The Impact of a Facilitators Perceived Self-Efficacy on Motivating Active Program Participation
New York University
The role of self-efficacy beliefs affects both facilitators and program participants alike and provides a cognitive basis for establishing motivation. Motivation is developed through self-exploration in the form of evaluative self-inventories as well as goal setting that is guided by ones accurate perception of ones capabilities. These evaluations solidify a person’s self-concept and in turn, if positive tangible outcomes are experienced, will lead to positive self-efficacy beliefs that translate into increased motivation and active engagement toward obtainable and desirable outcomes.
Key Words: Intervention, Facilitator, Self-Efficacy, Motivation, Goal-Setting, Engagement, Self-Evaluative Processes
The Impact of a Facilitators Perceived Self-Efficacy on Motivating Active Program Participation
An important, cognitively based source of self-motivation relies on the intervening processes of goal setting and self-evaluative reactions to one’s own behavior (Bandura & Schunk, 1981). A person’s confidence in their abilities is an important factor in determining that person’s performance in a set task. The more confident a person is, the more that person will perceive themselves as being an authority in any set area that they apply themselves in. Through this positive perception of one’s ability, a person will attempt to achieve positive outcomes toward set tasks. These outcomes, if favorable, will be the evidence, or cues, that the person uses to evaluate their abilities and hence will be the basis for providing them with positive self-efficacy beliefs. These beliefs become inherent in that person’s behavior in which that person becomes confidently involved in set tasks and exudes confidence becoming a mechanism for promoting social interaction.
Among the mechanisms of human agency, none is more central or pervasive than beliefs of personal efficacy (Bandura & Locke, 2003). I began the Fieldwork course sequence not knowing what to expect and not very confident in my abilities toward participating at a field site. All that gave me a practical look into what to expect came from a group of Fieldwork III students sharing their personal experiences at different field sites. The group dialog gave me some perspective on the duties I would be performing at my chosen site and helped to give structure to what I might want to get out of this requirement. I spent the rest of that semester trying to decide what field site would be the best fit for my personality and overall career goals. These end goals acted as my motivation towards aligning relevant fieldwork sites and subsequent experiences I will gain that would most benefit my desired academic track. Once satisfied that my field site choice was in sync with my academic and personal goals, I was more confident that I would be motivated to establish a positive and active presence in the research team I was planning to join.
By making self-satisfaction conditional, which operates largely through internal comparison processes, requires personal standards against which to evaluate ongoing performance (Bandura & Schunk, 1981). Fieldwork II began my facilitation duties for Dr. Ali and her intervention program dubbed PhotoClub. This research team fit most closely with my intended academic path of Counseling Psychology and fit well with my personal path of helping people realize their optimal selves to live more fulfilling lives. Through this intervention, I was helping people self-evaluate their current self-perceptions, how they think other people perceive them, and what they would like to become in the future. This step-by-step process is a model that most people utilize in determining their self-concepts and helps in determining the paths that they lead themselves down.
A lesson that I myself have learned is that a faulty self-perception can lead to unrealistic goal attainment. Through negative situational outcomes a person will view these failures as evidence of their inherent personality flaws depleting their perceived self-efficacy beliefs about their abilities and ultimately lowering their motivation towards goal attainment. I myself follow these principles of self-evaluation to make sure that my goals are reasonably attainable and that the experience that I was gaining through my facilitation duties was providing me with positive reinforcement about my professional performance. I used these self-evaluations to determine if I was indeed satisfied with my performance professionally, which was defined by participant interaction during sessions and subsequent supervisor feedback. The more positive feedback I would receive from supervisors and the more impact I had on intervention participants on an interpersonal level, the more my self-perceptions were in tune with my efficacy beliefs and the more I strived to create a comfortable environment for participants to develop their own self-efficacy beliefs. These factors were instrumental in motivating me to be an active part of the facilitation process and informed me on the steps that needed to be taken to be confident and effective in my abilities.
