Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using a Self-Efficacy Scale for Training and Outcomes Assessment: A Tax Research Example

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using a Self-Efficacy Scale for Training and Outcomes Assessment: A Tax Research Example

Article excerpt


The primary objective of this study is to demonstrate to educators the usefulness of a self-efficacy scale as a training diagnostic tool and outcomes assessment measure. Self-efficacy is a judgment of one's ability to organize and execute given types of performances (Bandura, 1997). It is a well-researched and oft-validated construct with its origins in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Prior research has concluded that when precisely tailored to the activity of interest, self-efficacy measures are an excellent way to pinpoint weaknesses in preparation and training (Gist and Mitchell 1992; Mager 1992; Saks 1995). Valid and reliable measures of self-efficacy also have demonstrated success in detecting changes in self-efficacy over time and following training intervention (Karsten and Roth, 1998; Torkzadeh and Koufterous, 1994). Importantly, when self-efficacy is increased, accompanying increases in performance are observed (Gist, 1989; Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998). Finally, individuals high in self-efficacy consistently demonstrate many of the behaviors educators hope to instill in students--people who perceive themselves capable of performing certain tasks and activities have been shown to be more likely to attempt these activities, expect success in these activities, and persist in these activities when faced with difficulty (Bandura, 1997). We suggest that the ability to demonstrate that such changes occur as a result of classroom instruction would be an appealing and meaningful way to supplement more objective forms of course outcomes assessment.

As mentioned above, and as will be discussed in more depth below, self-efficacy is domain specific. While we explore self-efficacy within a tax research context, educators can readily apply the construct to other well-defined instructional areas.

This paper is organized in the following fashion. We first discuss the self-efficacy construct, describe the sources of self-efficacy information, and provide guidelines for constructing self-efficacy scales. We next describe the development of a seven-category, 32-item, tax research self-efficacy scale and report assessments of its reliability and validity. The next two sections of the paper detail the design and results of an experiment that tested the scale on two groups of undergraduate tax students. The findings of the experiment indicate that the scale proved useful in identifying training needs and in assessing training effects. In the final section of the paper, we state our conclusions and list suggestions for future research.


Self-efficacy is a key element in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). It "refers to beliefs in one's capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to meet given situational demands" (Wood and Bandura, 1989, 408). Gist and Mitchell (1992) highlight three important aspects of self-efficacy. First, self-efficacy is a comprehensive appraisal or judgment of one's perceived capability for performing a specific task. Second, self-efficacy is a dynamic construct that changes over time as people acquire new information and experiences. Third, self-efficacy captures motivation. Prior research consistently indicates that self-efficacy is positively correlated with an individual's willingness to participate in tasks, expectations of success in such tasks, and persistence or effective coping behaviors when faced with task-related difficulties (Bandura, 1997). Moreover, individuals with high self-efficacy for specific tasks or activities typically outperform those with low self-efficacy (Gist et al., 1991).


Self-efficacy beliefs stem from four principal sources of information: enactive mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and emotional arousal (Bandura, 1997). Although each of these sources of information influences efficacy perceptions, it is the individual's assimilation and integration of the information that ultimately determines self-efficacy (Gist and Mitchell, 1992). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.