Are humans rational beings? Some economist still think that this is the case (despite Kahneman’s comment (1). When it comes to students educators know better. Not that students are irrational beings, but seeking satisfying solutions is not often their major strategy. To cope with the demands of classroom life, especially when it comes to getting satisfactory grades, you have to set your aspirations high. When passing a test or doing an exam it is like ’climbing a mountain’; you have to get sufficiently high in order to raise the flag.
In this matter the cited study gives some enlightening background. The study is about student expectations about their final grade after taking a test. The authors, using an economic perspective, started from the assumption that setting of expectations is a rational process; it is about weighing relevant determinants. Well, it turned out that this was not the case (and the study used quite a lot of sophisticated analytical techniques to come to that conclusion). In fact students were over confident in their expectations about their final grade.
Is it then that students are stupid by being overly self-assured? Most likely not. Living a life in the classroom requires a lot of adaptation (2), and students learn to do this over time, often the hard way, especially when it comes to taking in the results of tests. The education route can be a thorny road. To cope with spiky tasks ahead you need a lot of resilience. The best coping strategy then might be to have a long term perspective like ‘I will get there..somehow’ But, may be, that is not an economic perception.
Belayet Hossain & Panagiotis Tsigaris (2015). Are grade expectations rational? A classroom experiment, Education Economics, 23:2, 199-212,
link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09645292.2012.735073