Technology, attributions, and emotions in post-secondary education: An application of Weiner’s attribution theory to academic computing problems

Rebecca Maymon, Nathan C. Hall, Thomas Goetz, Andrew Chiarella, Sonia Rahimi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As technology becomes increasingly integrated with education, research on the relationships between students’ computing-related emotions and motivation following technological difficulties is critical to improving learning experiences. Following from Weiner’s (2010) attribution theory of achievement motivation, the present research examined relationships between causal attributions and emotions concerning academic computing difficulties in two studies. Study samples consisted of North American university students enrolled in both traditional and online universities (total N = 559) who responded to either hypothetical scenarios or experimental manipulations involving technological challenges experienced in academic settings. Findings from Study 1 showed stable and external attributions to be emotionally maladaptive (more helplessness, boredom, guilt), particularly in response to unexpected computing problems. Additionally, Study 2 found stable attributions for unexpected problems to predict more anxiety for traditional students, with both external and personally controllable attributions for minor problems proving emotionally beneficial for students in online degree programs (more hope, less anxiety). Overall, hypothesized negative effects of stable attributions were observed across both studies, with mixed results for personally controllable attributions and unanticipated emotional benefits of external attributions for academic computing problems warranting further study.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberY
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar. 2018

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