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Students’ perceptions of school events, the nature of teachers’ expectations, and the patterns of interaction between students and teachers have an impact on their academic attitudes and behaviors. The way we look at situations, places, and things reflects the way we view the world and influences the conclusions and decisions we make. Our perception of an event is a personal interpretation of information from our own perspective.

The influence of schools on students’ academic performance is derived from a student’s individual perception rather than the “objective” reality of the activities and interpersonal relations in the educational environment. In this intervention, the focus is on changing the way students think, as it is not a situation that directly affects how a person feels emotionally, but rather his or her thoughts in that situation. We feel what we think.

Our perceptions are often the result of automatic processing, and while automaticity is efficient for processing much information quickly, it is not always accurate. Many faulty cognitions are automatic, involuntary, and highly plausible to the individual.

A goal of this module is to help students recognize and analyze their automatic thoughts and perceptions so they can replace distorted or negative perceptions and cognitions with more realistic and non-negative appraisals. The focus is on personal responsibility and choice.

The three fundamental propositions of this intervention are:

  1. Cognitive activity influences behavior.
  2. Cognitive activity may be monitored and altered.
  3. Desired behavior change may be affected through cognitive change.


Next Section: Student Perceptions of School