Saturday, April 7, 2012

Self Efficacy

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Understanding adult learning techniques and motivational influences behind them

have become a fairly new and important area of study. When evaluating how adults learn

best we must look at what the driving forces are behind learning. This is especially true

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when comparing children’s and teen’s inspirations to those of adults. Adults have

different goals and needs for learning than adolescents. One unique aspect of adult

learning settings that is different than those of adolescents are most likely that grades are

not necessarily a motivating factor for learning. There are other critical elemtents that

serve as motivators for adults. According to Malcom Knowles these sources of

motivation include Social relationships, external expectations, social welfare, personal

advancement, escape/stimulation, and cognitive interest. These resources are very

important for self-directed learners to become competent enough to survive in adult

learning. Learning is a lifelong process and in the following paper I will discuss the

motivations, skills, and characteristics of an adult learner when grades do not serve as the

primary motivating factor.

Adult learning became widely promoted by Malcom Knowles in his years of study.

He was a theorist who focused on the importance of the individual in adult educational

settings. Knowles attributed several characteristics to adult learners Adults are

autonomous and self-directed, adults have life experiences and knowledge, adults are

goal-oriented, adults are relevancy-oriented, adults are practical, and adults need respect.

This shows that there may be a number of reasons why adults may want to learn, as long

as there is still a sense of choice that may be made. Learning is a process in which

individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, to diagnose their

learning needs, formulate learning goals, identify resources for learning, select and

implement learning strategies, and evaluate learning outcomes (Knowles 175).

Compared to children and teens, adults also cope with many more barriers that

must be balanced in order for learning to take place. Some of the barriers include lack of

time, money, confidence or interest, lack of information about opportunities to learn, and

also problems with child care. Some instructors have also found that many adults are not

able to engage in learning because they lack independence, confidence, or resources.

Furthermore, not all adults are capable of achieving the self-directed option, and even the

adults who do practice self-directed learning also engage in more formal educational

experiences such as teacher-directed courses(Brookfield185). I feel that it is no longer

necessary to define adult instruction as a process of transmitting what is known. It must

now be defined as a process of continuing investigation. And so the most important

investigation is how to learn the skills and motivations of adult learning when grades are

not important.

A very important skill of an adult learner is the desire to be in control of deciding

what to learn and how to learn it. This is where internal motivators come into play. The

types of motivators present in an adult learning setting may include the desire to maintain

old skills or learn new skills, learning skills necessary for a new job, or developing the

skills required for a promotion. Motivation plays a very significant role in the initiation of

effort toward learning and the achievement of goals. It also leads to responsible and

continuous learning. Hence, I feel it is essential for adult instuctors to create conditions

where students become increasingly motivated by actual interest and the desire to

construct personal meaning and shared understandings. Understanding these conditions is

what the exploration of adult learning is all about. Therefore, probably the best way for an

instructor to ensure that the adult learner is motivated is by enhancing and understanding

the reasons that an adult attempts to learn and helping decrease the barriers. Learning will

then become self-reinforcing and intrinsically motivating for the adult learner. Adult

learners will have a higher degree of motivation if they understand that the learning goals

will meet their needs and are achievable. In adult learning, attention is primarily focused

on motivational factors, but there are other crucial factors that are just as important.

Self- monitoring is another important skill related to adult learning.

Self-monitoring refers to an awareness of and a concern about one’s thinking.

Self-monitoring is the process whereby the learner takes responsibility for the creation of

personal meaning. This may mean adding to and enriching existing knowledge or

modifying and developing new knowledge. Cognitive and metacognitive processes are

involved in self-monitoring. Metacognitive proficiency is associated with the ability to be

resourceful and think critically. Models of critical thinking not only help describe the

metacognitive processes associated with adult learning, but can be of great assistance in

assisting students to become responsible for their learning (Garrison, 1). Using

internal and external input to construct meaning and shape strategies enables us to

self-monitor learning. Self-monitoring is ultimately linked to our management of learning

tasks and activities.

Another interesting and important skill that arises during adult learning is

autonomy. Autonomy is a structure which makes learning more attainable to the learner.

Learning in adulthood means becoming more self-directed and autonomous. There are

three elements that characterize an autonomous learner independence, the ability to make

choices, and the capacity to articulate the norms and the limits of a learning

activity(Chene18). Chene (18), for example, defines the autonomy of the learner as

independence and the will to learn. However, she also notes that the learner must have an

awareness of the learning process, an understanding of what is conceived as competence

in a specific area of study, and the ability to make critical judgments. However, in

autonomy there is a relationship between the personal and situational variables that must

be present for a person to be autonomous in certain learning situations. Chene (18),

contends that self-direction is a situational attribute of learners, not a general trait of

adulthood. Therefore, adults vary in their desire, capacity, and readiness for control over

certain types of learning tasks.

The next characteristic that I feel is unique to adult learning is the concept of

self-efficacy. Self-efficacy theory says that all processes of psychological and behavioral

change operate through the alteration of the individual’s sense of personal mastery or

self-efficacy. Self-efficacy was originally defined as a rather specific type of expectancy

concerned with one’s beliefs in their ability to perform a specific behavior or set of

behaviors required to produce an outcome (Bandura, 177). The definition of

self-efficacy has been expanded, however, to refer to peoples beliefs about their

capabilities to exercise control over events that affect their lives(Bandura, 18) and their

beliefs in their capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of

action needed to exercise control over task demands, which in this case it would be the

demands of learning in a non-graded setting.

