Academic attribution of secondary students: Gender, year level and achievement level

Magdalena Mo Ching Mok, Kerry John Kennedy, Phillip John Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This study is concerned with the attribution of secondary students. Causal interpretations for academic success and failure were analysed to investigate the effect of gender, year level and achievement level on students' academic attributions in Hong Kong, a Confucian Heritage Culture. The sample for the study comprised 14,846 students currently enrolled in Secondary 1 to Secondary 6 in Hong Kong. Multivariate analyses of variance found significant gender differences in ascriptions to ability, effort and strategy use reasons for school performance of students who shared a common cultural background. These effects remained after controlling for achievement and year levels. Chinese females in this sample were more inclined than Chinese males to explain their academic failure in terms of their lack of ability and strategy use. Females were also more likely to explain their academic success in terms of their effort or strategy use. Nevertheless, the study found secondary students of both genders and across all achievement and year levels, consistently ascribed to effort as the most important reason for academic outcomes. Secondary 4 students were significantly more inclined than students of lower levels to attribute their academic outcomes to effort and strategy use. Cultural influences are discussed in interpreting the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Achievement level
  • Attribution
  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Hong Kong
  • Secondary students
  • Year level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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