Academic journal article
By Young, Dawn B.; Ley, Kathryn
Journal of College Reading and Learning , Vol. 33, No. 1
Self-efficacy refers to personal beliefs about one's capabilities to learn or perform skills at designated levels (Bandura, 1986). It involves judgments of one's capability to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance. Counselors have proposed interventions that would increase self-efficacy to improve academic performance of some learners (Multon, Brown & Lent, 1991; Pajares, 1996) and with good reason. A learner's self-efficacy influences his or her cognitive functions (Bandura, 1993) and performance (Pajares). Furthermore, the influence of self-efficacy on performance has been stronger in lower achieving students than in students at higher levels of achievement at the same grade level (Multon et al.). This brief report includes an explanation of self-efficacy, differences between self-efficacy and other aspects of the self-system, and findings of research studies into the self-efficacy of students, including developmental learners. Finally, we will propose a few implications for classroom instruction and counselor interventions based upon these findings.
As a part of a broader self-system, or that part of ourselves that is the active constructor of cognitive representations and understanding of the objective world (McCombs, 1986), self-efficacy differs from self-concept and self-esteem. Self-concept is theorized as a collection of beliefs about one's self that is arranged in a hierarchical structure and directly influences behavior (Marsh, 1990). Self-esteem is one's overall feeling of worth and value (Issacs & Duffus, 1995) or the evaluation one makes and maintains about self (Coopersmith, 1967). Self-concept involves an external comparison of self to others, while self-esteem is an internal comparison of a "real" to an "ideal" (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Self-efficacy, in contrast, involves a judgment of one's capabilities, rather than comparing them to others or an ideal. Self-efficacy differs from these other self-system processes by focusing on personal ratings of performance in domain specific tasks (Zimmerman, 1990).
Establishing self-efficacy is based upon information received from performance accomplishments, observations, persuasion or feedback and physiological responses (Schunk, 1989). Students are able to use their own performances as reliable guides for efficacy. Success generally raises efficacy, and failure lowers it although if the efficacy is high enough a single failure will not be detrimental (Schunk, 1989). Comparison to similar others provides learners with observational information by which to judge efficacy. Learners who observe peers performing a behavior are more likely to believe that they too could perform that behavior. Persuasion generally takes the form of feedback from influential others such as teachers, parents or others. Positive feedback enhances self-efficacy (c.f., Tuckman & Sexton, 1991), but its effects may be negated if the student is not successful. Finally, efficacy information may be obtained from physiological responses. Responses such as increased heart rate or sweating which may signal anxiety, may indicate lower efficacy for that task (Schunk, 1989).
Self-efficacy beliefs influence how students behave, feel, think, and motivate themselves. These beliefs produce effects through four major processes: cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes (Bandura, 1993). People with a high sense of efficacy visualize success scenarios that provide support and guidance for performance. Hence, the higher the self-efficacy the greater the cognitive goal challenge people set for themselves. These students may not have the ability to perform requisite cognitive tasks, but sense they have the capability to master the task (Bandura, 1993). Self-efficacy affects motivation in several ways, not only in the goals that learners set for themselves, but in how much effort they will expend, how long they will persevere and their resilience to failure (Schunk, 1990). …