Gender Differences In Performance Attributions

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The purpose of the present study was to find out the gender differences of causal attributions of mainstream and religious school students and effect of these attributions on their academic achievement. Sample of the study was 490 students of grade X. Five point rating scale consisting of 30 items was developed to measure attribution patterns. Student achievement scores were taken from respective gazettes. It was found that Mainstream boys have external, stable and uncontrollable attributions. And as a result their achievement is also low. Mainstream girls have internal, unstable and controllable attributions. And as a result their achievement is also higher as compared to boys. Religious boys have external, stable and uncontrollable attributions. But their achievement is higher as compared to girls. Religious girls have internal, unstable and controllable attributions. But their achievement is lower as compared to boys.

INTRODUCTION

It was identified by Weiner's theory as why students react in a variety of ways based on their achievements and expectations. His theory of achievement motivation answers such questions like what internally motivates students to become motivated. Or what directs them to remain unmotivated in the classroom? Weiner has given three-dimension taxonomy for classifying all attributions.  The externality and internality of a location of a cause is known as locus of causality dimension. Stability of causality dimension refers to whether or not the cause changes over a period of time.  The final classification is causality: the responsibility of the student toward the cause and his belief in his ability to whether or not the he can control the cause (Albert & Luzzo, 1999).

According to Weiner (1980) the basic principle underlying attribution theory is that the amount of effort the person will expend on that activity in future is determined by a person's own attributions for his success or failure. There are four factors related to attribution theory that influence motivation in education: ability, task difficulty, effort and luck. In term of the characteristics discussed previously, these four factors can be analyzed in the way as: Ability is an internal and stable factor over which the learner does not exercise much direct control. Task difficulty is an external and stable factor that is largely beyond the learner's control. Effort is an internal and stable factor which is within the learner's control. Luck is an external and unstable factor over which the learner exercises almost no control.

A student after achieving "A" grade on an assignment may believe he is a "lucky man" and for him luck would be an internal and stable characteristic over which he exercises little control. In other words, for this person "luck" is really "ability" or personality characteristic. In another situation, a student may believe that he expended a great deal of effort to get good grade he will exercise great deal of effort in the subsequent examination, if he believes the task was easy then he will make no effort in the next examination because he has a belief that he has no control of his academic achievement (Bempechat, 1999).

Weiner says when a person attributes a characteristic to his own behavior; he is using a general concept to explain general instances of behavior and in doing so he goes beyond the realm of what he actually has experienced. And it appears that the effect of any success or failure will depend on how he interprets his present success or failure. Different students interpret it differently (Ormrod 1998).

There are four causes of attributions in the light of Weiner's theory:

Firstly past successes and failures of a student in a particular subject are partly the causes of attributions in that subject. Students who usually succeed when they work hard are likely to believe that success is due to effort or high ability. Those who fail, despite effort, consider success as uncontrollable (Schunk,1990). Secondly past history of reinforcement and punishment also shapes attributions. Children tend to make external attributions if they are punished for failures but not rewarded for successes (Katkovsky, Crandall & Good,1967).Thirdly the expectations for student performance are conveyed by teachers and elders such as parents in a variety of subtle ways also form attributions(Ormrod, 1998). Finally adult messages may be well-intended and designed to make a student feel good but they may imply different attributions by attributing student success or failure to uncontrollable ability or controllable effort (Schunk,1982).

The aspect of gender differences was not discussed by Weiner, but many researches have been conducted on this aspect. For example Sweeney, Moreland and Gruber (2005) concluded that Successful students, whether male or female, made internal attributions and were pleased with their performance. Stipek (1984) concluded that as compared to girls, boys perceived themselves to be more competent and did better on the math test. Boys were also less likely to attribute failure on the math test to lack of ability and more likely to attribute success to ability than were girls. Martha and Alison (2004) concluded that There were no significant differences in the girls' and boys' assessments of their daily accomplishment or in their attributions for their successes or failures.

It was intended to study the attribution patterns of students in order to rescue those students who may be victim of their own negative and non productive attributions. Students act on the basis of their beliefs, and teachers and parents must take their beliefs into account. There are also such perceptions that there exist gender differences in the attribution patterns of students. Similarly the status of the religious schools and their students is also a mark of interrogation. The present study addresses all such questions to assist educators to improve the attribution patterns of students and to minimize the gander gaps. The study results, therefore, are likely to be significant for students, teachers, parents and society at large in order to promote learning, realize gender differences in attribution patterns and eradicate negative attributions among students.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The objectives of the study were

To measure the attribution patterns of students of religious schools and mainstream schools and to form groups of boys and girls of the both categories(religious and mainstream schools)

To find out mean attribution and mean achievement scores of the groups of girls and boys of the both categories

To compare the academic achievement of students of the groups of girls and boys of the both categories

To find out gender differences in students' attribution patterns

To verify Weiner's attribution theory of motivation in Pakistan's educational setting

Delimitations

The study was delimited to the grade X students of both mainstream and religious schools located in Rawalpindi and Islamabad districts.

METHODOLOGY

Population

Students of grade X studying in religious schools and mainstream schools of Rawalpindi and Islamabad districts constituted the population of this study.

