Motivation Based on Self-Efficacy (page 3)
"I am confident that I will be able to grasp the main ideas in this chapter." "If I read this section carefully, I will be able to explain what self-efficacy is." "I know that 1 am capable of scoring an A on a test of the material in this book." If you agree with these statements, you have high self-efficacy for mastering educational psychology; if you mainly disagree with these statements, your self-efficacy could be classified as low.
What is self-efficacy? As you can see from this example, self-efficacy is a kind of personal expectation or judgment concerning one's capability to accomplish some task. Schunk (1991) defines self-efficacy as "an individual's judgments of his or her capabilities to perform given actions" (p. 207), Bandura (1986) defines it as "people's judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance" (p. 391), and Pintrich (2003b, p. 107) defines it as "students beliefs about their ability to do the task."
Self-efficacy is not the same as self-concept (Marsh &: Shavelson, 1985). Self-concept is a general view of one's self across domains; self-efficacy is a specific view of one's capacities in a given domain. Self-concept consists of many dimensions, one of which is self-confidence, which is most like self-efficacy For example, "I am a smart person" relates to self-concept, whereas "I am confident that I can get an A in my educational psychology course" relates to self-efficacy
Why is self-efficacy important? A student's self-efficacy may play an important role in his or her academic achievement. Schunk (1991) claims that "there is evidence that self-efficacy predicts ... academic achievement" (p. 207). According to Bandura (1977), self-efficacy affects the amount of effort and persistence that a person devotes to a task.
Where does self-efficacy come from? Suppose that you are taking a class in how to use a computer program for conducting simple statistical tests; since you have never used a statistics program before, your self-efficacy for this task is still undeveloped. After a few minutes, you find that you are able to use the program easily, so your self-efficacy increases. You look over to see that other first-time learners like yourself are learning to use the program. Your self-efficacy soars because you assume that "if they can do it, I can do it." Your instructor walks by and says, "You can do this!" Again, your self-efficacy grows. Your initial sense of high anxiety, including high heart rate and nausea, has left, and now you feel more relaxed. This bodily change also signals an increase in self-efficacy These examples describe four sources of self-efficacy: interpreting one's own performance, interpreting the performance of others, interpreting others' expressions of your capabilities, and interpreting one's physiological state.
In any learning situation, students enter with a sense of efficacy that is based on their aptitudes and past experiences in similar tasks. Students' self-efficacy influences what they do, how hard they try, and how long they persist—that is, what Schunk calls "task engagement variables." Throughout the learning episode, the students seek efficacy cues signaling how well they are capable of doing on the task. They use these efficacy cues to establish their self-efficacy for similar tasks in the future. According to Schunk (1991):
Students derive cues signaling how well they are learning, which they use to assess efficacy for further learning. Motivation is enhanced when students perceive they are making progress in learning. In turn, as students ... become more skillful, they maintain a sense of self-efficacy for performing well (p 209)
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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