Children With Learning Disabilities And Parenting Education Essay

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Learning disabilities (LD) has become a major scientific endeavor across several academic disciplines, including psychology and educational sciences. Moreover, they are among the most commonly identified developmental problems of childhood today. In 1977, fewer than 8000,000 children (1.8% of the enrolled school population in the U.S.) had received services under the category of learning disabilities. This percentage has increased to 5.8%, or over 2.6 million by the 2000 -2001 school year (U.S. Department of Education, 2002)

At the moment, Perú doesn't have statistics of children with learning disabilities; regardless of its relevance, it is still quite a new topic in this country. However, some numbers can shape some first ideas of the achievement in formal education. In Perú and other Latin American countries, the quality of formal education in elementary and secondary schools is, in many cases poor and it is one of the most serious problems to be faced. In comparison with Eastern European, Eastern Asian and more developed countries such as the USA, Canada and Western European countries, Latin American countries exhibit the lowest educational attainment in adult literacy skills. The average years of schooling in Latin American and Caribbean countries is 5.9 years while in high income countries the average is 9.5. Less than 25% of the labor force has secondary education level compared with 43% in high income countries (Arellano, 2002).

In Peru, only 52% of students starting primary education finishes secondary education, and of this group, only 20,9% finishes its education without repeating any grade; the other 31,1% finishes its studies repeating at least one academic year (Ministry of Education, 2002). Aquí agregar consecuencias para los niños luego the role of parenting y luego risks and protection factors )

On the other hand, parenting can have an enormous impact on the development of children. A rich empirical history has documented how various parenting attitudes and practices influence child behavior and the development of either prosocial competencies or psychosocial maladjustment. Generally, these studies have found that parenting practices that include the provision of positive reinforcement, open displays of warmth or affection, involvement in and acting monitoring of children's activities, and consistent but not overly harsh disciplinary strategies tend to relate to various measures or adaptive child psychosocial adjustment, including academic competence, high self-esteem, positive peer-relations, and fewer child behavior problems.

Parenting occurs in a broader social context in which community risks or resources, neighborhood quality, poverty etc. may shape parenting beliefs and behavior, however less research has focused on the environmental and psychological determinants in parenting.

The purpose of this doctoral proposal is to examine and discuss the relationship between these variables; such as socioeconomic, demographics factors, parenting styles and learning problems in children in a Peruvian reality.

After some consideration, I have chosen parents and their children as subject of my post-graduate research, studying them within the Peruvian reality. Perú knows many families living in poverty. Studies indicate that low-income parents are more likely to use an authoritarian and punitive parenting style and less likely to either support their children or provide them with stimulating learning experiences. They often have higher levels of stress that affect their parenting (Bornstein, 2002). It is my intention to further investigate the connection between these family variables and characteristics of the child, all of it involved in an ecological model.

Literature also tells us that children with learning problems more often display psycho-social problems (Rourke & Fuerst, 1991). They experience behavioral problems, have a low self-esteem or lose their motivation for further schooling and education. I also intend to include these psycho-social variables into my research.

Some studies have found that children with learning disabilities ( LD) experience social difficulties with peers. LD children in mainstreamed classrooms consistently have been found to be less accepted and more rejected than their non learning disabled peers (Siperstein & Goding, 1983).

Many LD youngsters are aware of peers' impressions of them. In fact the findings of Garret and Crump (1980) suggested that LD youngsters were more accurate than their non LD peers in estimating their social acceptance, which was significantly lower for the LD students.

Evidence suggests that children with learning disabilities have more negative self- concepts than their nondisabled classmates (Bruininks, 1978). In particular some findings have noted that LD youngsters perceive their social, academic, and/ or general self-esteem to be lower than nondisabled comparison youth (Gregory, Shanahan, & Walberg, 1985). The lower general self- esteem often noted among LD students also may be related to their poor academic achievement; Renick (1985) suggested that LD students perceive their personal worth as being closely tied to their perceptions of academic competence in the regular classroom.

Theoretical Framework

Child and developmental psychologists, sociologists and educators have long viewed parenting and the family as the most significant influences on the developing child. Parenting has been viewed as an important source of "environmental" variability. (Bjorklund, 2002).

