Causal attributions of success and failure made by grades 10-12 science learners
The purpose of this study was to investigate the causal attributions of success and failure made by Grades 10-12 science learners from 30 schools in the Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati regions within the North-West Province. Studies have shown that understanding of attributional styles among learners has a positive impact on educators' approaches to classroom situations. Yet, there is a lack of knowledge in our understanding of attribution patterns of learners in the North West Province as well as understanding of how the variables such as achievement in science, achievement motivation levels, gender, and socio-economic factors could influence the attribution styles of learners. The focus was thus on understanding the dynamics associated with attributional styles· among learners as a way that might provide light on how learners in science programmes might be encouraged to reach higher levels of achievement. The Attribution Theory may therefore serve as a useful framework to look at poor achievement of South African science learners as there is a relationship between attributional pattern and achievement in school. The mixed-method approach was used for collection and analysis of data with quantitative administration of questionnaires and qualitative interviews. The study used systematic random sampling techniques to select the sample of 1773 male and female learners from lower and middle socio-economic backgrounds. The purposive sampling technique was utilized to select educators from the teaching staff and learners for interview purposes. Individual interviews with 1 principal, 3 HODs, 1 educator teaching physical science, and 5 grade 10-12 learners was used to collect data. Each of the following seven factors of attribution was scored on a 4-point scale: ability, effort, interest, task difficulty, luck, help and teaching methods. The questionnaires used for the study were: the Attribution Questionnaire, Achievement Motivation Questionnaire (AMQ) and the Socio-economic Status Questionnaire. The study used inferential statistics which included the Chi-Square, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), the Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS) - Version 20 and MINITAB as well as EXCEL to analyse the data. The study revealed that high achievers and highly motivated learners made higher ability, effort, interest, task ease, and teaching method attributions than low achievers and low motivated learners. The results indicated a significant relationship between attributional factors and achievement in science. The investigation also reported that females made slightly higher attributions to ability, effort, luck, help and teaching methods than males. Both males and females made similar attributions in terms of interest attributions. There were, however no significant differences between males and females in terms of science achievement. Regarding socio-economic status, the study showed that the higher income groups (HIG) and higher socio-economic (HSE) groups made higher ability, effort, interest and teaching method attributions than lower income groups (LIG) and lower socio-'€conomic (LSE) groups. There is a statistical relationship between breadwinners' income, education level of breadwinner, number of bedrooms in the learners' home, access to television and laboratory relative to science achievement. The findings reported in this study justify the importance of attributions and achievement motivation to science achievement of male and female learners from different socio-economic backgrounds. The current study will benefit our understanding of how learners' attributional styles may influence achievement motivation, and achievement of grades 10 to 12 science learners in the Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati regions within the North-West Province. The findings have implications for science educators and it shows that awareness of attributional styles and achievement motivation is vital in educational settings to lead to better achievement of male and female learners from different socio-economic backgrounds. It is recommended that learners be encouraged to adopt an internal attributional style by stressing ability, effort and interest attributions as this may lead to higher achievement in science. It is hoped that these findings will assist educational researchers, science educators, parents, school authorities, government and other stakeholders who are concerned with science achievement of high school learners. Based on the findings, this study suggests the following areas for further research: The present study was limited to two regions in the North-West Province. Further research could include learners from other North-West Province regions. Learners from different educational levels could be included as well as students from tertiary level. Taking of attributional styles into consideration may contribute in creating learning pathways between the "real world" and places of learning.
- Education