In this paper self-efficacy is reviewed and used to predict or explain academic achievement and motivation. Bandura defines self-efficacy as “the judgments an individual makes related to his or her ability to successfully learn and perform a task”. According to self-efficacy theorists, what a person believes about their capabilities influences their motivation and as a result, determines the instigation, direction, effort and persistence of their future actions. Individuals acquire information to estimate their self-efficacy from four basic factors which include; performance, observational experiences, forms of persuasion and psychological reactions. When considering performance a student will first appraise the task difficulty, past success or failure, amount of effort, amount of assistance and persistence needed. Overall performances, which result in success, will increase efficacy while experiences of failure will decrease efficacy.
A person who has established a strong sense of his or her own efficacy will tend to set higher goals and stick with them through greater difficulties. As a result, this person will more readily accept challenges to perform without feeling threatened. People with low self-efficacy may believe that things are tougher than they really are. When attempting a task a person with a low self-efficacy may experience stress, depression, and a narrow vision of the best way to solve problems. Low self-efficacy might also be able to explain why some individuals are unsuccessful or unwilling to complete a task even though they possess the necessary skills. According to Bandura, an individual’s perceived self-efficacy is a stronger predictor of future behavior than performance attainment. Consequently, a student with high intellectual ability may perform poorly due to an inability to control feelings of failure.
There are many potential benefits regarding the attainment of self-efficacy in the pursuit of an education. The self-efficacy that young people are experiencing due to the effects of current educational environments is more than ever, their key to success as adults. In the future, cognitive and self-regulatory competencies will be necessary to fulfill complex occupational roles and manage the demands of a technologically changing world. Lifelong learners need self-efficacy beliefs in their abilities to control their level of educational attainment, to set high yet realistic goals for themselves and to persevere in times of difficulty.
Those with lower efficacy for academic achievement demonstrate less popularity within their educational cohorts, experience more rejection from peers, display tendencies toward aggressive behavior and tend to miss out on activities and experiences which promote success as adults. These inclinations strongly predict aggressive lifestyle attributes and involvement in antisocial activities as both adolescence and adults.
The research conducted on self-efficacy has important implications for educators, school based programs and school psychologists. Within the classrooms school psychologists can instruct teachers on how to incorporate self-regulating strategies that are then used to obtain goals. While reviewing student work, teachers can offer feedback and positive reinforcement when using self-regulation strategies. The application of such factors will enable students to observe mastery, experience a sense of personal control and effectively monitor progress, which in turn will improve self-efficacy. Goal setting, progress feedback, and self-regulation are also important instructional techniques that can be implemented within the classroom to develop self-efficacy. As a school psychologist, in-services can be held and school based programs can be adopted on how to foster motivation and self-efficacy within the classrooms. At that meeting, a school psychologist could encourage the use of collaborative work situations within the classroom that provide students with observational experiences of similar peers. The observation of similar peers has been proven to increase self-efficacy and skill development.
Self-efficacy is a powerful human characteristic with far-reaching influences for learning, motivation and many aspects that correlate to success in life. As a future school psychologist, I feel it is important to remember that performance goals and test scores are often temporary when considering a child’s educational career. Creating motivated students and positive self-efficacy beliefs is a lasting accomplishment that will set students on a path to lifelong learning.