Determining Attainment of the EPAS Foundation Program Objectives: Evidence for the Use of Self-Efficacy as an Outcome
Holden, Gary, Anastas, Jeane, Meenaghan, Thomas, Journal of Social Work Education
Building on research related to social cognitive theory and its construct of self-efficacy, this article describes the development of the Foundation Practice Self-Efficacy scale. This measure is designed to assess graduate social work programs' attempts to achieve the educational policy objectives for foundation-year graduate study set by the Council on Social Work Education. Preliminary evidence regarding the reliability, validity, and sensitivity to change of this measure are presented. The authors discuss changes in MSW students' self-efficacy over the course of the foundation year.
THE CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENT in educational outcomes assessment continue (e.g., Baskind, Shank, & Ferraro, 2001; Gambrill, 2000, 2001; Hull, Mather, Christopherson, & Young, 1994). The need for improvement seems to be mentioned most frequently in relation to accreditation (e.g., Lubinescu, Ratcliff, & Gaffney, 2001; Murray, 2001). Given diverse settings, program goals, pedagogical approaches, and student populations, social work educators should have a variety of measures to choose from in order to meet both their accreditation and local assessment needs. The social cognitive theory construct of self-efficacy has been widely used in educational research outside of social work. In recent years there has been an increase in its use in measuring outcomes in social work education.
In his social cognitive theory, Bandura (1977, 1982,1986, 1995, 1997a) emphasized the construct of self-efficacy which he described as "beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments" (1997a, p. 3). Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, and Pastorelli (2001) further note that
Among the mechanisms of human agency, none is more focal or pervading than people's perceived self-efficacy. Unless people believe they can produce desired outcomes by their actions, they have little incentive to act of to persevere in the face of difficulties.... Perceived self-efficacy occupies a central role in the causal structure of social cognitive theory because efficacy beliefs affect adaptation and change not only in their own right, but through their impact on other determinants.... Meta-analyses of the magnitude of effect sizes corroborate the predictiveness of perceived self-efficacy across age and diverse spheres of functioning ... Research with adults confirms that beliefs of personal efficacy play a highly influential role in occupational development and pursuits ... The higher people's perceived efficacy to fulfill educational requirements and occupational roles, the wider the career options they seriously consider pursuing, the greater the interest they have in them, the better they prepare themselves educationally for different occupational careers, and the greater their staying power in challenging career pursuits. People simply eliminate from consideration occupations they believe to be beyond their capabilities, however attractive the occupations may be. Efficacy beliefs predict occupational choices and level of mastery of educational requirements for those pursuits when variations in actual ability, prior level of academic achievement, scholastic aptitude and vocational interests are controlled. (pp. 187-188)
While ratings of self-efficacy have repeatedly been reported to be predictive of a wide range of future behaviors both within and outside of the academic realm (e.g., Holden, 1991; Holden, Moncher, Schinke, & Barker, 1990; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Schunk, 1995; Zimmerman, 1995), there have been some instances of nonsupport of the predictive validity of the construct (e.g., Chen, Casper, & Cortina, 2001; Friedlander, Keller, Peca-Baker, & Olk, 1986; Johnson, Baker, Kopala, Kisetica, & Thompson, 1989). …