The Impact of Learned Helplessness on Retention in Postsecondary Institution

The Impact of Learned Helplessness on Retention in Postsecondary Institution

Author: 
Devin Mornique Raines
Program of study: 
Ed.D.
Abstract: 
This qualitative exploratory case study involved exploring the impact of learned helplessness on retention in postsecondary institutions. The purpose of the qualitative exploratory case study was to investigate the impact of learned helplessness on student motivation and low retention rates in a postsecondary institution. The goal of the research was to explore the experiences and behaviors of the participants in academic settings and to determine if those factors represented issues in their academic careers. The study was designed to analyze learned helpless behaviors demonstrated by participants in interviews and observations. The 15 participants were from a New York postsecondary institution and were observed and interviewed as a means of collecting data. Through interviews with the students, the study involved exploring the lived experiences of the students, their experiences in academic settings, and the behaviors and patterns that impact their educational success. The data collected from interviews contributed to an increased understanding of the students’ perspective and the recognition of learned helpless behaviors. Results from the interviews indicated that thought processes and behaviors associated with learned helplessness had an impact on the students’ ability to perform optimally and achieve levels of success in academic settings. The observations yielded results that provided information about students’ behaviors within classroom settings. The results of the observations revealed the possible cause for the students’ lack of success within the classroom and therefore in the overall program. The findings from the study added to the body of literature regarding the potential link between learned helplessness and poor retention, in addition to the impact learned helpless behaviors have on student success. The implications of the findings support a recommendation for educational leaders to incorporate strategies that help students to become aware of behaviors consistent with learned helplessness to improve the chances of academic success, thereby increasing student retention at postsecondary institutions. Future studies might include a search for information regarding methods to address learned helpless behaviors and protocols for managing learned helpless behaviors in academic settings.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this work to my Lord and Savior. With the presence of God, I have been able to withstand this journey, and all glory, honor, and praise are given. I dedicate this achievement to my son Jaden David Glenn and mother Dr. Morna Renee Raines, who are my motivation and inspiration to achieve all my goals. Additionally, I include my father Dempsey Raines, who has provided me with a solid foundation for life that makes this possible. This work is also dedicated to the memory of my grandparents Ethan C. Smythe and Roslyn J. Smythe, who set the precedent for greatness that has transcended multiple generations.
Acknowledgements: 
I want to offer my appreciation and gratitude to my mentor and committee chairperson, Dr. John Sienrukos, for his guidance, encouragement, and support throughout this process. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to my committee members Dr. Robin Chambers and Dr. Charlotte Chase. I would also like to acknowledge the continued encouragement from my close friends Vanessa Quiroga, Ann-Marie Reynolds, Briana Hayes, as well as my dear family and friends.