The apparent need to ¡° learn on one¡¯s own¡± has been a persistent theme in self-directed

learning. For this reason, it is not surprising to find that self-directed learning has its

genesis in independent and informal adult learning contexts (Tough 171). An important

turning point in conceptualizing the construct occurred with the recognition that it lacked

a cognitive perspective (Mezirow, 185). He said that a critical awareness of meaning and

self-knowledge is a key dimension to self-directedness.

Long (18) identified three dimensions of self-directed learning the sociological,

pedagogical, and psychological. He described that much of the discussion around

self-directed learning has focused on the sociological (independent task management) and

pedagogical (application in educational contexts) issues. He stated amazement at the fact

that the psychological (cognitive) dimension had been generally ignored, stating that the

¡°critical dimension in self-directed learning is not the sociological variable, nor is it the

pedagogical factor. The main distinction is the psychological variable¡± (Long, 18)

While the social context for learning has been and should remain an important factor, the

lack of a specific psychological or cognitive dimension has been somewhat ironic,

considering the humanistic origins of the concept. Rogers (16), for instance, used the

concept in terms of both a cognitive and affective perspective. For Rogers, self-direction

was mainly about taking responsibility for the internal cognitive and motivational aspects

of learning. The focus was on cognitive freedom and the ultimate goal was to get how to


The phrase ¡°self-directed learning¡± invokes both social and cognitive issues-that is,

issues of ¡°self-direction¡± and ¡°learning,¡± respectively. In adult education, however,

most of the focus has been on self-direction (i.e., self-management of learning tasks). As

such, the construct has been largely defined in terms of external control and facilitation,

rather than internal cognitive processing and learning. Long¡¯s position was that, without

the psychological or cognitive dimension, the focus is on teaching not learning. He argued

that ¡°Pedagogical procedures whether imposed by a teacher or freely chosen by the

learner remain pedagogical or ¡®teaching¡¯ activities. Hence we have other-teaching or

perhaps self-teaching but not self-learning¡±. This distinction between external control

and internal cognitive responsibility is the basis for the self-directed learning framework

and model presented here.

More recently, Brockett and Hiemstra (11) have proposed an interesting framework by

expanding the self-directed learning construct to include a personality disposition. Their

framework is based on the ¡°distinction between the process of self-directed learning and

the notion of self-direction as a personality construct¡±. The two dimensions in the

framework correspond to transactional or instructional methods and learner personality


The self-directed learning model described here includes three overlapping dimensions

self-management (task control), self-monitoring (congnitive responsibility), and motivation

(entering and task). While each dimensior is described separately, in practice, they are

intimately related. task management and external control, we begin with the more familiar

concept of self-management, that is, the transactional (collaborative) control of external

tasks and activities. This dimension encompasses the sociological and pedagogical issues

that Long (18) earlier identified.

Garrison more formally captured this multidimensional view of self0directed learning. He

suggested a comprehensive model of self-directed learning based on three core

components 1) self-management (control), ) motivation (entering and task), and )

self-monitoring (responsibility). According to Garrison, AE has traditionally focused on

the first component, the control of learning, and paid less attention to the learning

processes. He suggests that equal , including the motivation to engage in self-directed

learning and to complete self-directed learning tasks. His third component,

self-monitoring, is the cognitive learning processes as well as metacognitive skills a person

needs to engage in self-directed learning. Adult learning professionals need to pay

attention to all three components(Swanson 18, p17).

As a practical matter, the contingency model of self-directedness seems most appropriate

for facilitators of adult learning because it more closely matches the reality of most

learning situations. There are many factors that individuals weigh in choosing whether to

behave in a self-directed way at a particular point. These may include

? Learning style

? Previous experience with the subject matter

? Social orientation

? Efficiency

? Previous learning socialization

? Locus of control

A. Self - Management

Self-management is affected with task control issues. It emphasizes on the social and

behavioral implementation of learning intentions, that is, the external activities associated

with the learning process.

Self-management contains shaping the contextual conditions in the performance of

goal-directed actions. In an educational context, self-management does not inferior

students are independent and isolated learners. Facilitates provide the support, direction

and standards necessary for a fortunate educational outcome. Self-management of learning

in an educational context is properly a collaborative experience.

Educational self-management concerns the use of learning materials withi a context where

there is an chance for sustained communication. Self-management of learning in an

educational context must tale account of the opportunity to test and make sure of

understanding collaboratively. This is an important aspect of know edge development.

B. Self - Monitoring

Self-monitoring refers to cognitive and metacognitive processes monitoring the repertoire

of learning strategies as well as an awareness of and an ability to concern about our

thinking. Self-monitoring is the process whereby the learner takes responsibility for the

construction of personal meaning.

Self-monitoring is similar to responsibility to construct meaning. This may mean adding to

and enriching existing knowledge structures or modifying and developing new knowledge.

Internally, cognitive and metacognitive processes are involved with self-monitoring the

construction of meaning. Cognitive ability is a core variable in self-directed learning.

Bandura (186) suggests that there are three self-regulated learning processes

self-observation, self-judgement, and self-reaction.

