Learned helplessness, depression and academic achievement : a comparative study.

Against a backdrop of transformation within the South African context at present, this quantitative study comprised a comparative analysis of the prevalence of learned helplessness, depression and academic achievement across two differing samples within a single school- a sample of learners in a mainstream class, and a sample of learners presenting with barriers to learning. Moreover, in line with current literature in the field, this study investigated the correlation between learned helplessness, depression and academic achievement, both within and between the sample groups. The Children’s Attributional Style Questionnaire (CASQ) and Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) were administered on a group basis to a total sample of 57 learners in Grades four, five, and six in a private school in Johannesburg. Results of the statistical analyses indicate a significant difference in the overall academic achievement of the sample groups, as hypothesised. However, no significant differences in the prevalence of learned helplessness and depression were found. Further to this, the results highlight a weak-to-moderate negative correlation between learned helplessness and depression; and academic achievement and depression. Analysis of the results alludes to a range of extraneous factors that may have successfully ameliorated the development and manifestation of learned helplessness and depression within the sample groups, and thus affected the results of this study. In light of this, limitations and strengths of this study are delineated, and recommendations for further research are suggested.