Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 93–114 | Cite as

Avoiding Seeking Help in the Classroom: Who and Why?

  • Allison M. Ryan
  • Paul R. Pintrich
  • Carol Midgley


Why do some students avoid seeking help in the classroom when they need it? When students do not seek the help they need, they put themselves at a disadvantage for learning. We discuss how students' personal motivational characteristics relate to their avoidance of help seeking. In particular, we discuss our work regarding perceived academic and social competence and achievement- and social-goal orientations. We also discuss how various dimensions of the classroom context relate to help avoidance. Specifically, we discuss rules and norms of classrooms as well as our work examining the achievement goal structure and social climate of classrooms. We conclude by discussing how new developments in achievement goal theory distinguishing between approach- and avoidance-goal orientations might add to psychologists' understanding of help avoidance. We also consider how students' strivings for autonomy and different aspects of the social climate might be incorporated into theories of students' help avoidance behavior.

help seeking motivation achievement goals autonomy classroom context 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison M. Ryan
    • 1
  • Paul R. Pintrich
    • 2
  • Carol Midgley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn Arbor

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