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The Importance of the Attitude Factor in Language Dropout: A Preliminary Investigation of Group and Sex Differences*


  • Diana E. Bartley

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      Diana E. Bartley (Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford Univ.) is an Instructor of Spanish and Portuguese, and Coordinator of Spanish Teaching Assistants at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previously, Mrs. Bartley was a Research Assistant at the Stanford Center for Research and Development in Teaching at Stanford University.

  • *

    The author acknowledges the cooperation of the teachers in the respective junior high schools of the Palo Alto School District, especially Mrs. Fernande Inan, Mrs. Karen McCaul, and Mrs. Gloria Bogdanoff. She is also grateful for the support and assistance of the Stanford Center for Research and Development in Teaching, especially Prof. Walter Zwiner, presently of the Dept. of Educational Psychology, Univ. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Finally, the author is most grateful for the support and direction given this project by Dr. Robert L. Politzer, Research and Development Associate and Prof. of Education and Romance Linguisitics, Stanford Univ.


ABSTRACT: The Foreign Language Attitude Scale (a Likert type scale developed by Dr. Mary DuFort in 1962) was administered to eighth-grade pupils in September and March. The pupils were then divided into two groups according to whether they continued or dropped foreign language in the ninth grade. Mean attitude scores for both groups were computed and tests of significance of differences between means were performed. The attitude of the “dropout” group was significantly lower than that of the continuing group in September as well as in March. The attitude of the dropout group also deteriorated significantly from September to March while that of the continuing group remained stable. A probability distribution was calculated whereby potential “language dropouts” could thus be detected by low attitude scores as well as by deterioration of attitude scores during the 1966–67 school year.