Improving Implicit Beliefs and Expectations in Academic Achievement for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities

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Kelly Bow Tsin Chang


motivation, academic achievement, students with disabilities, implicit beliefs


In this article, the author introduces the sociocognitive theory of implicit theories of intelligence (developed by Carol S. Dweck and her colleagues) to the field of rehabilitation, and analyzes disability issues in postsecondary academic achievement within this framework.  This sociocognitive theory highlights the utility of the social model of disability.  People hold two types of implicit beliefs about intelligence.  An entity belief can lead to helplessness and negative self-concepts in the face of failure, because it focuses on labels and stable traits.  An incremental belief leads to greater resilience in the face of failure by focusing on strategy and effort rather than on stable traits.  The value of promoting incremental beliefs about intelligence in youth with disabilities is discussed in light of self-determination training, perception of opportunity, and transition to postsecondary education.  Recommendations are presented for facilitating incremental beliefs in students with disabilities and improving the probability of academic success.

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