Metacognitive proficiency is very much associated with the ability to be reflective and

think critically. Models of critical thinking not only help describe the metacognitive

processes associated with self-directed learning, but can be of great assistance in helping

students become metacognitively responsible for their learning (Garrison, 1).

To be aware of this internal and external input, and to use it to construct meaning and

shape strategies is to self-monitor learning cognitively and metacognitively.

Self-monitoring is intimately linked to the external management of learning tasks and

activities. An interesting and important issue arises with regard to

responsibility(self-monitoring) and control(self-management).

C. Motivation

Motivation plays a very significant role in the initiation and maintenance of effort toward

learning and the achievement of cognitive goals. To begin to understand the pervasive

influence of motivational factors, we need to distinguish between the process of deciding

to participate (entering motivation) and the effort required to stay on task and persistence

(task motivation). Entering motivation establishes commitment to a particular goal and

the intent to act. Task motivation is the tendency to focus on and persist in learning

activities and goals.

It is hypothesized that entering motivation is largely determined by valence and

expectancy. Students will have a higher entering motivational state if they understand that

learning goals will meet their needs and are achievable. In a learning context, valence

reverberate the attraction to particular learning goals. The factors that determine valences

are personal needs (values) and affective states (preferences). Personal need reflects the

importance or worth of particular learning goals. Needs and values reflect the reasons for

persisting in a learning task. Closely associated with needs are affective states. This set of

consists of attitudes toward self (e.g., self-esteem), task (e.g., anxiety), and goal


Expectancy in a learning context refers to the belief that a desired outcome can be

achieved. This factor made up of personal and contextual characteristics that influence

goal achievement. Personal characteristics (competency) reveberate the perceived skills,

ability and knowledge of the individual while assessing goals. Perceptions of ability or

self-efficacy influence the decision to participate as well as the choice of goals and learning

environments. Contextual characteristics (contingency) reflect perceived institutional

resources or barriers as well as ideological and socioeconomic constraints. Together,

competency and contingency assessments represent the mediating construct of

¡°anticipated control.¡± Anticipated control is an essential perception when assessing

expectancy of success and making decisions regarding goal-directed behavior.

Entwistle (181) states that ¡°interest and intrinsic motivation are likely to foster a deep

approach, and an active search for personal meaning¡±. Intrinsic motivation leads to

responsible and continuous learning. If these are the worthy aims of education, it is

necessary that we create conditions where students become increasing motivated by

authentic interest and desire to construct personal meaning and shared understanding.

Understanding these conditions is, in essence, what the exploration of self-directed

learning is about. Authentic self-directed learning becomes self-reinforcing and

intrinsically motivation.

Motivation and responsibility are reciprocally connected and both are facilitated by

collaborative control of the educational transaction. Issues of motivation responsibility

and control are central to comprehensive concept of self-directed learning.

Self-regulated learning emerged from research on self-efficacy (perceived proficiency) and

motivation. The current emphasis of self-regulated learning on cognitive and motivation

strategies (Winne, 15) makes it a potential resource for the development of the

psychological dimensions of self-directed learning. Furthermore, it has been argued that

self-regulation has a beneficial effect on academic outcomes (Winne, 15;Zimmerman &

Bandura, 14).

In conclusion, self-direction is seen as a necessary process for achieving worthwhile and

meaningful educational outcomes. Self-direction is seen as essential if students are to

achieve Dewey¡¯s (116) ultimate educational goal of becoming continuous learners and

possessing the capacity for further educational growth.


(Entering / Task)





Self-directed Learning

Figure 1 Dimensions of Self - Directed Learning


There has been less focus in the research literature on self-direction in learning as a

personal characteristic of the learner. The assumption underlying much of this work is

that learning in adulthood means becoming more self-directed and autonomous (Knowles,

180; Chene, 18). Kasworm (18b), for example, proposes that self-directed learning

¡°represents a qualitative evolvement of a person¡¯s sense of cognitive definition and

developmental readiness for ambiguous and nondefined actions¡±. And Chene (18)

offers three elements that characterize an autonomous or self-directed learner

independence, the ability to make choices, and the capacity to articulate the norms and the

limits of a learning activity.

Research into the nature of the self-directed learner asking who and what questions Are

these learners introverts or extroverts? What is their cognitive style? What personality

characteristics do they have in common? What level of education have they achieved?

Are they more autonomous than other learners? Basically researchers are trying to gain an

understanding of the typical learner¡¯s characteristics and style. Specifically they have

tried to link a number of different variables with being more or less self-directed in one¡¯s


The notion of readiness and the concept of autonomy have been studied and discussed

most often in the professional literature on self-directedness as a personal attribute. The

notion of readiness implies an internal state of psychological readiness to undertake

self-directed learning activities. Guglielmino (177) has provided the most widely used

operational definition of this idea. She states that people must possess eight factors to be

considered ready to pursue self-directed learning openness to learning, self-concept as an

effective learner, initiative and independence in learning, informed acceptance of

responsibility, love of learning, creativity, future orientation, and the ability to use basic

study and problem-solving skills. These factors undergird her Self-Directed Learning

Readiness Scale (SDLRS), designed to ascertain adult readiness for self-directed learning.

