LD Children's Attributions for Success and Failure: A Replication with a Labeled LD Sample

Download LD Children's Attributions for Success and Failure: A Replication with a Labeled LD Sample

Post on 15-Jan-2017

212 views

Category:

Documents

0 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

<ul><li><p>Hammill Institute on Disabilities</p><p>LD Children's Attributions for Success and Failure: A Replication with a Labeled LD SampleAuthor(s): Ruth PearlSource: Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring, 1982), pp. 173-176Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1510578 .Accessed: 16/06/2014 06:27</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Sage Publications, Inc. and Hammill Institute on Disabilities are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize,preserve and extend access to Learning Disability Quarterly.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.76.54 on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:27:35 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=sagehttp://www.jstor.org/stable/1510578?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>LD CHILDREN'S ATTRIBUTIONS FOR SUCCESS AND FAILURE: A REPLICATION </p><p>WITH A LABELED LD SAMPLE </p><p>Ruth Pearl </p><p>Abstract. Third- and fourth-grade learning disabled children's attributions for success and failure were examined. Results Indicated that successes are not always Interpreted by learning disabled children as reflecting something positive about themselves. At the same time, failure Is not necessarily viewed as something that can be overcome with effort. The findings point to the need for parents and teachers to be sensitive to LD children's potentially debilitating Interpretation of their own performances. </p><p>Recent research has found that both behavior- al and affective reactions to success and failure are mediated by what the individual believes has caused the success or failure. For example, children who attribute failure to low ability react to failure with a deterioration in their perform- ance, while children who attribute failure to a lack of effort react to failure by continuing or even accelerating their attempts to master the task (e.g., Dweck &amp; Reppucci, 1973). Individu- als who believe their failures are caused by low ability or the difficulty of the task expect less future success than those who believe their failures stem from a lack of effort or bad luck (Weiner, Heckhausen, Meyer, &amp; Cook, 1972). Attributions of success to ability result in feelings of competence. Attributions of failure to ability engender feelings of incompetence; attributions of failure to a lack of effort give rise to feelings of guilt (Weiner, 1979). </p><p>Given the importance of children's causal at- tributions, Pearl, Bryan, and Donahue (1980) examined the attributions of a group of unla- beled children who met the criteria established in the federal guidelines for identifying learning disabilities (U.S. Office of Education, 1977). These children had not been formally labeled as learning disabled (LD) because they attended parochial schools which did not provide special education services. The most important finding </p><p>of this study was that these children attributed their failures less to a lack of effort than did nor- mally achieving children. Hence, the results in- dicated that maladaptive attributions are made by children whose characteristics are similar to those of labeled learning disabled children. However, because it is possible that the learning disabilities label itself may somehow alter children's attributions, the present study was undertaken, using a somewhat different method, to determine whether the earlier find- ings would be replicated in a sample of labeled learning disabled children. </p><p>METHOD Subjects </p><p>Subjects were Caucasian third and fourth graders from two upper-middle-class suburban Chicago schools. The learning disabled children had been identified as such by school personnel, and were receiving daily assistance from a learn- ing disability teacher in a resource room. Six LD girls and eight LD boys in the third grade, and seven LD girls and eight LD boys in the fourth </p><p>RUTH PEARL, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Research Associate, Chicago Institute for Learning Disabilities. </p><p>Volume 5, Spring 1982 173 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.76.54 on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:27:35 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>grade took part in the study. Control subjects were randomly selected from classmates who matched the LD children on sex and race. Five girls and five boys in the third grade, and six girls and seven boys in the fourth grade served as control subjects. The mean reading grade per- centile of the LD group on the Metropolitan Achievement Test was 47.64 (SD = 27.8); the mean reading grade percentile of the control group was 72.94 (SD = 20.2). The mean IQ on the Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test of the LD group was 104.39 (SD = 12.4); the mean IQ of the control group was 106 (SD = 23.5). </p><p>Questionnaire The children were asked to respond to a ques- </p><p>tionnaire, adapted from Nicholls (1979), which asked about the reasons for their successes and failures in reading, putting together a puzzle, and getting along with other children. After each question, a series of pairs of attributions was listed. The pairs consisted of all possible (6) pair- ings of the attributions of effort, ability, task dif- ficulty, and luck. The order of the six pairs was randomly determined for each question. The children were told to indicate which of the two attributions in each pair they thought was more responsible for the outcome under question. The number of times per question that each of the four attributions was indicated as the most im- portant constituted the score for that attribution on that particular question. Thus, scores on each question for each of the attributions of effort, ability, task difficulty, and luck could range from zero to three. Because the scores were ipsative, that is, the score of the fourth attribution was automatically determined by the scores of the other three, only scores for the attributions of ef- fort, ability, and luck were analyzed. Procedure </p><p>Children were tested in their classrooms. The adult female experimenter gave the following directions: </p><p>We want to know what you think about different things that can happen to you. We just want to know what you think; of course, everybody has different ideas. There are no right or wrong answiers. </p><p>(1): Now turn to the first page. For the first question I want you to think about a day when you really get along well with the </p><p>other kids in your class. I'm going to ask you why it would be if you got along well with the other kids. Everybody is different so you'll all have different ideas. Okay, look at (a). When you have a day when you really get along well with the other kids in your class, what makes that happen? Is it because you are good at having fun with the other kids or because the other kids were being nice? You decide which would be the most likely reason for you and put a check by that one. Any ques- tions? </p><p>Now look at (b). When you have a day when you get along really well with the other kids, is it more because you tried to get along with the other kids or because you had a lucky day? Mark the most likely reason. </p><p>The experimenter continued to read the rest of the questionnaire in the same way. The other five questions were worded as follows: </p><p>(2): Now I want you to think about times when you do bad work in reading. Everybody does poorly in reading sometimes. I'm asking you, if you do poorly, what makes that happen? </p><p>(3): Now I want you to think about a day when nothing goes right between you and the other kids in your class. Every- body has a day like that sometimes. When you have a day when nothing goes right between you and the other kids in your class, what makes that hap- pen? </p><p>(4): Now think about when you're working on a puzzle and you're able to figure out how to put it together. When you are working on a puzzle and you are able to put it together, what makes that hap- pen? </p><p>(5): Now think about when you do really good work in reading. When you do really good work in reading, what makes that happen? </p><p>(6): Now think about times when you try to put together a puzzle but you can't figure out how to do it. That happens to </p><p>174 Learning Disability Quarterly </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.76.54 on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:27:35 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>everybody sometimes. When you are working on a puzzle and you cannot put it together, what makes that happen? </p><p>RESULTS Scores for the attributions of effort, ability, and </p><p>luck were analyzed in separate analyses of vari- ance with Group (learning disabled or control), Grade (third or fourth), and Sex as between fac- tors and Type (successful or unsuccessful) and Domain (reading, puzzle, or social) as repeated factors. </p><p>Effort Significant main effects were found for Type, </p><p>F(1,44) = 8.64, p &lt; .01, and for Domain, F(2,88) = 7.49, p &lt; .01. There were also significant interactions for Grade x Group, F(1,44) = 6.58, p &lt; .05, Type x Domain, F(2,88) = 5.0, p &lt; .01, and Group x Type x Domain, F(2,88) = 7.78, p &lt; .01. Duncan Multiple-Range tests (p &lt; .05) on the Grade x Group interaction indicated that fourth-grade control children considered effort to be more im- portant for their successes and failures than did third-grade control children; however, no group differences were noted within each grade. Dun- can tests on the Group x Type x Domain interac- tion revealed that the control children thought that their failures in reading and on puzzles were more the