The impact of implicit theories of intelligence on the motivation of students with learning challenges

Dorrie Bernstein, Fordham University

Abstract

There is limited research on the motivational style of middle school and high school students with learning disabilities, language impairments, and attentional problems. The present study explored the motivational processes of 7th through 11th graders receiving support services through special education. A well-researched theoretical model of motivation was employed in order to facilitate understanding of the underpinnings of achievement motivation among individuals in this special population. Specifically, Dweck's motivational process model was applied including implicit theories of intelligence and achievement goal orientation as predictors of individual response to failure. Following the administration of a failure scenario, behavioral and cognitive responses to failure were measured. ^ Participants in 3 suburban public school districts completed a questionnaire measuring implicit theories of intelligence and achievement goal orientation (i.e., learning, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance). In addition, the students read a failure scenario and then completed questions about their attributions for failure and positive strategy use following failure. ^ Findings revealed that an incremental theory of intelligence and a learning goal orientation were predictive of a mastery-oriented response to failure as seen in use of positive strategies and mastery-oriented attributions. The predictive power was stronger for positive strategy use when the effects of age were accounted for. Younger students used more positive strategies. Performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals did not have any relationship to other variables. Thus, belief in the malleability of intelligence when combined with a learning goal, tended to insulate adolescents with learning challenges from the effects of a learned helpless response to failure. ^ The results of the study are viewed through the lens of existing theory and further areas of research are recommended. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Dorrie Bernstein, "The impact of implicit theories of intelligence on the motivation of students with learning challenges" (January 1, 2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3210259.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3210259

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