THE DEFINITIONS AND ATTRIBUTIONS OF LIFE AND EDUCATIONAL SUCCESSES AND THE SCHOOL FUNCTIONING OF PUPILS
Academy of Special Education (POLAND)
The student definition of success in life and education and the perception of their causes remain in reciprocal relationships with school functioning: particular convictions about the sources and definitions of success may determine the effort the students invest in learning and their behaviour in school, leading them towards educational success, but their achievements may also form a perception of what success is and what factors shape it (Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of motivation and emotion. New York: Springer.).
In order to explore this issue, 448 middle school students (51% men, 49% women) were examined. The average grade and the behaviour of students were adopted as the indicators of school functioning. The students were divided into three groups depending on their academic results: low average grade (average 1.0-3.0, N = 137, grading scale 1-6), the medium average grade (average 3,1-4,0; N = 163) and high average grade (average grade 4,1-6,0; N = 72). In order to perform the analyses connected with the students’ behaviour, the teachers’ indication of whether a student causes discipline problems was taken into account. According to this criterion, the students were divided into two groups: students causing behaviour problems (N = 25) and students not causing discipline issues (N = 267).
In order to uncover the definitions and attributions of the students’ success in life and education, four independent tools were created: the Questionnaire on the Students’ Definition of Life Success, the Questionnaire on the Students’ Definition of Educational Success, the Questionnaire on the Students’ Attributions of Life Success, the Questionnaire on the Students’ Attributions of Educational Success. A factor analysis was performed on each of the tools. In the case of the definition of life success, the following factors were isolated: family and fulfillment (Cronbach α = 0,864, % of the variance = 17,25), education and work (Cronbach α = 0,815, % of the variance = 12,93), material goods and prestige (Cronbach α = 0,812, % of the variance = 12,49), spirituality and social activity (Cronbach α = 0,707, % of the variance = 7,94).
For the attributions of life success, two factors were selected: abilities, education and diligence (Cronbach α = 0,872, % of the variance = 20,39), stratification factors and dishonesty (Cronbach α = 0,791, % of the variance = 17,81). The definitions of school successes consisted of: high achievements and good behavior (Cronbach α = 0,842, % of the variance = 24,66), intellectual and social abilities (Cronbach α = 0,752, % of the variance = 18,91). The attributions of educational success consisted of factors such as: assiduousness, abilities, teacher support (Cronbach α = 0,825, % of the variance = 20,48), stratification factors and chance (Cronbach α = 0,795, % of the variance = 17,44) , astuteness (Cronbach α = 0,616, % of the variance = 11,46). The analyses have shown significant differences in the definitions and attributions of success in life and education among students of various academic functioning.