Motivation Based on Self-Efficacy (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

In short, self-efficacy for a given task both influences and is influenced by students' performance on a task. However, self-efficacy is influenced by how students interpret performance feedback rather than the feedback itself; thus, students who have established high levels of self-efficacy over the course of many experiences are unlikely to suffer lowered self-efficacy as the result of negative performance feedback.

Self-efficacy theory predicts that students work harder and longer when they judge themselves as capable than when they judge themselves as unable to perform a task. In this section, we examine two specific predictions: Self-efficacy is related to study strategy and self-efficacy is related to achievement.

The first prediction of self-efficacy theory is that a student's sense of self-efficacy for a given task is related to the way the student goes about learning a task. That is, the more confident students are in their capacity to learn, the more active they will be in the learning process. To test this hypothesis, a first step is to develop a way of measuring the level of students' self-efficacy and the level of students' learning activity For example, Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1990) presented a series of 10 words to elementary and high school students; for each word, students were asked to rate their ability to spell the word on a scale ranging from completely unsure (0) to completely sure (100). The average rating on the 10 words was used as a measure of verbal self-efficacy To measure learning activity, Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons asked students to respond to eight open-ended questions, such as:

Assume your teacher asks students to write a short paper on a topic such as the history of your community or neighborhood. Your score on this paper will affect your report card grade. In such cases, do you have any particular method to help you plan and write your paper? (p 53).

A measure of learning activity was computed by tallying the number of times students mentioned self-regulated learning strategies such as setting goals, seeking information, keeping records, seeking peer assistance, reviewing notes, and organizing information. As predicted, students' perceptions of efficacy were correlated with their reported use of active learning strategies (r = .42). For example, students who expressed confidence in their spelling ability tended to report using more active learning strategies on a verbal task, whereas students who lacked confidence reported fewer active learning strategies.

In another attempt to test the study strategy hypothesis, Pintrich and De Groot (1990) asked seventh-grade students in science and English classrooms to answer questions about their motivation to learn (such as their self-efficacy) and about their level of activity during learning. For example, to evaluate self-efficacy, they asked students to rate agreement or disagreement on a 7 -point scale to statements such as "I expect to do very well in this class" and "I am certain that I will be able to learn the material for this class."

To evaluate degree of active learning, the researchers asked students to rate agreement and disagreement on a 7-point scale to statements such as "When I study for this English class, I put the important ideas in my own words" and "I ask myself questions to make sure I know the material I have been studying." As predicted, Pintrich and De Groot (1990) observed correlations between self-efficacy and use of active learning strategies (r = .33 to r = .44). Similarly, in a study of arithmetic learning, Schunk (1981) found a positive correlation between self-efficacy and persistence on exercise problems during learning (r = .30).

These results are consistent with the idea that self-efficacy is related to deeper and more active processing of information during learning. However, a more practical issue concerns the relation between self-efficacy and academic achievement and lies at the heart of the second prediction of self-efficacy theory The theory predicts that self-efficacy is positively related to academic achievement; that is, the more confident a student is in his or her capacity to learn a certain lesson, the greater the probability of success in accomplishing that goal.

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