These experiences and realizations have guided me towards a reoccurring question that I feel is important to explore and involves my influence on program participants; How does cultivating participant self-efficacy beliefs motivate active intervention Involvement? How does a person use self-efficacy beliefs to determine their confidence in their abilities? More specifically, I am interested in the dynamic behind how cultivating a participant’s confidence in their abilities (self-efficacy beliefs) will create an atmosphere and consensus among intervention participants that induces active program participation by increasing participant engagement.
Goal Setting and Self-evaluation
Bandura and Schunk (1981) believed that an important, cognitively based source of self-motivation relies on the intervening processes of goal setting and self-evaluation. This principle is at the heart of the PhotoClub program. We believe that through self-evaluation a person can take a clear and accurate self-inventory of their current living situation and life experience. Each step of the PhotoClub intervention allows for differing views of a persons self-concept to come together to paint an all-encompassing and hopefully accurate self-portrait. Once a person has a clear sense of who they are, then they can begin down the path of figuring out who they want to be.
Bandura and Locke (2003) address the verification of the functional properties of self-efficacy beliefs and document how self-efficacy beliefs operate in concert with goal systems within a socio-cognitive theory of self-regulation. Social cognitive theory theorizes that the proactive cultivation of perceived self-efficacy and the challenges of obtaining personal goals enhance motivation and performance attainments. Explicit goals are more likely than vague intentions to engage self-evaluative processes in any given activity (Bandura, 1981). Also that goal proximity is especially critical because the more obtainable a goal seems to be in the near future, the more a person will invest themselves toward engaging appropriate skills and learning what will and will not accomplish those goals (Bandura, 1981).
Bandura (1977) believed that the capability for intentional and purposeful human action is rooted in two mechanisms of cognitive activity. One mechanism operates anticipatorily through the exercise of forethought. By representing foreseeable outcomes symbolically, future prospects can be converted into current motivators, which ultimately regulate behavior. The second major source of cognitive motivation derives from internal standards and self-evaluative reactions to one’s performance. Participants in the PhotoClub program are encouraged to develop acute step-by-step plans in which they can achieve in the foreseeable future. These plans in turn act as a sense of motivation that is reinforced through weekly self-evaluative inventories that the participant utilizes in constructing a current self-image.
Schunk (1990) focuses on self-regulated learning processes of goal setting and perceived self-efficacy. He states that a person enters a learning environment with goals and also self-efficacy for the attainment of those goals. As learners work on tasks, they observe their own performances and evaluate their own goal progress. Self-efficacy and goal setting are affected by self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reaction. When those people perceive satisfactory goal progress, they feel capable of improving their skills in which goal attainment, coupled with high self-efficacy, leads these people to set new challenging goals. Schunk points out that there are ways of teaching individuals to set realistic goals and to evaluate their progress, which includes establishing proximal and distal goal limits based on accurate perceived capabilities.
Self-regulated learning occurs when individuals activate and sustain cognitions and behaviors systematically oriented toward attainment of learning goals. Self-regulated learning processes involve goal-directed activities that individuals instigate, modify, and sustain (Zimmerman, 1989). These activities include attending to instruction, processing and integrating knowledge, rehearsing information to be remembered, and developing and maintaining positive beliefs about learning capabilities and anticipated outcomes of actions (Schunk, 1989). The facilitators’ job is to is to establish an accurate knowledge base of their capabilities driven by an active working knowledge of intervention theory and procedures. Guided by the facilitator’s confidence and knowledgability, participants can then begin to develop their own self-efficacy beliefs, which in turn will drive their active participation and motivation.
Positive self-efficacy beliefs
Self-efficacy beliefs are an enabling and protective function of belief in one’s capability to exercise some measure of control over traumatic adversity (Benight & Bandura, 2004). The women that participate in this intervention are recent survivors of domestic violence and bring with them residual feelings stemming from that traumatic experience. These feelings and emotions can be a barrier from allowing these women to get past the trauma and become a more self-confident and engaged person. We aim, through this program, to strengthen their self-efficacy beliefs by allowing them to take a self-evaluative inventory of who they are and who they want to be. It’s our hopes that this step-by-step process will provide motivation for achieving that goal.
