Competency Beliefs

Today’s blog is my take-away from reading a 2010 article by Bernard Weiner. The article is called “The Development of an Attribution-Based Theory of Motivation: A History of Ideas” and as I read it, I began to connect this article to my own life and my beliefs and understanding of motivation, both pre and post enrolling in my course on motivation in education.

Bernard Weiner discussed the way that outcomes of events such as exams are perceived through the eyes of the student. The factors that influence the way the student feels about the exam outcomes include the difficulty of the exam, how much effort the student put in, whether the student attributes their score to luck, etc. From there, the student has feelings about the results, which can range from pride, down to shame and guilt, or hopelessness. How the student feels about the outcome of that exam influences how they feel about themselves and their abilities. Depending on circumstances, the student will either be motivated to keep going, try harder, or they will lose their motivation due to feelings of failure or hopelessness.

To me, this theory is indicative of a cycle, a circle of experience where a student’s sense of self can either be bolstered through positive outcomes and feelings of self-worth, stay the same, or their self-esteem can drop and contribute to a downward spiral that leads to dropping out.

I have seen the results of students losing their confidence in their ability to succeed in school. The results are often disastrous, with students dropping out, getting unfulfilling jobs, quitting, and looking for new jobs in another downward spiral that can lead to further hopelessness and negative outcomes.

The common factor seems to be the low expectations and low self esteem that follows academic shortcomings. These students also appeared to experience depression with or without anxiety. Which brings me to the way this fits in with my life, my interests, and what is going on in the world today.

Since positive outlook seems to be correlated with academic success, and students who are overly anxious or depressed seem to not have as positive academic outcomes, it seems important to address students’ well-being.

In the past week, war has been added to the mix of world issues that can make kids feel unsettled. Kids today are living in a pandemic. With these added worries come added stress. Stress and anxiety can impede learning. Older students have likely heard of “self-care”. I think self-care should be part of every-day life for the youngest of students as well.

Stretching, playing, and spending time outside all help contribute to children’s happiness and sense of well-being. Talking to them and allowing them to share their feelings is also a great help. Keep the lines of communication open between school and home, be a team that provides supports for these kids. If they are feeling more secure, they will be able to look at their learning outcomes in a more positive light.

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