The parenting environment is best understood not only on the basis of activities and objects it contains or generates but on the basis of its instrumentality for childcare and childrearing (Korosec- Serafty, 1985). For individual parents, there is a sense of boundary to the spaces where parenting takes place, but what actually constitutes the boundary varies across parents and time, depending on an array of cultural, familial, personal and child factors. I would like to explain this briefly in an ecological framework.

Parenting: An Ecological Perspective

The cultural-ecology perspective provides a framework of environmental influences on competencies and their acquisitions. This framework is derived from the work of anthropologist Julian Steward and his followers. They define cultural ecology as the study of institutionalized and social transmitted patterns of behavior interdependent with features of the environment (Netting, 1968).

The ecology perspective defines development as the change in the way a person perceives his or her environment and can connect or relate with it (Del Lujan, 2001) and conceptualizes parenting as a process, rather than a static entity (Bronfenbrenner, 1979).

The environment is understood as the group of structures, in which each one can be inside of the following. In this perspective environments are not distinguished with reference in lineal variables but are analyzed in terms of systems.

Bronfenbrenner (1986) explains the importance for human ontogeny of the interrelated ecological levels, conceived as nested systems, involved in human development. Each of the ecological systems he describes is explained to have an important impact on the child, the parent, the family and the fact on the quality of life in society.

He describes the microsystem as the setting within which the individual was behaving at a given moment in her or his life and the mesosystem as the set of microsystems constituting the individual's developmental niche within a given period of development. In addition, the exosystem is composed of contexts that, although not directly involving the developing person (the workplace of a child parent), have an influence on the person's behavior and development (as may occur when the parent had a stressful day at work and as a result has a reduced capacity to provide quality care giving to the child). Finally, the macrosystem is the super ordinate level of the ecology of human development; it is the level involving culture, macro institutions (such as the federal government)and public policy. The macrosystem influences the nature of interaction within all other levels of the ecology of human development.

Belsky (1984), proposed a process model of parenting based on the child maltreatment literature, which examined the interplay between characteristics of the child (e.g temperament), characteristics of the parents (personality, psychological functioning, attachment history) and the family environment (stress and support) in the determinants of parenting practices.

The Context of Parenting

Nowadays researches begin to examine differences in parenting based on social class, community context, socioeconomic status, race and other "ecological factors"(Kotchick, 2002).

Ethnicity and Culture

It is now widely accepted that cultural beliefs and heritage, as well as social factors associated with ethnicity, have important effects on parenting behavior (Forehand & Kotchick, 1996). A model proposed by Ogbu (1981) suggests that parenting behavior is driven by the culturally determined child and adult characteristics that are considered necessary for survival and success. According to this author, parenting practices are determined by the availability of resources in the environment that facilitate the development of culturally valued competencies and folk theories of childrearing that dictate the customary parental practices believed to be successful in fostering culturally valued child behavior (Ogbu, 1981).

As Deloache and Gottlieb (2000) says, parents in different cultures receive many different kinds of guidance about how to rear children properly, whether in the form of books of advice or simply in training by example. Relevance of the sentence seems to be "lost"in the context

Direct or indirectly, ethnicity or cultural heritage may affect parenting beliefs and behavior. For instance, parenting practices of African American parents are dually influenced by the resources and risks offered by their environments, which are disproportionately disadvantaged, as well as traditions of childrearing handed down across the generations(Franklin & Boyd- Franklin, 1985).

A study by Lin and Fu (1990) compared child rearing practices among Chinese, immigrant Chinese and Caucasian American families and found that Chinese and Immigrant Chinese parents placed a higher emphasis than Caucasian parents on parental control and parenting strategies to promote high achievement in their children. The authors explained their findings by referring to the influence of traditional Chinese cultural values, such as those that emphasize education, on parenting practices even among Chinese families who have immigrated to the United States (Lin & Fu, 1990).

Neighborhood and Community

Parenting that emphasizes parental control, monitoring and supervision of children, and high parental expectations for obedience and respect for authority have been found to be particularly adaptive for children growing up in impoverished or dangerous neighborhoods. REFERENCE

Several authors have noted that the social and physical characteristics of neighborhoods contribute to the decisions parents make about the way they structure and regulate their children's activities (Burton, 1990). For example, fieldwork by Furstenberg and colleagues (1993) led them to conclude, "where parents live affects how they manage their children" (p. 254).

Ethnographic research suggests that parents who live in more impoverished or dangerous neighborhoods are less warm and more controlling with their children than parents who live in more advantaged and safer neighborhoods (Furstenberg, 1993).

