The Optimistic Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Students with Learning Disabilities

Robert M. Klassen


This article reviews three studies that provide evidence that students with learning disabilities (LD) display optimistic academic self-beliefs, even in the face of relatively poor academic performance. In the first study, a quantitative approach was used to explore the spelling and writing self-efficacy of 133 adolescents with and without LD. Students with LD over-estimated their performance in spelling and writing. In the second study, a series of interviews with 28 adolescents with LD and 7 specialist LD teachers revealed that the students viewed themselves as low in academic optimism, whereas the teachers viewed the students as overly optimistic about academic tasks. A third study explored the academic motivation and procrastination of 208 undergraduates with and without LD, and found students with LD had moderate levels of optimism about academic tasks, but lower levels of optimism about self-regulatory capabilities. The paper concludes with a presentation of common and emergent themes from the three studies, and offers recommendations for practitioners and avenues for future research.

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