Academic Outcomes: The Impact of Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy
New York University
Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people's beliefs about their capabilities to produce certain levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. This study will assess if a students perceived academic self-efficacy belief would have an impact on their resulting academic achievement. This study proposes to utilize a newly devised 12 item perceived academic self-efficacy (PASE) scale as a predictor variable in predicting a students resulting academic achievement as the outcome variable. 300 students will be recruited throughout the five boroughs of New York City (N=300) and will be a part of a longitudinal study spanning one academic year. Linear regression analysis will be utilized to determine if scores on students’ self-efficacy perceptions can be used to predict later academic achievement.
Keywords: self-efficacy beliefs, academic achievement, perceptions, academic abilities, and performance.
Background and Significance
This review analyzes the developmental course of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated perceptions and its contribution to academic achievements and the likelihood of positive outcomes. The role of perceived self-efficacy in the academic domain has been examined at divergent levels on how these differing levels impact the self-efficacy belief systems of all involved. These include students’ beliefs in their efficacy to regulate their learning activities and to master academic subjects, teachers’ beliefs in their instructional efficacy to manage classrooms and to motivate and promote learning in their students, and faculties’ collective sense of efficacy that their schools can accomplish significant academic progress.
Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave. Such beliefs produce diverse effects through four major processes including cognitive, motivational, affective, and selection processes. Bandura (1993) explains how perceived self-efficacy contributes to cognitive development and functioning exerting its influence on academic growth. Bandura (1993) highlights that a students beliefs in their self-efficacy towards learning and their mastery of academic activities determines their aspirations, level of motivation, and academic accomplishments. While teachers beliefs in their personal self-efficacy to motivate students and promote learning affect the type of learning environments they create and the level of academic progress their students achieve (Bandura, 1993). On a higher level, faculties’ beliefs in their collective instructional efficacy significantly contribute to their schools level of academic achievement.
Kerpelman, Eryigit, and Stephens (2008) addressed associations of self-efficacy, ethnic identity and parental support with future educational orientation. Their study establishes that both gender and current level of achievement distinguished adolescents with differing levels of future educational orientations, or goals. The strongest predictors of future education orientation were self-efficacy, ethnic identity and maternal support, while gender did not moderate these associations (Kerpelman, Eryigit, & Stevens, 2008). They feel that policies and programs that facilitate school bonding and academic performance, as well as efforts that focus specifically on enhancing the future education orientation and academic success of African American male adolescents, is needed to boost self-efficacy perceptions of children from diverse ethnic backgrounds while integrating parental support.
Caprara, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, and Cervone (2004) examine the ability of self-efficacy beliefs to predict psychosocial outcomes with respect to three indicators of adjustment: peer preference, academic achievement, and problem behavior. Caprara et al. (2004) utilized a longitudinal design where self-efficacy beliefs were used to predict psychosocial outcomes measured two years later. Self-efficacy beliefs proved to predict psychosocial outcomes even after controlling for self-reported global personality dispositions. Adolescents’ perceptions of self-efficacy for regulating their actions in accord with personal norms when they are faced with peer pressure for engaging in antisocial conduct were particularly influential, predicting psychosocial outcomes across all three domains (Caprara et al., 2004).
Perceived self-efficacy manifests in different forms impacting decision making, and resulting academic achievement through the motivation it provides. A multitude of factors including ethnic identity, social support, and self esteem greatly impact self-efficacy beliefs that in turn impact pro-social attitudes and goal orientation either in a positive or negatively way through self-efficacy beliefs.
Caprara, Fida, Vecchione, Del Bove, Vecchio, Barbaranelli, & Bandura (2008) examined the developmental course of perceived efficacy for self-regulated learning and its contribution to academic achievement and likelihood of remaining in school. Their study revealed a progressive decline in self-regulatory efficacy from junior to senior high school, with males experiencing the greater reduction. The lower the decline in self-regulatory efficacy, the higher the high school grades and the greater the likelihood of remaining in high school controlling for socioeconomic status (Caprara et al., 2008). Further analysis revealed that high perceived efficacy for self-regulated learning in junior high school contributed to junior high school grades and self-regulatory efficacy in high school, which partially mediated the relation of junior high grades on high school grades and the likelihood of remaining in school (Caprara et al., 2008).
Morris and Usher (2011) assess the sources of award-wining research professors’ (six women; six men) teaching self-efficacy through the framework of Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory. Semi-structured interviews revealed that mastery experiences and social persuasions were particularly influential sources of self-efficacy and that these sources tended to be closely related (Morris, & Usher, 2011). Professors reported that their self-efficacy had generally stabilized within their first few years of assuming a tenure-track position. Participants framed negative events in adaptive ways that had little cost to their teaching self-efficacy (Morris, & Usher, 2011). This present study intends to address 1. How does a high school student’s perceived self-efficacy in academics predict later academic performance? I hypothesize that Students with high self-efficacy perceptions about their academic abilities will obtain higher resulting grades than students with low self-efficacy perceptions.
