Longitudinal Effects of Educational Expectations and Achievement Attributions on Adolescents' Academic Achievements

Article excerpt

Previous research has shown that the educational expectations of adolescents are correlated with their academic achievements (Bui, 2007; Sanders, Field, & Diego, 2001). Sanders, Field, and Diego's (2001) research revealed that high school students' educational expectations and academic achievements were reciprocally predictive. Such a reciprocal relationship was also reported in Bui's (2007) study, but the path from academic achievements to educational expectations emerged as stronger than the reverse path. However, the long-term reciprocal effects of educational expectations and academic achievements on adolescents are less clear.

Educational expectations, that is, students' own expectations about the highest level of education they will attain, represent a kind of expectation about future academic success. According to expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002), expectations of success are a crucial component influencing achievement-related performance and are assumed to be influenced by perceptions of competence and by goals held by individuals. Such perceptions and goals are influenced by individuals' interpretations of their own previous achievements. In other words, expectations of success and outcomes of achievements presumably have a cyclical influence on each other. That is, individuals' expectations of success influence their achievements and their achievements further influence their future expectations. Consistent with the feedback mechanism of the expectancy-value model, adolescents are expected to have better long-term academic achievement outcomes if they have higher educational expectations during earlier periods. Through feedback mechanisms operating over time, educational expectations are assumed to facilitate academic achievements.

Moreover, the causal attributions that individuals offer for previous achievement outcomes (Weiner, 1986, 2000) represent key factors in determining whether they continue to engage in subsequent learning. Weiner (1992) has classified attributions of outcomes into three dimensions: locus of control (internal-external), stability (stable-unstable), and controllability (controllable-uncontrollable). For example, ability was classified as an internal and stable characteristic that was beyond the control of students, whereas effort was classified as an internal, unstable, and controllable characteristic. Anderson (1983) has indicated that individuals who attributed outcomes to effort exhibited higher levels of motivation and performed better than did individuals who attributed outcomes to ability. Similar results were also reported by Schunk (1982), revealing that feedback of attributing previous achievements to effort resulted in more progress and greater skill development in math. When adolescents attribute learning outcomes to ability, they would be expected to be less engaged in learning. When adolescents attribute learning outcomes to effort, they would be expected to spend more time on learning, which is assumed to facilitate academic achievements.

Although previous research has shown that attributions of achievement outcomes influence academic achievements (Anderson, 1983; Schunk, 1982; Weiner, 1986, 2000), and educational expectations can predict future academic achievements (Bui, 2007; Sanders, Field, & Diego, 2001), only a few studies have explored the predictive value of achievement attributions and educational expectations on the academic achievements of adolescents and examined their long-term effects on their academic development. This study used the longitudinal database of the Taiwan Education Panel Survey to explore the long-term effects of the educational expectations and achievement attributions of adolescents on their actual academic achievements.

METHOD

Data Source

This study used the database from the publicly released files of the Taiwan Education Panel Survey (TEPS, Chang, 2007), Center for Survey Research, Academia Sinica. …