According to Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” In other words, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. It is describes beliefs are determinants of how people think, behave, and feel
Virtually all students can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most students also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. An individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.
People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:
View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:
Avoid challenging tasks
Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities
Of four factors that affect an individual’s self-efficacy, the first is that of experience of mastery. Because initial success promotes self-efficacy, having clear tasks for students to complete on the first few days of class is essential. For example, having students post personal introductions to the class for credit would help them to see how to correctly use the particular learning management system. When instructors provide a positive response to each student’s involvement in the discussion , this creates an initial feeling of success. By focusing on what the student has done correctly prior to giving any critical feedback, the student’s sense of self-efficacy can be increased. The second factor, vicarious experience, can be promoted since students do physically see each other and thus identify those that they perceive are like them being successful in task completion.
When teachers provide positive feedback to students in the discussion time and invite other students to read the student’s response, this can promote a vicarious experience for learners. Another strategy for instructors would be to collect positive comments from students at the end of one class and post some of these in a confidential manner at the beginning of future courses. For example, by posting a student’s comment that states, “When I first started this class I was really confused. However, I quickly felt like a pro!” could help students to see that others have had similar initial feelings of doubt, but were able to be successful.
The third factor, social persuasion, is connected directly to the need to build a sense of community. As by listening to topics from fellow students and by giving quality responses, a sense of community is established. To help ensure that this occurs, an instructor should specify behavioral norms and grading expectations for communication. The instructor should model this behavior by publically commenting to students with focused praise and ask questions that encourage higher order thinking and real world applications of the concepts being learned. Another way to achieve social persuasion is through the instructor’s use of evaluative feedback by dinther and personal and positive communication via meetings and e-mails.
Finally, how physiological factors influence self-efficacy. In a traditional classroom experience, an instructor can view signs of nervousness or confusion and provide extra encouragement and support. One way for an instructor to focus on this area is to take a very proactive approach in decreasing student stress and anxiety. By calling a student at the start of a course, an instructor can create a sense of rapport, lower the levels of anxiety, and gauge where the student’s comfort level is with the course material. Providing clear instructions for assignments, and adding examples or templates, can also be a proactive approach to create a more positive mood for the online student. A safe environment can be further created by encouraging students to ask questions to seek clarification when they feel tense or in doubt. Furthermore, instructors can openly share their past feelings regarding learning new concepts. By empathizing with students, the instructor demonstrates a high level of care while promoting the students’ overall sense of self-efficacy.