The relationship of autonomy and self-directedness in learning has been discussed

primarily at the conceptual level. Chene (18), for example, defines the autonomy of the

learner as independence and the will to learn. However, she also notes that the learner

must have an awareness of the learning process, an understanding of what is conceived as

competence in a specific area of study, and the ability to make critical judgments

¡°[Autonomy] is a structure which makes possible the appropriation of learning by the


Autonomy, however, is not necessarily context-free; there is a relationship between the

personal and situational variables that must come into play for a person to be autonomous

in certain learning situations. As Candy (187b) observes ¡°One does not ¡®become¡¯

autonomous in any final or absolute sense.¡± Confidence and commitment enter into each

learning situation. Pratt (188), in agreement with Candy, contends that self-direction is a

situational attribute of learners, not a general trait of adulthood. Therefore, adults vary

considerably in their desire, capacity, and readiness to exert control over instructional

functions and tasks.

To understand self-directedness in learning as a personal attribute, more in-depth study is

required. We need to isolate the variables that appear to assist a person to be more

self-directed in his or her learning-from seemingly simple demographic variables such as

age, socioeconomic status, and occupation to more complex concepts like autonomy, life

satisfaction, cognitive style, and motivation.


Understanding how people adapt and adjust to life¡¯s infinite challenges is, perhaps, the

most important problem for scientific psychology. Not surprisingly, most of the important

models of human learning, cognition, emotion, personality, and social interaction have

tried to account for the individual¡¯s capacity for adaptively responding to environmental

changes, often referred to as competence (e.g., Sternberg & Kolligan, 10; White, 15).

Self-efficacy theory is one of the more recent in a long tradition of personal competence or

efficacy theories and has generated more research in clinical, social, and personality

psychology in the past decade and a half than other such models and theories (Bandura,

177,18b,186). The crux of self-efficacy theory is that the initiation of and persistence

at behaviors, and courses of action are determined primarily by judgments and

expectations concerning behavioral skills and capabilities and the likelihood of being able

to successfully cope with environmental demands and challenges.


Social cognitive theory is an approach to understanding human cognition, action,

motivation, and emotion that assumes that people are capable of self-regulation and that

they are active shapers of their environments rather than simply passive reactors to them.

There are essential ideas in social cognitive theory, which makes the belowing specific


(Brandura 16 describes)

1. People have powerful symbolizing capabilities that allow for creation of internal models

of experience, the development of innovative courses of action, the hypothetical testing of

such courses of action through the prediction of outcomes, and the communication of

complex ideas and experiences to others.

. Most behaviors are purposive or goal-directed and is guided by fore-thought

(anticipating, predicting, etc.). This capacity for intentional behavior is dependent on the

capacity for symbolizing.

. People are self-reflective and capable of analyzing and evaluating their own thoughts

and experiences. These metacognitive, self-reflective, activities set the stage for

self-control of thought and behavior.

4. People are capable of self-regulation by influencing direct control over their own

behavior and by selecting or altering environmental conditions that, in turn, influence their


5. People learn vicariously by observing other people¡¯s behavior and its consequences.

6. The previously mentioned capacities for symbolization, self-reflection, self-regulation,

and vicarious learning are the result of the evolution of complex neurophysiological

mechanisms and structures.

7. Environmental events, inner personal factors (cognition, emotion, and biological

events), and behavior are mutually interaction influences. Their own behavior, which then

influences not only the environment but also cognitive, affective and biological states.

This principle of triadic reciprocal causation or triadic reciprocality is, perhaps, the most

important assumption of social cognitive theory. A complete understanding of human

behavior in any situation requires an understanding of all three sources of

influence-cognition, behavior, and environmental events.

Social cognitive theory views the three major alternative approaches to explaining

personality and behavior-psychodynamic theories, trait theories, and radical

behaviorism-as unable to account satisfactorily of the complexity and plasticity of human

behavior. Psychodynamic theories are difficult to test empirically, cannot account

adequately for the tremendous situational variation in individual behavior, are deficient in

predicting future behavior, and have not led to the development of efficient and effective

methods for changing psychosocial functioning. Trait theories do not have good

predictive utility and do not sufficiently consider the documented impact of situational

influences. Radical behaviorism makes assumptions about behavior that have been

disputed by empirical findings. For example, Research has demonstrated that

environmental events (antecedents and consequences) do not control behavior

automatically, that anticipated consequences predict behavior better than actual

consequences, that complex patterns of behavior can be learned through observation alone

in the absence of reinforcement, and that operant explanations alone cannot account for

the complexity of human learning and behavior. Because social cognitive theory assumes

that people process and use information in symbolic form, evaluate their own thoughts and

behaviors, predict and anticipate events and consequences, set goals and strive toward

them, and regulate their own behavior. It surpasses the previously mentioned approaches

in its ability to account for situational influences and differences, to explain the effects of

belief and expectancies, to predict behavior accurately, and to provide models and

strategies for effective behavior change.


Self-efficacy theory maintains that all processes of psychological and behavioral change

operate through the alteration of the individual¡¯s sense of personal mastery or

self-efficacy. Self-efficacy was originally defined as a rather

specific type of expectancy concerned with one¡¯s beliefs in one¡¯s ability to perform a

specific behavior or set of behaviors required to produce an outcome (Bandura, 177).

The definition of self-efficacy has been expanded, however, to refer to ¡°people¡¯s beliefs

about their capabilities to exercise control over events that affect their lives¡± (Bandura,

18) and their ¡°beliefs in their capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive

resources, and courses of action needed to exercise control over task demands.¡±

(Bandura, 10 P16).


