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Using attribution retraining and CBT techniques to foster positive learning skills

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Abstract

This research considered an intervention using attribution retraining (AR) techniques to promote positive learning. A total of 50 Grade 5 & 6 students participated. The AR program educated students on the importance of positive thinking, encouraged adaptive attribution beliefs and taught coping skills. Students in the AR group showed significantly greater levels of reading improvement than their control group peers. Small gains in spelling achievement and academic self-esteem were observed, however they did not reach significance. The research supports the view that attribution retraining programs can play a useful role in improving students learning experiences in primary school.
BELIEVING YOU CAN
is the first step to
ACHIEVING
Alicia Chodkiewicz
Dr. Christopher Boyle
Learning
Self-Esteem
Enjoyment of the learning
process Motivation
Resilience
Engagement in the learning process
Exertion of effort
Perseverance in the face of difficulty Time dedicated to learning
Learning
How a student thinks has a significant impact on all these learning
variables
Attribution Theory
What/Who caused the event?
Internal vs. External
Is the event controllable?
Controllable vs. Uncontrollable
How stable is this event?
Stable vs. Unstable
Weiner (1979)
Why
?
Adaptive vs. Maladaptive
Attribution Theory
I succeeded
because I
have the
ability and I
worked hard
I failed because
I only tried one
strategy to solve
the problem and
gave up too
quickly
I succeeded
because the
task was easy
and I was
lucky
I failed
because
I have low
ability and the
teacher hates
me
Attribution Theory
Attribution Theory
Attribution Retraining (AR)
Designed to disrupt the cycle of underachievement linked to maladaptive
attribution styles by endorsing adaptive causal explanations to moments of
academic success and failure.
Improvements in:
Academic performance
(Haynes et al., 2011; Perry et al., 2010; Toland & Boyle, 2008)
Thinking Style
(Chan & Moore, 2006; Perry et al., 2010)
Motivation
(Dresel & Haugwitz, 2008)
Self-Esteem
(Dresel & Ziegler, 2006; Toland & Boyle, 2008)
Unfortunately
Not all studies have found significant improvements
(Berkeley, Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2011; Morris, 2013)
Fragmentation within the research field and a lack of
systematic research into optimal intervention parameters
(Perry & Hall, 2009).
The golden research era occurred between 1975 and 1985
(Chodkiewicz & Boyle, 2014).
Attribution Retraining (AR)
Our research
We created an AR program of our own with the aim of improving academic
achievement, self-esteem and thinking styles
The program combined AR and CBT techniques to
teach the following skills:
Thoughts Feelings Actions
Identifying helpful and unhelpful thinking patterns
The why question & evaluating causal attributions
Coping skills to foster adaptive thinking
Method
PARTICIPANTS
Melbourne, Australia
170 students
Grades 5 & 6
31 students in the AR group
19 students in the control group
Aged 10:2 – 12:6
The AR group showed significantly lower Academic Self-Esteem at pretest than the control
group. This was held as a covariate in all statistical analyses.
MEASURES
Attribution Style:
The Children’s Attribution Style Questionnaire – Revised (CASQ-R)
(Thompson, Kaslow, Weiss & Nolen-Hoeksema, 1998)
Academic Achievement:
(Reading, Spelling & Mathematics)
The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Second Edition Abbreviated
(Wechsler, 2002)
Academic Self-Esteem:
The Me-As-A-Learner Scale (MALS)
(Burden, 1998)
Method
PROCEDURE
Pre – Measures ( April, 2013)
Program (May – June, 2013)
Post – Measures (July, 2013)
Follow Up – Measures (September)
Method
Results
Academic Achievement
READING
Significant increased rate of
reading improvement for students
in the AR group compared to their
control group counterparts.
But this difference only became
statistically significant during the
two months following the program
Pre Post Follow Up
94
96
98
100
102
104
106
108
Reading Achievement
Mean Reading Standard Scores
SPELLING
Slight increased rate of spelling
improvement for students in the
AR group during the two months
following the program.
However these results did not
reach the level of statistical
significance
Pre Post Follow Up
90
92
94
96
98
100
102
104
106
108
Spelling Achievement
Mean Spelling Standard Score
Results
Academic Achievement
MATHEMATICS
No significant difference were
observed in mathematical
achievement
Pre Post Follow Up
85
90
95
100
105
110
Mathematical Achievement
Mean Maths Standard Score
Results
Academic Achievement
AR programs can have a significant impact on some academic
domains
Why did only Reading ability significantly improve?
Some academic domains may lend themselves more easily to independent
practice than others.
Subject areas where learning is a cumulative process (such as reading and
spelling) may show improvements earlier, than subject where learning is more
segmented (such as mathematics).
Why were improvements only observed 2 months after the program?
It was proposed that students require time to practice the newly learnt skills, and
therefore a lag between program and academic improvements should be
expected.
INTERPRETATIONS
Academic Achievement
No significant differences
between the two groups.
A spike in self-esteem was
observed directly following
program attendance.
