Self-efficacy in the simplest of terms is confidence in your ability to accomplish your tasks and your goals.  It’s a concept that isn’t just confined to one specific age group; rather we all need that boost of self-assurance to get our work done.  However from a young age, students especially need to believe that they have the competence to perform academically. How they feel about themselves and their capability to excel academically determines their choices and their actions. How students view themselves and their ability to achieve has a deep impact on their progress and development. Students with high-levels of self-efficacy will often exhibit more social, cognitive and emotional engagement during class. That is the reason why it’s been a topic of research lately and many studies have been done to show the correlation between self-efficacy beliefs and student academic achievement.  School also plays an important part in determining and moulding their lives and that’s why its important for students to believe in their ability to succeed.

 

Self-efficacy takes in account the abilities an individual has and then what that individual perceives it can do with those abilities and talents in the given circumstances. For example, an individual who is about to run 5k-track race, whether that individual believes can run the race successfully within the given time and come in first is the judgement to make. Prior Experiences play a major role in self-efficacy beliefs as repeated success enhances and a constant failure decreases your self-efficacy beliefs. However a series of strong prior successes will tolerate future breakdowns.  Positive feedback can also have an impact on individual efficacy beliefs. Studies have even demonstrated that self-efficacy helped aided academic effort, participation, intrinsic motivation and performance (Bong, M, 2003). Though there is insurmountable evidence of these findings, its difficult to differentiate between self-efficacy and self-concept. Educators can ask students, “How are certain are you that you are going to pass this course?” in order to measure their self-efficacy. A student’s self-efficacy beliefs are also tied in with academic curricular subjects (English, science etc.)(Caprara, G, 2011)  and how students self-motivate they to complete assigned tasks and project. These aspects also affect grades and career decisions.  A meta-data of studies done in 1977 and 1988 highlighted the self-efficacy and academic performance were linked. Recently in 2008, a study Capara et al took a look at students from a young age to almost adulthood and observed the advancement of self-efficacy beliefs. The students who had higher levels of self-efficacy at 12 years of age had a higher percentage of grades and a lower risk of dropping out. There is also new research that has been an extension of this research. Like previous findings, self-efficacy beliefs are higher in adolescence rather than early years. Another study done in junior schools in a residential community near Rome, examined students from different junior highs students four different times and the results showed approximately 14.8% students who had lower self-efficacy beliefs dropped out of high school (Caprara, G, 2011). It is a known fact that individuals are more likely to engage in activities where they know they have a chance of succeeding. Janet Lynn Collins in her book explained a study where they had students of different levels of math skills and different levels of self-efficacy. The students told to do their assigned math work and redo the ones they got wrong. It was found the even though their math skills were low, students who had a higher level of self-efficacy did more of the problems correctly (Pajares, F., 1996).

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Self-efficacy is also said to increase memory by increasing determination. Studies involving college students have also shown that engineering and science students have demonstrated a higher level of self-efficacy in order to maintain their academic performance. Self-efficacy combined with cognitive and metacognitive strategies all help enhance academic performance.  Another factor is how much importance is given to achieving a higher grade but its not as substantial (pjares553).  In one study, elementary school students, positive feedback is said to increase self-efficacy beliefs and therefore increasing skills and performance (Pajares, F., 1996).

Students are more likely to take part in activities/tasks where they know they have chance of succeeding. Students for example will be more inclined to do a task with a an expected end product and they will less motivated to do if its unpredicted result. For example when a student put in hard work and studies efficiently for a test, it is because they want to see good results on the test and therefore have a high grade overall in the course.  