Family Socioeconomic Status and Poverty

The most important and universal adversity for families is poverty. This is not only because this affects parents' access to goods and services which they might utilize for rearing their children, but also by virtue of the impact of poverty on the parents themselves- the way it affects their thoughts and feelings about themselves and their children.

In Peru, the incidence of total poverty has been increasing in rural zones we have 72.5% in the year 2004, comparing with 2007 poverty reached 75.7%; in the urban zones we found a 40.3%and the year before 39.5%.

Peruvian reality means poverty and as mentioned above, this causes stress within families.

Poverty can be described in terms of whether it is "absolute", "relative" or "subjective" (Hagenaars & De Vos, 1988). Absolute poverty is distinguished by a deficit in the minimum of basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter. Relative poverty is the lack of access to commodities that are common in the society, and is defined by a proportion of the average expectations for that society. Subjective poverty is a personal feeling of disadvantage, of not having enough to get along.

The effects of poverty on parenting are largely indirect. This is because children are not economically independent and, therefore, any restrictions on their income and its consequences come via parents. Like other parents, poor ones vary in age, marital status, mental health and support networks. Poverty, however, increases the likelihood that the total burden on parents will exceed their coping resources. Poverty may magnify vulnerabilities in the parents as well as exposing the child to adverse effects of neighbourhoods and poor housing (Halpern, 1988; Solnit, 1983)

Conditions for the infant born in poverty often involve a negative triad of a constitutionally vulnerable infant, and a vulnerable and overwhelmed parent, in an unsupportive social and community context (Halpern 1993). As a result of the unpredictability of care and crises in the child's life, the child may fail to develop a secure base and fail to be socialized into an understanding of time, cause and effect, a sense of self-efficacy and identity that provide a foundation for later adjustment to school.

Poverty has been found to have a profound detrimental influence on children and families (Luthar, 1999). One of the pathways through which poverty has been found to affect children is the disruption of parenting. Elder (1984) found that economic hardship negatively affected children through its disruption of parenting and other family processes. Financial loss was associated with father's increasing irritability, depression, and explosive behavior, which in turn, were associated with harsher and more arbitrary discipline practices. It was these disruptions in parenting which led to increased behavioral and socioemotional problems among the children studied.

Bradley (2001) examined the impact of poverty on parenting and family functioning across ethnic groups, finding that poor mothers were less likely than nonpoor mothers to communicate effectively with their children or to show either verbal or physical affection toward their children, regardless of ethnicity. The author found that at all age levels, and across all ethnic groups, poor parents were more likely to use physical discipline and less likely to monitor their children than non-poor parents.

Definition of Parenting

Historically and across the globe, parents have had to cope with limited resources for sustenance, external threats to survival, poor child life expectancy and the use of children as cheap labour. For many these threats have become less intrusive, but there are still large stretches of the world where they are present. Even in developed countries many parents still have to contend with pressure that affects and potentially undermine their effectiveness.

These can include the following: (Hoghughi, 1999):

Relative poverty

Ill health, both physical and mental

Greater tendency to separate and re-partner

Dispersal of extended families and support networks

Conflicting demands of work and home in increasingly competitive economic environments.

Greater tendency of mothers to do paid work outside the home and having to contend with the physical and emotional consequences of work.

Increasing unacceptability of traditional means of corrective discipline and uncertainties about appropriate boundaries for children's behavior.

Increase of influence of peers and their culture, relative to that of parents.

Greater awareness and empowerment of young people legally and informally.

Growth of urban environments and exposure of children to strong external influences, including advertising and the media.

Parenting may be defined as purposive activities aimed at ensuring the survival and development of children. It derives from the Latin verb "parere", to bring forth, develop or educate (Hoghughi, 2004).

Parenting is a complex activity that includes many specific behaviors that work individually and together to influence child outcomes. Although specific parenting behaviors, such as spanking or reading aloud, may influence child development, looking at any specific behavior in isolation may be misleading.

Parenting Dimensions

In models of socialization we have two dimensions of parenting: parental responsiveness and parental demandingness (Maccoby & Martin, 1983).

Parental responsiveness (also referred to as parental warmth or supportiveness) refers to "the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children's special needs and demands" (Baumrind, 1991).

Parental demandingness (also referred to as behavioral control) refers to "the claims parents make on children to become integrated into the family whole, by their maturity demands, supervision, disciplinary efforts and willingness to confront the child who disobeys" (Baumrind, 1991).