The participants in this study will be students of either gender about to enter into the 9th grade becoming freshman in high school. The students will be recruited from high schools within the five boroughs of New York City selecting one classroom in two schools in each of the five boroughs with 30 students per class totaling a sample of 300 students (N=300). The high schools will include only public schools and will be selected randomly by utilizing a lottery selection method of writing down the names of all public high schools in each specific borough on pieces of paper, placing the names in a container, and randomly selecting two pieces of paper for each borough.
The classrooms will be selected by consulting with the selected schools principal and discussing which classrooms of students would be available to participate in the study. In the event of any of the selected schools principals wish to be excluded from the study, then the lottery selection method will be re-administered with the remaining borough pieces of paper until the sample of 300 students is obtained. The relatively short duration of the study spanning over one academic year should limit the amount of attrition that can occur when conducting a longitudinal study. Since the study is being conducted in public schools and I am utilizing whole classrooms, contacting and maintaining potential participants should be relatively organized, concise, and achievable.
Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy
I will assess perceived academic self-efficacy utilizing a five point likert scale where participants will rate the strength of their perceived efficacy ranging from 1 (highly disagree) to 5 (highly agree). The (PASE) scale includes 12 items that measure children’s perceived self-efficacy in their academic abilities. (See appendix A).
End Term Grades
I will assess end term grades by initially collecting copies of end term report cards from all participants from their 8th grade year to establish a baseline of each student’s academic ability. Then I will collect end term repot cards again at the end of their 9th grade term to establish if perceived academic self-efficacy had an effect on grades. The students end term grades will be determined by averaging across all academic subject grades to obtain a total end term score, this end term score will then be utilized as the outcome variable for analysis.
Initially the students will be given two consent forms on the first day of classes to take home that their parents must sign and they themselves must sign and bring back on data collection day (T1) as well as a copy of their 8th grade end term grades. At time 1 (T1) the first day of the second week of classes, so as to ensure that the children were comfortable with their surroundings by already being exposed to them for a week and to allow time for the consent forms to be signed and brought back along with the 8th grade report card copies. Two researchers will administer the perceived academic self-efficacy (PASE) scale during homeroom time in the students’ homeroom classroom before the start of classes. Researcher 1 will be responsible for handing out and collecting the completed scales, which is in the form of a paper questionnaire, and collecting the signed consent forms from each of the students. Researcher 2 will be responsible for administering verbal instructions explaining the contents of the questionnaire, disclosing that participation in this study is voluntary, when to start, and where to physically mark their responses.
At time 2 (T2) the same researchers will administer the (PASE) scale and collect the signed consent forms as done exactly at time 1 (T1). To determine the impact perceived academic self-efficacy had on students’ grades, scores from each students (PASE) scale will be averaged to obtain a final (PASE) score comprising the predictor variable and copies of the students end term report cards will be obtained. Once obtained, each student’s scores from all of their academic subjects will be averaged to attain an overall academic score, which will be utilized as the outcome variable.
I will utilize a cross-lagged panel design which is a longitudinal design that tests the correlations of two variables at two different points in time spanning one academic year in high school. Then correlations are calculated between measurements of the two variables at two points in time. This design will identify if there is a correlation between a students academic self-efficacy perception measured at the beginning of the term (T1) and end of the term (T2), with a students averaged end of term score taken from the end of 8th grade and at (T2). First I would correlate the scores of x, scores from the perceived academic self-efficacy scale, taken at time 1 (T1) with the scores of y, averaged end term grades, taken at time 2 (T2). Then I would calculate the scores on y, end term grades from 8th grade, taken at time 1 (T1) with those calculated from x, scores from the perceived efficacy scale, at time 2 (T2). To demonstrate a strong correlation (as close to causality as we can get without conducting experimental research) then the correlations between x at time 1 (T1) and y at time 2 (T2) should be larger than the correlation between y at time 1 (T1) and x at time 2 (T2). This is true because the relationship between a cause (perceived academic self-efficacy) and its effect (end term grades) should be stronger if the causal variable is measured before rather than after its effect. The resulting data will be collected in the form of a questionnaire for the predictor variable, and in the form of report card collection for the outcome variable.
Data Analytic Plan
Measure, (PASE) Scale
First, to determine validity, I will run an exploratory factor analysis to determine if my items are correlated with one another. The more items that correlate, the more construct validity the scale has in measuring the construct it is supposed to measure (perceived academic self-efficacy). I will run the exploratory factor analysis with an oblique rotation to ensure that all the items correlate with each other and are all tapping into perceived academic self-efficacy, which I determine by analyzing eigenvalues, total variance explained, checking the scree plot, and finally confirming validity by checking how well each item loads onto the factors.
Second, to determine the scales reliability I will check the inter-item reliability of my scale to determine the consistency or dependability of my measurement technique. This will give me an estimate of the proportion of variance in scores that is due to true score variance as opposed to error variance. Reliability equals true-score variance divided by total variance and is determined by obtaining Cronbach’s alpha in which a score of .70 or above indicates that 70% or more of the variance in the items is true score variance and hence is a reliable scale.
