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ERIC Number: EJ927462
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0361-476X
When Do Students Ask Why? Examining the Precursors and Outcomes of Causal Search among First-Year College Students
Stupnisky, Robert H.; Stewart, Tara L.; Daniels, Lia M.; Perry, Raymond P.
Contemporary Educational Psychology, v36 n3 p201-211 Jul 2011
It has been theorized that students are most likely to ask why following unexpected, negative, and/or important events (Weiner, 1985); however, the unique contribution of these precursors to causal search and the resultant cognitions, emotions, and behaviors remain largely unclear. In the current study we examined causal search regarding test outcomes among 371 first-year college students. Responses to hypothetical scenarios indicated that unexpected events, and unexpected/negative events in combination, would elicit the most causal search. Based on performance on an actual test, precursors measured prior to the test indicated negative test outcomes elicited the greatest causal search. Alternatively, precursors measured following the test indicated a similar pattern to the scenarios. In each instance, event importance was also found to positively predict casual search. Overall, the results suggest that the exclusion of relevant precursors, self-serving biases, and divergent methodologies may have resulted in the discrepancies of previous research on causal search precursors. Finally, students who engaged in more causal search made more ability, test difficulty, and luck attributions, fewer effort attributions, experienced less pride and more shame, guilt, regret, and anger, and received poorer grades. The internal/uncontrollable attributional pattern suggests that first-year college students who are at-risk of de-motivating cognitions, emotions, and behaviors could be supported with cognitive interventions such as attributional retraining. (Contains 4 tables and 4 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A