Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Samira Varsani

Assessment is one of the key components of education. Generally, at the end of the term students are assessed on what they have learnt from the syllabus they had been taught.  In most cases, students are assessed based on their performance in the written tests and are graded as pass or fail. Teachers usually do not ask students how they may explain their results. However, students’ explanation of their results is important because if they know why they were successful, they may be able to do the same thing again. And if they understand what the causes of their failure are, they may not repeat those mistakes in the future. The search for the causes of success and failure is well-defined in social psychology through the attribution theory. Attribution theory can be quite helpful for equipping teachers to understand why students do what they do (Gaier, 2014). Hence, it is important to understand the explanation of students to their attained results according to attribution theory because based on that teachers can help students improve their academic performance and help them grow as better learners. Teachers must make students believe that their success depends on effort more than on luck or ability (Hunter & Barker, 1987). 

The study of attribution originated with Fritz Heider’s (1958) is a unique effort to provide a systematic and conceptual explanation of “naive” psychology or “commonsense” psychology. According to him, people were like inexperienced scientists, trying to understand other people’s behaviour through fixing information together until they arrived at a sensible explanation. Later, Rotter (1966) introduced the theory of Locus. It refers to one’s belief that his or her behaviour is guided by external factors or internal factors. In an internal attribution, people infer that an event or a person’s behaviour is due to personal factors such as ability and effort. In an external attribution, people infer that a person’s behaviour is due to situational factors such as task difficulty or luck. Subsequently, Weiner (1979) developed a theoretical framework that has become very significant in social psychology nowadays. He focused his attribution theory on achievement and categorized attributions as three causal dimensions,

1. Locus of control: The locus of control dimension has two poles: internal versus external. 

2. Stability: The stability dimension captures whether causes change over time or not. Like, the ability can be categorized as a stable, internal cause, and effort categorized as unstable and internal. 

3. Controllability: Controllability contrasts cause one can control, likeability, from causes one cannot control, such as aptitude, mood and luck.

Many psychologists in the West have been examining the factors and outcomes related to self-attribution of achievement, the patterns of causal ascription for personal success or failure (Chen, Wang, Wei, Fwu, & Hwang, 2009). Studies carried out in the recent past have revealed some interesting findings. For instance, students in the United States tend to attribute success to internal factors and ascribe failure to external factors; whereas East Asian students usually attribute their failure to internal factors (Chen, Wang, Wei, Fwu, & Hwang, 2009).

To put it briefly, it would be worthwhile to investigate that how Pakistani students attribute their success or failure at the annual summative examination.  

By Samira Varsani

Samira Asghar Ali Varsani is an alumnus of AKU-IED. She has earned degrees of MEd and MPhil from this esteemed university. She is associated with AKES, P for two decades and had served in different capacities.

2 thoughts on “Failure or success: How do students perceive?”
  1. A new provoking thought for me, it’s high time to ask our students. I’ll definitely ask my students to think and write about their results so it may help them in future.

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