In other words, demandingness refers to the parent's willingness to act as a socializing agent, whereas responsiveness refers to the parent's recognition of the child's individuality. Thus the two dimensions reflect two types of demands: those made by the society on the child (as conveyed through the parent)and those made by the child on society. Baumrind (1978) cogently laid out this balance in her discussion of how authoritative parents instill instrumental competence by helping their children balance other-oriented, rule following tendencies with individualistic, autonomous, active thinking.

Parenting Style

Many writers have noted that specific parenting practices are less important in predicting child wellbeing than is the broad pattern of parenting. Most researchers who attempt to describe this broad parental milieu rely on Diana Baumrind's concept of parenting style. The construct of parenting style is used to capture normal variations in parents' attempts to control and socialize their children (Baumrind, 1991).

Two points are critical in understanding this definition. First, parenting style is meant to describe normal variations in parenting. In other words, the parenting style typology Baumrind developed should not be understood to include deviant parenting, such as might be observed in abusive or neglectful homes. Second, Baumrind assumes that normal parenting revolves around issues of control. Although parents may differ in how they try to control or socialize their children and the extent to which they do so, it is assumed that the primary role of all parents is to influence, teach, and control their children.

Developmental researchers consistently have found that a particular aspect of parenting, referred to as parenting style, is for instance in a predictive way associated with, a wide range of indicators of adolescent competence (Fletcher,1999).

Parenting Behaviors

More salient in the phenomenology of the infant are actual experiences that mother and father provide; behaviors, are perhaps the most direct expression of parenting. Before children are old enough to enter formal or even informal social situations, like play groups and school, most of their worldly experience stems directly from interactions they have within the family. In that context their two adult caregiving figures are responsible for determining most, if not all, of their experiences (Bornstein, 1989)

Learning Disabilities: Definitions

The concept of learning disabilities originated from America in the 1960s and since then the definition has undergone variations.

The National Joint Committee for Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) defined learning disabilities as a generic term referring to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities (Heward, 2000).

The definition of learning disabilities in the federal law is the basis of most state definitions, and it is used by many schools. It means a disorder in one or more of the psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. Such terms include conditions like perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia (IDEA-2004).

Common Elements in the Definitions

The various definitions of learning disabilities have several elements in common (Lerner, 2006):

Central Nervous system Dysfunction: All learning originates within the brain and consequently a disorder in learning can be caused by a dysfunction in the central nervous system.

Psychological Processing Deficits: Refer to an uneven development of the various components of mental functioning. Mental ability is not a single capacity; rather it is composed of many underlying mental abilities. For the individual with learning disabilities, these component abilities or sub-abilities do not develop in an even fashion.

Difficulty in Academic and Learning Tasks: Individuals with learning disabilities encounter different types of problems in learning. One child's obstacle may be in the acquisition of speech and oral language; another's may be in reading, arithmetic, handwriting, motor skills, written expression, thinking, or nonverbal learning. As noted earlier the operational portion of the federal definition identifies seven specific academic areas in which learning disabilities can be detected.

Discrepancy between potential and achievement: Another element common to many definitions of learning disabilities is the identification of a gap between what the student is potentially capable of learning and what the student has in fact learned or achieved. The operational portion of the federal definition states that the child with learning disabilities has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in one or more of seven areas.

Exclusion of other causes: This component of the definition reflects the notion that learning disabilities are not primarily the result of other conditions, such as mental retardation; emotional disturbance; visual or hearing impairments; or cultural, social or economic environments. In practice the exclusion component of the definition of learning disabilities becomes difficult to implement because children often exhibit coexisting problems. It is hard to determine which problem is primary and which is secondary. There is growing acceptance of the idea that other conditions often co-occur with learning disabilities.

Theories of Learning and its Implication for Learning Disabilities

Now, I want to focus on two major theories in psychology and their implications for learning disabilities: Behavioral Psychology and cognitive Psychology.

Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral Psychology helps the way to understand how behavior is learned, and this branch of psychology significantly influences the way we teach. For over 50 years, since the seminal work of B.F. Skinner, the concept of behavioral psychology has flourished creating major and productive applications for promoting learning.