First, I will utilize a Pearson Correlational Coefficient to determine how well a students’ perceived academic self-efficacy (predictor variable) is correlated with end of term academic score (outcome variable). I will determine by the sign of the resulting score the directionality of the relationship if it is either – or + telling me if it is a negative or positive relationship, and I will determine by the magnitude or number itself whether it is a strong relationship telling me how well the two variables are correlated. I will then take my correlations and compare it to a table of critical values of r to make sure my values are statistically significant or have a very low probability of being zero in the population showing that my scores are not due to measurement error, sampling error, or other sources of error variance.
Second, I will square the coefficients to calculate the coefficient of determination to tell me the proportion of variance that is accounted for by the other variable, or put another way, the proportion of total variance in one variable that is systematic variance shared with the other variable.
Third, I will utilize Linear Regression by taking students scores from the perceived academic self -efficacy scale and scores resulting from an average of students end term grades to construct a regression equation. Where y= academic achievement as represented by resulting grades (outcome variable), βο= is the regression constant (beta zero) and is the y intercept, β1= is the slope of the line that best represents the relationship between x and y, and x= the students score on the perceived academic self-efficacy scale (predictor variable). The results of this equation will be utilized to see if a students’ perceived academic self-efficacy at the beginning of the term will predict their end of term academic achievement as determined by averaging scores across subjects. I will utilize a scatter plot as a graphic representation of my collected data where scores from students perceived academic self-efficacy scale (PASE) is on the x-axis and end of term scores are on the y-axis.
I will utilize a stringent consent procedure for this longitudinal research to be used as follows; first approval will be obtained from my universities IRB or revue board stating that the research I am conducting fulfills all guidelines for safe and practical research. Approval will also be obtained from the school where the research will be conducted to ensure that all their guidelines are met and that the research is able to proceed. Next, consent forms will be distributed at time 1 (T1) to any child who partakes in this research due to the fact that children are impressionable and hence are determined to be a protected population. Each child will also have to get a signed consent form filled out by their parents or legal guardians stating that they can participate freely in this research and that their guardians approve. It will be openly disclosed in writing and verbally that the children can decline participation if they choose to do so at any point prior or during the research.
Finally, the researchers will verbally and in writing disclose that the responses of the questionnaires will be confidential as well as any data that is collected and the identity of any participants attached to said data. Revue board and school approval is obtained to ensure that the research I am planning to conduct is ethical and does not put any of the participants in any danger whether physical, emotional, or mental. Children’s consent forms are utilized to explain that their participation is completely consensual and that they are not expected, coerced, or forced to participate in the study. Parents consent forms are utilized to ensure, since these are children and are impressionable, that an adult whose children’s’ welfare is of the utmost importance is in their minds completely and totally protected. Finally all data collected is disclosed as confidential in order to protect the privacy of all participants involved.
Strengths and Limitations
My present study will add to the literature of self-efficacy beliefs in the domain of academic achievement. It will demonstrate how a child’s perceived academic self-efficacy can predict how their grades will turn out later on in their academic career either with high success if coupled with high academic self-efficacy perceptions or with low success if coupled with low academic self-efficacy perceptions. The more a child believes they are competent in the realm of academics the more they will be motivated to perform to their full capacity. This research is important for understanding the cognitive, motivational, affective, and selection processes as components of a child’s belief systems in regards to the impact it can have on their academic achievement.
This research like all research is not without faults, in addressing this studies internal validity the fact that each school has different teachers with different teaching styles is one possible confound that can influence a child’s grades. The environment of the school and the resources that the school possesses is another confound that can influence a child’s grades. The child’s home life or family structure can impact their academic self-efficacy beliefs by lowering their motivation to participate in school which will also affect their grades. Also, a child’s support system within the school in the form of friends or popularity could impact their motivation to perform well in school and result in lower grades.
This study displays strong external validity in the fact that we did not pick one gender over the other and included both. We did not control for certain ethnicities or races, which opens up the possibilities to all genders, ethnicities, and races. We did not control for socioeconomic status, which allows for generizability into all levels of financial status of a child’s household. One limitation is that we utilized primarily an urban setting with urban oriented children, which would limit the generizability of my results to that population. Perhaps the children living in rural or suburban settings have completely different motivational factors that impact their resulting academic achievement. Finally our sample was limited to ninth graders, which only gives us insight into the self-efficacy perceptions of that age range.
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5 point scale: 1= highly disagree
3= neither agree nor disagree
5= highly agree
1. I can pass a test whether I study or not
2. I get discouraged when its time to take a test
3. I will always volunteer to answer a question
4. I avoid answering questions when I’m unsure of the answer
5. I will ask questions to learn more on a subject when it is unclear
6. The subject is unclear and I avoid asking questions
7. I come to class prepared and ready to participate
8. I come to class unprepared and avoid participation
9. I feel comfortable when I’m at school
10. I feel uncomfortable in a school environment
11. I believe I can accomplish anything when I’m at school
12. I am afraid to participate when I’m at school because I feel it is too hard