Low-achieving students are at risk of experiencing a pattern of emotional, motivational, and cognitive deficits called school-related helplessness if they attribute their low achievement to low aptitude. Teachers' beliefs about the causes of students' low achievement are important sources of attributional information for students. In a sample of 2117 German ninth-graders attending the lowest track, 118 math and 129 German-language teachers, we tested whether teachers' beliefs about the extent to which aptitude causes achievement moderated the achievement-helplessness relation in students and whether there were differences between math and German. Multilevel analyses revealed that low prior achievement predicted higher helplessness in both subjects but the effect was stronger in math than in German. Teachers' beliefs amplified the achievement-helplessness relation in math but not in German. Results are discussed regarding domain-specific epistemological beliefs, and implications for research and practice are derived.
Learning and Individual Differences – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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