Learned Helplessness – Great Article by Carmen Reyes

frustrated-studentLearned helplessness is the belief that our own behavior does not influence what happens next; that is, behavior does not control outcomes or results. For example, when a student believes that she is in charge of the outcome, she may think, “If I study hard for this test, I’ll get a good grade.” On the contrary, a learned helpless student thinks, “No matter how hard I study for this test, I’ll always get a bad grade.” In school, learned helplessness relates to poor grades and underachievement, and to behavior difficulties. Students who experience repeated school failure are particularly prone to develop a learned helpless response style. Because of repeated academic failure, these students begin to doubt their own abilities, leading them to doubt that they can do anything to overcome their school difficulties. Consequently, they decrease their achievement efforts, particularly when faced with difficult materials, which leads to more school failure. This pattern of giving up when facing difficult tasks reinforces the child’s belief that he or she cannot overcome his or her academic difficulties.

Learned helplessness seems to contribute to the school failure experienced by many students with a learning disability. In a never-ending cycle, children with a learning disability frequently experience school difficulties over an extended period, and across a variety of tasks, school settings, and teachers, which in turn reinforces the child’s feeling of being helpless.

Characteristics of Learned Helpless Students

Some characteristics of learned helpless children are:

1. Low motivation to learn, and diminished aspirations to succeed in school.

2. Low outcome expectations; that is, they believe that, no matter what they do in school, the outcome will always be negative (e.g. bad grades). In addition, they believe that they are powerless to prevent or overcome a negative outcome.

3. Lack of perceived control over their own behavior and the environmental events; one’s own actions cannot lead to success.

4. Lack of confidence in their skills and abilities (low self-efficacy expectations). These children believe that their school difficulties are caused by their own lack of ability and low intelligence, even when they have adequate ability and normal intelligence. They are convinced that they are unable to perform the required actions to achieve a positive outcome.

5. They underestimate their performance when they do well in school, attributing success to luck or chance, e.g., “I was lucky that this test was easy.”

6. They generalize from one failure situation or experience to other situations where control is possible. Because they expect failure all the time, regardless of their real skills and abilities, they underperform all the time.

7. They focus on what they cannot do, rather than focusing on their strengths and skills.

8. Because they feel incapable of implementing the necessary courses of action, they develop passivity and their school performance deteriorates.

Oklahoma Career Tech Conference

I’m looking forward to presenting No Teacher Left Behind NTLB at the 2012 Oklahoma Career Tech Conference in Tulsa. Times: Monday 1:30 -3:00, 3:30-4:00. Tuesday 8:30-9:30, 12:15-1:15, 1:45 -2:45. Get ready to learn about learning styles, brain functions, generational leadership in the classroom, ways to motivated students, classroom management and more.
Bryan Fiese

Texas Career & Education Conference

July 18-20, 2011 Presenter Bryan Fiese

Arkansas Alternative Conference June 12, 2011

Arkansas Alternative Conference- Presenter Bryan Fiese. Keynote and breakout sessions. No Teacher Left Behind