The article I have selected for the SPARQ website is called “boost grades by reframing failures” (Wilson, n.d.). It summarizes Wilson and Linville, (1982) research on this topic. The problem under discussion states that “many promising students earn bad grades in their first year of college” from this research it is found out that the best solution to this problem is to encourage the first years that many of them stumble in their first semesters but they do better afterward.
Wilson and Linville, (1982); social psychologists assigned college freshmen randomly to some two conditions. It revealed that many students indeed struggle in their first year and produce poor performance but they later improve. Videos were watched of the interviews with 3rd and 4th-year students during their personal discussions and it was shown that the GPAs of these students had increased with time. The other participants who acted as the control group were not subjected to these encouraging survey neither did they watch the videos of the upper class who improved. Other findings showed that participants in the experiment conditions showed more improvement in their GPAs grades. They performed better in their tests, and above all, very few of them dropped out of college. This was not the same with participants in the control conditions. Their results were opposite of the participant in the experiment conditions.
The method used in this experiment to attain this was attributional interviews with the students. This method is believed to work best when people in question are worried that what is causing this worry is a stable feature of themselves.
Attributional interventions work for such scenarios. From a personal point of view, there is a theory that explains that when people’s problems are attributed to their internal and stable causes, most of the time they are caught in their “exacerbation cycles” (Wilson & Linville, 1982). They blame themselves for what they are facing and worry and anxiety makes it harder for them to cope effectively. An example is studying for exams. This method was meant to uncover the exacerbation cycle and allowing them to shift their blame to other unstable causes- thigs they can manage. The exposure to the possibility that students perform poorly at their first stage in college but later improve, was designed to make them change their reasoning and believe they can actually and study harder to do better in the future.
Attributional interventions are the best method to be used in this scenario because Attributional interventions target a specific socio-cognitive risk element related to a person’s childhood aggression (Wilson & Linville, 1982). It provides an intervention from the person’s foundational level. Using the randomized trial to execute this process, the solution was found for effective result boosting for the new college students. The random students that were put in the experimental stage realized that despite the wrong foundation, they can as well improve and achieve better results in future. This was supported by the interviews shown to them that the fourth years and the third years had during personal conversations. The method not only gives a solution but digs deep to a personal relation with their problems.
A student gets to relate with the problem that they are facing at a personal level. It brings out the inner self of the student. Once the student gets to understand the problem clearly that he/she is the primary contributor to the problem (Wilson & Linville, 1982). The student develops a perception and acquires a need for change. Now, where Attributional interventions best apply is that it uncovers the perception and subjects the student to a possibility that what he/she is going through is not something new. There are those who have been through it and managed to get out of it by making the best out of the problem. Attributional interventions guide the student a challenge that change is personal and I must come from within the student. Though there are other methods to use I this case scenario like interviews, questionnaires, etc. these methods can still give you the desired results. But for one to get a personal touch and target a student’s point of weakness, one needs Attributional interventions.
The ethical issue that seems to appear in this survey is the fact that the videos of personal sessions with the 4th years and 3rd years were revealed to the 1st years in the name learning or conducting an experiment (Wilson & Linville, 1982). From a personal perspective, this was only supposed to happen at the conceint of the 4th years and 3rd years. It clearly states that it was a personal interview video of 4th years and 3rd years about their academic performance.as much as it proved helpful for the study in question, students especially them that their videos were exposed during personal sessions with their teachers, will feel uncomfortable around other students who watched how bad they used to perform in the first year. It can instill a bad stigma to some 4th year and 3rd-year students and cause them to develop low self-esteem.
If students come to learn that when they are called to talk about their personal studies or personal issues with the counselor they are always recorded, and not only that but their recordings will be used one day to show the first years how bad they used to perform back then, they will not be free talking to the counselor about their personal issues ( Aronson , Eds.). It will break trust and confidentiality between the students and their tutors that they trust to appoint of sharing personal problems.
Attributional intervention is a great method to use to bring change to students especially teenagers. However, it is biased to some extent. Participants that are placed in control category don’t add value to themselves. They are placed in an experiment that will yield no fruits at the end of the day. The experiment participants are the only beneficiary of the experiment. There will be uneven growth among the participants. Most of them will fail to contribute or participate if they will be found in the control participant category. It's an ethical issue that touches on the topic of biases in the outcome of the experiment.
J. Aronson (Eds.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 88-108). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Wilson, T. D., Damiani, M., & Shelton, N. (2002). Improving the academic performance of college students with brief attributional interventions. In
Wilson, T.D., & Linville, P.W. (1982). Improving the academic performance of college freshmen: Attribution therapy revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42 (2), 367-376.
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