Self Efficacy and Academic Achievement

Self-efficacy is perhaps one of the most explored and admired psychological determinants and mediators of academic achievement. The concept of self-efficacy arose with Bandura’s influential paper, Self-Efficacy: toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change (1977). The concept of self-efficacy emphasizes self-belief and confidence in one’s own capabilities and competence. Ever since the concept of self-efficacy took form, many studies have explored its role in educational success. It is now a proven fact that self-efficacy is an important mediator of academic achievement. This paper attempts to evaluate some studies and research evidence that support this claim. The implications of the findings of these studies for teachers and instructors are also discussed. I. The Concept of Self-Efficacy as described by Bandura A person’s belief in his/her capabilities in exercising control over events affecting his/her life is the central idea of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1989, p. 1175). According to Bandura, self-efficacy induces motivation that in turn leads to effect which then gives rise to action. Human cognitive processes are affected by self-belief, influencing thought patterns that may either aid or hinder progress. People tend to aspire higher if they have a stronger self-efficacy, and so, they tend to achieve better than those who have weaker self-efficacy. It thus acts as a strong motivator. When faced with a difficult task, people tend to either master it or avoid doing it. Those who attempt a seemingly difficult task and succeed in it, gain an increase in self-efficacy and their fear and tendency to avoid the task reduce significantly (Bandura, 1977, p. 191). Self-efficacy is an important determinant of academic performance as students whose experiences raise their self-efficacy set higher goals and are more mentally conditioned to acquire those goals. Thus, in contrast to students lacking self-efficacy, students with higher self-efficacy tend to achieve higher as they believe in their own capabilities, estimate their strengths more accurately and tend to utilize available resources more efficiently. II. Evaluation of Research Evidence that Supports the role of Self-Efficacy in Academic Achievement Many studies have explored the direct effects of self-efficacy on the academic performance of students. Some of these are evaluated here. A. Self-efficacy, learning strategies and personal goal setting Studies by Zimmerman and Bandura (1994, as cited in Zimmerman, 2000, p. 87) on high school students show that existence of higher self-efficacy as well as personal goal setting at the beginning of a term at school increased the prediction of final grades by 31%. This study also found that self-efficacy along with personal goal setting, compared to the Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal subscale, raised the prediction of final grades by 35%. Self-efficacy is not only an efficient predictor of final grades but also leads to an efficient use of learning strategies. Studies by Zimmerman Martinez-Pons (1990, as cited in Zimmerman, 2000, p. 87) on fifth, eighth and eleventh graders suggest that increase in self-efficacy leads to a significant increase in both verbal and mathematical efficiency, along with an improved use of strategy. Several studies on training outcomes suggest that encouraging students to set their own personal goals and instructing them to set proximal