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Attribution Theory in the College Classroom: Examining the Relationship of Student Attributions and Instructional Dissent

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This study sought to expand knowledge on instructional dissent by establishing the relationship between student attributions of instructor behavior (attribution theory) and their own communicative behavior following a difference of opinion with an instructor. Student participants (N = 244) completed survey questionnaires regarding their perceptions of instructor's internality for a perceived disagreement and their own communicative behavior following the incident (i.e., expressive, rhetorical, or vengeful dissent). Results indicate that students’ attributions of internality are positively related to all three forms of dissent.
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Communication Research Reports
ISSN: 0882-4096 (Print) 1746-4099 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rcrr20
Attribution Theory in the College Classroom:
Examining the Relationship of Student
Attributions and Instructional Dissent
Sara LaBelle & Matthew M. Martin
To cite this article: Sara LaBelle & Matthew M. Martin (2014) Attribution Theory in the College
Classroom: Examining the Relationship of Student Attributions and Instructional Dissent,
Communication Research Reports, 31:1, 110-116, DOI: 10.1080/08824096.2013.846257
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08824096.2013.846257
Published online: 12 Feb 2014.
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ISSN 0882-4096 (print)/ISSN 1746-4099 (online) © 2014 Eastern Communication Association
DOI: 10.1080/08824096.2013.846257
Communication Research Reports
Vol. 31, No. 1, January–March 2014, pp. 110–116
Attribution Theory in the College
Classroom: Examining the Relationship
of Student Attributions and
Instructional Dissent
Sara LaBelle & Matthew M. Martin
This study sought to expand knowledge on instructional dissent by establishing the rela-
tionship between student attributions of instructor behavior (attribution theory) and their
own communicative behavior following a difference of opinion with an instructor. Stu-
dent participants (N = 244) completed survey questionnaires regarding their perceptions of
instructor’s internality for a perceived disagreement and their own communicative behav-
ior following the incident (i.e., expressive, rhetorical, or vengeful dissent). Results indicate
that students’ attributions of internality are positively related to all three forms of dissent.
Keywords: Attribution Theory; College Classroom; Instructional Dissent
Attribution theory is a person perception theory that is particularly useful for
understanding student perceptions of instructor behavior, because it deals with the
commonsense ways in which individuals attempt to answer the “why” questions
underlying human behavior (Schrodt & Witt, 2006). Specifically, attribution theory
focuses on the inferences people make regarding the cause of their own and others’
behaviors in addition to the responsibility attributed for these behaviors (Heider, 1958;
Weiner, 1986). Importantly, these causes can be attributed to either external forces
(i.e., not under the person’s control) or internal forces (i.e., subject to his/her control).
Sara LaBelle (MA, West Virginia University, 2011) is a PhD student in the Department of Communication Stud-
ies at West Virginia University. Matthew M. Martin (PhD, University of Missouri, 1985) is a professor in the
Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University. Correspondence: Sara LaBelle, Department
of Communication Studies, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6293, Morgantown, WV 26506; E-mail: slabelle@
mix.wvu.edu
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Communication Research Reports 111
Internal attributions locate the cause of the behavior within the person; external
attributions locate the cause of the behavior in the situation (Weiner, 1986). People are
more forgiving of another’s negative behavior when the cause is attributed to external
forces and likewise are more judging of behaviors that are believed to be internally
caused or attributed to the person (Weiner, Amirkhan, Folkes, & Verette, 1987).
Research in instructional communication indicates that students make biased
assessments regarding their instructors’ negative behaviors by attributing internal
causes. In the context of instructor anger expression, McPherson and Young (2004)
found that students assigned internal attributions when instructors expressed their
emotions using distributive aggression (e.g., yelling or screaming) and passive aggres-
sion (e.g., making faces at students). Further, Sabee and Wilson (2005) reported that
students with learning as a primary goal were most likely to view the cause for the
disappointing grade as residing largely within themselves, whereas students who were
more aggressive in approaching the interaction with the instructor were more likely to
make an external attribution for the cause of their bad grade.
Students view their own motivations as student-owned constructs (i.e., internal
attributions), whereas their lack of motivation is perceived as an instructor-owned
product (Gorham & Christophel, 1992; Gorham & Millette, 1997). When students
perceive a problem as being instructor owned (as opposed to student owned), they
enact greater resistance in response to an instructor’s request (Kearney, Plax, &
Burroughs, 1991). In the context of a disagreement or difference of opinion, percep-
tions of instructors’ greater internal blame should therefore affect students’ resulting
communicative behaviors.
