"What do you mean my grade is not an A?": an investigation of academic entitlement, causal attributions, and self-regulation in college students
Achacoso, Michelle Valleau
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This study examined the relationship between academic entitlement, causal attributions and academic self-regulation. Researchers have conceptualized entitlement as the relationship between a person and an outcome that an individual assumes should occur (Lerner, 1987; Singer, 1987). Entitlement has the sense of moral imperative that one ought to receive something (Major, 1994). All individuals have entitlement beliefs, most of which come from and are generally shared by the culture (Lerner, 1987). Because all individuals have entitlement attitudes, it is important to understand how these attitudes function in an academic context. Academic achievement researchers have established that the process of selfregulation is linked to academic success (Zimmerman & Risemberg, 1997). This study examined two central questions: 1) How is an attitude of entitlement toward a grade related to a student’s academic self-regulation?; and 2) How is an attitude of entitlement related to a student’s formation of causal attributions? Participants were 312 college students who completed a series of self-report measures on academic entitlement, exaggerated deservingness, self-regulated learning, causal attributions, and various demographic items during the fall of 2001. Eight participants also took part in a 45-minute interview. Confirmatory factor analyses supported a two-factor model of academic entitlement consisting of beliefs and actions. Entitlement beliefs and actions were positively related to external attributions and negatively related to internal attributions. Pearson correlation methods revealed that entitlement beliefs were negatively related to the following measures of self-regulation: use of metacognitive strategies, use of time and study environment, and effort regulation. Entitlement actions were found to be positively related to the following: use of rehearsal and elaboration strategies, critical thinking, use of metacognitive strategies, use of time and study environment, and peer learning. Based on regression analyses, scores on a superiority scale explained more variance in entitlement beliefs and actions than scores on effort regulation scale. Qualitative analyses revealed that participants who scored higher on entitlement subscales appeared to be more politically savvy and assumed that they had more control in influencing the change of a grade. Implications for research and practice are discussed.