 

 

Though there are a good amount of studies showing the affect of self-efficacy on academic improvement, the question remains is it enough to impact grades and performance on its own? Or are there other factors that even despite having self-efficacy still won’t allow the student achieve academically? Through the studies we can safely say that it enhances student academic performance but there are factors as well that can affect it.  Parenting styles also have an impact on grades; those with a warm, loving will more likely have high self-efficacy and motivation. Those students with parents who adopt extremely strict and high expectation parenting styles will likely have a lower level self-efficacy. Whether a student gives a subject any importance or considers it to be worth trying to get a high mark is also a factor that affects their performance. Self-concept is “I’m good at math, it’ll be a piece of cake.”  And it is also another factor that increases performance and often enough the line between self-efficacy and self-concept is hard to distinguish. The idea of goal setting is also plays an important role in achievement. Those students who set a goal and persist to achieve it are often more successful, this also ties into self-efficacy. In early years, parental involvement plays a huge part in a child’s academic achievement and it also reinforces self-efficacy.  Having enough of an attention span that allows you catch all the information being taught is also a factor that might academic performance.  Sometimes student’s previous failures get in the way and cloud the chance for any motivation.  The socio-economic status of student also effects their academic achievement, being from a well off financial background might allow the student to have access to resources than a student who is financially struggling might not have access to. This also ties into if the student can afford private education where the class size is smaller and the teacher is able to help the student more often in class rather than being in a public school where the class size is as twice as much and the teacher cannot possibly help all the students in the class. Lastly there are also personality traits that impact self-efficacy beliefs (Caprara, G, 2011). All of these factors, though it may not be significant, do impact academic performance. They also affect self-efficacy levels an individual might have. 

 

The primary job of the educational assistant is to be there for the students when the teacher is busy and offer additional support. There are many strategies EAs can use to raise self-efficacy beliefs of the students. Especially in elementary school, feedback and praise often helps boost the student’s morale and makes them more determined to do better. Students at a young age are more sensitive; feedback that seems too harsh or critical will shatter the student’s confidence and make them hesitant to try again. The student may not know all the answers, for example if they are trying to figure out how to spell a word, rather than telling them how to spell it, sound it out and make them guess the letters. This way, the students feel proud because they think they’ve accomplished the task all by themselves. After the EA is finished reading with a student, he or she can ask the student to retell the story and make connections to it, this will give them a deeper idea of how well the students understood the story and it will also raise the student’s self-efficacy. An educational professional is supposed to make the student belonged and are supposed to say words of encouragement and motivation. The best thing educational assistants can do for students are to make them feel proud and satisfied with their work and that will increase their self-determination and self-efficacy and it will increase their performance

 

There have been many studies that have shown that self-efficacy impacts student achievement. Despite if they are good at something or not, students who have high self-efficacy are much more likely to try and succeed.  When students know they are capable of accomplishing a task or a goal then they are more likely to engage in it. Students with self-efficacy are more confident and that comes across in the work they do. Though self-efficacy does impact academic performance, it’s not the only factor; there are other factors that can affect students’ grades even if they have high self-efficacy. Educational professionals such as EAs have the responsibility to assist students in such a way that it raises their self-efficacy and enhance their learning.

 

References

 

Pajares, F. (1996). Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 543-578. doi:10.3102/00346543066004543

 

Bong, M., & Skaalvik, E. (2003). Academic Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy: How Different Are They Really? Educational Psychology Review, 15(1), 1-40. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23361533

 

Caprara, G. V., Vecchione, M., Alessandri, G., Gerbino, M., & Barbaranelli, C. (2011). The contribution of personality traits and self-efficacy beliefs to academic achievement: A longitudinal study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(1), 78-96. doi:10.1348/2044-8279.002004

 

Ferla, J., Valcke, M., & Cai, Y. (2009). Academic self-efficacy and academic self-concept: Reconsidering structural relationships. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(4), 499-505. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2009.05.004

 

Turner, E. A. & Chandler, M. & Heffer, R. W. (2009). The Influence of Parenting Styles, Achievement Motivation, and Self-Efficacy on Academic Performance in College Students. Journal of College Student Development 50(3), 337-346. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved January 29, 2018, from Project MUSE database.

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