Behavioral theories have important implications for teaching a student with learning disabilities:

Explicit teaching and direct instruction are effective: It is important for the student of learning disabilities to receive direct instruction in academic tasks. Teachers should understand how to analyze the components of a curriculum and how to structure sequential behaviors.

Explicit teaching and direct instruction can be combined with many other approaches to teaching. When the teacher is sensitive to a student's unique style of learning and particular learning difficulties, direct instruction can be even more effective. For the student who lacks phonological awareness, for example, the sensitive teacher can anticipate difficulties in learning phonics during a direct instruction lesson. To learn the skill this student will need more time, practice, review, and alternative presentation of the concepts. The sensitive clinical teacher will use knowledge of the curriculum and of the individual student planning instruction.

Functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral support can help a student with behavioral problems. These methods provide a valuable means to understand undesirable behavior and a way to meet a student's needs.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology focuses on the human processes of learning, thinking and knowing. Cognitive abilities are clusters of mental skills that are essential to human functions. They enable one to know, be aware, think, conceptualize, use abstractions, reason, criticize, and be creative.

Concepts in cognitive psychology have been broadly elaborated over the years, and changes in the field of learning disabilities reflect these elaborations. A progression of ideas from cognitive psychology has influenced the field of learning disabilities: the term disorders of psychological processing refers to the idea that launched the field of learning disabilities and continues to be an influential concept; the information- processing model, is a model of learning that emphasizes the flow of information within a person's mind and memory systems; and cognitive learning theories emphasize activity in learning and thinking as well as acquisition of a contemporary view of how people learn, think, and acquire knowledge.

After the review of the theoretical background, we formulated the following objectives for our research.

General Objectives

Investigate and explore the relationship between parenting and learning problems in children.

Specifics Objectives

Explore the relationship between socioeconomic factors and learning problems in children.

Examine the relationship between demographics factors and learning problems in children.

Explore the relationship between parenting styles and learning problems in children.

Measure the academic achievement of children with learning problems.

Examine and measure the level of self esteem of children with learning problems.

Examine and measure the level of motivation of children with learning problems.

Examine and measure the level of behavior problems of children with learning problems.

Method

In the methodology area we include information about the procedure of our research, participants, operational definitions of the variables under study, and the measurement instruments used for this research

Participants

The research will be realized with children of the age 11-12 who attend sixth grade of regular schools and those that are specialized in learning disabilities in urban region of Lima.

In order to operationalise learning problems all pupils participating in the research will undergo a reading, writing and mathematics test. We will take the EVALUA- 6 (Garcia Vidal & Gonzalez, 1999) - a psychopedagogy battery - to measure school achievement. Pupils with results below percentile 25 will be defined as children with learning problems. It could be that this indicates a problem on one of the domains (reading, writing, math), but it could also indicate combinations.

On the basis of these tests we will be able to divide the research population in three groups: children with learning problems (<pc 25), an average group between pc 25 and 75 and an excellent group (>pc 75). Besides, we will also assess general intelligence by means of the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices (Raven, 1963).

In the psycho-social domain we want to obtain a full view of the problem behavior of the pupils (internalizing as well as externalizing). Therefore, we will use the "Child Behavior Checklist" and the "Teacher Report Form" (Achenbach, 2001).

Of both series of child-variables (cognitive and psycho-social) we want to investigate the connection with a set of family variables. By asking for the education level, profession and income of the parents, the socio-economical status of the family can be defined. Other demographic characteristics such as number of children and composition of the family help us to get a more complete image of the family. Next to these variables, we are especially interested in the educational behaviour of the parents. Therefore we measure on one hand the parenting style. Baumrind (1989) distinguished patterns of authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting, involving dimensions such as warmth, control, encouraging autonomy and demandingness. The Parenting Questionnaire was used in a cross-cultural study to measure these parenting styles and found in its factor-analysis the same three styles as defined by Baumrind. As such we would try to use this Questionnaire in our research. (Robinson & Clyde, 1996)

Variable Issues

Family Factors

Socio Economical

Socio-economical status: SES is usually conceptualized to include multiple dimensions (knowledge, employment, and economic status) and is often indexed by educational and occupational attainment and income. Individuals who are employed, with higher levels of education, and with greater incomes tend to enjoy better health and lower mortality than socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals. (Mirowsky & Ross 2003).

Demographic

We include education level, profession, income and cultural participation of the parents, also the number of children and composition of the family.

