Torch - Fall 2013


Understanding Self-Efficacy By Nicole Davies & Helen Carayannis

G uided by Havergal’s the importance of intentionally and explicitly developing self-efficacy within our students so that each girl feels empowered to believe in herself, to find her unique strengths and passions and to understand her own capacities and capabilities thus allowing her to thrive in a complex and unpredictable world. Self-efficacy is defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome. Students with a strong sense of self-efficacy are more likely to challenge themselves with difficult tasks and to be intrinsically motivated. These students will put forth a higher degree of effort in order to meet their commitments and attribute failure to things that are in their control, rather than blaming external factors. Self- efficacious students recover quickly from setbacks and ultimately are likely to achieve their personal goals. Strategic Plan, A Culture of Capability , we recognize

Helen Carayannis, Junior School Technology Integration Teacher (left) and Nicole Davies, Junior School Inquiry and Literacy Teacher (right)

Throughout our combined 33 years as Havergal educators, we have often observed and worked with children who, although they are intellectually capable and possess good self-esteem, do not always believe in their academic capabilities. These children may become quickly frustrated, give up easily and rely on teacher and/ or parent support to take simple next steps. If they believe that they cannot be successful, they are less likely to make a concerted effort and may consider challenging tasks as threats to be avoided. Students with low self-efficacy often have low aspirations that may result in academic underperformance that can develop into learned-helplessness and a self-fulfilling cycle. As the 2012-2013 Havergal Chairs of Learning and Teaching, we applied the action research process to better understand our students and to explore strategies that can help our girls believe in their capabilities so that they learn independently and confidently, and grow and achieve their learning goals. Focusing on our Grade 4 to 6 students, we set out to answer the following questions:

• How self-efficacious are our Grade 4 to 6 students presently?

• What pedagogical steps are needed to develop self-efficacy in students in Grades 4 to 6 to strengthen their beliefs about their academic capabilities? • How can students develop self-awareness about their academic capabilities and apply these strategies to build their own self- efficacy? • How can parents and teachers support students as they develop self-awareness about their academic capabilities? Over the course of the year, we conducted a thorough literature review and gathered data from Junior School students, parents and teachers through surveys, one-on-one interviews and small group discussions. Once analyzed, our research revealed some significant findings. Our students understand and can articulate well the importance of adopting a growth mindset—the belief that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. However, when academically challenged, many of these


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