Summer 2006     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 10, Issue 2     Editorial (1)
Educating a student to think and behave 
in a positive way is not an easy task.
It is not easy, because the inner workings of a student consist of a complex array. 
To deal with the complexity of this array one can analyze the mindís contents into 
more easily viewable parts. These parts can be studied in two interrelated 
dimensions, namely the cognitive and the affective. Students have both thoughts 
and feelings. Such things as beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions produce the 
actions in which students engage and the environments in which students work. 
That is, studentsí inner workings affect their actions, which affect their 
environment. This also works in the opposite direction, such that environments 
impact inner workings, which impact actions, or actions impact the environment 
that impact inner workings. These three things (i.e., inner workings, actions, 
and environments) work in unison to produce a personís inner thoughts and feelings, 
as well as their actions and the environments they choose and alter. Given the 
complexity of this relationship, it is important to understand the beliefs, 
attitudes, and perceptions of students, as these things will impact their learning 
and behaviors in school and elsewhere.

Students hold beliefs and attitudes toward a huge variety of things, such as each 
other, their teachers, their parents, and the learning environment. The perceptions, 
beliefs, and attitudes of students will impact their interactions with each of these 
entities. Consider that the students mind set is the framework in which each of 
these things is interpreted. Therefore, the meaning derived from interactions with 
other students, teachers, parents, and the various contents of the learning 
environment will be largely based on the beliefs and attitudes formed by the 
students through prior experiences. This is important to teachers and parents, 
as well as others who may be attempting to influence a studentís thoughts and 
actions. To have maximal impact on a studentís thinking and behavior one must have 
a thorough understanding of the mental framework (e.g., beliefs and attitudes) the 
student holds prior to any given interaction.

In the present journal volume in the special section on Students Perceptions, 
Beliefs, and Attitudes the contributing authors explore the inner workings of 
students to better understand how the students cognitions and affect impact a 
studentís academic and social lives. The authors investigate studentsí perceptions, 
beliefs and attitudes regarding such things as the future, democracy, community, 
group work, social goals, and variations in the learning environment. Each study 
helps to further our cumulative understanding of studentsí inner workings, which 
helps us better be able to have a positive and meaningful impact on students 
academic engagement and learning. Generally, educators and parents alike wish to 
promote positive outcomes in studentsí cognitive, emotional, and social lives. 
Through studying such topics as a studentís sense of community, social goals, and 
civic engagement we can better understand the mental lives of students, which allow 
us to promote more positive attitudes and beliefs regarding such things as the 
school community and learning.
Daniel L. McCollum, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Educational Foundations, University of Houston - Clear Lake
Student Perceptions, Beliefs, or Attitudes Editor

CFP for the next Student Perceptions, Beliefs, or Attitudes issue, Summer 2007.
See Index to all published articles.