Monday, July 21, 2008

Theoretical Framework - Connection with Study

Connection with Study

Self-efficacy can be linked with the classroom through asserting that the teachers actions matter as much as the content. Schunk and Zimmerman (2007) tested Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy through teaching primary aged students a new element of art, as clay modeling. The authors discovered that teaching the student’s the skills necessary to accomplish the task and creating confidence would improve the overall results-the learner is thus utilizing the skills from the instruction. Furthermore, a child’s self-efficacy can be improved by noting another student’s ability to succeed. Thus, the conclusion after this study was that “the modeling, practice, and feedback, combined with learning goals and evaluations of strategy effectiveness” enhanced the child’s ability to learn (Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007, p. 19). In doing so, an instructor will enhance the child’s self-efficacy.

In another study, Mills, Pajares, and Herron (2006) researched how a Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy played a role in a student’s anxiety levels. “Student’s efficacy beliefs possesses a positive relationship to their academic performance” (p. 277). Furthermore, there was a relationship between student self belief and his or her ability to read and concluded that 14% of academic achievement was due to a student’s self-efficacy.

Further studies revealed that Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy affected the possibility of a student “undertak[ing] challenging tasks, expend[ing] greater effort, show[ing] increased persistence, demonstrate[ing] lower anxiety, display[ing] flexibility with learning strategies, and [displaying superior skills of] self-regulat[ion]” (Mills et al., 2006, p. 278). Additional research found that gender made an impact on student’s self-efficacy. That is, males were found to have a higher self-belief about their math and science skills then did females.

Tang, et al. (2004), investigated Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy from the perspective of counselors of school-aged children. Thus, a counselors feeling of their personal worth will have an enormous affect on the students he or she is counseling (Tang et al., 2004). “To be confident in their ability” the authors (2004) write, is “to use these skills in real-life settings [which] has a direct influence on the quality of counseling in services they provide” (p. 70). That is to say, the more experience a counselor has within the training portion of his or her academics, the better served he or she will be to appropriately counsel students in the long run.

Through understanding how the effects of self-efficacy of a counselor can have on a student, it is undeniable that these same self belief factors would play a role in the classroom. Tang et al. (2004) concluded, “past experience and actual involvement in related tasks help individuals to develop more confidence in accomplishing a task” (p. 77). Thus, by placing students in real-world scenarios, a teacher can better prepare his or her students.

Further evidence of Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy affecting a student’s education is concluded by Gallavan (2003) who suggests that “the areas of school where young students excel academically may initiate lifelong patterns of achievement and reward them psychologically and socially” (p. 15). Building confidence and creating a level of high self-efficacy will push a student in one direction or away from another (Gallavan, 2003). Career education encourages student engagement and better prepares students with relevant, current issues of today as well as tomorrow. That is, a student’s positive outlook of current issues will have a lasting effect (Gallavan). Thus, Gallavan concludes, “by examining the world around them, individuals consider their personal beliefs about themselves, along with their distinct personal control and management of learning” (p. 17). That is to say, an individual will create a self image based on what he or she sees around oneself.

Thus, an individual’s self image, which is created within the early years of education, will have a lasting effect on a student. Mills, Pajares, and Herron (2006) concluded that a low self-efficacy can affect a student’s academic achievements by 14% and a high level of self-efficacy can further improve that. Furthermore, a student’s belief about his or her own abilities may influence a career path which may be less desirable, however more along the lines of self-efficacy.

Through building self-efficacy at an early age, a student can build his or her ability to go beyond what would have been with a low self-efficacy. Thus, utilizing Bandura’s social learning theory as a lens to views articles regarding gender in education, one will be able to see what affects a student’s gender has, if at all, on achievement levels.

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