Additionally, Kelsey, Kearney, Plax, Allen, and Ritter (2004) found that students
attributed all negative instructor behaviors (i.e., misbehaviors) to internal causes; no
students gave external, situation-based explanations for instructors’ negative behaviors
in the classroom. Importantly, the researchers found that students assigned internal
causes to instructors’ misbehaviors, regardless of the instructors’ use of immediacy.
The findings of Kelsey et al. (2004) are particularly important to the current study,
which aims to utilize attribution theory to examine another negative classroom expe-
rience, instructional dissent. However, the previous focus of attribution theory in the
classroom has largely been on student learning outcomes and instructor behavior; this
study seeks to examine how students’ perceptions of whether instructors are to blame
for a disagreement affect students’ own communicative behaviors in the context of
instructional dissent.
Instructional dissent refers to the expression of disagreement or contradictory opin-
ions concerning class-related policies or practices (Goodboy, 2011a). Goodboy (2011b)
examined the triggering agents of instructional dissent, the recipients of dissent mes-
sages, and the types of dissent college students communicate. Goodboy (2011b) found
that a number of factors may trigger dissent, including unfair testing, unfair grading,
teaching style, classroom policies, violating the syllabus, instructor misbehaviors, and
lack of feedback. The majority of this dissent was directed toward the course instruc-
tor, classmates, friends, and family. Of particular interest to the current study are
the three types of dissent discovered and validated by Goodboy across two studies
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112 S. LaBelle & M. M. Martin
(Goodboy, 2011a, 2011b). These three types are expressive, rhetorical, and vengeful
dissent, which will be explained further below.
Expressive dissent involves a student’s desire to express and vent their feelings in an
attempt to improve their emotional state (Goodboy, 2011b). Vengeful dissent involves
students creating messages intended to ruin an instructor’s reputation, ensure that
other students do not take a course with the instructor in the future, and/or attempt to
have the instructor lose his or her occupation for the perceived wrongdoing (Goodboy,
2011b). Students’ expressive and vengeful dissent are negatively related to their com-
munication satisfaction, motivation, affective learning (Goodboy, 2011a) and their
perceptions of classroom justice (Goodboy, 2011a).
Rhetorical dissent reflects a student’s desire to persuade the instructor to take action
and correct a wrongdoing or remedy the issue at hand (Goodboy, 2011b). Rhetorical
dissent is the only type of dissent that aims specifically to change a perceived wrong-
doing by directing communication toward the instructor and is positively related to
cognitive learning (Goodboy, 2011a, 2011b). When instructors are perceived as being
high in clarity, students are more likely to use rhetorical dissent and less likely to use
expressive dissent (LaBelle, Martin, & Weber, 2013).
A relatively new area of research in instructional communication, there remains
much to be known about the factors that may influence students’ dissent experiences.
There are a number of studies that indicate the importance of student attributions
in the context of negative classroom interactions (Kelsey et al., 2004; McPherson &
Young, 2004; Sabee & Wilson, 2005); this research expands on knowledge in this area
by investigating the role of student perceptions of instructor blame for a disagreement
or difference of opinion. Specifically, students’ perceptions of whether the incident is
due to internal, as opposed to external, causes will be examined for their impact on
students’ instructional dissent.
According to attribution theory, the negative behaviors of others are more likely to
be viewed as internal or dispositional in origin (Heider, 1958; Weiner, 1986). Thus, in
the context of instructional dissent, it is likely that students will perceive the disagree-
ment or difference of opinion as internally caused by the instructor. Therefore, the
following hypothesis was forwarded:
H: The degree to which students perceive disagreements or differences in opinion as
caused by the instructor will be positively related to their enactment of (a) expressive,
(b) rhetorical, and (c) vengeful dissent.
Method
Participants and Procedures
Participants for this study consisted of a convenience sample of 244 undergraduate
students from a large mid-Atlantic university. Participants ranged in age from 18 to
35 (M = 20.63, SD = 2.07). There were 119 (51.1%) males and 114 (48.9%) females
and 17 nonreports. The majority (n = 209) of participants were Caucasian (86.7%),
12 were African American (5.0%), 6 were Asian (2.4%), 5 were Hispanic (2.1%), and
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Communication Research Reports 113
1 was Native American (.4%) participant. Eight participants (3.3%) described their
ethnicity as “other.
