Fear of Failure Can Affect Student’s Motivation and Attitude to Learn, Study


Fear of failure at school can negatively affect a student's motivation and attitude to learn, according to a study led by the Bilkent University (Turkey).

For the study, the researchers asked more than 1,000 students (606 high school student and 435 university students) to complete questionnaires relating to their motivation to learn and strategies employed.

The researchers found that those who had developed a fear of failure at an early age were more likely to adopt goals (like master the material presented in this class or to avoid doing worse than other students') to validate their ego rather than for their own personal interest and development.

These students were also less likely to use effective learning strategies and more likely to cheat.

"These findings suggest two important points for children's optimal learning. First, teachers and parents have to be more sensitive on how they evaluate young children's competence. Very high standards and criticism result in increased levels of fear of failure," Dr. Michou from Bilkent University said in a press release.

"Second, teachers and parents have to be more sensitive to the rational they provide to children to adopt a goal or engage in an activity. Suggesting children to improve their skills for their own enjoyment and development is much more beneficial than suggesting them to improve their skills in order to prove themselves. Future research would benefit from examining these ideas through longitudinal and experimental studies."

The study was also collaborated by Dr. Vansteenkiste (Ghent University, Belgium), Dr. Mouratidis (Hacettepe University, Turkey) and Dr. Lens (University of Leuven, Belgium).

The finding is published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology.

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