A longitudinal study of the domain-generality of African American students’ causal attributions for academic success.

Students’ causal attributions about the reasons underlying their academic successes are important because of the influence of those attributions on academic motivation. We investigated whether students’ success attributions tend to be similar across academic subjects versus specific to academic domain, and whether domain-generality or specificity changes with development. African American students (N = 565) reported their causal attributions for math, science, and English successes longitudinally from elementary to high school. Structural equation modeling showed that individual differences in students’ tendencies to attribute successes to ability, effort, or their teachers were domain-general, not differing across academic content areas. Results did not differ by sex. The lack of domain-specificity in attributions suggests that when African American students consider what factors influence their school performance, they view academic outcomes as a single achievement domain rather than differentiating among school subjects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)