Fall 2010     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 14, Issue 3
Editorial: Student Perceptions, Beliefs, or Attitudes

Numerous characteristics contribute to student success. Studies have shown that learning environment plays an integral role in student engagement and achievement, and that safe and caring environments are more likely to result in increased participation, enhanced learning, and higher academic achievement. Researchers who espouse social cognitive learning theories have highlighted the perceptions and interpretations of students about their experiences in various learning environments. From the person-in-context view of the social cognitive theory, therefore, student motivation, achievement and learning cannot be fully understood without considering dynamic interaction between individuals and social contexts of learning environment.

A number of empirical studies have supported that studentís subjective perceptions of environment outweigh the objective reality of environment in explaining student learning and achievement behaviors. This finding reinforces the importance of understanding individual student differences because the ways in which students perceive and respond to environment tend to shape learning and achievement behaviors. Individual characteristics interact with features of the learning environment to result in different learning outcomes. Students with different characteristics may perceive learning environment differently and then these unique perceptions tend to affect achievement behaviors.

This special issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly presents a wide range of perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes of students varying in age and background in different learning environments. Authors of this issue addressed cognitive, motivational, emotional and cultural aspects of student perceptions and beliefs and discussed antecedents and consequences of those perceptions and beliefs. Participants of the studies varied from K-12 students to university students to graduate students.

Swarat examined potential sources of middle school studentsí interest in school science and identified novelty, active engagement, agency, and social influence as important sources of interest. Mascle also looked at sources of student motivation focusing on how socially-negotiated writing affects graduate studentsí writing self-efficacy when writing is viewed as a social act. These two papers help us advance our understanding of student motivation by providing insight into how to enhance student interest and self-efficacy in different subject areas.

Lee, Walker, and Svinicki investigated cultural differences in Korean and American pre-service teachersí epistemological beliefs and discussed how they are related to conception of teaching. This study provided a practical implication that different beliefs about knowledge, learning, and teaching in multiple cultures need to be taken into consideration in teacher education. Bang and Edwards explored international studentsí cultural, emotional, social, and communicative competence as predictors of their social adaptation at a comprehensive, land-grant university. Daniels and Guthrie provided recommendations to support transgender students living on campus by creating an inclusive environment. These three articles present the importance of understanding individual differences and cultural aspects of student experiences and perceptions to better promote student success and adjustment. Smail raised a concern about student health, particularly childrenís obesity, and its relation to psychological and academic performance and investigated how technology such as Wii Fit can be used to enhance studentsí physical activities. In her analysis of finance studentsí perceptions of business ethics, Martinez found that business students have a negative perception about business professionalsí ethical standards and highlighted the importance of engaging finance students in ethics discussion of business professionalsí actions. These two studies utilized student perceptions to inform instructional strategies regarding the use of technology or classroom discussion.

The articles in this special issue have made significant contributions in expanding our understanding of student motivation, learning, and achievement from the viewpoints and perspectives of students as learners and pre-service teachers. I am very much pleased to announce that we will have a special feature on student perception in the upcoming issue of Fall 2011. http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/5stu.htm

Given that the natures of student perceptions, beliefs, motivations, and attitudes are dynamic and complex, our continuous and collective efforts are warranted to enhance learning environment through further understanding of student perceptions, beliefs, motivations and attitudes. Submissions are welcome from anyone (researchers, administrators, teacher, graduate students, and trainers) working with students, of all ages, in a learning environment. Please identify your submission with keyword: STUDENT-1. Submission deadline is any time until the end of May 2011. Early submission offers an opportunity to be considered for Editors' Choice.

YoonJung Cho, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology
Oklahoma State University