Self Efficacy Gender and Academic Achievement

Earlier, we discussed Bandura s four sources of self-efficacy: mastery experiences, social modeling, social persuasion, and emotional states. A recent paper by Nan Zhang Hampton and Emanuel Mason (2003) suggests that students with learning disabilities may have lower self-efficacy mainly because they have less access to these four sources of self-efficacy. In this case, for example, repeated failure to master academic experiences leads to low self-efficacy in students with learning disabilities. This, in turn, leads to the vicious cycle of trying less and failing even more. Perceptions become rehiforced by experience. Even social modeling is lowered hi students with learning disabilities because these students do not identify with successful students.

Previous research on self-efficacy and learning disabilities has ignored possible mechanisms that might explahi their relationship between these two factors. By including gender and sources of self-efficacy, Hampton and Mason hoped to shed light on possible relationships between learning and self-efficacy. More specifically, they predicted that gender and learning disability status would be related to self-efficacy beliefs but indirectly only through sources of self-efficacy. In turn, self-efficacy beliefs would be the most dhect influence on academic performance.

To test this model, Hampton and Mason collected data on nearly 300 high school students, about half of whom were diagnosed with learning disabilities. Self-efficacy beliefs were measured by the Self-Efficacy for Learning Scales (SELS; Zimmerman, Bandura, & Pons, 1992); and sources of self-efficacy were measured by the Sources of Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (Hampton, 1998), which assesses all four sources of self-efficacy. Information on learning disability status came from the school district's evaluations usmg state-established criteria, such as students' score on an ability test that was significantly different from then aptitude test score.

Results showed that, compared with students without learning disabilities, those with them had less mastery, fewer role models, less positive reinforcement from others, and higher anxiety levels. In short, all four sources of self-efficacy were less accessible to students with learning disabilities compared with those without these disabilities. Further analyses revealed that an mdirect influence on efficacy through sources of efficacy held only for learning disability status and not gender. In other words, learning disability does not operate directly on self-efficacy but only indirectly through sources of self-efficacy in influencing academic performance. Gender had no effect either on sources or beliefs of self-efficacy.

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