Received: 13 September 2017 Revised: 25 January 2018 Accepted: 5 February 2018
Academic self-attributions for success and failure
in mathematics and school refusal
Cándido J. Inglés
M. Pilar Aparicio-Flores
José M. García-Fernández
University of Alicante
Miguel Hernández University of Elche
María Vicent, University of Alicante, Department
of DevelopmentalPsychologyand Didactics,
University of Alicante, 03690 San Vicente del
Raspeig (Alicante), Spain.
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad,
Grant/Award Number: EDU2012-35124; Uni-
versidad de Alicante, Grant/Award Numbers:
GRE16-07, FPU, 2015-5995
The aim of this research is twofold: to analyze the mean differences
scores in mathematic self-attributions based on school refusal and
to verify its predictive capability on high scores in school refusal. The
Sydney Attribution Scale and the School Refusal Assessment Scale-
Revised were administered to 1078 Spanish students (50.8% boys)
aged between 8 and 11 years (M = 9.63; SD = 1.12). School refusers
based on negative affect or anxiety attributed their failures more
to the lack of capacity and effort, whereas students searching for
tangible reinforcements outside of the school were more likely to
attribute their successes to capacity. In turn, academic attributions
acted as both positive and negative predictors of high-school refusal.
Results are discussed considering more adaptive attributional styles.
academic self-attributions, mathematics, school refusal
The interest in determining the results of academic performance on a massive scale through international assessments
began during the mid-20th century. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement initi-
ated these reports and mathematics was the first domain to be assessed. Today, the Program for International Student
Assessment is one of the principal world scales used to evaluate the quality, equity, and efficiency of the educational
systems in the areas of mathematics, sciences, and reading. More and more countries are participating in this study.
In its first edition, held in 2000, 43 countries participated, while in the last edition of 2015, 72 countries from the five
continents participated, including the 34 belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD). In the latest reports produced by this organization, it has been noted that the academic performance of Span-
ish children has improved slightly in sciences and language, although it is below the OECD average for mathematics
(OECD, 2012, 2015).
Based on these results, current investigations highlight not only the cognitive determinants as variables that
influence educational achievement (Ruffing, Wach, Spinath, Brünken, & Karbach, 2015; Vaishnav, 2013), they also
take into account emotional variables, such as anxiety, motivation, or self-efficacy, which have been found to act as
explanatory factors of academic achievement in mathematics (Allen & Vallée-Tourangeau, 2016; Louis & Mistele,
2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pits Psychol Schs. 2018;55:366–376.