Benight and Bandura (2004) point out that acute distress is a normative response to trauma in which a small percent of the people who have undergone traumatic experiences continue to exhibit severe stress reactions long after the trauma. The posttraumatic reactions are widely generalized across different modes and spheres of functioning. They include impaired concentration, depression, sleep disturbances, self-devaluation, avoidance of reminders of traumatic experiences, emotional detachment from others, and disengagement from aspects of life that provide meaning and self-fulfillment (Benight & Bandura, 2004). Because of these deep rooted disturbances participants are in a state of constant self-evaluation that are based on traumatic experiences that have left them with an inaccurate and profoundly negative view of themselves. This is the cause of initial resistance and lack of participation that facilitators can experience while working with domestic violence survivors. It then becomes crucial that the facilitators exude confidence in their abilities providing a framework for participants to follow.
Among the mechanisms of human agency, none is more central or pervasive than beliefs of personal efficacy. Whatever other factors serve as guides and motivators, they are rooted in the core belief that one has the power to produce desired effects; otherwise one has little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties (Bandura, & Locke, 2003). Bandura (1977) hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior.
Self-efficacy theory proposes that people acquire information to appraise efficacy from their performance accomplishments, indirect (observational) experiences, forms of persuasion, and physiological manifestations. An individual's own performances offer the most reliable guides for assessing efficacy. Successes raise efficacy and failure lowers it, but once a strong sense of efficacy is developed, a failure may not have much impact (Bandura, 1986). An individual also acquires capability information from knowledge of others and reinforce those capabilities through feedback from others, which in turn offer the best basis for comparison (Schunk, 1989). Observing similar peers perform a task conveys to observers that they too are capable of accomplishing it. Information acquired indirect typically has a weaker effect on self-efficacy than performance-based information; an indirect increase in efficacy can be contradicted by subsequent failures.
Through the PhotoClub program participants are actively encouraged to utilize their own perceptions of themselves, through themed photographs, as well as incorporated feedback from others through group evaluations and discussions of individual photographs. Once a participant has expressed their evaluation of their lived experience of their lives, and incorporated others perceptions of their experience, this process provides a basis for participants to feel comfortable with their perceptions and will provide the foundation for continued exploration and active engagement.
Active motivation & engagement toward desirable outcomes
Liem and Martin (2011) believed that across various areas of human endeavor and agency, motivation and engagement play an active role in creating adaptive pathways and desirable outcomes. Through cultivating participants’ confidence in them-selves and their abilities by allowing them to follow a path of self-exploration and discovery, PhotoClub hopes to produce participants that will be more engaged through the prospect of new beginnings. The more engaged a participant is in developing a plan for their future self, the more the participant should be motivated to participate and complete the intervention. It’s our hope that each graduating participant will retain long lasting affects from the cultivation of their self-efficacy beliefs and utilize this newfound confidence into achieving their future self-plan.
Bandura (1982) states that people in their daily lives continuously make decisions about what courses of action to pursue and how long to continue those that they have undertaken. Because acting on misjudgments of personal efficacy can produce adverse consequences, accurate appraisal of ones own capabilities has considerable functional value. Self-efficacy judgments, whether accurate or faulty, influence choice of activities and environmental settings. People avoid activities that they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they undertake and perform confidently those that they judge themselves capable of managing (Bandura, 1977).
Liem and Martin (2011) state that motivation and engagement are a multidimensional conceptual framework that represents salient cognitive and behavioral dimensions relevant to increasing motivation and promoting active engagement. They point out important cognitive processes such as self-efficacy, valuing, and mastery orientation (adaptive cognition); planning, task management, and persistence (adaptive behavior); anxiety, failure avoidance, and uncertain control (impeding/maladaptive cognition); and self-handicapping and disengagement (maladaptive behavior), that are the basic thought processes that can either promote increased motivation and active engagement or can greatly diminish motivation and impede engagement (Liem & Martin, 2011). When a participant is positively motivated towards self-exploration, that participant will become more engaged in the self-evaluative process and hopefully will translate their acquired self-perception into usable self-efficacy, which in turn will translate into increased motivation and beneficial behaviors such as active program participation and engagement.
