This is a report of a study to assess the reliability and validity of the self-efficacy optimism personality inventory, a subtest of the Questionnaire for the Assessment of Personal Optimism and Social Optimism Extended (POSO-E), as a predictor of achievement in an academic setting. “Self-efficacy optimism” refers to the tendency of expecting positive consequences based on one’s own behaviour. Fifty first year Psychology students completed a questionnaire that measured their degree of optimism. For each statement, students had to decide whether the statement was uncharacteristic or characteristic of them. Their score was tabulated and correlated with their first term course grade. An analysis of the results indicated that there was no significant relationship between self-efficacy optimism and academic achievement. The limitations of the study and implications for future research are also presented.
Self-efficacy as a component of social cognitive theory was first presented in Bandura’s 1977 article on “Self-efficacy: towards a unifying theory of behavioral change”. (Lane and Lane, Pajares, Schweitzer and Koch) Self-efficacy is “the beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” (Pajares, 1996, p. 544) or, more simply stated, the belief that one is able to do a task successfully. It is said to influence “initiating behavior, how much effort will be applied to attain an outcome and the level of persistence applied to the task in the face of difficulties and setbacks.” (Lane and Lane, 2001, p. 687)
Self-efficacy has been a focus of study in several diverse areas including investigations into phobias, depression, pain control, health and athletic performance. (Schweizer and Koch, 2001) Pajares reported that another major focus of studies is in academic settings including “the link between efficacy beliefs and college major and career choices, particularly in the areas of science and mathematics “ and that “mathematics self-efficacy of college undergraduates is more predictive of their mathematics interest and choice of math-related courses and majors than either their prior math achievement or math outcome expectations and that male undergraduates report higher mathematics efficacy than do female undergraduates.”(Pajares, 1996, p. 551)
There have been studies on how effective self-efficacy is as a predictor of academic performance. “Research findings are generally consistent with the notion that high self-efficacy is associated with successful performance…” (Lane and Lane, 2001, p. 688) One such study was reported in Social Behavior and Personality. Competencies believed to be necessary for academic success, such as time management, and academic performance, were correlated with self-efficacy measures. As well, because there was a 13 week time lapse between measuring self-efficacy and performance outcome, self-efficacy was measured one week later to determine the “stability of self-efficacy measures” (Lane and Lane, 2001, p. 687). The results showed that “stable self-efficacy measures were associated with 11.5% of performance variance with confidence to cope with the intellectual demands of the program as the only significant predictor”. (Lane and Lane, 2001, p. 687)
Closely related to self-efficacy is optimism, the “expectation of positive outcomes” (Schweizer and Koch, 2001, p. 564) In their article, “The assessment of components of optimism by PSOS-E,” Schweizer and Koch reported on “ the development and validation of a self-report questionnaire for measuring three types of optimism, which is called POSO-E”. (Schweizer and Koch, 2001, p. 571) As part of their report of three studies, Schweizer and Koch presented results on the validity and reliability of the self-efficacy optimism scale. The results showed that all correlations were of “acceptable size and that the range of the...