Following approval by the university’s institutional review board, researchers
entered classrooms and distributed written surveys. Participation was anonymous
and voluntary. In accordance with Goodboy’s (2011b) definition of instructional dis-
sent, participants were asked to recall an instance in which they had a disagreement
or difference of opinion with a college instructor regarding a grade, course policy,
or any other issue that had taken place within the semester. It was stressed to stu-
dent participants that the disagreement or difference of opinion did not have to have
been communicated directly to the instructor, although cases in which this commu-
nication did occur were also included. No students declined participation due to not
having a disagreement or difference of opinion to report on. Participants were asked
to describe the difference of opinion or disagreement on a few provided lines. Partici-
pants’ dissent episodes included disagreements with instructors’ teaching style (e.g.,
lack of clarity, lecture pace), grading (e.g., strict/unfair grading, not rounding grades),
course management (e.g., not allowing students to make up tests or hand in assign-
ments late, attendance policies, lack of adherence to the course syllabus, difficult or
unclear testing), and communication (e.g., unfriendly, poor grammar, not responding
to e-mails). Participants were asked to keep the course, instructor, and disagreement
or difference of opinion in mind as they responded to all measures on the survey
questionnaire.
Measurement
Internal attributions
Attributions of internality to the instructor were assessed using a 16-item causal attri-
bution scale (Kelsey et al., 2004). Responses were solicited using a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5), with higher scores indicating
higher attributions of internality. Responses reflect attributions of both externality
(“The disagreement between this instructor and I was because of some outside influ-
ence, pressures, or circumstances beyond her/his control”) and internality (“This
instructor deliberately caused the disagreement”) of instructor behavior. Externally
worded items were recoded. In this study, a Cronbach reliability coefficient of .91 was
obtained for the scale (M = 43.85, SD = 12.40).
Instructional dissent
Students’ communicative behaviors during the instructional dissent episode were
assessed using the 22-item Instructional Dissent Scale (Goodboy, 2011a). The scale
consists of three subscales assessing students’ enactment of expressive, rhetorical, and
vengeful dissent. Responses were solicited using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from
strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5), with higher scores indicating students’ greater
use of the instructional dissent behaviors in each subscale. Sample items include
“I complained to others to express my frustrations with the course” (expressive),“If I
wanted my instructor to remedy my concerns, I complained to him/her” (rhetorical),
and “I hoped to ruin my instructor’s reputation by exposing his/her bad practices
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114 S. LaBelle & M. M. Martin
to others” (vengeful). In this study, Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficients of .91
(M = 36.74, SD = 8.56), .90 (M = 17.61, SD = 6.24), and .93 (M = 11.33, SD = 6.21) were
obtained for the expressive, rhetorical, and vengeful subscales, respectively.
Results
The hypothesis predicted that the degree to which students perceive disagreements or
differences in opinion as caused by the instructor will be positively related to their
enactment of (a) expressive, (b) rhetorical, and (c) vengeful dissent. Pearson correla-
tions revealed that positive relationships exists between students’ attributions of inter-
nality and their expressive (r = 0.17, p < .01), rhetorical (r = 0.23, p < .001), and vengeful
(r = 0.38, p < .001) dissent. Thus, the hypothesis was supported.
Post Hoc Analyses
Given the positive relationships among students’ attributions and all three forms
of dissent, additional analyses were conducted to examine whether these percep-
tions are predictive of students’ dissent behavior. Results of linear regression analy-
sis indicate that student attributions are significantly predictive of expressive dissent,
F(1, 237) = 7.19, p < .01, adjusted R2 = 0.025. Student attributions of blame were also
predictive of rhetorical dissent, F(1, 237) = 12.96, p < .001, adjusted R2 = 0.048. Finally,
student attributions of blame were predictive of students’ enactment of vengeful
dissent, F(1, 236) = 40.27, p < .001, adjusted R2 = 0.142.
