Torch - Fall 2013

same students are not able to apply growth mindset behaviours; instead, they become quickly consumed by feelings of stress, pressure and the fear of failure. Similarly, the data suggests that, generally speaking, parent beliefs are also out of sync with their behaviours. It is clear that parents want their children to develop an intrinsic love of learning and to discover their passions, which will ultimately contribute to them leading a fulfilling and happy life. However, a significant number of parents revealed a deep concern that their children will be unprepared for future endeavours. This fear is then expressed verbally and/or non-verbally to their children, placing pressure upon them to perform at a high level in order to stay ahead, earn top marks and develop special qualities that may set them apart from others. Parental reaction may add further to students’ adverse feelings regarding their academic capabilities. Our research is helping us to better understand our student and parent thinking, which is guiding us to implement next steps to help build student self-efficacy. We feel strongly that until all adults in our community understand growth mindsets—and self-esteem yet not be able to succeed in school or life because they lack the ability to believe that they are capable. —A. Bandura* “ Crucial to children’s self-esteem is the belief that they are capable individuals who can set goals for themselves and achieve them. Children can have good concepts of self and realistic Building self-efficacy is a central goal of our Strategic Plan, A Culture of Capability . To support the plan, a framework for self-efficacy and global capability was created by Christine Shain (the school’s Vice-Principal at that time), Seonaid Davis (Director of Curriculum & Faculty Development) and Ann Peel (Director, Institute at Havergal). What was not initially developed was a measurement tool to assess the framework— the school did not know quantitatively where students sat on the framework. Last school year, Ann Peel began working with Barbara Bodkin from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) to create an online self-assessment tool regarding self-efficacy. In order to collect baseline self-efficacy data, OISE’s team of researchers, in collaboration with Havergal’s team, developed a self-efficacy survey based upon 18 questions. The online survey was piloted last year with our Grade 6, 7 and 10 students and is currently being used with all Grade 10 students and participants in the Global Experience Program (excursion and exchange). Students from the Ghana excursion in July 2013

work towards developing and applying a growth mindset in their own lives—we cannot adequately support our students to become self-efficacious. As a starting point, we recommend reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset , which is an inspiring and engaging read that helps individuals to better understand themselves and their potential. Copies of this book were made available to all faculty and staff members as summer reading, which has sparked much conversation around teaching and learning here at Havergal. The journey to self-efficacy is an ongoing and complex process. We all have a responsibility to work together to support our students in this area. As Dweck suggests, if we want to give our children a gift, the best thing we can do is to teach them to love challenges, to be intrigued by mistakes, to enjoy effort and to become lifelong learners.

“ Assessing Self-Efficacy

were the first group to take the online survey, both before leaving and upon their return. “We will collect and analyze data from the cohort of Grade 10 students at large and those going through the Global Experience Program to get a better sense of what self-efficacy means and what feeling capable looks like for students,” Ann says. “We hope we can isolate the variables—find out who each student is, what she’s encountered and whether what she encounters makes her feel more or less capable.” The survey asks students to choose which kind of girl they are most like right now and then to decide whether the statement they choose is “sort of true” or “really true” for them. For example, the first question is: “Which statement is more true for you?” The choices are: “Some girls find it hard to ask for help” and “Some girls find it easy to ask for help.” If the student selects “Some girls find it hard to ask for help” then a follow-up question requires the student to select the verity of the statement—is it “Really true for me” or “Sort of true for me.” continued...


* Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman .

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