Defining the Problem. Learned helplessness is a psychological state of a human being or an animal wherein it has learned to believe that it is helpless in a particular situation, thus further believing that it has no control over the situation. This results to doing no action, since the person believes that there is nothing he can do and whatever it does is useless or futile. Applying this in the context of education, learned helplessness could lead to low educational achievements of students.
Students who adopt a learned helplessness orientation often suffer motivational and cognitive insufficiency, and even failure, when it comes to their performance. In order to address this problem, the paper aims to develop a cognitive intervention program based primarily on Carol Dweck’s self theories as well as Seligman’s reformulated theory of learned helplessness. The target populations. The group of people that this intervention proposal wishes to address are the students, as young those having their primary education.
Learned helplessness could develop from any age group, and people can adapt to this orientation even at a very young age. If we address those who are just in their primary education, we could successfully intervene and keep them from developing a learned helplessness orientation. If we could address the problem at an early stage, then there is higher chance of fully coping with the learned helplessness orientation. How it will be done. The first step in addressing the problem of learned helplessness is through information. But who are the ones needing the information?
Usually, parents, guardians, and even teachers are unaware that giving negative reinforcements and punishments could lead to the development of learned helplessness. Basing on B. F. Skinner’s conditioning and behaviourism, children may take these failures as something inevitable, something which could hinder their full performance and cooperation. Seligman and Dweck’s model of learned helplessness are based on cognitive theories, such as Bandura’s social cognitive theory (Human Intelligence, 2007). Because of this, the problem should be addressed through cognitive interventions such as attributional retraining.
This includes restructuring of parental and teacher interventions, in order for the students to develop mastery-oriented attributions. This could greatly reduce learned helplessness, which would entail valuing learning over the appearance of smartness. This further challenge the children which would result to increased effort exerted, thus making them learn from their mistakes, instead of imposing what is right and what is wrong. The reason for possible success. This intervention approach will work since it addresses younger audience.
They have more room for improvement, as compared to those who are older. Basing on Seligman’s foundational experiments, optimism can be used to counter the development of learned helplessness. If optimism can be instilled in the audience that we have to address, then it is highly possible that we can successfully intervene with the learned helplessness orientation. By also addressing the parents and the educators as important factors in the intervention approach, we are able to take care of the ones which could further reinforce the learned helplessness orientation.
Intervention effectiveness. Empirically testing the intervention approach, the effectiveness of the intervention would depend on how other factors react or interact. If the parents and teachers are cooperative, then the approach is effective. The students should also be able to fully cooperate, with all the efforts being done towards them.
Reference: Human Intelligence. (2007). Carol S. Dweck. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from http://www. indiana. edu/~intell/dweck. shtml