Parenting:

Parenting is a complex activity that includes many specific behaviors that work individually and together to influence child outcomes. Although specific parenting behaviors, such as spanking or reading aloud, may influence child development, looking at any specific behavior in isolation may be misleading. Most researchers who attempt to describe this broad parental milieu rely on Diana Baumrind's concept of parenting style. The construct of parenting style is used to capture normal variations in parents' attempts to control and socialize their children (Baumrind, 1991).

Cognitive Factors

Academic Achievement in Reading, Writing, Mathematics

Pupils with results below percentile 25 will be defined as children with learning problems. It could be that this indicates a problem on one of the domains (reading, writing, math), but it could also indicate combinations. School achievement will be measure by EVALUA-6 and general intelligence by Raven Standard Progressive Matrices.

Psycho - social development

Behaviour Problems:

Is a complicated group of behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents. Those with this disorder have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. 

Self esteem:

Self-esteem is generally considered the evaluative component of the self-concept, a broader representation of the self that includes cognitive and behavioral aspects as well as evaluative or affective ones (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991).

Motivation:

Is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal.

Instruments

Behavior Problems:

The Teacher Report Form (TRF) of the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 2001) is presented to the teacher of every child. The problem behavior part of the questionnaire consists of 120 items concerning behavioral and emotional problems, rated on a 3-point scale. In addition to a Total Problems score, two broadband syndrome scores (Internalizing, Externalizing) and eight narrowband syndrome scores (Withdrawn Behavior, Somatic Complaints, Anxious/Depressed, Social Problems, Thought Problems, Attention Problems, Delinquent Behavior, and Aggressive Behavior) can be computed.

Parenting behavior:

The HOME Inventory (Caldwell, Bradley, 1984) is designed to be a measure of the stimulation potential of a child's development completed by a person who goes to the home when the child is awake and can be observed interacting with the mother or primary caretaker.

The Early Adolescent (EA) HOME is designed for use from ages 10 to 15. It contains 60 items clustered into 7 subscales: Physical Environment, Learning Materials, Modeling, Instructional Activities, Regulatory Activities, Variety of Experience and Acceptance and Responsivity.

Ghent Parental Behavior Questionnaire (GPBS), an instrument to measure parental behavior. The modified questionnaire by Van Leeuwen (2004) consisted of 55 items. Assigned to ten scales with at least five items per scale: Positive Involvement (making time for the child, showing interest; six items), Monitoring (supervision of the activities of the child; seven items), Rules (teaching the child appropriate behavior; seven items), Discipline (punishment of the child when it misbehaves; five items), Inconsistent Discipline (punishment in an inconsistent way; five items), Harsh Punishment (corporal punishment and verbal blaming; five items), Ignoring (neglecting unwanted behavior; five items), Positive Reinforcement (rewarding good behavior of the child; five items), Problem Solving (solving problems together with the child; five items), and Autonomy (stimulating autonomous behavior of the child; five items).

Motivation:

To measure students' achievement goal orientations, we will use the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS - 1997 and 2000).

The PALS is a self-report instrument with a Likert-type scale that goes from 1 (Not at all true) to 5 (Very true).

Students' goal orientation: Refers to purposes or reasons to engage in academic achievement behaviors. It includes beliefs about purposes, competence, success, ability, effort, errors, and standards. Three types of students' goal orientations were assessed.

a) Learning goal orientation: measures the students' purpose of developing competence and skills, gaining knowledge and understanding. The focus is on the task itself. (e.g., "In this class, it's important to me that I improve my skills this year").

b) Performance-approach goal orientation: assesses the students' purpose of comparing favorably to others, to demonstrate their competence and superiority, and to outperform others. (e.g., "In this class, one of my goals is to show others that I'm good at my class work").

c) Performance-avoidance goal orientation: refers to the students' purpose of avoiding negative judgments about their competence and avoiding demonstration of incompetence. The focus is on the self (e.g., "One of my goals in class is to avoid looking like I have trouble doing the work").

Self Esteem:

In the Perceived Competence Scale for Children (Harter, 1982) emphasis is placed on the assessment of a child's sense of competence across different domains; instead of viewing perceived competence as a unitary construct. Three domains of competence, each constituting a separate subscale, were identified (a) cognitive, (b) social, and (c) physical. A fourth subscale, general self-worth, independent of any particular skill domain, was included.

The psychometric properties of the scale are presented for third through ninth grades.

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