Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

The Accuracy of Self-Efficacy: A Comparison of High School and College Students

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

The Accuracy of Self-Efficacy: A Comparison of High School and College Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

There are perhaps two views of what constitutes accurate self-efficacy: the competence view (based on norm-referencing) and the beliefs view (based on criterion-referencing). In this study, we compared the accuracy of self-efficacy for a punctuation task across three educational levels (11th grade students, college freshmen, and college juniors) and found differences in accuracy among the groups from both the competence and the beliefs views. Results are attributed to the types of correctional feedback teachers give at each educational level.

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Students who are confident in their ability to be successful on a specific task are likely to be motivated to engage in the task (Bandura, 1997). Since its inception, this premise, known as self-efficacy, has driven lines of motivational research that have deepened our understanding of the relationship between confidence and performance. Unfortunately, little empirical work has been done to broaden our understanding of students' self-efficacies in terms of accuracy (Pajares, 1996; Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). In this study we investigate the accuracy of self-efficacy among educational levels (11th grade students, college freshmen, and college juniors) for a specific punctuation task. We then analyze the degree to which efficacy accuracy (EA) can vary within and among the groups and attribute the differences in EA to the types of corrective feedback given by teachers at each level of education.

Efficacy Differences

A person may have different levels of self-efficacy for various tasks depending upon the nature of each task and a person's experiences (Bandura, 1997). Similarly, self-efficacy for a task can differ among people. Factors such as modeling, verbal persuasion, and psychological state, can also affect people's self-efficacy and, in turn, influence motivation, task orientation, effort, persistence, beliefs, strategy use, and performance (Bandura, 1997; Schunk, 1994).

There is general agreement on the definition of self-efficacy and its effects on other learning factors, but there are perhaps two views of what constitutes accurate self-efficacy. From the competence view, efficacy is accurate for a group when individuals with the highest self-efficacy perform the best and individuals with the lowest self-efficacy perform the worst (a quasi-norm-referenced view) (Multon et. al., 1991; Pintrich & Schunk, 1996; Ryan & Deci, 1998; Shell et al, 1995). However, norm-referencing may not tell us the entire story. From the beliefs view, an individual's self-efficacy is viewed separate from the group and may, at some level, be overestimated or discounted when performance is considered in reference to a course goal (a quasi-criterion-referenced view) (Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1996; Pajares et al, 1999; Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). In other words, high self-efficacy may not necessarily predict a high level of competence (A+ work), and low self-efficacy may not predict a low level of competence (D work) outside of one's peer group. Though much evidence has been found in support of the competence view of EA, limited research has addressed the beliefs view of EA. In general, results have suggested there are differences in EA between genders and among ability levels (Ewers & Wood, 1993; Glenberg & Epstein 1985) and among developmental levels (Lachman & Jelalian, 1984; Kaley & Cloutier, 1984; Pressley, Levin, Ghatala, & Ahmad, 1987), but those beliefs are subject to change (Meier, McCarthy, & Schmeck, 1984; Stone, 1994; Weaver, 1990).

The purpose of the present study is to examine, from both the beliefs view and the competence view, EA for punctuating sentences. Punctuation was selected as the learning task for three reasons: (1) because little has been done to investigate self-efficacy for writing tasks (Pajares et al, 1999), (2) existing research on self-efficacy for writing tasks is mixed (Meier, et. …

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