Sample

The multistage cluster sampling procedure as suggested by Gay (2002) was adopted for the purpose of selection of the sample. A sample of 260 students ( 100 girls and 160 boys)was randomly selected from 20 mainstream schools and 230 students (70 girls and 160 boys) were selected from 10 religious schools. The total sample size was thus 490 students. The cluster sampling technique was used to initially select schools from both systems, followed by random selection of clusters of students from the selected schools.

Research Tool

Two types of research tools were used i.e. attribution scale and gazettes.

Attribution scale for students: A 30 item causal attribution questionnaire based on five point rating scale items was developed in the light of Weiner's attribution theory. The options included strongly disagree, disagree, uncertain, agree and strongly agree.

Achievement scores from gazettes: The achievement scores were taken as the marks obtained by the students in their subsequent examination held after measuring their causal attributions. These achievement scores were taken from gazettes published by published by Rawalpindi and Islamabad boards for the purpose of announcement of result.

The constructed instrument was pre-tested on a small sample. To check the validity of the instrument, comments and opinions were obtained from the experts as well as from the students. The opinions from both sides were positive. The reliability coefficient was 0.86.

Data Collection

In order to collect the data about the variable of attribution patterns the attribution scale after pre-testing were personally administered to each student in the sample. The scores of the students on most recently held subsequent examination were obtained from the concerned quarters, which served as a measure of students' academic achievement.

Data analysis

The following procedure was adopted to analyze the data:

Ratings assigned by each student to each item were scored by assigning a maximum score of 05 and minimum of 01 to each student's response depending on nature of the statement and response of each student. In this way, total attribution score of each student was determined by summing up the scores on 30 items. The maximum score on attribution patterns was 150 and the minimum being 30.

Students' academic achievement scores were measured on the basis of marks obtained by them in the secondary school certificate examination held by Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Islamabad and Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Rawalpindi.

In order to summarize the students' attribution scores and students' academic achievement scores the descriptive statistics of mean and standard deviation were used.

In order to categorize attribution patterns of students as high and low attribution ,median score of girls and boys groups of each category of schools was computed. High attributions are the internal, unstable and controllable attributions whereas low attributions are external, stable and uncontrollable attributions.

To find the significance of difference on achievement of groups t test was used for girls and boys groups of each category.

The level of confidence was decided as .05.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Significance of difference between mean attribution scores of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools

Categories

Mean

SD

SEmean

t

p

Male students

101.23

8.01

1.162

1.523

<.05

Female students

103.0

9.75

df=258 t.05=1.96

The entries of the above table indicate that the obtained difference between the average attribution scores of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools was 1.77. This difference was found to be not significant at .05 level of confidence. So there is no significant difference between the attribution patterns of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools.

The table below indicates significance of difference between mean attribution scores of male students and female students belonging to religious schools

Significance of difference between mean attribution scores of male and female students belonging to religious schools

Categories

Mean

SD

SEmean

t

p

Male students

109.0

8.80

1.178

8.157

<.05

Female students

99.39

8.09

df=238 t.05=1.96

The entries of the above table indicate that the obtained difference between the average attribution scores of male and female students belonging to religious schools was 9.61. This difference was found to be highly significant at .05 level of confidence. There is a significant difference between the attribution patterns of male and female students belonging to religious schools. This difference is in favor of male students from religious schools that the attribution patterns of male students from religious schools were higher than the female students from the same system.

The table below indicates significance of difference between mean achievement scores of male students and female students belonging to religious schools

Significance of difference between mean achievement scores of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools

Categories

Mean

SD

SEmean

t

p

Male students

328.81

98.38

10.012

8.508

<.05

Female students

414

63.06

df=258 t.05=1.96

The entries of the above table indicate that the obtained difference between the average achievement scores of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools was 85.19. This difference was found to be significant at .05 level of confidence. There is significant difference between the academic achievement of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools.

The table below indicates significance of difference between mean achievement scores of male students and female students belonging to religious schools.

Significance of difference between mean achievement scores of male and female students belonging to religious schools

Categories

Mean

SD

SEmean

t

p

Male students

236.02

43.26

6.38

16.56

<.05

Female students

341.70

45.56

df=238 t.05=1.96

The entries of the above table indicate that the obtained difference between the average achievement scores of male and female students belonging to religious schools was 105.68. This difference was found to be significant at .05 level of confidence. There is significant difference between the academic achievement of male and female students belonging to mainstream schools.

The results show that

Mainstream boys have external, stable and uncontrollable attributions. And as a result their achievement is also low.

Mainstream girls have internal, unstable and controllable attributions. And as a result their achievement is also higher as compared to boys.

Religious boys have internal, unstable and controllable attributions. But their achievement is lower as compared to girls.

Mainstream girls have external, stable and uncontrollable attributions. But their achievement is higher as compared to boys.

The mainstream results have verified Weiner's theory but surprisingly it is not approved as far as religious school system is concerned. There are two possible reasons for such a result; firstly the students from religious schools may have marked the statements of the attribution scale carelessly. Secondly, it was observed by the researcher that the environment of the religious schools is somewhat authoritarian consequently; students used to keep their original feeling hidden due to the fear of their teachers and give such replies which may oblige them. A revised study could be undertaken in which projective techniques might be used to ratify such chances of conscious dishonesty.

AUTHOR'S INFORMATION

Sadia Batool, is currently Ph.D. Education scholar at International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Also working in a special education college in Pakistan.

E-mail: sadia_gardezi@yahoo.com

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