Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

Le dimensioni motivazionali dell’apprendimento scolastico: uno studio correlazionale sul concetto di sé e gli stili di attribuzione

Andrea Caputo


The paper proposes a correlational study on 18436 seventh grade students from lower secondary schools of nine Italian regions, which explores some motivational patterns affecting learning. In detail, it has two research aims: (1) to examine differences by gender and regularity of grade attendance in Math and Reading self-concept and in causal attributions to explain success or failure in learning situations; (2) to test the association between Math/Reading self-concept and causal attributions, not depending on gender and regularity of grade attendance. Data were collected by the «Student Background Questionnaire» implemented by the National Evaluation Service. With regard to the first research aim, results highlight that male students are characterized by higher Math self-concept and external, stable and uncontrollable attributions to explain success or failure; instead, female students show higher Reading self-concept and effort as causal attribution to explain their academic success. In addition, repeaters overall show lower academic self-concept and less functional attributions. With regard to the second research aim, results confirm the strong association between self-concept and attributions even controlling for gender and regularity of grade attendance. The present study contributes to the development of research on motivational patterns of learning and to the detection of potential protective or risk factors affecting school success or failure.


Academic self-concept; Causal attributions; Correlational study; Regularity of grade attendance; School learning; Apprendimento scolastico; Attribuzioni causali; Concetto di sé scolastico; Regolarità negli studi; Studio correlazionale

Full Text:



Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P., & Teasdale, I. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 49-59.

Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Dauber, S. L. (2003). On the success of failure: A reassessment of the effects of retention in the primary grades (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Arkin, R. M., & Baumgardner, A. H. (1985). Self-handicapping. In J. H. Harvey & G. W. Weary (Eds.), Attribution: Basic issues and applications (pp. 169-202). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Arkin, R. M., Appleman, A. J., & Burger, J. M. (1980). Social anxiety, self-presentation, and the self-serving bias in causal attribution. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 23-35.

Atkinson, J. W. (1974). Motivation and achievement. Washington, DC: V. H. Winston and Sons.

Atkinson, J. W. (1965). An introduction to motivation. New York: American Book-Van Nostrand-Reinhold.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Banks, M., & Woolfson, L. (2008). Why do students think they fail? The relationship between attributions and academic self-perceptions. British Journal of Special Education, 35(1), 49-56.

Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D. (2003). Does high self-esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness, or healthier lifestyles? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 1-44.

Biasi, V. (2010). Processi affettivi e dinamiche della conoscenza. Milano: Guerini.

Bonaiuto, P. (1967). La fenomenologia delle motivazioni nel ≪design≫ per l’età evolutiva. Rassegna di Psicologia Generale e Clinica, 8, 36-65.

Boruchovitch, E. (2004). A study of causal attributions for success and failure in mathematics among Brazilian students. Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 38(1), 53-60.

Burgner, D., & Hewstone, M. (1993). Young children’s causal attributions for success and failure: ≪Self-enhancing≫ boys and ≪self-derogating≫ girls. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11, 125-129.

Chan, L. K. S. (1994). Relationship of motivation, strategic learning, and reading achievement in grades 5, 7 and 9. Journal of Experimental Education, 62(3), 235-245.

Clayton-Jones, L., Rodwell, K., Skehan, J., Archer, J., Chan, L., & Moore, P. (1992). Approaches to learning, attributions, goal orientations and achievement: A developmental perspective. Paper presented at the AARE/NZARE Joint Conference, Geelong, VI.

Connell, J. P., Spencer, M. B., & Aber, J. L. (1994). Educational risk and resilience in African American Youth: Context, self, and action outcomes in school. Child Development, 65, 493-506.

Cornoldi, C., Gardinale, M., Masi, A., & Petteno, L. (1996). Impulsività e autocontrollo. Trento: Erickson.

Covington, M. V. (1998). The will to learn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crandall, V. C. (1969). Sex differences in expectancy of intellectual and academic reinforcement. In C. P. Smith (Ed.), Achievement-related motives in children (pp. 11-45). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

DCSF (2007). Gender and education: The evidence on pupils in England. London: DCSF.

Deaux, K. (1976). Sex: A perspective on the attribution process. In J. H. Harvey, W. J. Ickes, & R. F. Kidd (Eds.), New directions in attribution research, Vol. 1 (pp. 335-352). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Denissen, J. J. A., Zarrett, N. R., & Eccles, J. S. (2007). I like to do it, I’m able, and I know I am: Longitudinal couplings between domain-specific achievement, self-concept, and interest. Child Development, 78, 430-447.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Is math a gift? Beliefs that put females at risk. In S. J. Ceci & W. M. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence (pp. 47-55). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Dweck, C. S., & Bush, E. S. (1976). Sex differences in learned helplessness: (I) Differential debilitation with peer and adult evaluators. Developmental Psychology, 12, 147-156.

