Dotty Andragogy

The amusing musings of an adult educator in the corporate training world.

Visible Learning and Attribution Theory

on October 22, 2014

Mindframe #2 is my favourite: “The success and failure of my students learning is about what I do or don’t do. I am a change agent.”

This mindframe ties in to another of my favourite topics: attribution theory. The impact that teachers make in how we communicate attributions to our learners is often overlooked. As educators, we should direct attribution of failure to controllable, unstable factors rather than uncontrollable stable factors.

For example, when teachers communicate to students that failures are due to the use of inappropriate strategies or due to inappropriate effort, students are likely to be motivated to try harder or to use more appropriate strategies in the future.

Likewise for ourselves. If a class fails badly at an assignment, one teacher might justify that “well, this group wasn’t engaged, they didn’t put in enough effort”, whereas another teacher might reflect “I didn’t provide clear directions and set clear expectations”. The first statement takes an external locus of control (i.e. there wasn’t anything I could do, that was their issue), whereas the latter mindset takes ownership of the cause, and triggers us to take action on our behaviours that can be altered for a better outcome in the future.

Two of my favourite topics: visible learning and attribution theory, go together so well. Like gin martinis and pickled onions, another of my favs.


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