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A Perspective on Self-Efficacy Beliefs for Academic Achievement


The day-to-day endeavors of living are mostly directed by underlying self-systems that

strengthen and guide our aspirations and motivation for working towards accomplishing goals

and seeking achievements. The self-systems guide our pursuits and determine our performance.

In this regard, raising academic performance of students has been a vital challenge. All efforts

need to be directed towards this challenge by helping students not only through skill acquisition

but also by fostering the self-systems which help them to be more persuasive in their efforts for

academic achievement. An understanding of self-systems with particular reference to self-

efficacy proves to be a potent factor because "these self-systems house one’s cognitive and

affective structures and include the abilities to symbolize, learn from others, plan alternative

strategies, regulate one’s own behavior, and engage in self-reflection" (Bandura,1977). Self-

efficacy has a relatively brief history that began with Bandura’s (1977) publication of "Self-

Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change". Self-efficacy refers "to subjective

judgments of one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action to attain designated

goals" (Bandura, 1977 and 1997). Self-efficacy beliefs can therefore be extensively applied and

potentially used in the field of educational research, particularly in the area of academic

motivation and achievement (Pintrich and Schunk, 1995).

The Role of Self-efficacy Beliefs

Self-efficacy beliefs center around what a person can do rather than personal judgments about

one’s physical or personality attributes. The level of self-efficacy refers to its dependence on

difficulty level of a particular task; generality of self-efficacy beliefs refers to the transferability

of one’s efficacy judgments across different tasks or activities such as different academic

subjects; and strength of efficacy judgments pertains to the certainty with which one can perform

a specific task (Zimmerman, 1995). When students begin to doubt their capabilities, it becomes

detrimental as they slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulties, have low

aspirations and are most likely to encounter stress. They view insufficient performance as

personal deficiencies and do not concentrate on how to perform successfully.

Self-efficacy beliefs influence not only motivation levels but also offer resilience to adversity

and avert vulnerability to stress and depression. The stress and anxiety levels required to

accomplish a task are also influenced by efficacy beliefs. Research findings over the past 20

years have generally supported the argument that "efficacy beliefs mediate the effect of skills or

other self-beliefs on subsequent performance attainments" (Schunk, 1991; and Bandura, 1997).

The findings of Bouffard-Bouchard et al. (1991) show that students with high self-efficacy are

engaged more in effective self-regulatory strategies at each level and this ability enables them to

cope with anxiety and stress, which can facilitate enhancing memory performance.

This indicates that these beliefs influence motivational and self-regulatory processes in several

ways. For accomplishing a particular task, they influence the choices people make and the

courses of action they pursue. This typically manifests in student behavior where they engage in

tasks in which they feel competent and confident and avoid those in which they do not.

Therefore, self-beliefs facilitate control over the events. According to Pajares Frank (1996),

beliefs of personal competence "determine how much effort people will expend on an activity,

how long they will persevere when confronting obstacles and how resilient they will prove in the

face of adverse situations". This indicates that higher the sense of efficacy, the greater is the

effort for persistence, persuasion and resilience. These findings are further substantiated by

researchers who have also demonstrated "that self-efficacy beliefs influence effort, persistence,

and perseverance" (Bandura and Schunk, 1981).

List of References

Bandura A (1977), ‘Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change’,

Psychological Review

. 84, 191-215

——–, (1986),

Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory


Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, NJ

———, (1997),

Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control, Freeman

, New York

Bandura A and Schunk D H (1981), ‘Cultivating Competence, Self-efficacy, and Intrinsic

Interest Through Proximal Self-motivation’,

Journal of Personality and Social


, 41, 586-598

Bouffard-Bouchard T, Parent S and Parivee S (1991), ‘Influence of Self-efficacy on Self-

regualtion and Performance Among Junior and Senior High-School Age Students’,

International Journal of Behavioral Development

, 14, 153-164

Pajares F and Johnson M J (1996), ‘Self-efficacy Beliefs in the Writing of High School Students:

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