Eccles, J. S. (2007). Where are all the women? Gender differences in participation in physical science and engineering. In S. J. Ceci & W. M. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence (pp. 199-210). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Fennema, E., & Sherman, J. (1978). Sex-related differences in mathematics achievement and related factors: A further study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 9, 189-203.

Fontayne, P., Martin-Krumm, C., Buton, F., & Heuze, J. P. (2003). Validation francaise de la version revisee de l’echelle de mesure des attributions causales (CDS II). Les Cahiers Internationaux de Psychologie Sociale, 58, 59-72.

Forsterling, F., & Binser, M. J. (2002). Depression, school performance, and the veridicality of perceived grades and causal attributions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(10), 1441-1449.

Fredericks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2002). Children’s competence and value beliefs from childhood through adolescence: Growth trajectories in two male-sextyped domains. Developmental Psychology, 38, 519-533.

Frome, P. M., Alfeld, C. J., Eccles, J. S., & Barber, B. L. (2006). Why don’t they want a male-dominated job? An investigation of young women who changed their occupational aspirations. Educational Research and Evaluation, 12, 359-372.

Georgiou, S. (1999). Achievement attributions of sixth grade children and their parents. Educational Psychology, 19, 399-412.

Guiso, L., Monte, F., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2008). Culture, gender, and math. Science, 320, 1164-1165.

Hair, E., & Graziano, W. G. (2003). Self-esteem, personality and achievement in high school: A prospective longitudinal study in Texas. Journal of Personality, 71, 971-994.

Haugen, R., & Lund, T. (2002). Self-concept, attributional style and depression. Educational Psychology, 22(3), 305-315.

Heller, K. A., & Parsons, J. E. (1981). Sex differences in teachers’ evaluative feedback and students’ expectancies for success in mathematics. Child Development, 52, 1015-1019.

Herbert, J., & Stipek, D. T. (2005). The emergence of gender differences in children’s perceptions of their academic competence. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 276-295.

Heyman, G. D., & Legare, C. H. (2004). Children’s beliefs about gender differences in the academic and social domains. Sex Roles, 50, 227-239.

Hirschy, A., & Morris, J. (2002). Individual differences in attributional style: The relational influence of self-efficacy, self-esteem, and sex role identity. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 183-196.

Hoppe, F. (1930). Untersuchungen zur Handlungs- und Affektpsychologie. Erfolg und Misserfolg [Psychological studies of action and affect. Success and failure]. Psychologische Forschung, 14, 1-63.

Ickes, W. J., Layden, M. A. (1978). Attribution styles. In J. H. Harvey, W. J. Ickes, & R. F. Kidd (Eds.), New directions in attribution research, Vol. 2 (pp. 119-152). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Inglehart, M. R., Markus, H., & Brown, D. R. (1989). The effects of possible selves on academic achievement: A panel study. In J. P. Forgas & J. M. Innes (Eds.), Recent advances in social psychology: An international perspective (pp. 469-477). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Johnson, D. S. (1981). Naturally acquired learned helplessness: The relationship of school failure to achievement behavior, attributions, and self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 174-180.

Kernis, M. H., Whisenhunt, C. R., Waschull, S. B., Greenier, K. D., Berry, A. J., Herlocker, C. E., & Anderson, C. A. (1998). Multiple facets of selfesteem and their relations to depressive symptoms. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(6), 657-668.

Killen, M., Margie, N. G., & Sinno, S. (2006). Morality in the context of intergroup relationships. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of moral development (pp. 155-183). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Liben, L. S., Bigler, R. S., & Krogh, H. R. (2001). Pink and blue collar jobs: Children’s judgments of job status and job aspirations in relation to sex of worker. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 79, 346-363.

Lightbody, P., Siann, G., Stocks, R., & Walsh, D. (1996). Motivation and attribution at secondary school: The role of gender. Educational Studies, 22, 13-25.

Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Malcom, S., Teich, A. H., Jesse, J. K., Campbell, L. A., Babco, E. L., & Bell, N. E. (2005). Preparing women and minorities for the IT workforce: The role of non- traditional educational pathways. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Marini, F. (1990). Successo e insuccesso nello studio. FrancoAngeli: Milano.

Marsh, H. W. (2007). Self-concept theory, measurement and research into practice: The role of self-concept in educational psychology. Leicester, UK: British Psychological Society.

Marsh, H. W., Byrne, B. M., & Shavelson, R. J. (1988). A multifaceted academic self-concept: Its hierarchical structure and its relation to academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 366-380.

Marsh, H. W., Byrne, B. M., & Yeung, A. S. (1999). Causal ordering of academic self-concept and achievement: Reanalysis of a pioneering study and revised recommendations. Educational Psychologist, 34, 155-167.

Marsh, H. W., Cairns, L., Relich, J., Barnes, J., & Debus, R. L. (1984). The relationship between dimensions of self-attribution and dimensions of self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 3-32.

