Role of academic attribution and academic self-concept in academic achievement: A path analysis

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Research

First Committee Member

Brooks Applegate, Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Richard Williams, Committee Member


Attribution theory postulates: attributing success to ability will not cause greater task persistence and thus should not affect academic achievement. Moreover, attributing success to effort will cause increased task persistence thus resulting in greater achievement. An alternative model states that achievement affects self-concept which in turn affects a person's attributions. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the relations among attributions, self-concept, and achievement. Three causal models were examined: Model I posited that ability and effort attributions in reading and mathematics affect persistence and self-concept, which in turn affect achievement with school ability controlled; Model II for Reading and Model II for Mathematics examined those same effects for reading and mathematics separately; Model III, the alternative model, posited that the causal ordering among attribution, self-concept, and achievement was from achievement to self-concept to attributions.Two hundred twenty-nine sixth-grade students from 10 private schools in Dade County participated in this study. Attributions, ability level, persistence, self-concept, and achievement were measured by the Survey of Achievement Responsibility, the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, the Word Building Test, the Self-Description Questionnaire, and the Stanford Achievement Test, respectively.Due to the large number of parameters, Model I failed to receive support from the data. However, the fit indices for Model II (reading and mathematics) indicated acceptable fits, although the failure-attribution variables in those models failed to show significant effects. After the failure-attribution variables were eliminated, the resulting models evidenced a better fit and were more parsimonious than the original models. Model III failed to receive support from the data and thus the two revised models were accepted as the final models.The principal findings were: (1) for mathematics, attributing success to effort resulted in an equivalent degree of persistence as attributing success to ability; (2) attributing success to ability had greater effect on self-concept than attributing success to effort; (3) the causal ordering was established from attribution to self-concept to achievement, not from achievement to self-concept to attributions as the alternative model indicated. Recommendations are offered to practitioners and researchers.


Education, Tests and Measurements; Education, Educational Psychology; Psychology, Psychometrics

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