Students who approach assignments with
very low expectations of success and
give up quickly.
Condition where a student believes that
no matter how hard he or she tries,
failure will result.
Signs of Learned
Attribute failures to lack of ability rather than
controllable causes such as insufficient effort or
reliance on an inappropriate strategy.
Attribute successes to external and
uncontrollable causes rather than to their own
ability or effort.
Following failure, make severe reductions in
their estimates of future success probabilities.
Involves bringing about changes in students’ tendencies
to attribute failure to lack of ability rather than to a
remediable cause, such as insufficient effort or use of an
Involves exposing students to a planned series of
experiences, couched within an achievement context, in
which modeling, socialization, practice, and feedback are
used to teach them to:
• Concentrate on the task at hand rather than worry about
• Cope with failures by retracing their steps to find their
mistake or by analyzing the problem to find another
• Attribute their failures to insufficient effort, lack of
information, or use of ineffective strategies rather than to
lack of ability.
Involves exposing students to a planned
set of experiences within an achievement
context and providing them with modeling,
instruction, and feedback.
Helps students set realistic goals and
pursue them with the recognition that they
have the ability needed to reach those
goals if they apply reasonable effort.
Cognitive modeling that includes verbalization of
task strategies, the intention to persist despite
problems & confidence in achieving eventual
Explicit teaching in strategies for accomplishing the
Performance feedback that points out correct
operations, remedies errors, & reassures students
that they are developing mastery.
Attributional feedback that emphasizes the
successes being achieved & attributes these to the
combination of sufficient ability & reasonable
Efficacy Training Practices
Encouraging students to set goals prior to working on
tasks (goals that are challenging but attainable, phrased
in terms of specific performance standards & oriented
toward immediate short-term outcomes)
Focusing feedback on how student’s current performance
surpasses his/her prior attainments rather than on how
s/he compare with other students.
Supplying rewards contingent on actual accomplishments
(not just task participation)
Assisting students in experiencing success regularly (by
being sure they can do what is assigned, providing
immediate feedback to their responses, and making
sure that they know the criteria by which their learning
will be evaluated.)
Encouraging their learning efforts by giving them
recognition for real effort, showing appreciation for
their progress, and projecting positive expectations.
Emphasizing personal causation in their learning by
allowing them to plan & set goals, make choices, & use
self-evaluation procedures to check their progress.
Using group process methods to enhance positive self-
concepts (activities that orient these students toward
appreciating their positive qualities & getting
recognition for them from their peers.)