African American Boys' and Girls' Causal Attributions about Math, English, and Science are Shaped by Gender Stereotypes, Influence Classroom Engagement, and Change across the High School Years Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Swinton, Akilah D.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This doctoral dissertation investigates developmental, gender, and academic domain differences in causal attributions; the influence of perceptions of gender group competence on attributions; and the impact of attributions on classroom engagement in a sample of African American adolescents (N = 381). Two studies were conducted using attribution theory as the guiding framework. The first study utilized a variable-centered approach to assess attributions, while the second study utilized a person-centered clustering approach. Data for the study were drawn from the Youth Identity Project, a longitudinal project with measurement waves in Grades 5, 7 and 10. In the first study, results from the latent curve models accounting for the influence of gender and achievement indicated that there was no significant decline over time in ability attributions. There were some gender-stereotypic differences in the intercepts of math and science attributions, with boys having more adaptive math and science ability attributions than girls in Grades 7 and 10. Results from the path models demonstrated that Grade 7 math and science ability attributions influenced domain-specific classroom engagement in Grade 10, while Grade 7 English ability attributions were not related to Grade 10 English engagement. Lastly, accounting for domain-specific achievement, seventh grade boys' perception of the competence of boys in math and science was related to their endorsement of ability in explaining math success and science failure. In addition, girls' perception of girls' math competence was negatively related to their math failure ability attributions. In the second study, results from the latent profile models indicated that at least two clusters of attributions emerged within each academic domain. The adaptive clusters were characterized by high levels of success ability and success effort attributions, and the maladaptive clusters were characterized by relatively low levels of success ability attributions and high levels of failure ability attributions. Significant gender differences for the math and English clusters emerged, with boys more likely to be in the adaptive math clusters in Grade 5 and Grade 7 and girls more likely to be in the adaptive English cluster in Grade 5. Higher classroom engagement in all domains was typically associated with membership in the adaptive clusters compared to the maladaptive clusters.
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  • In Copyright
  • " partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Psychology (Developmental Psychology)."
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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