"Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Academic Contexts: An Outline" Frank Pajares, Emory University, web link accessed 4/2/2009
"Sources of Self-Efficacy" chapter 3 and "The Nature and Structure of Self-Efficacy" Chapter 2 from "Self-Efficacy: The exercise of control", Albert Bandura, W.H. Freeman and co., 1997. Chapter 3 is included first - it discusses the means to improve self-efficacy, and so is most relevant for design. Chapter 2 is a more general introduction, but is heavy going.
Please post your critiques/commments on the required readings below. To do that, first login by using your user name and password, then click the "edit" tab on the top part of this page (between the "discussion" page and the "history" page), New to wikis? Read the Wiki editing guide. . Hint - Please put a whole line == ~~~~ == (literally) at the beginning of your submitted critique, so the wiki system will index, sign and date your submission automatically.
Seth Horrigan 13:44, 9 April 2009 (PDT)
I was especially interested by the observation (mentioned multiple times) that self-efficacy varies by gender.
Male students express greater confidence in their mathematics and scientific capabilities, even though there are no achievement differences. Although female student typically outperform male students in language arts, there are no differences in confidence.
Are girls, as the author suggests, really underestimating their ability and boys overestimating? Or as the author allude to, are they perhaps just answering the questions according to a different subjective standard? Perhaps females are, as Noddings suggests, rating their "promise" instead of their skill. The fact that they evaluated their writing more highly than the boys' writing, but simultaneously indicated with their estimation of their own skill a lower self-efficacy. I would rather expect that this phenomenon is not actually due to either different internal metrics or due to actual differences in self-efficacy, but rather in different perspective on the "right" answer to the question. I would hypothesize that the females perceived that more modesty in this case was proper, and that they should indicate the traditional role of male dominance in mathematics, and therefore rated themselves lower; meanwhile, the boys played to their machismo and answered what they thought the greatest plausible efficacy they thought possible.
KetrinaYim 23:59, 13 April 2009 (PDT)
The discussion of self-efficacy reminds me of the typical knee-jerk reactions of my peers when I tell them I'm a computer science major. Of course, I'm talking about non-CS majors here. The most common comment I receive is "Wow, I could never do that [programming]". And I'm usually left thinking, "But why not?". What compelled these individuals to believe they were incapable of programming? Most of them hadn't even tried to do it before. Then again, one can't have much self-efficacy in something that one has no experience in.
More interesting is the fact that the comment I mentioned above usually comes from girls. It's somewhat unsettling to think that this is probably what runs through most girls' heads when they think of CS as a major. One could say that the biggest obstacle in bringing women to CS is the women themselves. Their lack of self-efficacy drives them away, though they might actually be quite good at it if they could bring themselves to try. But how can we raise self-efficacy in CS? Expose them to CS before they reach college? Find ways to make CS more culturally relevant? It's quite an issue to tangle with in computer science education.
Nicholas Kong 14:34, 14 April 2009 (PDT)
I feel the thorniest issue here is the chicken-and-egg problem of (possible) causation in the correlation between self-efficacy and performance. Pajares references a wealth of research which shows that higher self-efficacy results in higher performance, but also touches on the point that it may well be a positive feedback loop: good performance results in higher self-efficacy which helps further improve performance. So where to begin? How is self-efficacy first formed? The answer will likely be a myriad of factors, both culturally and individually determined. This may determine both self-efficacy formed prior to encountering a task, and the effect of early success or failure on self-efficacy. For example, Pajares mentions how gender roles may influence self-efficacy. Since engineering/mathematics/computer science are typically seen as more "masculine" fields, at least in North America, girls may be predisposed to feel inadequate in these fields, and so may end up less persistent than boys might. Another example: some cultures preach modesty more than others. This could result in lower self-efficacy due to habitual downplaying of achievement.
Brian Tran 08:44, 15 April 2009 (PDT)
I disagree that modesty is what reduces self-efficacy in girls. In my opinion, modesty is something shown outwardly rather than affecting your own judgement of your own ability. If you underestimate your ability, I think it is more a lack of judgement rather than modesty. Rather, I think it is societal expectations that reduce the self-efficacy. Girls are not expected to be good at video games by society in general, so girls evaluate themselves as such when gender roles play out. This lack of judgement can go both ways. One thing I was thinking about was the effect of an inflated self-efficacy. A person that is so non-proficient that he actually cannot tell that he is not that great. The more unskilled he is, the more self-efficacy he has. Of course, people will put a lot of faith in this show of confidence and later be surprised.
Simon Tan 10:54, 15 April 2009 (PDT)
The topic of self-efficacy is quite interesting to me, since I believe my generation is a product of applied self-efficacy techniques in public schools. Back then, I took the 'self-esteem' motivators as a naive, simplistic mantra of, "If I can believe it, I can do it." Clearly, it is more than that.
Nick touched on an interesting point with the 'chicken-and-egg' problem. The reading says that the skills that people possess are poor indicators of future success due to the overwhelming power of the beliefs they hold about their abilities, but I do agree that these beliefs can be affected with the attainment of skills and other successes. That is, even if self-efficacy seems to trump one's actual abilities, self-efficacy is often a function of those abilities. The reading refers to this as 'harmony between experience and self-efficacy' and 'mastery experience' but I think it can be expressed more explicitly.
David (Tavi) Nathanson 18:21, 15 April 2009 (PDT)
I found it fascinating that "feeling good about oneself does not necessarily result in accomplishments," as I don't really understand why accomplishments *matter* at all once people feel good about themselves. In other words, it seems that people often strive to be be accomplished so that they *will* feel good about themselves; if they already do feel good about themselves, what's the point?
Relatedly, the formula for self-esteem (self-esteem = success / pretensions) implies that if I have minimal standards for myself, I will automatically have high self-esteem due to the triviality of meeting those minimal standards. What's the purpose of setting high standards, then? We don't need high standards to be happy, as people often feel good about themselves without having accomplished anything, so what's the point?
On a personal level, I've been very intent on accomplishing a lot in my life; however, if "success" is not related to the enjoyment of life, then perhaps my goals need to be rethought from the point of view of maximizing the enjoyment of life (rather than maximizing success).
Priyanka Reddy 23:56, 15 April 2009 (PDT)
The discussion here about self-efficacy and how it's related to self-esteem and accomplishments reminded me about another phenomenon I heard about called the Imposter Syndrome (http://impostorsyndrome.com/). People who suffer from the Imposter Syndrome are unable to internalize their accomplishments and instead attribute it to external factors, such as luck or timing. They generally don't believe they deserve the success that they've gotten and are always afraid of being found out by others that they were "faking". This syndrome would cause the sufferer to be filled with self-doubt and low self-confidence, and in turn preventing them from striving for a lot because they believe they would fail anyway. Most people who suffer from the Imposter Syndrome are women and graduate students, most of whom are generally high-achieving and accomplished.
I thought this syndrome was related to the ideas of self-efficacy. This syndrome negates the idea that high self-efficacy is positively correlated to high performance. In this case, the higher their performance is and the more accomplishments they have, the lower their self-efficacy goes, because they feel more and more afraid of being found out. Women in science and engineering fields are more so affected by this, which may be another reason so few women are in science/engineering fields.
And, although most people don't have the full Imposter Syndrome, I think most people are at least partly affected by it at some time or another.