Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Self-Efficacy, Self-Rated Abilities, Adjustment, and Academic Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Self-Efficacy, Self-Rated Abilities, Adjustment, and Academic Performance

Article excerpt

The American Counseling Association's (2005) ACA Code of Ethics calls on counselors to "encourage client growth and development" (p. 4). Since the origin of the profession, counselors have facilitated client development by assisting clients in establishing and attaining vocational and educational goals. Counselors have traditionally developed and used theoretically and research-based assessment measures and counseling approaches to help clients identify their abilities and develop a sense of self-efficacy. Counselors frequently build on clients' self-beliefs to promote healthy adjustment and performance in a variety of areas, including school and work.

Notwithstanding the existing theory and research on people's beliefs about their abilities, adjustment, and performance, there is no known research that examines the association between and among these concepts. To fill that gap, the present study examined the association between self-efficacy and self-rated abilities, two forms of self-beliefs widely studied and applied in counseling, in conjunction with two key outcome measures of particular interest to counselors: college students' adjustment and academic performance.

The construct of self-efficacy, derived from social-cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977, 1997), applied to career theory (Hackett & Betz, 1981), and extended by social-cognitive career theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), is founded on Bandura's (1977, 1997, 2001) argument that agency, or people's beliefs in their ability to exercise control over their own lives, is quintessentially human. According to social-cognitive theory, when people believe that they have the ability to act and that their actions will produce the desired outcomes, they are more motivated to act, and to act in ways that are more likely to produce the desired outcome, than when they do not believe that their efforts will be successful. Within this theoretical context, self-efficacy, defined as an individual's belief that he or she is able to accomplish a task or reach a future goal (Bandura, 1977, 1997; Lent et al., 1994), is considered a primary determinant of people's interests, choices, actions, behavior, and performance (Bandura, 1977, 1997; Lent et al., 1994).

Self-efficacy is a relatively new yet popular construct with a large body of empirical support (Gore, 2006). Relevant to the present study, self-efficacy is empirically associated with adjustment (Chemers, Hu, & Garcia, 2001; Ramos-Sanchez & Nichols, 2007) and college students' grades in specific domains, particularly science, mathematics, and engineering (S. D. Brown, Lent, & Larkin, 1989; Hackett, Betz, Casas, & Rocha-Singh, 1992; Lent, Brown, & Larkin, 1984, 1986). Recently, in the only known study to examine the association between self-efficacy and the overall academic performance of liberal arts students, Gore (2006) found that end-of-semester self-efficacy contributed significantly to the variance beyond American College Testing (ACT) scores to a sample of European American college students' first- and second-semester cumulative grade point averages (GPAs).

In contrast with self-efficacy, the construct of self-rated abilities has been used in career assessment since Parsons (1909) yet has received little theoretical or empirical attention (see Swanson & Gore, 2000, for a historical review). Founded on the premise that people make and maintain vocational choices that are consistent or congruent with their interests and perceived abilities (Holland, 1971; Spokane & Holland, 1995), self-rated abilities, defined as an individual's belief that he or she can accomplish a task or reach a current goal (Holland, 1997; Lowman & Williams, 1987), are essential to the popular notion of fit, the trait-factor, and person-environment career theories (Holland, 1971, 1997). In addition, two of the most widely used career interest inventories used in counseling, the Self-Directed Search (SDS) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), include self-rating subscales that affect individual results (Betz, 1999; Holland, 1997). …

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