Date of Award

Winter 2009

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Grant Cioffi


Adolescents attribute their school success to ability and effort to varying degrees. This study investigated how attributions vary with school achievement. Achievement was defined by the proxy of English class placement: Fundamental, Intermediate, Accelerated, Honors/AP. One hundred and fourteen 10th grade students from a New England high school responded to a survey instrument that used 5-point Likert scale items. Students rated their agreement with statements attributing success or failure to either the level of their ability or effort. These questions addressed academic success in English class, reading, and writing as well as in more general term. There were no significant differences in how the groups attributed success or failure to level of effort, nor did they differ in attributing success to ability. Significant differences were observed in student attributions of failure to insufficient ability. Students in the two lowest groups attributed failure to insufficient ability more strongly (Fundamental, M=10.73, Intermediate, M=10.22) than those in the highest two groups (Accelerated, M=8.75, Honors/AP, M=8.24). Implications for practice are discussed.