What is it about?

Help-seeking is an important self-regulated learning skill, but many students prefer to keep quiet than speak up when they do not understand. This study explains students' help-seeking preferences by surfacing the tacit reasoning that sustains their decisions to speak up or not.

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Why is it important?

Few help-seeking studies have actually observed how, and when, students seek help. A major contribution of this study was an investigation of the conditions under which students did and did not seek help. Furthermore, help-seeking and avoidance is often explained as a consequence of students' achievement goals. This study challenged this explanation by showing how students' particular patterns of help-seeking and avoidance were closely linked with their perception of the risks and benefits of speaking up.


Often it is the students who need help most who do not seek it. As a teacher, the results of this study really helped me understand how such behaviour makes sense from the point of view of students. As a result, I started to check the efficacy of my help and employ strategies to normalise errors and confusion in my classes.

Aaron Peeters
University of Auckland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Theories in use that explain adolescent help seeking and avoidance in mathematics., Journal of Educational Psychology, April 2020, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/edu0000423.
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