, the justifications of knowledge and the effort required to obtain knowledge began to change. This finding is important for teachers to understand that acquiring critical thinking and justification of knowledge that is seen in the higher stages of reflective thinking or relativistic stage comes with age and experience. Therefore teachers should not rush to impose critical thinking, instead they should offer patience and support and take small steps when introducing critical thinking [104]. The belief of intelligence being fixed or incremental also affects the academic achievement of the student and their motivation. Students who believe intelligence to be incremental see intelligence as something that requires effort. These students see failing a test a result of not putting in enough effort in studying, improving would require the motivation to applying more effort. This is different from students who believe intelligence is something that is fixed, which led to learned helplessness and lack of motivation to succeed in the next test. With these students teachers need to teach students that school is about effort and intelligence is not something which is fixed [105].

Development of Reasoning Skills and Reflective Thinking[edit]

Teachers need to ensure that they give information that challenge their student’s epistemological views [106]. Epistomologial beliefs influences the learning of the individuals. Those who believe that learning is something that is complex, uncertain,effortful and requiring justification tend to do well with their academics [107].This is because they know that their motivation changes their learning. They are also open to exploring the new ideas, and go out there to find deeper contextual information.These are the learners who are in the higher stages of the reflective thinking and those who are believed to be in the relativistic stage [108]. The beliefs in the epistemological knowledge is something that should be taught to the teachers as well. This is because the teachers beliefs about knowledge and how it is acquired affects the student’s learning process [109]. The teacher's beliefs about teaching are deemed important because they may be used to filter and interpret information, frame tasks, and guide action [110]. The teachers who believed that they were the only source of information that their students had, structured the class in a non-discussion one. This led to their students believing that knowledge was certain, and the only sources of knowledge was from the authority. This differs from the teachers that believed that knowledge is constructive, this led to them designing the classroom in a more collaboration manner. The teachers would encourage students, to think critically about the information that they were given. The teacher also encouraged the student’s engagement with others because they knew that this will help in making them more open to the new ideas. This also encouraged the students in their reflective thinking. Therefore it is important that the teachers are trained not to have the traditional view of thinking because this in turn influences the students.

Cultural Diversity[edit]

Figure 7 Canadian Mosaic Wall

British Columbia's new curriculum has developed three competencies that students should strive for during their education. One of the competencies that relates to the cultural diversity of the beliefs about intelligence and knowledge is the positive personal and cultural identity competency:

"[T]he awareness, understanding, and appreciation of all the facets that contribute to a healthy sense of oneself. It includes awareness and understanding of one’s family background, heritage(s), language(s), beliefs, and perspectives in a pluralistic society. Students who have a positive personal and cultural identity value their personal and cultural narratives, and understand how these shape their identity. Supported by a sense of self-worth, self-awareness, and positive identity, students become confident individuals who take satisfaction in who they are, and what they can do to contribute to their own well-being and to the well-being of their family, community, and society." [111]

The multicultural classroom in Canadian schools require educators to be open-minded and flexible when helping students develop their cultural identity and their beliefs. Figure 7 demonstrates the multicultural society that exists in Canada today. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the Western and Eastern cultures have a different view on intelligence and knowledge. As a result, children need to be taught explicitly about how cultural identity affects their beliefs about intelligence and knowledge

In terms of beliefs about intelligence, cultural differences give rise to different goal orientations which in turn causes academic performances to vary. Therefore, teachers should evaluate the beliefs and goal orientations of each individual student in a private session to ensure that they are positive and useful. Unfortunately, there might be occasions, in which students have negative beliefs and ineffective goal orientations because of the cultural context they live in. For example, in Chen and Wong's aforementioned study, there appears to be a positive correlation between performance-approach, performance-avoidance and mastery goals. In addition, these goals each seem to help Chinese students' academic achievement. However, an important point to keep in mind is that this correlation is most likely based on the Chinese students' desire of self-development, competition and avoidance of failure. Educators should strive to encourage self-development to enable students to taken on mastery goals, but competition and avoidance of failure are not features of a good learning environment. There is a lot of stress that comes with competing and avoiding failure. Even if academic achievement is obtained, educators need to be cautious. It might be more effective to promote an incremental view of intelligence in the classroom because students holding this view are more likely to focus on their own improvement and to learn for the sake of mastery and enjoyment. Subsequently, students are more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their learning.

