Sunday, April 09, 2006

Beyond IQ Byte #1 - overview of academic ability conception

As promised earlier today, below is a brief overview of the construct of academic ability conception. [The text is from an unpublished manuscript I worked on during the past few years.]
  • Ability conception is a person’s beliefs, self-evaluation, and self-awareness regarding their academic-related skills and abilities.
Contemporary goal setting theory suggests that the development of adaptive or maladaptive
learning patterns, vis-à-vis the adoption of different academic goal orientations, may be mediated by a student’s perception and beliefs about their personal skills and abilities (Kaplan & Midgley, 1997). Academic ability conception is an individual’s beliefs and self- evaluation regarding the nature of their academic-related skills and abilities. This includes the student’s personal view on how their skills and abilities operate or work (Dweck, 2002; Kaplan & Midgley, 1997; Perkins et al., 2000).

Although related to academic self-efficacy, academic ability conception is concerned with the student’s personal beliefs about the nature and level of their academic competence. Academic self-efficacy focuses on the student’s conviction or belief that they can succeed at a given academic task. Ability conception is hypothesized to play an important role in the development of academic motivation. Once students “have developed a clear and coherent understanding of ability, the particular conception of ability they adopt will determine a great deal about their motivational patterns. It will influence such things as whether they seek and enjoy challenges and how resilient they are in the face of setbacks” (Dweck, 2002, p. 59).

Ability conception research is related to research on "thinking dispositions" (Perkins et al., 2000), particularly the distinction between individuals who hold "entity" versus "incremental" theories of intelligence. See prior post for more information regarding this thinking disposition.

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