These improvement were short
lived,
Results
Academic SELF–Esteem
Pre Post Follow Up
64
66
68
70
72
74
76
78
80
Academic Self Esteem
Mean Scores on MALS
A one off program, in which students were only engaged for an hour a
week for a single term was clearly not intensive enough to induce
significant and lasting change in academic self-esteem.
interpretations
Academic SELF–Esteem
How could self-esteem be more effectively improved
through AR programs?
-Integration of the AR program into the classroom
through teacher education
-Revisiting the skill learnt in the AR program through
regular booster sessions
No significant improvements in
attribution style
In fact, students in the AR group
showed a drop in adaptive attribution
style over the 2 months following the
program
Unexpectedly, students in the control
group showed a small increase in
adaptive attribution styles.
Results
Attribution style
Pre Post Follow Up
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Attributional Style
Mean scores on CASQ-R
The current findings contradict similar studies in primary school
settings that found improvements in attributions following AR
programs
(Berkely et al., 2011; Miranda et al., 1997)
There is currently no clear theoretical explanation to help interpret
these unexpected result
Raises the question of whether:
attribution style is truly stable
self-report measures, such as the CASQ-R, are accurately
tapping into the attribution style
interpretations
ATTRIBUTION STYLE
LIMITATIONS of the current study
Limited sample size
The length of intervention may not have been long for this particular
demographic group
Each student is developing in a wider system, being influenced by family,
peers, teachers and their wider community. It may be naïve to think that an
intervention only working within one of these systems can effectively induce
wide spread change.
Potential limitations with the attribution measure (CASQ-R):
Some students struggled to relate to the hypothetical questions
The attributions students use to explain hypothetical scenarios has been
shown to significantly differ from the causal reasons the same student would
use in the same real life situation
(Gipps & Tunstall, 1998)
FUTURE directions
Provide increased opportunities to practice academic
Longitudinal research is greatly needed in this area
Integration of program skills into the everyday classroom
and including booster sessions
Encouraging educational practitioners to promote adaptive
attributions through publishing accessible resources
Conclusions
The findings support the viability of AR, showing marked
improvements in reading ability and signs of slight
improvements in other areas of self perceptions and
academic skill.
The current study encourages the use of AR programs to
improve student learning experiences and points towards
future directions for researchers and educational
practitioners alike to make such programs become a reality
within our school systems.
References
Berkeley, S., Mastropieri, M., & Scruggs, T. (2011). Reading comprehension strategies for secondary
student’s with learning & other mild disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44(1), 18-32.
Burden, R. (1998). Assessing children’s perceptions of themselves as learners and problem-solvers: The
construction of the Myself-as-Learner Scale (MALS). School Psychology International, 19, 291-305.
Chan, L. (1996). Combined strategy and attribution training for seventh grade average and poor readers.
Journal of Remedial Educational Counselling, 2, 173-181.
Chodkiewicz, A. R. & Boyle, C. (2014). Exploring the contribution of attribution retraining to student
perceptions and the learning process. Educational Psychology in Practice, 30(1), 78-87.
Dresel, M., & Haugwitz, M. (2008). A computer-based approach to fostering motivation and self-regulated
learning. The Journal of Experimental Education, 77(1), 3-18.
Gipps, C., & Turnstall, P. (1998). Effort, ability and the teacher: young children’s explanations for success and
failure. Oxford Review of Education, 24(2), 149-165.
Haynes S., T., Clifton, R., Daniels, L., Pery, R., Chipperfield, J., & Ruthig, J. (2011). Attribution retraining:
Reducing the likelihood of failure. Social Psychology Education, 14, 75-92.
Miranda, A., Vilaescusa, M., & Vidal-Abarca, E. (1997). Is attribution retraining necessary? Use of self-
regulation procedures for enhancing the reading comprehension strategies of children with learning
disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(5), 503 -512.
Morris, M. (2013). A naturalistic investigation into the effectiveness of an attribution retraining programme for
academic performance. Social Sciences Directory, 2(2), 16-30.
References
Perry, R., & Hall, N. (2009). Attribution retraining in academic achievement settings. In Anderman, E., &
Anderman, L. (Eds). The Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopaedia, New Jersey, NJ: Thomson
Gale Publishers.
Perry, R., Stupnisky, R., Hall, N., Chipperfield, J., & Weiner, B. (2010). Bad starts and better finishes:
Attribution retraining and initial performance in competitive achievement settings. Journal of Social and
Clinical Psychology, 29(6), 668-700.
Thompson, M., Kaslow, N., Weiss, B., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1998). Children’s Attributional Style
Questionnaire – Revised: Psychometric Examination, Psychological Assessment, 10(2), 166-170.
Toland, J., & Boyle, C. (2008). Applying cognitive behavioural methods to retraining children’s attribution for
success and failure in learning. School Psychology International, 29(3), 286-302.
Wechsler, D. (2002). Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Second Australian Standardised Edition. San
Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
Weiner, B. (1979). A theory of motivation for some classroom experiences. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 71, 3-25.
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