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Learned Helplessness, Test Anxiety, and Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Analysis

Frank D. Fincham, Audrey Hokoda and Reliford Sanders, Jr.
Child Development
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 138-145
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131079
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131079
Page Count: 8
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Learned Helplessness, Test Anxiety, and Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Analysis
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Abstract

The stability of individual differences in test anxiety and learned helplessness over a 2-year period and their relation to concurrent and future school achievement were examined. Several issues regarding the assessment of learned helplessness are also addressed. 82 children were administered measures of test anxiety and helplessness in the third grade and again in the fifth grade. Teachers also provided reports of learned helpless and mastery-oriented behaviors at these 2 grade levels. It was found that: (a) both self-report and teacher-report measures of helplessness were stable over the 2-year period; (b) helplessness in the third grade was related to achievement test scores in the fifth grade; and (c) teacher reports may be a viable means of identifying helplessness. These findings are discussed in terms of cognitive developmental changes in children's understanding of effort and ability, and their implications for the assessment of learned helplessness are outlined.

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