Self-efficacy and effects on Behavior
Self-efficacy beliefs regulate human functioning through cognitive, motivational, affective, and decisional processes (Bandura, 1997). They influence whether individuals think in self-enhancing or self-debilitating ways, how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of difficulties, the quality of their emotional well-being and their vulnerability to stress and depression, and the choices they make at important decisional points (Bandura, & Locke, 2003).
Bandura (1977) believes that through a person’s self-evaluation mediated by a successful performance in a set task, that person will develop positive self-efficacy beliefs that will ultimately dictate behavioral responses to adverse situations in the form of motivation and confidence.
Bandura (1982) also believed that self-percepts of efficacy influence thought patterns, actions, and emotions in which higher levels of perceived self-efficacy produced higher levels of performance accomplishment. When people commit themselves to explicit standards or goals, perceived negative inconsistencies between what they do and what they seek to achieve creates self-dissatisfactions that serve as motivational incentives for enhanced effort. Both the anticipated self-satisfactions for matching accomplishments and the self-dissatisfactions with substandard performances provide incentives for heightened effort (Bandura, 1983). Perceived self-efficacy, or an individual’s personal belief about their capabilities to learn or perform behaviors at designated levels, plays an important role in their motivation and learning.
Self-efficacy is a key mechanism in social cognitive theory, which claims that achievement depends on interactions between behaviors, personal factors, and environmental conditions. Self-efficacy affects choice of tasks, effort, persistence, and achievement (Schunk, 2003). At the outset of learning new activities, individuals have goals as well as a sense of self-efficacy for attaining those goals. Through self-evaluations and through assessments of learning progress an individual can sustain or increase self-efficacy and subsequent motivation. Schunk (2003), through his research, demonstrates how modeling, goal setting, and self-evaluation affect self-efficacy, motivation, and ultimate learning. Lippke et al. (2009) examined the recognized moderating role of self-efficacy in the intention planning behavior relationship.
This research sought to explore if self-efficacy indeed moderates the mediation process in which the strength of the mediated effect of proximal or distal planning would increase or decrease motivation for achieving that plan and if that affect would vary along with levels of self-efficacy. They concluded that for plans to mediate the intention behavior relation, people must hold sufficiently high levels of self-efficacy. If they lack self-efficacy, planning may be in vain (Lippke et al., 2009). Zimmerman, Bandura, and Martinez-Pons (1992) explored the causal role of an individuals self-efficacy beliefs and obtainable goals in self-motivated goal attainment. This study found that an individual’s belief in their efficacy for self-regulated learning affected their perceived self-efficacy for goal achievement, which in turn influenced the goals they set for themselves and their final goal achievement. Ultimately self-efficacy beliefs will dictate what a person believes they can and cannot do. These beliefs will then translate into what that person will utilize overt behaviors to accomplish and will either limit that person’s capability or expand them toward increase motivation and active engagement in attainment of goals.
Conclusion and Future Directions
This research review article examined the diverse ways in which perceived self-efficacy contributes to cognitive development and functioning. Perceived self-efficacy has been found to exert its influence through several major processes. They include cognitive (through evaluation and perception); motivational (in which self-efficacy beliefs can drive motivation); affective (where a persons self-concept can provide an emotional buffer); and selection processes (where all these processes can dictate what choices and actions a person will undertake). Theses processes act as the foundation for self-efficacy to contribute to a persons’ emotional development. A person’s belief in their efficacy to regulate their own self-perceptions and to direct subsequent activities will determine their aspirations, level of motivation, and ultimate accomplishments. A facilitators belief in their personal efficacy to motivate and promote learning affect the types of learning environments they create, which in turn affects a participants level of engagement.
Interventions like PhotoClub empower domestic violence victims and create the solidarity for change and enabling new future possibilities. The continued implementation of interventions that target at risk populations and create atmospheres for growth and change by cultivating a participants’ self-efficacy beliefs should be replicated and studied across differing populations and social contexts to try and reveal its true empowering effects. Future research on the positive effects of self-evaluation for achieving realistic and obtainable goals through goal setting would also be beneficial to explore. And finally future research on the buffering effects of positive self-efficacy beliefs toward overcoming traumatic experiences and providing the stage for self-recovery shows great promise for trauma rehabilitation and recovery.
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