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High and low self- efficacy

People with a low sense of self-efficacy doubt their ability to reach a goal or complete a task. This makes them lose their motivation and have a weak commitment to the task or goal. They have a negative mindset in which they look at the challenges as threats and dwell on the obstacles they have to face.

People with a low sense of self-efficacy easily lose faith in themselves and give up easily when faced with challenges and it is more difficult for them to recover from failures. The negative mindset gives them a narrow view of their capabilities and they believe that things are more difficult than they are in reality. They expect to see results in completing the task or reaching their goal without effort or commitment.

In contrast, people with a high sense of self-efficacy have the belief that they are able to complete tasks and reach goals. As a result, they set challenging goals for themselves and approach difficulties with confidence. They have a positive mindset which fosters interests and commitment for the tasks and goals.

People with a high sense of self-efficacy recover easily from failures as they see them as a lack of effort or skill on their part which motivates them to try better next time. They take control of their thoughts and their behaviour in order to overcome obstacles and as a result, they easily recover from setbacks.

Influence of other factors

Learning environments can play big roles in a studentā€™s sense of self-efficacy. Students who learn in positive environments have a stronger sense of self-motivation. Students who manage to maintain a high sense of self-efficacy in negative environments have to work even harder to complete their goals or tasks. In a negative environment, students with a low sense of self-efficacy can tend towards apathy and de-motivation because they put in the effort but do not see results and they feel helpless. A student has a higher chance of depression when they have a low sense of self-efficacy in a negative environment.

Ability and skills: Students with higher abilities or skills needed to perform well at any given task are more likely to succeed and perform better. Although, even when looking at students with the same level of ability or skill, the students with a higher sense of self-efficacy perform better than students with a low sense of self-efficacy.

One study showed the differences in the performance of students with a high sense of self-efficacy and a low sense of self-efficacy of the same ability group focussing on maths problems. The results showed that students with an average math ability and a high sense of self-efficacy got on average 45% of the questions on a maths test correct. The students with a low sense of self-efficacy and average maths ability only got an average of 25% of the questions correct. In conclusion, students with an average math ability with a high sense of self-efficacy will perform about 20% better on a maths test than students with a low sense of self-efficacy.

The same study showed that students with above-average ability in math and a high sense of self-efficacy answered about 75% correctly and students with above-average ability in maths and a low sense of self-efficacy answered the questions 65% correctly on average. This study showed that even though ability plays a big role in studentsā€™ performance, their sense of self-efficacy also plays a big role in studentsā€™ success.

Think about the study above and answer the following question:

  • How might you help students improve their self-efficacy around their skills and abilities?

Measuring self-efficacy

Self-rating questionnaires are the most common tools used to measureĀ  self-efficacy.

One of the tools for measuring studentsā€™ levels of self-efficacy is the General Self-Efficacy Scale developed by Matthias Jerusalem and Ralf Schwarzer (Lopez-Garrido, 2020).Ā  Students are given eight statements which they have to answer on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree.

  1. I will be able to achieve most of the goals that I have set for myself.
  2. When facing difficult tasks, I am certain that I will accomplish them.
  3. In general, I think that I can obtain outcomes that are important to me.
  4. I believe I can succeed at most any endeavour to which I set my mind.
  5. I will be able to successfully overcome many challenges.
  6. I am confident that I can perform effectively on many different tasks.
  7. Compared to other people, I can do most tasks very well.
  8. Even when things are tough, I can perform quite well.

The score of the test is calculated by the average rate of the eight statements. If a student scores higher on the scale, it means that this student has a high sense of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy and self-regulated learning

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Self-regulated learning is a process.In the forethought phase, students set goals, plan for tasks and for the amount of time they need to complete the tasks. In the performance phase, students monitor their progress and motivation and apply different strategies to meet the learning outcomes. In the reflection phase, students reflect on their work and experiences.

 

 

Students with a high sense of self-efficacy use more cognitive strategies when tackling their goal, which is a part of self-regulated learning. Additionally, students who have better time management and organizational skills, are able to minimise distractions, monitor their knowledge and comprehension, ask for help, maintain a positive environment and set reachable and challenging goals for themselves.

There are multiple ways in which self-efficacy levels influence self-regulation. People with a higher sense of self-efficacy:

  • Set more challenging goals forĀ  themselves.
  • Are more persistent.
  • Have a positive mindset which helps them use their cognitive skills more efficiently and have a more effective way of problem-solving. People with a high sense of self-efficacy believe that they are able to reach their goals and search for solutions.

Questions for further thinking: factors of self-efficacy

  • – Do you think you have a low sense or high sense of self-efficacy? Why?
  • – What are indicators of studentsā€™ sense of self-efficacy?
  • – Is your classroom a positive environment for studentsā€™ self-efficacy? Why or why not?
  • – What tool would you use to measure your studentsā€™ self-efficacy?
  • – Why is studentsā€™ self-regulated learning important in relation to their self-efficacy?

 

Key takeaways Factors of self-efficacy

  • Students with low self-efficacy do not believe in their ability to reach a goal or complete a task.
  • Students with high self-efficacy have faith in their ability to reach a goal or complete a task.
  • Multiple factors influence studentsā€™ success, but self-efficacy is a big part of it.
  • Studentsā€™ environment has a big influence on studentsā€™ self-efficacy.
  • You can easily test oneā€™s self-efficacy by using questionnaires.
  • Self-regulated learning has a significant link to self-efficacy learning, in both ways.

 

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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by room305 and Inclusive Education Class 2020-2021 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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