Sunday, April 17, 2011

Self-Efficacy Defined

The Little Engine that Could
A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard
 for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on
 and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call
when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the
 roundhouse to take it over the hill "I can't;
that is too much a pull for me," said the great engine
 built for hard work. Then the train asked
another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused.
In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it
up the grade and down on the other side. "I think I can,"
puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front
of the great heavy train. As it went on the little
engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster,
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."
As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged
the larger engines, it went more slowly.
However, it still kept saying,
"I--think--I--can, I--think--I--can."
 It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went
on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying,
"I thought I could, I thought I could"
(Yahoo Answers, 2011).

As illustrated by the little engine in the story above, self-efficacy is defined as "the belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations (Bandura, 1995, p. 2).  In simpler terms, self-efficacy is the belief in one's ability to be successful in a particular situation (Cherry, n.d.). Bandura refers to confidence as the strength of belief but believes that confidence does not specify what the belief is about. In contrast to confidence, Bandura states that the assessment of one's self-efficacy includes both an affirmation of a capability level and the strength of that belief (Bandura, 1997, p. 382).

Recognizing the difference between self-efficacy for learning and self-efficacy for performance further defines self-efficacy. According to Ormrod (2008, p. 137), self-efficacy for learning represents one's self-assessment for what one will eventually do and should be somewhat optimistic. Self-efficacy for performance represents what one already knows how to do and should be more relative to one's current abilities.