Student Self-Efficacy

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The majority of people living in the developed world have experienced, to a certain extent, a degree of formal education which has been defined as “the process of training and developing people in knowledge, skills, mind, and character in a structured and certified program” (sil.org). Along with formal education comes the “No child left behind” NCLB act of 1965, an act which mainly focuses on the improvement of the learning experience for all students, both advantaged and disadvantaged. With these efforts to improve learning comes trying to improve achievement (self, 2009; Fast et al. 2010). Along with this growing concern for children’s achievement and how to enhance it, is Bandura’s proposed theory of self-efficacy. In 2001 Bandura defined the term self-efficacy as “a conception nurtured about his/her own personal power to achieve a given level of performance”. Self-efficacy, although similar to self-concept should be acknowledged as a mental state that is completely different than self-concept or self-esteem (Haddoune, 2008). As Haddoune noted, self-concept involves comparisons to others stimulated by a desire to out preform whereas self-efficacy is a mastery belief focusing on one’s own competencies; a desire to outperform oneself and succeed in a given domain (p.3). So why is this important? Because according to the encyclopedia of social psychology, self-efficacy translates to academic achievement, grade point average, motivation and the persistence through difficult tasks. For these reasons, identifying the key factors that contribute to self-efficacy would be in the best interest of both the teachers and in the best interests of the students (Haddoune, 2008). The research that will be discussed in the following paper all look at only a few of the many steps that teachers can follow to enhance their student’s self-efficacy, enrich their student’s classroom experience and overall improve academic achievement. Mastery beliefs have been one of the most prominent characteristics correlating with self-efficacy with significance at the p< .01 level (Fast et. al, 2010). Mastery beliefs (also known by many other names such as mastery goals, and mastery learning) are defined as an internal desire to learn. Mastery students are primarily motivated by learning new material and their ability to apply it, rather than being motivated to do well or better than others. (Dompnier, Darnon, & Butera, 2009; Haddoune, 2008; Friedel, Cortina, Turner,& Midgley, 2010 ) Furthermore, mastery learners are more likely than non-mastery learners to contribute their successes and failures to personal effort i.e. “I did not try hard enough; or I did well because I studied hard for this exam” (Friedel et al., 2010). The question then is, how can teachers make their students more mastery oriented if it is in fact, mainly an internal drive?. Friede et al., 2010 intended to answer this exact question with their research that was conducted on 929 first year middle school children. Their research question stemmed from that fact that in the first year of middle school students experience a loss in academic achievement and self-efficacy beliefs. Their hypothesis was that when students enter middle school, parents and teachers go a shift of academic expectations. Mainly their expectations for students are no longer the same as what they were in elementary school (more easy going and focused on learning) rather, once students enter middle school parents and teachers become more concerned with the outcomes of learning situations (GPA etc…) rather than learning. Results of this study confirmed that there is a significant result at the p< .001 level that the teachers’ goals/expectations, which were either mastery or performance were of “crucial importance” (p.110) to their students own goals “The decline in self-efficacy beliefs was most pronounced for students who perceived a lower emphasis on mastery goals in their middle school...
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