Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Valerie I. Sessa

Committee Member

Danielle Martines

Committee Member

Luis Montesinos


This study investigated the effects of attributional style on learning outcomes, with engagement in learning as a mediator. A model was developed to depict this relationship, suggesting that attributional style affects learning both directly and indirectly, with academic and civic engagement as a mediator between attributional style and learning. Hypothesis 1 stated that attributional style is related to academic performance, such that students with a positive attributional style will exhibit higher academic performance than students with a negative attributional style. Hypothesis 2 stated that engagement mediates the relationship between attributional style and academic performance. The data used in this study was collected as part of a larger study comparing the effects of service-learning on depression, alcohol-use, and overall well-being. Attributional style was measured using the CAVE (content analysis of verbatim expression) technique. Student reflections were coded for attributional style, and a series of linear regressions were run to test for mediation. Partial evidence was found in support of hypothesis 1, as attributional style was found to be related to depth of civic learning. No support was found for hypothesis 2, as no evidence of a mediation was found. Findings indicated that rather than mediating the relationship between attributional style and academic performance, engagement may actually play a role in developing individual attributional style, which later predicts academic performance in college.

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Included in

Psychology Commons