Posted by: reimerjs | April 8, 2011

Promoting Self-Efficacy: Tips for Students

Tips for Students


Just because you’re a student and not (always) a teacher doesn’t mean you get off scot-free! Although being immersed in a facilitative learning environment promoted by those strategies above will assist you in being an efficacious and self-regulated learner, there are still things you can do independently (in terms of both your attitudes and your behaviours) to speed up the process.

Consider the following four strategies as ways to breathe life into your own self-efficacy:

  1. Build a history of success. Success tends to breed success. Identify areas in school where you feel most competent and confident (i.e., painting, math problems). Having an accessible list of those areas can help you in two ways: it affirms your existing self-efficacy in those areas, and may also assist you in selecting topics for assignments where you have choice (i.e., choosing a topic for a major paper). It is the case that individuals tend to favour those subject areas where they have previously experienced success.
  2. Failure is bound to occur. Unfortunately, this is one certainty in life; we are human and thus prone to error, even if we monitor our progress as we go. The point here is to focus on the positive and not the negative. It serves you better to acknowledge the disconnect  (or affirmation) between your expectations and outcomes and shortly thereafter shift your focus on alternate solutions. Failure and error are not indicators of inability to achieve; rather, they are indicators that a different route is likely to be more effective.
  3. Recognize the relationship between self-efficacy and goals. As has been stated before, self-efficacy and goals are related. An individual who has a good deal of confidence in their ability to achieve a task (i.e., essay writing), they are more inclined to challenge themselves by developing and meeting goals oriented toward an end success. It is useful to track the goals you’re making to see if any patterns (i.e., content, manageability, achievement) emerge. Keep in mind that if a goal is not realistic, how can you expect to achieve it? This poses an inherent threat to your sense of self-efficacy. Research has found that proximal goals (or breaking down a big goal into smaller, “easy to chew” pieces) lends itself most readily to academic achievement and high self-efficacy.
  4. Engage in efficacy self-talk. Even though you can typically rely on your family, teachers, and peers to offer encouragement, it is equally important for you to encourage yourself independently of these external sources. An example is as simple as saying, “You can do this!” While research is limited in this area, it is consistent with positive psychology theory or a “look-good-feel-good” phenomenon: if you tell yourself you are able to complete a task or meet a goal, the likelihood of you doing so is increased. So don’t be afraid to give yourself a verbal pat on the back when you are feeling stuck!

Clicking the link below will re-direct you to the Child Self-Efficacy Scale, developed again by Albert Bandura. Note that although the term “child” does hold inherent connotations, this scale is not tailored to a particular age. Take the time to print out and complete the document (paying particular attention to the Self-Efficacy for Academic Achievement and Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning subscales).

Once you have finished this and tallied an average (done by dividing the total responses in each scale by the number of responses), take stock of any patterns or trends (i.e., consistently low ratings in one area, an exceptionally low rating on one particular construct.) You are invited and encouraged to leave your reflections and impressions in a comment below or, if you do not feel comfortable with this, please send a private message.

Child Self-Efficacy Scale

And that’s the long and short of it! Hopefully these tips and strategies will get you on your way to a solid appraisal of self-efficacy and a promising future of SRL! Click here to go back to the home strategy page, where you will find a list of references and further readings.

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