Correlates and Predictors of Academic Self Efficacy among African American Students

By Fife, John E.; Bond, Sherrod et al. | Education, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Correlates and Predictors of Academic Self Efficacy among African American Students


Fife, John E., Bond, Sherrod, Byars-Winston, Angela, Education


Introduction

Studies examining the academic development of Black college students have largely sampled those enrolled at predominantly-White institutions (PWIs). In contrast, little attention has been given to the academic development of African Americans attending historically-Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Even less attention has been paid to some of the critical cultural variables that may be responsible for the learning and academic success of African American students in the STEM disciplines. A few studies of cultural variables, like ethnic identity and other-group orientation (OGO; comfort with intercultural interactions) have been indirectly related to STEM interests and goals, through their relationship with efficacy expectations (Byars-Winston et al., 2010; O'Brien, Martinez-Pons, & Kopala, 1999), but more research is needed to understand other variables that influence the academic self efficacy of African American students.

Academic Self-efficacy and Ethnic Identity

Academic self-efficacy stems from Bandura's concept of self-efficacy in 1977. The notion of academic efficacy refers to belief that one can and will meet the demands of one's academic environment. Furthermore, once academic efficacy increases academic achievement will increase as well. Ethnic identity refers to how an individual perceives the knowledge, traditions, and history of their particular group (Hughes, 2009). Ethnic identity has received much attention in the last decade and a half as the U.S. has become increasingly culturally diverse (Spencer, 1990). One reason is that a strong identification with ones ethnic background has been consistently linked to a host of beneficial outcomes, such as greater self-esteem and higher academic achievement. (Phinney, 2003). Our study will examine the role of ethnic identity in the academic self efficacy of African American students majoring in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering (STEM disciplines).

Fordham and Ogbu (1986) suggested a cultural-ecological framework of ethnic minority achievement. They asserts that the oppressive conditions under which African American immigrated to the United States has creates a collective group identity that rejects institutions dominated by the oppressive mainstream culture. To Fordham and Ogbu, the education system is one of those institutions that African American youth may reject. Fordham (1988) expanded this theory by proposing that African American youth seek to be high achievers must minimize their connection to their ethnic identity in order to embrace values that are consistent with mainstream academic success. According to the above theory, an understanding of ethnic identity and its influence on academic achievement and self efficacy can assist teachers and educational institutions to better understand African American students. Hackett et al. (1992) investigated the impact of ethnicity and social cognitive factors on academic achievement in engineering students. The results indicated that academic self-efficacy was the strongest predictor of academic performance. Student interest, positive outcome expectation, and faculty encouragement were positively correlated to academic self-efficacy.

Smith et al., (2009) examine the role racial-ethnic identity on self perception, academic achievement and behavior among African American elementary students. The results suggested that an increased affiliation with an individual's own racial group is related to elevated levels of emerging racial identity. In addition, a significant relationship was found between academic competence and racial identity, which leads the authors to believe that African American children may associate internalized racial identity with academic success. These results suggest that there is a direct relationship between racial identity and competences related academic performance in African American students in early and middle elementary school. …

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