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Title:Students' conceptions of their intelligence: Impact on academic course choice
Author(s):Boyum, Lisa Ann
Advisor(s):Dweck, Carol S.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Achievement behaviors
Self-assessment of intelligence
Abstract:A major issue in education concerns the reluctance of many highly able girls to pursue advanced mathematics courses and math related careers. Research has tended to emphasize sex differences in ability or differences in the amount of encouragement received from parents and teducators which may result in discouraging girls from mathematics. The present study follows from research demonstrating that differences in motivational patterns may lead to differences in achievement behaviors (eg. Dweck, 1984), It was hypothesized that perceptions about one's own intelligence may be more influential than actual ability, and that these perceptions will be reflected in the interest expressed in taking advanced math courses, considered by aost students to be highly indicative of intelligence. Questionnaires were administered to 148 tenth-grade students in order to examine their beliefs about the controllability and stability of their intelligence; estimates of their past, current and future intelligence in math and English; comfort with evaluation; and their interest in pursuing advanced math courses in the future. The data were analyzed by sex and by academic track. The advanced-track students were then divided by sex and by perceived future intelligence in math (eg. expectation that their intelligence would increase, remain the same, or decrease over time). Differing patterns of responses were found to be associated with these expectations, including differences in the students' interest in pursuing advanced math. The perception of increasing ability appears adaptive for both sexes, as is the stable-ability profile for the boys, and these students are very interested in taking advanced math. The decreasing-ability profile is maladaptive for both sexes, as is the stable-ability profile for the girls. These students express more discomfort with evaluation and plan to take little math. Support was found for the two-dimensional control/variability conception of intelligence, and ratings on these dimensions varied in consistent patterns across groups. Implications for educational policy and future research are discussed.
Issue Date:1988-05
Rights Information:Copyright 1988 Lisa Ann Boyum
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-02-19

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