Self-efficacy is conceptualized and measured not as a personality trait, but, instead, is

defined and measured in the context of relatively specific behaviors in specific situations or

contexts. However, the level of specificity at which self-efficacy is measured will be

determined by the nature of the task and situation at hand, and by the nature of the task

and situation to which one wishes to generalize, or in which one wishes to predict

(Bandura, 1).

Although self-efficacy sometimes is used to refer to one¡¯s general sense of competence

and effectiveness (e.g., Smith, 18), the term is most useful when defined,

operationalized, and measured specific to a behavior or set of behaviors in a specific

context (e.g., Kaplan, Atkins, & Reinsch, 184; Manning & Wright, 18). General

self-efficacy scales have been developed (Sherer et al., 18; Tipton & Worthington,

184), but these scales have not resulted in much useful research on specific types of

behavior change. In addition, measuring self-efficacy expectancies for quitting smoking

will be more successful if we measure the smoker¡¯s expectations for being able to refrain

from smoking under specific situations (e.g., while at a party, after eating, when around

other smokers; DiClemente, 186). If one¡¯s sense of competence is high for an ability

one values, then this will contribute to high self-esteem (or low self-esteem if perceived

competence for the valued skill is low). Judgments of inefficacy in unvalued areas of

competence are unlikely to influence significantly self-concept and self-esteem.


? Performance Experiences

Performance experiences, in particular, clear success or failure, are the most powerful

sources of self-efficacy information (Bandura, 177). Success at a task, behavior, or skill

strengthens self-efficacy expectancies for that task, behavior, or skill, whereas perceptions

of failure diminish self-efficacy expectancy.

? Vicarious Experiences

Vicarious experiences (observational learning, modeling, imitation) influence self-efficacy

expectancy when people observe the behavior of others, see what they are able to do, note

the consequences of their behavior, and then use this information to form expectancies

about their own behavior and its consequences. Vicarious experiences generally have

weaker effects on self-efficacy expectancy than do direct personal experiences (e.g.,

Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 177).

? Imaginal Experiences

Social cognitive theory posits that people have tremendous capacity for symbolic cognitive

activity. People can generate beliefs about personal efficacy or inefficacy by imagining

themselves or others behaving effectively or ineffectively in future situations (Cervone,


? Verbal Persuasion

Verbal persuasion (or social persuasion) is a less potent source of enduring change in

self-efficacy expectancy than performance experiences and vicarious experiences. The

potency of verbal persuasion as a source of self-efficacy expectancies should be influenced

by such factors as the expertness, trustworthiness, and attractiveness of the source, as

suggested by decades of research on verbal persuasion and attitude change (e.g., Petty &

Cacioppo, 181).

? Physiological States

Physiological states influence self-efficacy when people associate aversive physiological

arousal with poor behavioral performance, perceived incompetence, and perceived failure.

Thus, when persons become aware of unpleasant physiological arousal, they are more

likely to doubt their behavioral competence than if the physiological state were pleasant or


? Emotional States

Emotions or moods can be additional sources of information about self0efficacy. People

are more likely to have self-efficacious beliefs about performance when their affect is

positive than when it is negative.

? Distal and Proximal Sources

Determinants of current self-efficacy beliefs may be either distal (past) or proximal

(current or immediate), and self-efficacy for a specific performance in a specific situation

measured at a specific time will be the result of the confluence of distal and proximal

information from all six sources. Just as proximal (immediate) consequences usually exert

greater control over behavior than distal (future) consequences, proximal (current)

information about self-efficacy is likely to have a more powerful immediate effect on

current self-efficacy than distal (past) information.


? Goal-Setting and Persistence

Self-efficacy beliefs influence people¡¯s choice of goals and goals directed activities,

expenditure of effort, and persistence in the face of challenge and obstacles (Bandura,

186; Locke & Latham, 10). In the face of difficulties, people with a weak sense of

personal efficacy develop doubts about their ability to accomplish the task at hand and

give up easily, whereas those with a strong sense of self-efficacy increase their efforts to

master a challenge when obstacles arise.

Through the monitoring of self and situation, people develop beliefs not only about their

current level of competence, but also beliefs (expectations) about rate of improvement in


? Cognition

Self-efficacy beliefs influence cognition in four ways. First, they influence the goals people

set for themselves. People with stronger self-efficacy beliefs for their performance set

higher goals and commit to goals more strongly than do people with weaker beliefs about

their abilities. Second, self-efficacy beliefs influence the plans or strategies people envision

for attaining these goals. Third, they influence the development of rules for predicting and

influencing events. Finally, self-efficacy for problem solving influences the efficiency and

effectiveness of problem solving. When faced with complex decision-making tasks,

people who believe strongly in their problem-solving abilities remain highly efficient and

highly effective problem-solving abilities remain highly efficient and highly effective

problem solvers and decision makers; those who doubt their abilities become erratic,

inefficient, and ineffective (e.g., Bandura & Jourden, 11; Bandura & Wood, 18).

? Affect

Self-efficacy beliefs are powerful determinants of affective or emotional responses to life

events, responses that can then influence cognition and action. Two domains of

self-efficacy are important in the realm of emotion. First, self-efficacy beliefs about

behavioral performance influence the type and intensity of affect. For example, low

self-efficacy beliefs for the prevention of aversive or harmful events lead to agitation or

anxiety (Bandura, 188). Lw self-efficacy beliefs for attaining highly desired goals or

outcomes lead to despondency or depression (Bandura, 186).

