December 15, 2015

Ritchie's Self-Efficacy: Chapter 2

As I explained in an earlier post, one of my projects for winter break is writing up a review of Laura Ritchie's new self-efficacy book: Fostering Self-Efficacy in Higher Education Students.

Moving on to Chapter 2! (Here's Chapter 1.) My comments are in italics.

Chapter 2: Whole Students

Microcosm: such a great metaphor! "Each student brings his or her own unique dynamic to a situation, with a microcosm of personal attributes, beliefs, and experiences the teacher may never see."

Privacy AND empathy: both important! "Allowing for individuals certainly does not mean probing students' personal lives to understand their perspectives. However, it is important to acknowledge that the student's decisions, thinking, motivation, and achievements are based on a multifaceted web of self-beliefs."

I really like how self-efficacy zooms in on specific tasks; mindset is more global. "Self-efficacy beliefs are, by definition, specific to a named task. [...] Moreover, these beliefs are malleable."

Self-efficacy and 'the self'

More on task-specificity: "A person's understanding of his or her value as an individual is separate from the self-efficacy beliefs based on capabilities to carry out named tasks. [...] A student's overall self-concept is a global trait and, as such, is less relevant to any specific teaching context."

The self-efficacy question: "How confident am I that I can do this?"

Ask yourself: How confident am I that I can do this?

Research into self-efficacy

Bandura's early self-efficacy work was in psychotherapy, overcoming fear of snakes; I really like that since I see fear as the most negative emotion students face: "Each person had a unique and personal belief about their capabilities to do the different tasks based on self-judgments made at that point in time."

The task-specificity makes this hard to research: "A generalized study tends to miss the mark and measure self-concept or a more generalized view rather than the very specific self-efficacy beliefs."

Sources and influences

Snapshots is a great metaphor for the specificity: "Looking at self-efficacy beliefs is like viewing snapshots of people's self-judgment of their confidence in capabilities at that moment."

Mastery experiences

This is the key element: "The most meaningful and lasting way to impact self-efficacy beliefs is through personal experiences. When someone takes on a task and completes it, they achieve what is called a mastery experience. [...] Each task, whether micro or macro, can represent a mastery experience."

Vicarious experiences

Vicarious experiences are HUGE for my classes (seeing other students' writing, blogs, websites): "A learner has a vicarious experience when observing others accomplish tasks."

I can do it too!

It's powerful: "Vicarious learning can be effective when introducing completely new material or when rebuilding students are less than successful experiences. [...] Watching others can communicate a sense that the task is possible."

Observe others: the task is possible!

Verbal persuasion and feedback

Like vicarious experience, this dimension is less powerful than mastery: "A mastery experience will supersede both observations and what other people say in encouragement. Verbal persuasion alone is not an effective way to form or influence self-efficacy beliefs, and the effects of verbal feedback tend to be temporary."

Very much growth mindset here: "Learning and feedback that treat ability as an acquirable skill use self-comparisons [...] and focus on the self and achieved progress has been recommended for building self-efficacy."

Physical signals

Lots of interesting stuff here, but not as relevant to me... and reassuringly: "This is the least influential factor on a person's self-efficacy beliefs."

Impacts and implications

More mindset talk here: "People who have high levels of self-efficacy also tend to exhibit a range of positive qualities. They are more likely to choose more challenging tasks, undertake strategic thinking, work harder, exhibit resilience, and attain higher outcomes. [...] Failure is less of a deterrent, and they use resources creatively and seek possible solutions before giving up. Overall they persist longer and achieve more."

I'm ready for a challenge.

I'm confident that I can go high.

Ability or capability

More mindset (esp. relevant to feedback): "It is possible to break through the mindset that someone can't learn by demonstrating to them that they have already learned."

Some students need that more than others: "The processes of reflecting and reassessing help self-efficacious people to take on more challenging tasks with continued confidence; they focus strategically on how to use their skills to achieve success."

Use your skills.

Impact on behavior

It's a cyclical process: "Committing to a goal is partly determined by self-efficacy, and the actions that follow are also sustained by these beleifs and lead to achievements, which are the basis for future judgments about self-efficacy."

Commit to a goal.

Within the learning process

I really like this ideal: "an ideal learning situation where students consciously take responsibility for the processes of monitoring, reflecting, and eventually achieving their potential."

Ponder your potential.

The need for specificity

Learning v. assessment (I am glad my focus is almost entirely on learning): "the need to distinguish self-efficacy for learning and performing in academic settings."

Self-efficacy for learning

Learning v. performing: "Making judgments about self-efficacy for learning requires the student to consider their capabilities for acquiring new skills [...] Self-efficacy for performing involves beliefs about executing a task successfully by using skills that have already been learned."

Consider what you are capable of.

Self-efficacy for performing

Instead of test-taking skills, self-efficacy! "Everyday materials and activities can help teachers shape students' practical understanding of how self-efficacy for performing beliefs can influence and impact achievement."

In the classroom

This reminds me of the "teaching writers" graphic! "The difference between a young violinist and a student in a lecture is that the violinist is viewed as a young performer from the outset, from first playing 'Twinkle Twinkle,' whereas the student sitting in the third row back might only be thought of as a student who is in the class for the semester."

Here is that Teaching Writers graphic:

So little time in the classroom! "The influences that build self-efficacy beliefs are in themselves simple, and to be effective, experience with them needs to be frequent, merited, and reinforced. This can be a challenge in a teaching setting when time and contact with students is limited."

Teaching self-efficacy for learning

It's not hard! "How often do teachers actually tell students that they believe they will succeed? This affirmation is important as a beginning point."

Focus on skills is also welcome! "Assignments do not need to be easy; however, the students need to either have a budding awareness of the necessary skills and methods, or understand how to source the skills they need."

Also: self-reflection. "Self-efficacy for learning can be developed through methods that encourage the student to observe their processes."

Self-awareness! "Teachers can iterate goals to students in a way that helps them to break down the ongoing process of learning and acknowledge that efficient use of time and capabilities is an achievement just like any other task."

Teaching self-efficacy for performing

Good points about how performance is a task of its own, with associated self-efficacy beliefs: "The skill of delivering information in this way, of 'performing' that task, may not have entered into the taught content of the course."

Performance without assessment — all writing can be considered performance (esp. when it's not about taught content): "Essay writing is perhaps the easiest to integrate as an assignment that has the scope for making students active participants in the reflection process." 

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