The causal attribution strategy helps students evaluate cause and effect relationships by presenting them with scenarios and outcomes and asking them to attribute causes. It encourages students to take responsibility for their actions and to avoid making excuses that do not accurately reflect the situation. Because it uses fictional scenarios, students are distanced enough that they do not become defensive, but because the scenarios are realistic, students can relate to them to some degree. The strategy should be introduced and monitored by a facilitator.
The following are examples of non-academic and academic scenarios that illustrate causal attribution (REFERENCE).
Mr. Brown has trouble starting his car. Why?
NOTE: Few people have trouble starting this car. Mr. Brown has trouble starting most cars. Choose one answer below.
- a. Mr. Brown does not know how to start the car.
- b. There is something wrong with the car.
- c. Mr. Brown is the wrong person for the car, and the car is wrong for Mr. Brown.
Mary laughs at the comedian. Why?
NOTE: Most people laugh at this comedian. Mary laughs at few comedians. Choose one answer below.
- a. Mary just finds it easy to laugh.
- b. The comedian is funny.
- c. The event is due to both of these.
Sue is afraid of the dog. Why?
NOTE: Few people are afraid of the dog. Sue is afraid of few dogs. Choose one answer below.
- a. Sue has a phobia of dogs.
- b. The dog is ferocious.
- c. Sue and the dog just didn't hit it off.
Answers to the non-academic examples are: 1) c, 2) b, and 3) c.
George is failing math class. Why?
NOTE: George does not do his homework and skips class. Other students are passing the course. Choose one answer below.
- a. George is not good in math.
- b. The instructor does not teach very well.
- c. George does not put enough effort into the class.
Sandy cannot stay awake in history class. Why?
NOTE: Other students stay awake in history class. Sandy cannot stay awake in her other classes. Choose one answer below.
- a. Sandy does not get enough rest.
- b. The instructor is boring.
- c. Sandy does not like history.
Jamaal misses chemistry class at least once a week. Why?
NOTE: Jamaal is in a fraternity, plays football, works on the yearbook, and tutors other students. Other students do not miss chemistry class. Choose one answer below.
- a. Class attendance is not required for the course.
- b. Jamaal is overextended, participating in too many extracurricular activities.
- c. Chemistry class is boring.
Juanita does not get along with her instructor. Why?
NOTE: Other students get along with the instructor. Juanita gets along with other instructors. Choose one answer below.
- a. Juanita's instructor is mean and unfriendly.
- b. Juanita and her instructor are not suited for each other.
- c. It is difficult to get along with Juanita.
Answers to the academic examples are: 1) c, 2) a, 3) b, and 4) b.