Discussion
Students who had more internal attributions for the instructor regarding the difference
of opinion or disagreement in the classroom were more likely to engage in all three
forms of dissent. The results of this study thus provide further support for the use of
attribution theory to understand how and why students communicate with instruc-
tors in as well as outside of the classroom. Consistent with previous research, students
who perceived that instructors were to blame were more likely to enact more negative
behaviors (Kearney et al., 1991; Kelsey et al., 2004), such as complaining to latent others
to vent emotions or to ruin others’ perceptions of the instructor. The association of
attributions is particularly notable in the case of vengeful dissent, which was the largest
association in the study. The present results are in agreement with previous findings
on instructional dissent, which have indicated that all three types of dissent were pre-
cipitated by a combination of instructor indolence, incompetence, and offensiveness
(Goodboy, 2011a). As forwarded by McPherson and Young (2004), instructors who
discuss issues in a calm manner, as opposed to aggressively or sarcastically, influence
students to make more external, situation-focused perceptions of negative classroom
experiences. As the results of this study indicate, these subsequent perceptions can
have very serious implications for not only student outcomes in the classroom but
also instructor job success and security.
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Communication Research Reports 115
Recently, Goodboy and Myers (2012) found that students who were higher on trait
argumentativeness were more likely to enact rhetorical dissent, whereas students’
trait verbal aggressiveness was associated with both rhetorical and vengeful dissent.
Further, Goodboy (2012) found that female students were more likely to enact expres-
sive dissent than male students, whereas male students were more likely to engage in
rhetorical and vengeful dissent. Male instructors were also more likely to receive venge-
ful dissent than female instructors. In line with the results of this study, these findings
indicate that both student characteristics and perceptions play an important role in
the instructional dissent episode. Further, results of our post hoc analyses suggest that
student perceptions may play a key role in predicting students’ behaviors following a
dissent episode.
The current study is not without limitations. First, the data collected from this
study were cross-sectional in nature and the analyses conducted cannot claim cau-
sality. Although the results of the post hoc regression analyses suggest predic-
tion, future research incorporating the use of true experimental designs is needed
to identify factors that directly cause the varying forms of instructional dissent.
Second, the data collected were retrospective in nature and from the perception
of the student. Therefore, students may have recalled events or instructors with a
negative bias, attributing their own behaviors more positively and the instructors’
behaviors more negatively. However, it is arguable that the students’ perceptions
of the instructional dissent episode is the true variable of interest, more so than
what really happened. It would benefit future researchers to assess the percep-
tion of the instructor regarding the instructional dissent episode; it is likely that
instructors and students recall the disagreement differently, particularly in regard
to why students engage in the three forms of dissent. Notably, although the subject
of the dissent episode was not the focus of this study, the varied issues on which
students perceived disagreement may be an important factor in the their dissent
behavior.
Importantly, there remains to be research on how instructors react to students in
the dissent episode. How do instructors react differentially to the three forms of stu-
dent dissent? Is one form of dissent more productive in terms of achieving change in
the classroom? Are students effective in their efforts to ruin an instructors’ reputa-
tion via vengeful dissent? These and other outcomes of the dissent episode have yet
to be explored in the instructional context and provide a rich new area of research for
instructional scholars.
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Learning motivation has an important role in student learning process. The objectives of this research are to describe students career planning, to describe student attribution, to describe students learning motivation, to examine the correlation between career planning and students learning motivation, to examine the correlation between attribution and students learning motivation, and to examine the correlation between career planning and students learning motivation. The research uses correlational descriptive type of quantitative method. The population of research are 435 students of Curriculum and Education Technology Major in State University of Padang. A sample of 208 students was chosen by proportional random sampling technique. The instruments used were career planning, attribution, and students learning motivation. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics, linear regression and multiple regression. The research findings show that 1) in general students already have a good career planning 2) student attribution is in the middle category 3) student learning motivation is in high category 4) there is a positive significant correlation between career planning and student learning motivation 5) there is a positive significant correlation between attribution and learning motivation 6) there is a positive significant correlation between career planning and attribution with student learning motivation, and (7) the implication of this research findings can be used as a feedback for making a program of guidance and counseling service which can improve career planning, attribution, and students learning motivation.