result of a lack of effort than did the learning disabled children.' </p><p>Ability Significant main effects occurred for Type, </p><p>F(1,44) = 93.28, p &lt; .01, and Domain, F(2,88) = 3.51, p &lt; .05. In addition, there were interactions of Grade x Type, F(1,44) = 11.17, p &lt; .01, Group x Type, F(1,44) = 16.6, p &lt; .01, Grade x Sex x Type x Domain, F(2,88) = </p><p>4.30, p &lt; .05, and Grade x Group x Type x Do- main, F(2,88) = 3.87, p &lt; .05. Duncan tests on the Grade x Sex x Type x Domain interaction in- dicated that fourth-grade girls thought success at puzzles was less due to ability than did third- grade girls. Duncan tests on the Grade x Group x Type x Domain interaction indicated that among third graders, control children considered ability to be more involved in their successes in puzzles than did LD children. There were no group differences in the importance attributed to ability for success in reading in the third grade. However, LD children in the fourth grade </p><p>thought that ability was less involved in their suc- cesses in reading than did LD children in the third grade with the result that among fourth graders, control children thought that their suc- cesses in reading resulted more from their ability than did LD children. </p><p>Luck There was a significant main effect for Type, </p><p>F(1,44) = 76.87, p &lt; .01, and interactions of Group x Type, F(1,44) = 4.46, p &lt; .05, and Type x Domain, F(2,88) = 5.22, p &lt; .01. The Group x Type interaction occurred because learning disabled children looked upon luck as more of a cause of their successes and bad luck as less of a cause of their failures than did control children. The Type x Domain interaction in- dicated, according to Duncan tests, that the children viewed bad luck as more a cause of social failures than failures in reading or on puzzles and, overall, bad luck was seen as a greater cause of failures than good luck was con- sidered a cause of successes. </p><p>DISCUSSION The results of this study indicate that the </p><p>pessimistic beliefs about the causes of their suc- cesses and failures that were held by the under- achieving children in the Pearl et al. (1980) study are also held by formally labeled learning disabled children. The attributions made by the LD children in this study differed in a number of respects from those made by the nondisabled children in the control group. The LD children did not believe to the same degree that their failures in reading and on puzzles were due to a lack of effort. Compared to the nondisabled children, the LD children considered luck more of a factor in their successes and bad luck less of a factor in their failures. Learning disabled children in the third grade thought that successes on puzzles were caused less by their ability than did nondisabled children in the third grade; learning disabled children in the fourth grade considered successes in reading to be caused less by their ability than did nondisabled children in the fourth grade. </p><p>One intriguing difference between the results of this study and those of the Pearl et al. (1980) study is that the LD children in the present study attributed failures less to a lack of effort than the control children only for failures in reading and on puzzles. In the earlier study the underachiev- </p><p>Volume 5, Spring 1982 175 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.76.54 on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:27:35 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>ing children viewed a lack of effort as less of a cause of their social failures as well. Thus the LD children in the present study, unlike those in the previous study, apparently believed that further effort could be effective in overcoming social failure. It may be that the label "learning dis- abled" allows the children to limit their negative self-evaluations to their performance in achieve- ment-related activities. Alternatively, these children's differentiated attributions may reflect the finding that these learning disabled children were not given lower sociometric ratings by their classmates than were given to nondisabled children (unpublished data). This finding is dis- crepant from the sociometric ratings of learn- ing disabled children in the Pearl et al. (1980) study (unpublished data) as well as from the results of other studies which have consistently found learning disabled children to be of low sociometric status (Bruininks, 1978; Bryan, 1976; Siperstein, Bopp, &amp; Bak, 1978). There- fore, it may be that the similarity in the degree to which social failure is attributed to a lack of effort by the learning disabled and control children in this study is the result, or the cause, of these learning disabled children's atypically high social status. </p><p>In summary, the findings of this study indicate that successes and failures do not always mean to learning disabled children what they mean to other children. LD children do not necessar...</p></li></ul>