Second, self-efficacy for controlling the cognition that influence emotion can, in part,

determine emotional responses. People can become distressed about their apparent

inability to control or terminate disturbing thoughts and aversive cognitions, such as those

related to anxiety (Wegner, 18).

? Selection of Environments

People usually choose to enter situations in which they expect to perform successfully, and

avoid situations in which they anticipate that the demands placed on them will exceed their

abilities. Therefore, self-efficacy beliefs determine people¡¯s selections of situations and

activities, selections that greatly influence the continued development of these same beliefs

(e.g., Taylor & brown, 188).


In self-efficacy theory, outcome expectancies are determined primarily by self-efficacy

expectancies. The outcomes people expect depend largely on how well they expect to

perform (Bandura, 186).

? Measurement Issues

Most studies that have examined both self-efficacy and outcome expectancy seem to

suggest that self-efficacy determines outcome expectancy and that outcome expectancy

does not add significant predictive utility beyond that offered by self-efficacy. Most of

these studies, however, have employed questionable measures of self-efficacy and

outcome expectancy.

Some research, however, indicates that when defined and measured carefully and in a

manner consistent with the conceptual distinction, self-efficacy expectancy and outcome

expectancy can each be important in the predicition of intentions and behavior.

? Response Expectancies, Self-Efficacy, and Intentions

Some researchers have raised questions about the relationships among self-efficacy,

outcome expectancy, and intentions in situations in which performing a behavior may lead

to involuntary aversive reactions such as fear, pain, or discomfort (Baker & Kirsch, 11).

Fear and pain expectancies are response expectancies- beliefs about one¡¯s own

nonvolitional reactions to events- which are a type of outcome expectancy (Kirsch,

185b). Thus, in situations that involve pain or fear, self-efficacy appears to be

determined partly by outcome expectancies (e.g., Baker & Kirsch, 11).

When people anticipate aversive outcomes (e.g., fear or pain) and are not willing to

engage in behavior that may produce those outcomes, their linguistic habit is to say that

they cannot perform the behavior (low self-efficacy) rather than they will not perform it.

Measures of willingness may simply be measures of intention (Baker & Kirsch, 11), as

employed in the theory of reasoned action (ajzen & Fishbein, 180). Therefore, in

situations in which fear or pain is anticipated, measures of perceived ability to perform the

behavior (self-efficacy) may be measures of intention to perform the behavior. This

intention is determined primarily by the strength of the person¡¯s pain or fear

expectancies. The mislabeling of intention and perceived ability may occur in other

important domains in which people are asked to engage in behaviors that may lead to

immediate discomfort, such as dieting, exercising, or violating personal norms (Baker &

Kirsch, 11). In each of these situations, ¡°self-efficacy¡±-what people say they can and

cannot do-may be determined largely by outcome expectancies-the anticipation of both

positive and aversive consequences (Baker & Kirsch, 11)

On the other hand, there is compelling evidence that avoidance behavior is determined by

self-efficacy, not by anticipated anxiety, and that anticipated anxiety is determined by

perceived self-efficacy (Bandura, 1).


Recent research indicates that the notion of outcome value and its relationship to

satisfaction with outcomes is not as simple as once was believed. Hsee and Abelson

(11) proposed that actual value or position relation-how positive or negative an

outcome is rated on a satisfaction/dissatisfaction scale- is only one aspect of outcome

value and probably not the most important aspect. Hsee and Abelson (11) also

proposed that displacement relation and velocity relation are important determinants of

satisfaction with outcomes. Displacement relation is ¡°the directional distance (i.e.,

displacement) between the original (reference) outcome position and the position after a

change¡±. Satisfaction (dissatisfaction) depends on how much more (less) an outcome

departs from its original position in a positive direction. Velocity relation is the ¡°rate

(i.e., velocity) at which the outcome is changing¡±. Satisfaction is greater (less) when the

velocity is more (less) positive.


An understanding and appreciation of self-efficacy theory and the research bearing on it

are enhanced by understanding the relationships between self-efficacy and other concepts

concerned with mastery and efficacy. Each of these can be viewed as social cognitive

concepts because each deals with people¡¯s thoughts, beliefs, motives, explanations, and

predictions about themselves and other people.

? Locus of Control

Locus of control of reinforcement (Rotter,10) is ¡°the degree to which persons expect

that a reinforcement or an outcome of their behavior is contingent on their own behavior

or personal characterisitics versus the degree to which persons expect that the

reinforcement of outcome is a function of chance, luck, or fate, is under the control of

powerful others, or is simply unpredictable¡± (Rotter, 10,p. 48). Thus, locus of

control is the general belief that one¡¯s behavior can have an impact on the environment

and that one is capable of controlling outcomes through one¡¯s own behavior. Although it

sounds similar to self-efficacy expectancy, locus of control is a generalized outcome

expectancy because it is concerned with the extent to which one believes one¡¯s behavior

controls outcomes, not confidence in one¡¯s ability to perform certain behaviors (Bandura,

186). Empirical evidence supports making this distinction between self-efficacy and

locus of control (Smith, 18; Taylor & Popma, 10).

