• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the relevance of attribution theory to educational psychology.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the relevance of attribution theory to educational psychology. Attribution theory refers to the "causal explanations that individuals infer for their own behaviour, and that of others, in an attempt to interpret their social world" (Burgner and Hewstone, 1993. p.125). As Eslea (1999) notes, "attributional styles have been found to be an important factor in a number of areas relevant to education, including childhood and adolescent depression, familial abuse, reading achievement, academic task persistence and coping with the problems of low socio-economic status" p. 35. The aim of this essay is to discuss the relevance of attribution theory to educational psychology. Specifically, the essay will focus on the success and failure attributions of children who have learning difficulties, the attributions made by children who have behaviour problems and the impact that the attributional styles adopted by teachers may have on children's learning. In exploring these issues, the essay aims to highlight the practical implications of research findings on attribution theory. According to Weiner's (1979) theory of achievement attribution, we make causal attributions for success or failure on a task according to whether the locus of the cause is internal or external (i.e., something about the person or about the situation); stable or unstable (i.e. ...read more.


found that while some children developed a state of 'learned helplessness' others were more likely to protect their self worth by ascribing failures to low effort or task difficulty and thus avoiding inferences of low ability. This performance of the 'self worth' group did not improve after training and Craske concluded that encouraging some children to try harder may place 'self worth' children under stress. It may therefore be important to distinguish between these two groups when planning interventions. Forsterling (1985) also urges caution when encouraging children to try harder, arguing that "leading a person to attribute success (especially at an easy task) to high effort might at the same time foster a conclusion of low ability" (p.504), whereas attributing failures to lack of effort could also give rise to feelings of guilt, which could also be detrimental to performance. Conversely, Mueller and Dweck (1998) reported that praise for intelligence can lead children to feel pressurised to continue to perform and they may then begin to avoid tasks that contain any risk of failure, similar to the 'self worth' group in Craske's (1988) study. They also found, however, that praise for hard work enabled children to develop more adaptive achievement behaviours after failure than praise for ability. ...read more.


"it's his job" or that's what they're paid to do".). He recommends that education officers should take time to listen and 'establish an open dialogue' with parents and Fredrickson (1988) similarly advocates an approach whereby the psychologist should engage in "explicit or accessible reasoning, sharing with parents and carers their attributions and their developing understanding of aspects of a problem situation". p. 41 In conclusion, attribution theory is extremely relevant to educational psychology. The evidence presented suggests that children with learning difficulties develop maladaptive beliefs about their abilities and attribute their failures to internal, stable causes and successes to external causes. The application of attribution theory to education can help motivate such children and improve their performance after failure by addressing their attributional styles. Furthermore, reattributional training has also been shown to be effective in reducing hyperactivity and improving the learning of children with ADHD. Similarly, children who have behaviour problems have been shown to have 'depressed' attributional styles, which may be altered if teachers reward self-enhancing attributions. Indeed, awareness of attributional styles in teachers would be highly beneficial and would prevent their attributions for children's' behaviour from negatively impacting on children's attributions. Furthermore, as Bowers (1994) highlighted, attribution theory may help to improve collaboration between the parents of children with learning difficulties and educational psychologists and teachers. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Teaching section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Teaching essays

  1. Medical Model and Social Model of Special Educational Needs

    strategies to be used to encourage the reaching of the targets, when the plan is to be reviewed as well as the outcome of the action taken previously. To include children with SEN teachers are encouraged to receive more training, as all teachers are in fact teachers of children with SEN.

  2. Educational Psychology

    Some students (minority students who want to avoid "acting white") may not be motivated to perform at their best and so may obtain scores that underestimate their capabilities. Furthermore, some students (e.g., those from certain ethnic groups) may not be familiar with the question-answer format that predominates in a typical

  1. Choose a named intervention and consider the research evidence for its effectiveness. Then ...

    point out that in this sample there was a high drop out rate of 25% which could question the validity of the results, poor sample description and the use of 'medicated' pupils in the sample. The ECRI also criticised the work of Paneria, Ferrante and Caputo (1997), who failed to

  2. What Are Some of The Causes of Differential Educational Achievement?

    The amount of extra learning materials at home can have an affect because the child has access to more information and different learning styles. This means the may be able to understand the work better, and thus achieve a higher mark.

  1. Inclusion and Special Educational Needs

    Statistics show that the ratio of boys to girls identified with SEN was approximately two to one across all age groups. For example within KS4 9% of boys were identified compared with 5% of girls. Generally, pupils from ethnic minorities, and also pupils who use English as their second language

  2. The socio-economic factors influence the educational achievements of a group of people a great ...

    The governments around the world and at home have tried to equalize the opportunities available to children, regardless of their background. They are in pursuit of a egalitarian education system. There is no doubt that children from working-class homes consistently underachieve at every level of the education when compared to

  1. How do the teachers think they foster a desire for lifelong learning in the ...

    becomes tiresome and time consuming for both the teacher and the child. The teacher demonstrated ways of engaging the class, as I mentioned previously. This, however, was only temporary. I think this idea of engaging the children are a vital joint, not just to promote motivation but of overall enjoyment in learning.

  2. Explore the educational achievement of Afro-Caribbean boys in the London region.

    It has been said that in Britain Afro-Caribbean's have a high population of one-parent families and a high quota of working mothers who leave their children unattended in the early years of their childhood. It can be said that the concept of single parenthood is another thing that has an effect on the achievement of the Afro-Caribbean males.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work