Click for introductory video.
chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. "I think
I can– I think I can– I think I can...." "Hurray,
hurray," cried the funny little clown and all the dolls and
toys.... And the Little Blue Engine smiled....
– W. Piper
The Little Engine that Could
Why are some students eager to learn
and willing to tackle new challenges while others seem uninterested
or unmotivated? Why do some students demonstrate high levels
of confidence in their abilities, while others seem unsure of
themselves? What strategies can you, as a classroom teacher,
use to increase your students’ confidence to learn new material?
Research over the past 25 years indicates these strategies do
exist! The purpose of this intervention is to provide you with
some easy-to-implement strategies that educators and educational
researchers have found will increase your students’ confidence
to learn new material. Although no single strategy works with
all students, a combination of these techniques can increase
your students' confidence in their ability to achieve, which
is referred to as self-efficacy by Albert Bandura (1986).
Sketch by Greg Hunt
What is self efficacy and why is it important?
Self-efficacy is a person's judgment about
being able to perform a particular activity. It is a student's
"I can" or "I cannot" belief. Unlike self-esteem, which reflects
how students feel about their worth or value, self-efficacy reflects
how confident students are about performing specific tasks.
High self-efficacy in one area may not coincide with high self-efficacy
in another area. Just as high confidence in snow skiing may
not be matched with high confidence in baseball, high self-efficacy
in mathematics does not necessarily accompany high self efficacy
in spelling. Self-efficacy is specific to the task being attempted.
However, having high self-efficacy does not necessarily mean that
students believe they will be successful. While self-efficacy indicates
how strongly students believe they have the skills to do well, they
may believe other factors will keep them from succeeding.
A growing body of research reveals that there
is a positive, significant relationship between students' self-efficacy
beliefs and their academic performance. Our goal with this project
is to increase the self-efficacy of the student you are working
with. People with low self-efficacy toward a task are more likely
to avoid it, while those with high self-efficacy are not only more
likely to attempt the task, but they also will work harder and persist
longer in the face of difficulties. Self-efficacy influences:
(1) what activities students select, (2) how much effort they put
forth, (3) how persistent they are in the face of difficulties,
and (4) the difficulty of the goals they set. Students with low
self-efficacy do not expect to do well, and they often do not achieve
at a level that is commensurate with their abilities. They do not
believe they have the skills to do well so they don't try.
The connection between self-efficacy and achievement
gets stronger as students advance through school. By the time
students are in college, their self-efficacy beliefs are more strongly
related to their achievement than any measure of their ability.
If we wish to develop high educational achievement among our students,
it is essential that we begin building stronger self-efficacy as
early as possible.
Check Your Understanding:
- Self-efficacy is the same as self-esteem.
- Many underachieving students don't
believe they have the skills to do well.
c. 2000 - Del Siegle - This material
may not be reproduced or distributed beyond this website.