? Probability of Success

McClelland (185) has proposed a general behavior theory that considers motivation,

incentive value, and probability of success to be the major determinants of

achievement-related behavior and affiliative acts. Probability of success ¡°is determined

not only by actual skill but also by the individual¡¯s beliefs about the efficacy of making a

response that may be somewhat independent of the individual¡¯s skill in making it

McClelland makes a distinction between beliefs about ¡°efficacy of effort in bringing about

a consequence through a particular response in a given situation¡± and ¡°generalized

confidence a person has that he or she can bring about outcomes through instrumental

activities of any kind¡±. A belief about ¡°efficacy of effort¡± seems similar to outcome

expectancy. Although, McClelland suggested that ¡°generalized confidence¡± is nearly the

same as a self-efficacy expectancy, His definition of generalized confidence is more

similar to Rotter¡¯s definition of locus of control, which is a kind of generalized outcome

expectancy, than to Bandura¡¯s definition of self-efficacy expectancy, which is a belief

about one¡¯s ability to perform behaviors or execute behavioral strategies.

? Causal Attributions and Explanatory Style

Theory and research on explanatory style or attributional style also are concerned with

beliefs about personal control and effectiveness (e.g., Peterson & Stunkard, 1). Most

of this work has been directed toward understanding the effect of explanations for

negative life events on perceived helplessness and depression (Brewin, 185, Robins,

188). Helplessness beliefs are closely related to self-efficacy beliefs and outcome

expectancies. Explanations or attributions, however, are beliefs about the causes of events

that have already occurred; self-efficacy and outcome expectancy are beliefs about

possible future events. The relationship between causal attributions or explanations and

self-efficacy and outcome expectancies is unclear, as are the ways attributions,

self-efficacy, and outcome expectancies interact to influence behavior and affect. For

example, some theories propose the attributions influence affect and behavior indirectly

via their influence on expectancies. Because self-efficacy is influenced by past success or

failure and observations of the behavior of others, attributions made about these actual and

vicarious experiences probably influence self-efficacy. In addition, self-efficacy may

mediate the relationship between attributions and performance (Forstering, 186).

Conversely, self-efficacy may influence attributions (e.g., Alden, 186; Bandura, 1). A

person with low self-efficacy for a performance domain may be more likely to attribute

failure in that domain to lack of ability than to lack of effort; the opposite pattern may hold

for those with high self-efficacy (Bandura, 1).

Schiaffino and Revenson (1) provided evidence that causal attributions and

self-efficacy interact in influencing depression and physical disability. Self-efficacy was

negatively related to depression for subjects who made internal, stable, global attributions

for RA flare-ups; however, self-efficacy had little relationship to depression for subjects

who made external, unstable, specific attributions for flare-ups. The pattern of

relationships was different for physical disability. For subjects who made internal, stable,

global attributions, self-efficacy was (surprisingly) positively related to disability; but, for

subjects who made external, unstable, specific attributions, self-efficacy and disability were

negatively related. Clearly, these relationships require further exploration.


Bandura (177) hypothesized that self-efficacy affects choice of activities, effort,

and persistence. Compared with students who doubt their learning capabilities, those with

high self-efficacy for accomplishing a task participate more readily, work harder, and

persist longer when they encounter difficulties.

Learners acquire information to appraise self-efficacy from their performance

accomplishments, vicarious (observational) experiences, forms of persuasion, and

physiological reactions. Students¡¯ own performances offer them reliable guides for

assessing their self-efficacy. Successes raise self-efficacy and failures lower it, but once a

strong sense of self-efficacy is developed, a failure may not have much impact (Bandura,


Learners also acquire self-efficacy information from knowledge of others through

classroom social comparisons. Similar others offer the best basis for comparison. Students

who observe similar peers perform a task are apt to believe that they, too, are capable of

accomplishing it. Information acquired vicariously typically has a weaker effect on

self-efficacy than performance-based information; the former effect easily can be negated

by subsequent failures.

Students often receive persuasive information from teachers and parents that they

are capable of performing a task (e.g., ¡°You can do this¡±). Positive feedback enhances

self-efficacy, but this increase will be temporary if subsequent efforts turn out poorly.

Students also acquire efficacy information from physiological reactions (e.g., heart rate,

sweating). Symptoms signaling anxiety might be interpreted to mean that one lacks skills.

Information acquired from these sources does not automatically influence

self-efficacy; rather, it is cognitively appraised (Bandura, 186). In appraising efficacy,

learners weigh and combine their perceptions of their ability, the difficulty of the task, the

amount of effort expended, the amount of external assistance received, the number and

pattern of successes and failures, the perceived similarity to models, and persuader

credibility (Schunk, 18b).

Self-efficacy is not the only influence in educational settings. Achievement

behavior also depends on knowledge and skills, outcome expectations, and the perceived

value of outcomes (Schunk, 18b). high self-efficacy does not produce competent

performances when requisite knowledge and skills are lacking. Outcome expectations, or

beliefs concerning the probable outcomes of actions, are important because students strive

for positive outcomes. Perceived value of outcomes refers to how much learners desire

certain outcomes relative to others. Learners are motivated to act in ways that they believe

will result in outcomes they value.

