Concepts of Ability
Schools must foster… a will to learn and to relearn; … students must be encouraged to believe in themselves and in the validity of their own thought processes … they must develop a sense of personal effectiveness… teachers must foster both confidence and high achievement in their students … confidence and competence must increase together for either to prosper.
—Covington and Beery (1976, pp. 4-5)
The central concern in this chapter is students' perceptions and evaluations of their ability and how it affects their motivation. In every aspect of life, whether people are thinking about trying out for a play or an athletic team, worrying about taking a test, applying for a job, comparing themselves to their peers, or deciding what courses to take, they are evaluating their ability. Wigfield and Eccles (2000) distinguished ability beliefs from expectancies for success: Ability beliefs focus on present ability, and expectancies focus on future. An understanding of perspectives about selfperceptions of ability will assist educators in fostering students' confidence, competence, and adaptive coping skills presently and in the future.
Self-perception of ability is a major component of many current perspectives of motivation: perceived competence, expectancyvalue, self-efficacy, self-worth, goal orientation (Pajares, 1996),