Teacher Expectations & Attributions

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  • 0:47 Attributions Defined
  • 2:29 Attributions Communicated
  • 4:30 The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • 5:50 Teacher Self-Efficacy
  • 6:17 Setting Expectations &…
  • 6:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
Attributions for success and failure drive future expectations for learning and success. Students attribute their successes or failures to a number of factors. Teachers also make attributions for student performance. This lesson will explore teacher expectations and attributions that affect classroom and individual student performance.

Introduction to Attributions

'You did it! Great Job! You are so smart!' 'Wow! Today must be your lucky day!' Teacher attributions and expectations affect learning in the classroom. Many times teachers are unaware of the statements or attributions they make toward student success and failure. These attributions can have a lasting impact on students' learning and motivation for future activities. This lesson will identify teacher expectations and attributions, explore teacher self-efficacy, and discuss how attributions affect classroom and individual student performance.

Attributions Defined

Attributions are the perceived causes that individuals select or construct for events in their lives. A basic assumption of attribution theory is that a person's understanding of the causes of past events influences his or future actions.

Bernard Weiner formulated the attribution theory of achievement
Bernard Weiner

The psychologist Bernard Weiner developed an attribution theory that focuses on achievement. According to Weiner, the most important factors affecting attributions are ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck. He classified these attributions along three causal dimensions: locus of control (in which there are two poles: internal vs. external), stability (in other words: do causes change over time or not?), and controllability (causes one can control, such as skills, versus causes one cannot control such as luck or others' actions).

If a student attributes a success or failure to be external (out of his control) or stable (won't change over time), and non-controllable (can't develop skills to be successful), then motivation and attempts to engage in similar tasks in the future will decline. However, if a student attributes a success or failure to be internal (within his control), unstable (may change over time), and controllable (he can make changes to increase that skill or knowledge), then motivation and engagement in similar tasks in the future will increase.

Attributions Communicated

Attributions for success and failure are communicated to learners by teachers. These attributions are communicated by verbal feedback, written feedback on assignments, grades on assignments and tests, and through classroom instruction.

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