Some school activities involve performance of previously learned skills, but much

time is spent acquiring new knowledge, skills, and strategies. At the start of a learning

activity, students differ in their self-efficacy for acquiring the new material as a result of

prior experiences and aptitudes (abilities, attitudes). As students work on the task,

personal factors (e.g., goal setting, information processing) and situational factors (e.g.,

rewards, teachers¡¯ feedback) provide cues that signal how well they are learning and

which they use to assess self-efficacy for further learning. Motivation is enhanced when

students perceive they are making progress. Higher motivation and self-efficacy promote

task engagement and skill acquisition (Schunk, 18a).


self-directed learning is consistent with a collaborative constructivist view of

learning that encourages students to approach learning in a deep and meaningful manner.

Meaningful learning outcomes would be very difficult to achieve if students were not

self-directed in their learning. Taking responsibility to construct personal meaning is the

essence of self-directed learning. To be a self-directed learner is to be a critical thinker.

More specifically, some research directions would be explore the theoretical

connections between self-direction and critical thinking; map the relationship between

responsibility(mentoring) and control(management) factors with regard to cognitive

development; articulate specific strategies associated with management and monitoring

issues; understand the influence of excessive workload, prescribed content and evaluation

on self-direction and critical thinking; and, study the effect of mediated learning networks

on self0direction and critical thinking. These are but a few possibilities among many

worthwhile research initiatives.

Another area of research that may prove valuable in understanding the cognitive

and motivational dimensions of self-directed learning is the literature on self-regulated

learning. Self-regulated learning has emerged over the last two decades as a result of

social learning research initiatives (Zimmerman, 18). In contrast to self-directed

learning, self-regulated learning emerged from research on self-efficacy (perceived

proficiency) and motivation. The current emphasis of self-regulated learning on cognitive

and motivation strategies (Winne, 15) makes it a potential resource for the development

of the psychological dimensions of self-directed learning. Furthermore, it has been argued

that self-regulation has a beneficial effect on academic outcomes.

Self-efficacy theory and research have contributed to the study of perceived

control and competence in at least three was. First, self-efficacy theory emphasizes the

distinction between three important variables concerned with personal control and

motivation-self-efficacy expectancy, outcome expectancy, and outcome value. Second,

self-efficacy theory emphasizes the measurement of these variables, especially

self-efficacy, with a greater degree of behavioral and situational specificity than has been

the case in other theories and bodies of research. Third, and most important, self-efficacy

theory provides a model to explain the origin and effects of perceptions of perceived

control and guidelines for changing human behavior and enhancing adjustment and


There are several important factors affecting self-efficacy; Goal setting Effects of

goal setting on self-efficacy have been obtained in several studies. Bandura and Schunk

(181) found that during subtraction instruction, providing children with a proximal goal

heightened self-efficacy, as well as motivation (rate of problem solving) and skill

acquisition, more than did giving them a distant goal or a general goal. Heightened

self-efficacy sustains motivation and promotes learning.

Information processing; Researchers have investigated how the demands of

cognitively processing academic material influences self-efficacy. Students who believe

they will experience great difficulty comprehending material are apt to have low

self-efficacy for learning it, whereas those who feel capable of handling the

information-processing demands should feel efficacious (Schunk, 18b). Higher

self-efficacy leads students to perform those activities that they believe will produce

learning. As students work on tasks, they derive information about how well they are

learning. The perception that they are comprehending material enhances self-efficacy and

motivation. Self-efficacy correlates positively with motivation to employ learning


Models students acquire much self-efficacy information vicariously from peers and

teachers. Modeled displays can convey to observers that they are capable and can motivate

them to attempt the task; observed failures may lower students¡¯ self-efficacy and

dissuade them from working and peer models increased self-efficacy and skill better than

the teacher model or no model.

Feedback theory and research support the idea that feedback can affect

self-efficacy in important ways. Early success signal high learning ability; ability feedback

for early successes can enhance self-efficacy for learning. Effort feedback for early

successes should be credible with students who have to work hard to succeed. Each type

of feedback promoted self-efficacy, motivation, and skill better than no feedback.

Performance feedback, indicating that students are making progress in learning, should

raise self-efficacy, motivation, and achievement, especially when students cannot reliably

determine progress on their own. Schunk (18d) found that self-monitoring of

subtraction progress provided reliable performance feedback and promoted self-efficacy

and achievement.

Rewards rewards enhance self-efficacy when they are linked with students¡¯

accomplishments and convey to students that they have made progress in learning.

Rewards are informative and motivating. As students work on tasks, they learn which

actions result in positive outcomes (successes, teacher praise, high grades). Such

information guides future actions. Anticipation of desirable outcomes motivates students

to persist.

In conclusion, self-direction and self-efficacy are seen as a necessary process for

achieving worthwhile and meaningful educational outcomes. They are associated with

initiating learning goals, maintaining intention, and striving for quality outcomes.

Self-direction and Self-efficacy are seen as essential if students are to achieve

Dewey¡¯s ultimate educational goal of becoming continuous learners and possessing the

capacity for further educational growth. Learning interest and opportunities for control

promote self-direction and continued learning opportunities for self-directed learning, in

turn, enhance metacognitive awareness and create the conditions where students learn

how to learn. Even though adult learners who pursue self-directed learning, to the

something important for themselves in this changing society, if they do not have high

self-efficacy, they may not achieve their goals which they want to reach.

As for adult learners and educators, people would try to keep the great balance

between self-directedness and self-efficacy to achieve the highest goal by themselves.

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