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SPOTLIGHT: Self Efficacy In The Classroom

Self Efficacy In The Classroom - MUSE Virtual School

While four of our five pillars focus on how or what students learn, the remaining one, self-efficacy, is about how they view themselves and their ability to control situational outcomes. At MUSE Virtual School, self-efficacy is a student’s belief that they can achieve their goals by being open, resourceful, and persistent. When young people possess a strong sense of efficacy, they’re more likely to challenge themselves and meet their commitments.

Students who develop these skills refuse to let their failures define them. Since they know the power to achieve success comes from within, they can easily accept responsibility for their mistakes, make necessary adjustments, and quickly recover from setbacks.

Researchers, including renowned psychologist Albert Bandura who famously coined the term self-efficacy, found a direct correlation between believing in one’s ability to succeed and achieving success. According to research, encouraging students to believe in themselves promotes a positive self-image, fosters confidence in their abilities, and even increases feelings of self-worth.

5 Sources of Influence

There are very few things in life as valuable as believing in yourself, so helping students build a strong sense of efficacy is crucial to our mission. In 1977, Albert Bandura identified four sources of influence associated with building self-efficacy; then, in 1995, psychologist James Maddux suggested a fifth. The first four on this list are part of Badura’s original concept, and the fifth is Maddux’s contribution.

  1. Mastery Experiences

Also referred to as performance outcomes, these are the most effective means of fostering self-efficacy. When students successfully complete a challenge, they begin believing they can do it again. This is where practice comes in; the more a student does something, the better they get… and the better they get, the more they believe they can do it.

  1. Vicarious Experiences

Students gain confidence in their own abilities by watching peers successfully complete a task. In addition, positive role models who possess high levels of self-efficacy are also a source of vicarious experience. It can be anyone in the student’s life whom they identify with on a personal level, including siblings, teachers, and parents, to name a few.

  1. Verbal Persuasion

When teachers offer positive feedback to students engaged in complex tasks, it increases the student’s belief in their abilities and raises the potential for success. It’s vital that the praise is warranted and teachers only compare a student’s current performance to their prior attempts when highlighting progress… never the achievements of other students.

  1. Emotional and Physiological Feedback

A person’s physical and emotional state has an undeniable impact on confidence. When a student is healthy, rested, and mentally alert, their self-efficacy increases… anxiety and sickness have the opposite effect.

  1. Imaginal Experiences

Professional athletes often use this concept by visualizing themselves winning before they compete. For students, this means imaging themselves as having successfully completed a task, such as an exam or presentation. While simple, visualization techniques can be effective at boosting self-efficacy.

Method, Environment, and Passion

Along with these five sources of influence, teaching methods that focus on creativity and encourage cooperative learning help to promote self-efficacy. At MUSE, our educators foster an environment that allows students to showcase their creativity, work together on assignments, and help one another succeed. These efforts help MUSE continuously produce higher self-efficacy and academic achievement rates than schools that subscribe to the more traditional model of students working alone and competing against their peers.

Another strategy to help students develop self-efficacy is to capitalize on individual interests by connecting their studies to something they enjoy. A MUSE Virtual staple is the passion project, where students select a topic that they’re passionate about and then spend the semester learning their core subjects through the lens of that passion. Suppose a student selects music, they may decide to research the role of mathematics in creating rhythm, the science behind the eardrum transforming invisible vibrating frequencies into sound, and the undeniable influence of music on various cultures throughout history.

Connecting academics to something they’re interested in makes it easier to absorb new information. This builds self-efficacy as students gain confidence in their ability to learn and achieve academic success.

The Importance of Self-Efficacy in Teachers

Unfortunately, many schools acknowledge the importance of self-efficacy in their students without addressing the deficits in their teaching staff. At MUSE Virtual, we understand that a teacher who believes in themselves as an educator is more effective in motivating students and fostering an environment conducive to cognitive development. We ensure that our teachers have professional development opportunities, vital resources, and the tools to continuously strengthen their self-efficacy. While this is to provide students with the best education possible, it’s also because we value the health and well-being of our entire faculty and staff.

Like students, teachers who possess a strong sense of efficacy bounce back quickly from failure, making them more comfortable implementing fresh ideas and allowing students input into their own education. Those who struggle with efficacy are more likely to adopt an assertive and restrictive teaching style, which can stunt the development of the young minds they’re entrusted with educating.

Why Self-Efficacy Stands Out

The foundation of everything we do here at MUSE Virtual is based on the five pillars: passion-based learning, academics, communication, self-efficacy, and sustainability. While each contributes to a well-rounded education, self-efficacy stands out from the rest. Not because it’s any more important, but because it gives students a healthy belief in themselves. With that belief comes the ability to achieve anything and the peace of knowing that anything is possible.

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