Improving the Performance of College Freshmen With Attributional Techniques
In an earlier study (Wilson & Linville, 1982), college freshmen were given information suggesting that the causes of low grades are unstable. Compared with a control group, these students did better on both short-term and long-term performance measures. The long-term results, however, tended to be weak or open to alternative explanations. Two replication studies are reported here. Considered together, the three studies (original plus two replications) found that our attributional interventions improved the performance of college freshmen on both short-term and long-term measures. Presenting freshmen with information indicating that the causes of low grades in the first year are temporary led to (a) improvement on sample items from the Graduate Record Exam and (b) increases in actual grades in the semester after the studies were conducted. These results were stronger for males than for females. Possible reasons for this sex difference are discussed. © 1985 American Psychological Association.
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