Marsh, H. W., & Craven, R. G. (2006). Reciprocal effects of self-concept and performance from a multidimensional perspective. Beyond seductive pleasure and unidimensional perspectives. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(2), 133-163.

Marsh, H. W., & Hattie, J. (1996). Theoretical perspectives on the structure of selfconcept. In B. A. Bracken (Ed.), Handbook of self-concept (pp. 38-90). New York: Wiley.

Marsh, H. W., & O’Mara, A. (2008). Reciprocal effects between academic self-concept, self esteem, achievement, and attainment over seven adolescent years: Unidimensional and multidimensional perspectives of self-concept. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 542-552.

Marsh, H. W., & Scalas, L. F. (2010). Self-concept and learning: Reciprocal effects model between academic self-concept and academic achievement. In B. McGaw, E. Baker, & P. P. Peterson (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (pp. 660-667). New York: Elsevier.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row.

McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J. W., Clark, R. A., & Lowell, E. L. (1953). The achievement motive. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Meleddu, M., & Scalas, L. F. (2009). Rendimento scolastico, fattori della personalità, processi motivazionali e sistema del se: una rassegna sullo sviluppo degli studi. Giornale di Psicologia, 3, 297-318.

Midgley, C., Arunkumar, R., & Urdan, T. C. (1997). Se vado male a scuola ho una scusa: le strategie di autosabotaggio. Difficoltà di Apprendimento, 3, 243-257.

Moe, A., & De Beni, R. (2002). Stile attributivo, motivazione ad apprendere ed atteggiamento strategico. Una rassegna. Psicologia Clinica dello Sviluppo, 4, 5-35.

Mullis, I. V., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Olson, J. F. (2008). Timss 2007: International Mathematics Report. Findings from IEA’s trends in international mathematics and science study at the fourth and eighth grades. Boston: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center.

National Science Foundation (2003). New formulas for America’s workforce: Girls in science and engineering. Washington, DC: Author.

Nelson, J., & Manset-Williamson, G. (2006). The impact of explicit self-regulatory reading comprehension strategy instruction on the reading-specific selfefficacy, attributions and affect of students with reading disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 29, 213-230.

Newcombe, N. S. (2007). Taking science seriously: Straight thinking about sex differences. In S. J. Ceci & W. Williams (Eds.), Why aren’t more women in science? Top researchers debate the evidence (pp. 69-77). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Nieuwenhuizen, A. (2001). Young Australians reading: From keen to reluctant readers (YAR). Melbourne: Australian Centre for Youth Literature.

Okolo, C. (1992). The effects of computer-based attribution retraining on the attributions, persistence, and mathematics computation of students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(5), 327-334.

Parsons, J. E., & Ruble, D. N. (1977). The development of achievement-related expectancies. Child Development, 48, 1075-1079.

Powers, S., & Wagner, M. (1984). Attributions for school achievement of middle school students. Journal of Early Adolescence, 4, 215-222.

Schmeck, R. M. (1988). Learning strategies and learning styles. New York - London: Plenum Press.

Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy and academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26, 207-231.

Setencich, J. (1994). The impact of early grade retention on the academic achievement and self-esteem of seventh and eighth grade students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, Seattle, WA.

Skinner, E. A., Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., & Connell, J. P. (1998). Individual differences and the development of perceived control. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, n.s. 254, 6(2-3), 1-220.

Smith, L., Sinclair, K. E., & Chapman, E. S. (2002). Students’ goals, self-efficacy, self-handicapping, and negative affective responses: An Australian senior school student study. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 471-485.

Steele, J. (2003). Children’s gender stereotypes about math: The role of stereotype stratification. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 2587-2606.

Stipek, D., & Gralinski, H. (1991). Gender differences in children’s achievementrelated beliefs and emotional responses to success and failure in mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 361-371.

Tse, L. (2000). Student perceptions of foreign language study: A qualitative analysis of foreign language autobiographies. The Modern Language Journal, 84, 69-84.

Twist, L., Schagen, I., & Hodgson, C. (2007). Readers and reading: The national Report for England 2006. PIRLS: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. Slough: NFER.

Van Overwalle, F., & De Metsenaere, M. (1990). The effect of attribution-based intervention and study strategy training on academic achievement in college freshmen. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 60, 299-311.

Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological Review, 92, 548-573.

Weiner, B., Frieze, I. H., Kukla, A., Reed, L., Rest, S., & Rosembaum, R. M. (1971). Perceiving the causes of success and failure. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.

Weiner, B., Russel, D., & Lerman, D. (1979). The cognition-emotion process in achievement-related contexts. Journal of Personality an Social Psychology, 37, 1211-1220.

Wolleat, P. L., Pedro, J. D., Becker, A. D., & Fennema, E. (1980). Sex differences in high school students’ causal attributions of performance in mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 11, 356-366.

Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). A social cognitive view of self-regulated academic learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 329-339.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2015-012-capu


Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Giuditta Alessandrini - Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi