Motivation for Achievement: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning

By M. Kay Alderman | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 2
Attributional Beliefs
and Motivation

Children will not reach potential if… they are prone to beliefs about and behaviors in school that are not conductive to learning, such as a lack of persistence, a preference for easy tasks over challenging tasks, or a tendency to fall apart at the first sign of difficulty.

—Bempechat (1998, p. 37)

What explains beliefs such as these that are not conducive to learning? What beliefs are conducive to learning? The motivation theory that provides insight into beliefs that are detrimental or conducive to learning is attribution. Attribution is a cognitive theory that considers a person's beliefs about causes of outcomes and how those beliefs influence expectations and behavior. An understanding of attribution theory will help you:
Distinguish between beliefs that are detrimental or conducive to learning.
Understand reasons for lack of persistence.
Understand re asonsfor lack of effort.
Identify strategies that can be used to help students succeed and gain in confidence.
Understand your own causal beliefs about success and failure and how these influence student motivation.

Because attribution is concerned with causes given for outcomes, it is the theory of motivation that is most directly concerned with this question: “Why do people do what they do?” This

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