Posted by: reimerjs | March 26, 2011

Self-Efficacy Activity: The GSE Explained

The GSE: Explained!

Given the disclaimer on the previous page, I think it’s safe to ask: So why did I do the GSE?!

As I mentioned, the activity was not selected without purpose. Rather, it was to orient you to to some of the dispositions and behaviours consistently found in individuals with a secure, high sense of self-efficacy. This list (by no means exhaustive) includes things such as:

  • Stick-to-itiveness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Level-headedness (i.e., sophisticated coping skills)
  • High degrees of confidence, motivation, and effort

This is not meant to suggest, however, that a high score (i.e., 3.7) means you are forever engrained with these capabilities. (For your information, the “typical” mean for the GSE is 2.9.) As has been mentioned, self-efficacy is context-dependent; as a result, these behaviours can shift or disappear altogether depending on the scenario.

For example: Consider an all-star basketball player. You would expect that he or she would rate very high on a self-efficacy scale tailored specifically to sports. You would not expect, however, that those results would transfer (at least, not to the same degree) on a scale tailored to cooking. The two are not mutually exclusive abilities.

Now place yourself in this example, switching cooking for academic learning. Being a great basketball player is neither sufficient nor necessary for you to be a great student, and vice versa. It is for this reason that a “general” scale cannot actually make the generalizations it may claim, and Bandura would agree with this. According to him, in order to adequately tap into self-efficacy, questions must be embedded in a particular context. Furthermore, scales are more sensitive and accurate when responses are not limited to a few absolute selections (as was the case here), but rather offer an element of choice (i.e., rate from 0 – 100).

Fortunately, we have just that context in discussing self-efficacy in the framework of SRL in the classroom. Based on what we’ve discussed to date, a self-regulated learner with a strong, secure sense of self-efficacy might be someone who is able to draw from multiple strategies as appropriate, has confidence in their ability to achieve (i.e., goals, complete tasks), and who can – in the face of error or failure – persist and try alternate approaches. You could imagine, then, that a scale dedicated to SEaSRL might contain items like the following:

  1. When I have misunderstood what is expected of me, I consider alternate approaches without becoming discouraged.
  2. I monitor the strategies I employ in executing a task and am not opposed to switching mid-task if I feel this is appropriate.

Now that we’ve navigated through a more general conceptualization of self-efficacy, click here to return to “Know Thy(Self-Efficacy): The Basics.” It’s time to look at self-efficacy through the more directed lens of SRL!


Bandura, A. (2006). Guide to constructing self-efficacy scales. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (pp. 307-337). Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.


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