First Advisor

Randy Blazak

Term of Graduation

Spring 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Teacher-student relationships, Sex differences, Learning disabilities, Attribution (Social psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 105 pages)


Student characteristics, such as sex, race, and socioeconomic status, have been found to influence teachers' perceptions of students and their patterns of interaction with them in the classroom. Behavior and achievement also has been shown to influence a teacher's perceptions. When teachers have been asked for evaluative comments and their expectations for future performance of a student, they have stated ability and effort as their explanations. This study will use the principles of Weiner's attribution theory dealing with success and failure in order to examine teachers' attributional tendencies towards a hypothetical student.

This study intends to examine the degree to which a teacher's knowledge of the presence or absence of a learning disability, student's gender, and perceived ability and effort will influence (a) the level of reward or punishment given to a hypothetical student, (b) the amount of pity or anger the teacher feels, and (c) the expectations the teacher holds for the child's future failure.

Eighty subjects (52 females and 23 males) from Portland State University School of Education completed a survey asking them rate their responses to hypothetical male and female students with and without learning disabilities. An analysis of variance and a multiple regression were completed for each dependent variable. Mean responses were also calculated for each dependent variable crossed by the independent variables. It was found that whether or not the hypothetical student was male or female did not have significance upon the response the subjects gave. The variable that was found to have the most significance and explain the dependent variables the most was the amount of effort the hypothetical student was perceived as having. The results concerning effort are consistent with previous research showing that teachers' attributional tendencies are most influenced by the amount of effort a student is perceived as having.


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