Organisms which have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of their behaviour are defined as having learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to response even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstance or by gaining positive rewards.
According to (Dworetzky, 1994), learned helplessness means giving up even though success is possible, because of previous experience with situation in which success was not possible.
According to Gillian, it is a condition in which a person or animal has come to believe that he or she is helpless in a situation, when is not true.
The theory of learned helplessness was conceptualized and developed by American psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman at the university of pennsyvania in the late 1960’s and 70’s. while conducting experimental research on classical conditioning Seligman inadvertently discovered that dogs that had receive unavoidable electric shocks failed to take action in subsequent situation, even those in which escape or avoidance was in fact possible.
Since then learned helplessness became a basic principle of behavioural theory, demonstrating that prior learning can result in drastic change in behavior and seeking to explain why individuals may accept and remain passive in negative situations despite their clear ability to change them.
Seligman argues that, as a result of these negative expectations, other consequences may accompany the inability or unwillingness to act and this can seen in conditions like chronic failure, examination malpractice, low self-esteem etc.
EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE AS A PRODUCT OF LEARNED HELPLESSNESS
Examination malpractice means illegal/unlawful acts students indulge in to ensure success in their examinations.
It comprises of all forms of cheating which directly or indirectly falsify the ability of the students or any involvement in all illegal examination related offences.
Examination malpractice is also an illegal behavior by a candidate before, during and after the examination so that he/she can attain success easily and cheaply. Examples of examination malpractice are exchanging question/answer sheets, coping from textbooks etc.
Causes of Examination Malpractice
1. Laziness, inadequate preparations for exams
2. Pupils not taking their studies serious
3. parents involvement etc.
learned help helplessness can be said or seems to contribute to the rate of many students indulging in examination malpractice.
It makes students believe that their behaviour does not control outcomes or result e.g. a student who thinks “no matter how hard I study I will not pass. This is because the students even after his efforts last year still failed.
It can also be said that students who tries but failed, learn to be helplessness during examinations and so to pass indulge in examination malpractice or employ ”Mercenaries” to enhance success.
In an experiment 1 a Lecturer called 20 of his students and divided them into groups of ten students each namely group A and B. this was to determine how learned helplessness make students indulge in examination malpractice.
Group A was given a puzzle that can’t be solved due to missing pieces. Group B were given puzzle with complete pieces. The students in the first group (group A) worked and reworked the puzzle but could not find any possible way to complete them. Frustration results in the group. The second group (group B) did their own fas and submitted.
After the Lecturer had tried this three times, the 4th time he gave the whole group the same puzzle, he gave to the second group (group B). But those in the first group instead of trying to solve it looked at it and then dropped it. Those in the second group did it.
Finally, the lecturer decided to award 20 marks to any group than solve the puzzle. And so for those in the first group (group A) to get their marks they offered to pay those in the second group to help them solve the puzzle.
This shows that the students in the first group
(group A) became helpless and so decided to cheat to pass.
As a result of depression and to avoid chronic failure in examination even after studying, students are often helpless and thereby, engage in examination malpractice to enhance their success.
Seligman, M.E.P (1973). Fall into helplessness. Psychology
Miller, W.R. and Seligman M.E.P (1975), Depression and
learned helplessness in man. Journal abnormal psychology, 84,228-238.
Klein, D.C. and Seligman, M. E.P (1976) reversal of
performance deficits and perceptual deficits in learned helplessness and depression. Journal of abnormal psychology.
Klein, D.C, Fenal-Morse, E, and Seligman, M.E.P (1976).
Learned helplessness depression and the attribution of failure. Journal of personality and social psychology.
FACULTY: SOCIAL SCIENCES
COURSE CODE: LEARNING PROCESS (PSY 105)
TOPIC: EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE: IS IT A PRODUCT OF LEARNED HELPLESSNESS