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While enacting innovative learner-centered practices has been reported to instigate, at least initially, student negative responses in diverse contexts, studies in translation education adhering to teaching approaches informed by social-constructivism have paid no great attention to student resistance, as one potential threatening factor, in response to the newly employed approaches. This study aims at addressing this under-researched but important aspect in the design, development, and implementation process. In a course redesign plan aimed at advancing towards a learner-centered approach in the course literary translation, we found student resistance as one major threat to the plan’s ultimate success. Although attempts were made to anticipate student resistance and enact several prevention strategies, by mid-semester we found the majority of the students still resistant. An investigation into student resistance types and sources revealed that the majority of the students did not perceive the problem as being instructor-owned. Data collected through the questionnaire on students’ characteristics alongside follow-up interviews highlighted students’ lack of motivation as one important variable worth investigating in the first place. Results from the analysis of motivational factors better justified student resistance. Implications were discussed in the light of the relevant literature for our pedagogical purposes in the upcoming semester.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate if college students' verbal aggressiveness and argumentativeness traits promote their tendencies to engage in instructional dissent (i.e., expressive, rhetorical, vengeful). Participants were 172 undergraduate students who completed a self-report survey measuring these traits and their dissent practices in reference to a particular class. Results indicated that (a) students' trait verbal aggressiveness was associated positively with communicating rhetorical and vengeful dissent, (b) students' trait argumentativeness was associated positively with communicating rhetorical dissent only, and (c) both verbal aggressiveness and argumentativeness were not associated with communicating expressive dissent. These results imply that instructional dissent is not a student reaction completely dependent upon perceived instructor wrongdoings in the classroom; it is also influenced by distal personality factors.
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We examined the impact of instructor characteristics and student beliefs on students' decisions to enact instructional dissent using the Instructional Beliefs Model (IBM) as a framework. Students (N=244) completed survey questionnaires assessing their perceptions of instructors' clarity, nonverbal immediacy, and affirming style, as well as their own academic self-efficacy and communicative behaviors following a disagreement or difference of opinion with the instructor. Results indicated that students' academic self-efficacy mediates the relationship between instructor behaviors and two communicative outcomes of instructional dissent. Students who perceived their instructors as clear were more likely to have high self-efficacy for the course and therefore engage in more positive (i.e., rhetorical) forms of dissent as opposed to more negative expressive dissent. Theoretical and pedagogical implications are discussed.
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For a long time I have had the gnawing desire to convey the broad motivational sig nificance of the attributional conception that I have espoused and to present fully the argument that this framework has earned a rightful place alongside other leading theories of motivation. Furthermore, recent investigations have yielded insights into the attributional determinants of affect, thus providing the impetus to embark upon a detailed discussion of emotion and to elucidate the relation between emotion and motivation from an attributional perspective. The presentation of a unified theory of motivation and emotion is the goal of this book. My more specific aims in the chapters to follow are to: 1) Outline the basic princi ples that I believe characterize an adequate theory of motivation; 2) Convey what I perceive to be the conceptual contributions of the perspective advocated by my col leagues and me; 3) Summarize the empirical relations, reach some definitive con clusions, and point out the more equivocal empirical associations based on hypotheses derived from our particular attribution theory; and 4) Clarify questions that have been raised about this conception and provide new material for still further scrutiny. In so doing, the building blocks (if any) laid down by the attributional con ception will be readily identified and unknown juries of present and future peers can then better determine the value of this scientific product."
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Using a sample of college students (N = 301), this study examined students' attributions about and explanations for teachers' expressions of anger in the classroom. These displays of anger were evaluated based on the extent to which they were aggressive (e.g., Distributive or Passive) or assertive (e.g., Integrative). Consistent with the fundamental attribution error, students assigned internal attributions to teachers who used Distributive Aggression (e.g., yell and scream) and Passive‐Aggression (e.g., show anger with cold looks) to a greater extent than teachers who were Assertive (i.e., calmly discuss the problem with the students). When students were asked to identify why they thought their teacher was angry, the overwhelming majority of reasons involved student‐related problems. In fact, the most frequently cited reason was Student Misbehaviors followed by Lack of Student Effort. Surprisingly, students acknowledge that something they did triggered the teacher's display of anger; however, consistent with fundamental attribution error, students still attributed the teacher's expression of anger to internal causes. The implications of these findings for negative emotional expressions in the instructional context in particular and for teacher‐student relationships in general are discussed.
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This study coded and categorized 2404 motivators and demotivators freely listed by 308 college students prior to and following their being prompted to consider teacher behaviors as contributing to motivation level. Twenty categories of motivators and 20 categories of demotivators emerged; four of each reflected context factors, six of each structure/format factors, and ten of each teacher behavior factors. While teacher behaviors accounted for approximately 44% of both motivators and demotivators, negative teacher behaviors were perceived as more central to students' demotivation (i.e., were listed without prompting) than positive teacher behaviors were perceived as central to motivation. Structure/format factors were more frequently mentioned as demotivators and context factors, such as desire to know the material, grade or credit motivation, and personal desire for accomplishment, as motivators. It was concluded that motivation is perceived by students as a student‐owned state, while lack of motivation is perceived as a teacher‐owned problem.
