Learned Helplessness and Learning Goals: Role played in School Refusal. A Study on Italian Students.

Luana Sorrenti, Pina Filippello, Susanna Orecchio, Caterina Buzzai


Literature on school refusal has shown a link between school refusal and poor school performance. However, there has been little investigation into the individual underlying factors, and specifically factors directly related to the learning process, such as the learning goals of students and their expectations of success and/or failure. The main purpose of the present study is to investigate the influence of Learned Helplessness (LH) and learning goals on school refusal. We hypothesized that LH and learning goals exert a unique role in predicting school refusal above and beyond the roles of academic achievement, age, and gender. The sample consisted of 201 Italian students with an average age of 11.93, with both low (57.2 % of students) and high (42.8 %) academic achievement. School refusal, LH, and learning goals were measured by means of questionnaires. The results confirm the hypothesis of this study; in fact, we found that learning goals and, above all, LH play a more predictive role of school refusal than academic achievement. These results extend previous studies on school refusal and, for the first time, they provide additional knowledge about this problem, analyzing the relationship between school refusal, learning goals, and LH, still neglected in the literature. Implications on the psychological well-being of students are discussed.


School refusal; Learned Helplessness; Learning goals; Academic achievement; Italian students

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.6092/2282-1619/2016.4.1235


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