As for beliefs about knowledge. cultural differences lead to different ways of developing and utilizing knowledge. As mentioned earlier, the Western and Eastern cultures have differing views of knowledge. Therefore the teacher should be willing to have a multicultural classroom. For instance, one that has both the Socratic view and Confucian view and be able to teach the students to implement one or the other depending with the situation and the class that they are taking. The Socratic view is important for the social sciences classes in which the students are supposed to question what they are learning since there is no right or wrong answer. The Confucian view is helpful in learning the hard sciences. such as physics, which adhere to the laws,meaning that the student has to grasp the fundamental facts. The teacher should create a classroom that is group based so that the students can be able to share their different beliefs and critically think about them [112]. Overall, teaching children the Socratic and Confucian approaches explicitly can help students have a better understanding of how cultural affects beliefs and thinking, which in turn prepares them to collaborate with people in a multicultural society. Additionally, other cultures' beliefs can also be researched and it is highly encouraged that teachers keep themselves updated to ensure that they are considering the effects of culture in their classrooms.

Suggested Readings[edit]

Bernardo, A. B. I. (2010). Extending hope theory: Internal and external locus of trait hope. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 944–949. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.07.036.

Haimovitz, K., Wormington, S. V., & Corpus, J. H. (2011). Dangerous mindsets: How beliefs about intelligence predict motivational change. Learning And Individual Differences, 21(6), 747-752. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2011.09.002

OECD (2009), "Teaching Practices, Teachers' Beliefs and Attitudes", in OECD. , Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI: 10.1787/9789264068780-6

Glossary[edit]

Affective knowledge: Information acquired subjectively, based on emotional reaction.

Agency: Goal-directed determination, willpower.

Beliefs: personal opinions about the environment and the self

Certain knowledge: belief that knowledge is absolute

Cognitive knowledge: information acquired objectively and rationally.

Constructivist view: teachers are guides in helping students obtain knowledge, students are active in their own learning

Dualist knowledge: belief that knowledge is either right or wrong

Entity theory: the belief that intelligence cannot be changed

Epistemological beliefs: beliefs about what knowledge is and how one acquires that knowledge

Explicit beliefs: conscious beliefs that impact a person’s behaviour

Fixed ability: belief that one’s ability to learn is innate and cannot be changed for example the student will believe that it is either they are born to grasp materials

High hope: occurs when both agencies and pathways are present, students believe they have ability of attaining their goals.

Implicit beliefs: subliminal beliefs that influence an individual’s behaviour

Implicit theory: involves an individual making unspoken speculations about the causes of an event

Incremental theory: demonstrates that gradual modifications of intelligence are possible

Intelligence: a person's capacity to adjust to, shape and choose an environment

Mastery-approach goals: bring about a commitment to improve competence and to engage in meaningful learning, in which understanding is highly valued

Mastery-avoidance goals: give rise to hiding from inadequacy in relation to the self and to an undertaking

Mastery orientation: includes the incremental theory and the desire to improve one’s proficiency

Pathways: planning of ways to reach one's goals

Performance-approach goals: concentrate on the desire to show proficiency by making other people targets for competition

Performance-avoidance goals: focus on the finding ways to escape tasks that will likely reflect failure when compared to others

Performance orientation: involves the belief in the entity theory and the display of proficiency

Pre-reflective judgment: the stages in which knowledge is certain

Quasi-reflective judgment: the stages in which knowledge is uncertain

Quick learning: the belief that learning is fast process or it completely does not occur.

Relativist knowledge: belief that knowledge can be evaluated based on personal experience

Reflective Judgement: the stages in which knowledge is content based

Simple knowledge: knowledge is organized in bits and pieces, meaning that for one to understand it, it has to be broken down into smaller simple parts

Traditional views: teachers act as an authority figure while students are passive recipients of knowledge.

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