Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

A Comparison of High Achievers' and Low Achievers' Attitudes, Perceptions, and Motivations

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

A Comparison of High Achievers' and Low Achievers' Attitudes, Perceptions, and Motivations

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare high achieving and low achieving adolescents' attitudes toward school, attitudes toward teachers, goal-valuation, motivation, and general academic self-perceptions. Specifically, we sought to determine whether high achievers really differed from low achievers on these five factors, and to ascertain which of the five factors were the best predictors of students' status as either a high achiever or a low achiever. The comparison of the scores of high achievers and low achievers on attitudes toward school, attitudes toward teachers, goal-valuation, motivation, and general academic self-perceptions revealed large differences between high achievers and low achievers on all five factors. However, two factors, academic self-perception and motivation/self-regulation, predicted students' achievement status as well as the five-factor model did. Using logistic regression, these two subscales were able to classify students' achievement status correctly over 85% of the time. These results suggest that high achievers and low achievers differ in both their motivational patterns and their academic self-perceptions. uture research should continue to explore the relationships between these student characteristics and academic achievement.

Every teacher knows at least one student who "could do better." These are the students who come to school without books or homework, the students who appear to choose not to study for exams, the students who seem unphased by parents' and teachers' pleas that their grades now will affect the rest of their professional lives. We commonly dub these students "underachievers."

Underachievement is most commonly defined as a discrepancy between potential (or ability) and performance (or achievement) (Reis & McCoach, 2000). Therefore, a student who appears capable of succeeding in school but is nonetheless struggling is often referred to as an underachiever. Factors commonly associated with underachievement include low academic self-concept (Schunk, 1998; Supplee, 1990; Whitmore, 1980), low self-efficacy (Schunk, 1998), low self-motivation (Weiner, 1992), low goal-valuation (McCall, Evahn, & Kratzer, 1992), and negative attitude toward school and teachers (Colangelo, Kerr, Christensen, & Maxey, 1993; Ford, 1996; Rimm, 1995). Most of the literature on underachievement suggests that underachievers have lower academic self-perceptions, lower self-motivation and self-regulation, and less goal directed behavior, and more negative attitudes toward school than high achievers do (Reis & McCoach, 2000). However, the majority of research investigating the common characteristics of underachieving students has employed qualitative, clinical, or single subject research methodology. Very few large-scale quantitative studies have examined the legitimacy of these hypotheses (Reis & McCoach, 2000).

The purpose of this study was to compare high achieving and low achieving adolescents' attitudes toward school, attitudes toward teachers, goal-valuation, motivation, and general academic self-perceptions, using the School Attitude Assessment Survey-Revised (SAAS-R). Specifically, we sought to determine whether high achievers really differed from low achievers on these five factors, and to ascertain which factors were the best predictors of students' status as either a high achiever or a low achiever.

Review of the Literature

Academic Self-Perceptions

Students develop confidence in many ways, and those who are confident about their skills are more likely to engage in a variety of activities. The perceptions students have about their skills influence the types of activities they select, how much they challenge themselves at those activities, and the persistence they exhibit once they are involved in the activities (Ames, 1990; Bandura, 1977, 1986; Schunk, 1981, 1994). Perceptions or personal expectancies generally fall into two categories: self--efficacy and self-concept. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.