Underachievement by dffhrtcv3


Historical Perspective

Grade School: little work, excellent marks. Certain subjects and teachers fondly

Junior High School: the gap between workers and non-workers widened, some
experienced a decline in marks, others maintained excellent marks with little effort.

High School; the gap between workers and underachievers increased, but still most
underachievers maintained honors or near-honors standing with little effort.

University: task demands and/or competition were seen as dramatically increasing.
Student motivation started out high, but by mid-term exams procrastination was
pronounced, and avoidance behaviors prevailed until final examinations. GPA was
always significantly below expectations.
Performance Goals

Learning Goals

Dweck (1980s) used these terms
to describe two motivational predispositions
Performance Goal Orientation: To gain positive judgments/and avoid
negative judgments of competence (external – approval orientation).
Associated with a performance goal orientation is the view that
intelligence is fixed (Entity theory).

         If confidence is high and task demands are relatively easy
then students with performance goals will stay on task, seek
challenges, and/or persist.

         If confidence is low and task demands are more difficult,
then these students will avoid challenge and exhibit low persistence.

Associated characteristics:
Invest minimum effort needed to succeed.
Seek feedback that flatters them.
View errors as a sign of failure.
Give up easily when they fail, and avoid tasks that have previously led
to failure.
Are satisfied with a performance if they succeed.
Interpret failure as a sign of low ability.
Chose tasks relatively easy.
The dilemma facing students with performance goals
“…a performance goal focuses children on issues of
ability. Within this goal children’s confidence in their
ability must be high if they are to choose appropriately
challenging tasks and pursue them in effective ways. Yet
the same focus on ability makes their confidence in their
ability fragile – even the mere exertion of effort calls the
ability into question. A strong orientation toward this goal
can thus create the tendency to avoid challenge, to
withdraw from challenge, or to show impaired
performance in the face of challenge. Ironically, then, an
over concern with ability may lead children to shun the
very tasks that foster its growth. (p.1043)
Learning Goal Orientation: The key to learning is competence
(internal). Associated with a learning goal orientation is the view
that intelligence is malleable. Whether confidence is high or low
or task demands are difficult or easy, students will exhibit
persistence and seek challenges.
Associated characteristics:

Persist in the face of failure.

Interpret failure as a sign that they need to exert more effort.

View errors as a normal part of the learning process.

Invest considerable effort in tasks.
   Underachievement is seen by some authors as an
   attempt by students to avoid work or task demands
imposed upon them. It is more than being lazy, because
 that can usually be reversed through incentives. Some
chronic underachievers can’t work effectively, even when
      the consequences are failure and humiliation.
 Mandel and Marcus (1988) have identified several
criterion for their academic problem underachiever.
 Included within these criterion are the following:

A consistent pattern of underachievement in recent
years preceded by a relatively satisfactory achievement
A tendency towards specific procrastination at home and
at school.
Distractibility and a tendency to give up easily.
A gap between intention to perform and performance
was viewed as so wide it elicited the label “crap gap.”
  When confronted by the parents of a 7th grader who
 were concerned about their child’s underachievement
  (her assignments were sloppy, work incomplete, she
didn’t seem to care about schoolwork, and almost never
         brought work home) the teacher replied:
    “Average is average. Kids have a right to be

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