Learned Helpless to Mastery Orientation Transition Process
Green, Lucinda R.
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Background: Individuals who explain their success and failure experience in the Mastery Oriented attributional pattern of ability and sufficient or insufficient effort, experience pride in their successes, feel they can repeat successful experiences, see a relationship between outcome and effort, and are willing to try achievement tasks again. Individuals who explain their success and failure experience in the Learned Helpless attributional pattern attribute success to luck and ease of task, and failure to inability, experiencing shame in both their success and failure experiences. They feel they cannot repeat success experiences or correct failure experiences. They do not see a relationship between outcome and effort; and to avoid negative emotional consequences, they are not willing to try achievement tasks again. Because it is desirable to correct the debilitating consequence of lack of persistence and avoideance, the researcher looked at the causal factors that bring about a change in an individual from a state of Learned Helplessness to a state of Mastery Orientation by studying individuals who have experienced this change without experiencing intentional retraining strategies. Methodology: In order to explore and/or discover the full breadth of the LH to MO change phenomena, the researcher chose to explore this change through the recollections of individuals revisiting experiences that occurred as a consequence of simply going about their daily lives. The change phenomena, whatever they would eventually be found to be, were an enmeshed part of each participant's life story. Therefore, the researcher chose to use the Naturalistic research methodology that provides for observation in the natural setting from which the data arises to create joint construction of reality. Findings: Three patterns were found to be present across the participants: Pattern One: Accepting Person. Pattern Two: Critical Consciousness-Raising Event. Pattern Three: Sense of Responsibility. Conclusions: Based on the findings it becomes evident that it is wise for advisors and professors in college settings to reevaluate their attitudes toward students and to recognize the power of mutually respectful relationships in which students can feel safe and growth can occur. It would a1so be wise to set up classroom systems in which students can experience acceptance from their peers, learn to work cooperatively in noncompetitive environments, and have a place to practice new skills and ideas. It would also seem important to become involved in student's crisis circumstances and use them to teach responsibility and offer support and caring.
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