Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Students' School Performance in Language and Mathematics: Effects of Hope on Attributions, Emotions and Performance Expectations

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Students' School Performance in Language and Mathematics: Effects of Hope on Attributions, Emotions and Performance Expectations

Article excerpt


This study examined (a) students' (n= 342, both genders, grades 5 and 6) attributions and emotions for their subjectively perceived school performance in language and mathematics as successful or unsuccessful, (b) the role of students' hope (pathways thinking, agency thinking) in the: perceived performance in the above school subjects as successful or unsuccessful, subsequent attributions and emotions, impact of attributions on emotions, and,in turn,interactive effect on performance expectations. The estimated as successful and unsuccessful school performance was predominately attributed to stable and unstable (external in language) factors, respectively. The students experienced intense positive and moderate negative emotions for the perceived successful and unsuccessful school performance, respectively. Hope (mainly, agency thinking) positively influenced the attributions (particularly, stability) and emotions (mainly, pathway thinking), and the impact of attributions on emotions, mainly in unsuccessful performance in mathematics. Hope, attributions and emotions had unique and complimentarily effect on performance expectations.

Keywords: attributions, emotions, hope, performance expectations

1. Introduction

Children's experience of academic success or failure, particularly in important domains, such as mathematics and language, is crucial for their personal identity and development (Hannover & Kessels, 2004; Harter, 1999; Ilgen & Davis, 2000; Mason, 2003; Paris, Morrison, & Miller, 2006; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Rutter & Maughan, 2002; Wigfield, Brynes, & Eccles, 2006). Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that promote or inhibit students in pursuit their educational goals.

Previous research has documented that even talented young students fail to achieve at levels that are in consistency with their academic potentials (Diener & Dweck, 1980; Hanson, 1994; Stephanou, 2004a). Also, the psychological consequences of academic success or failure are influenced by the beliefs and goals that students have (Boekaerts, 2002; Dweck, 1999; Eccles & Wigfield, 1995; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2000, 2002; Marsh & Craven, 1997; Mason, 2003; Stephanou, 2007a, 20011b).

Recent research on student motivation focuses on socio-cognitive and emotional constructs and their role in academic achievement (Anderman & Wolters, 2006; Boekaerts, Pintrich, & Zeidner, 2000; Schutz & DeCuir, 2002; Schutz, Hong, Cross & Osbon, 2006; Stephanou, 2006, 2008; Stephanou & Kyridis, in press; Stephanou & Tatsis, 2008; Wosnitza, Karabenick, Efklides &Nenniger, 2009).

Weiner's (1992, 2005) attribution model of motivation, on which this study is partly based, incorporates a variety of these constructs, and it has proved helpful in understanding children's academic achievement (see Anderman & Wolters, 2006; Schunk & Zimmerman, 2006). Specifically, Weiner's (2005) attribution model perceives affects and expectations as immediate predecessors of academic achievement. The findings from previous investigations have documented that attributions for past performance influence future performance, since they have psychological consequences relative to expectancy and affects (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Stephanou, 2004b, 2005; Weiner, 1992). Whether students perceive their academic performance as successful or unsuccessful, and which explanations or interpretations they make about their performance influence their emotions, motivation and behaviour. For example, if a student attributes his / her successful course performance to internal, controllable and stable factors (e.g., long- term effort), he / she may experience pride and expect future success. In contrast, by attributing failure to internal, uncontrollable and stable factors (e.g., low ability), a student may experience incompetence and shame, have low expectations of success, and decreases the probability of successful performance. …

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