Children's perceived contingency of teacher-administered reinforcements, locus of control, helplessness, and academic performance
The purpose of this study is to examine the reliability and validity of the Teacher Contingency Scale, an instrument designed to measure perceived contingency of reinforcement based on a contingency model of learning, and to examine the gender differences related to the measures generated by the scale. Subjects included 171 fifth grade students (67 males, 104 females). Students were administered the Teacher Contingency Scale and an instrument designed to measure locus of control. The contingency scale contains a reward and punishment scale for both the phi coefficient and Rescorla index measure of contingency. The phi coefficient measure relates to contingency imposed by teachers, while the phi coefficient scale relates to the contingency experienced by students. Teacher ratings of helplessness, grade averages, and ITBS grade equivalents for four basic areas were collected.
A General Linear Model (GLM) Doubly Multivariate Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance was used to compare population means. Pearson product-moment correlations were used to determine the relationship between the contingency measures and other measures collected. Students did not experience the same contingencies imposed upon them by teachers. According to both measures, students in general perceive their teachers as more contingently punishing than rewarding. For both measures males scored significantly higher than females for contingency on the punishment scale. In reward situations, females reported responding significantly more often than males, while in punishment situations they reported responding significantly less often than males. Coefficient alphas and correlations between and among the scales supported reliability for the Teacher Contingency Scale. Correlations with other measures offered weak support for construct validity.
This study provided support for the reliability of the Teacher Contingency Scale as an instrument for the measurement of perceived contingency of reinforcement, but provided little support for its validity. The instrument offers quick insight into the relationships between student behavior and the administration of teacher reward and punishment. Suggestions were made for further research.