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This investigation examined college students’ resistance decisions in the classroom. Initial validational tests of the resistance typology developed by Burroughs, Kearney, and Plax (1989) confirmed the existence of all 19 categories. Further analyses indicated that the categories could be meaningfully reduced to two dimensions of techniques: Teacher‐Owned (teacher is at fault) and Student‐Owned (student assumes responsibility). Relying on attribution theory and problem ownership, we tested the centrality of teacher immediacy as the primary attribute for students’ resistance decisions. Results from analyses of quantitative and qualitative data indicated that students reported a greater likelihood of using teacher‐owned techniques with nonimmediate teachers and student‐owned strategies with immediate teachers. Neither teachers’ compliance‐gaining strategy type (prosocial/ antisocial) nor students’ gender contributed to students’ resistance decisions. Implications for the classroom are discussed.
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This study examined the interaction effect of nonverbal immediacy and expected instructional technology use on students’ initial reports of instructor credibility. Participants included 549 college students who were randomly assigned to one of eight scenarios depicting first-day class sessions across four levels of technology use and two levels of nonverbal immediacy. A 4×2 factorial MANOVA revealed a significant multivariate interaction effect for instructor credibility, as well as significant multivariate main effects for both expected technology use and nonverbal immediacy. Univariate procedures revealed that the interaction effect and both main effects were significant for all three dimensions of instructor credibility. Finally, planned cell comparisons revealed different trends among dimensions of credibility for highly immediate vs. nonimmediate instructors.
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This study examined the degree to which teacher perceptions of variables that influence student motivation and demotivation are congruent with student reports of those variables. Findings indicated substantial agreement on the range of overall factors affecting motivation. However, the sharp division between motivation as a personally‐owned state and demotivation as a teacher‐owned problem reported by students was not apparent across the teachers' perceptions. There were differences among teachers in perceptions of their ability to influence motivation, with those who were more optimistic about motivation in their classrooms perceiving greater influence of teacher behavior on both motivation and demotivation.
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• As the title suggests, this book examines the psychology of interpersonal relations. In the context of this book, the term "interpersonal relations" denotes relations between a few, usually between two, people. How one person thinks and feels about another person, how he perceives him and what he does to him, what he expects him to do or think, how he reacts to the actions of the other--these are some of the phenomena that will be treated. Our concern will be with "surface" matters, the events that occur in everyday life on a conscious level, rather than with the unconscious processes studied by psychoanalysis in "depth" psychology. These intuitively understood and "obvious" human relations can, as we shall see, be just as challenging and psychologically significant as the deeper and stranger phenomena. The discussion will center on the person as the basic unit to be investigated. That is to say, the two-person group and its properties as a superindividual unit will not be the focus of attention. Of course, in dealing with the person as a member of a dyad, he cannot be described as a lone subject in an impersonal environment, but must be represented as standing in relation to and interacting with another person. The chapter topics included in this book include: Perceiving the Other Person; The Other Person as Perceiver; The Naive Analysis of Action; Desire and Pleasure; Environmental Effects; Sentiment; Ought and Value; Request and Command; Benefit and Harm; and Reaction to the Lot of the Other Person. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) • As the title suggests, this book examines the psychology of interpersonal relations. In the context of this book, the term "interpersonal relations" denotes relations between a few, usually between two, people. How one person thinks and feels about another person, how he perceives him and what he does to him, what he expects him to do or think, how he reacts to the actions of the other--these are some of the phenomena that will be treated. Our concern will be with "surface" matters, the events that occur in everyday life on a conscious level, rather than with the unconscious processes studied by psychoanalysis in "depth" psychology. These intuitively understood and "obvious" human relations can, as we shall see, be just as challenging and psychologically significant as the deeper and stranger phenomena. The discussion will center on the person as the basic unit to be investigated. That is to say, the two-person group and its properties as a superindividual unit will not be the focus of attention. Of course, in dealing with the person as a member of a dyad, he cannot be described as a lone subject in an impersonal environment, but must be represented as standing in relation to and interacting with another person. The chapter topics included in this book include: Perceiving the Other Person; The Other Person as Perceiver; The Naive Analysis of Action; Desire and Pleasure; Environmental Effects; Sentiment; Ought and Value; Request and Command; Benefit and Harm; and Reaction to the Lot of the Other Person. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)