A Correlation Study

The concept of self-efficacy has been a well-researched area in the field of education. This paper examined whether a correlation exists between self-efficacy and academic achievement among undergraduate students in a higher education institution with the hypothesis that high levels of self-efficacy are likely to contribute to high academic achievement. Thirty participants were asked to fill-out two sets of questionnaire – one assessing the academic achievement of the students based on their Education Qualification points and one measuring the students’ perception of their self-efficacy using Schwarzer ; Jerusalem’s (1992) General Self Efficacy Scale. The results confirmed the hypothesis that there is indeed a significant positive correlation between self-efficacy and academic achievement. Implications for future research on the area are discussed.IntroductionSelf-efficacy, or a person’s belief on his/her capabilities to learn and undertake tasks at different levels as required (Bandura, 1986).

The premise of self-efficacy research pertains to its influence over an individual’s choice of activities, the amount of effort exerted to accomplish or undertake these activities and the persistence to finish the chosen tasks (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994). Self-efficacy is said to develop from one’s own experiences, biological reactions to these experiences, and the feedback that they receive from other people regarding their skills and performance on certain activities, (e.g., remarks made by teachers on a student’s homework) (Schunk, 1989). In turn, self-efficacy levels are said to influence 1) career choices among college majors (Lent & Hackett, 1987 in Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994), 2) teaching methods of instructors in relation to their students’ performance outcomes (Ashton ; Webb, 1986 in Schunk ; Zimmerman, 1994), and 3) other motivating factors that affect academic performance and achievement.

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It is in the latter area that this paper shall be focused on.Many researches have shown that perceived self-efficacy may actually have significant effects on academic-related performance. One research examined how children with different levels of success expectancy faired over an anagram-solving test. Butkowsky and Willows (1980) found that children with high expectancy of success over the task performed better than those who exhibited low expectancy. Similarly, Collins (1982) measured the relationship between the performance of grade five students in solving mathematical problems and their levels of self-efficacy.

His study yielded that the students with high levels of perceived self-efficacy either performed exceptionally well in solving the math problems or spent more time in trying to solve them than low-efficacy students who were quick to give up on the problems or performed poorly altogether.There have been other researches on self-efficacy and its relation to outcomes of academic performance. Most of these studies have been consistent in attaining positive and significant correlations between academic achievement and levels of perceived self-efficacy (Relich et al., 1986; Schunk, 1983, 1984; Schunk ; Cox, 1986; Schunk ; Gunn, 1986; Schunk ; Rice, 1986).  To assess self-efficacy, these researches utilized measurement tools that were developed as studies were conducted.

One such tool is the General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1981).  The GSE is a 10-item psychometric scale that seeks to measure one’s optimism on self-beliefs referring to personal agency or the recognition that one is responsible for the outcome of any action. It is reported to have been used in a lot of studies and answered by thousands of participants for around two decades now (Schwarzer, 2006).This study seeks to confirm the results of past research studies in this area using the GSE. The assessment of self-efficacy in this case shall be applied to tertiary students. It is hypothesized that high levels of self-efficacy will be positively and significantly correlated with high academic achievement.

MethodThe questionnaire method was used in this study. As mentioned, the GSE scale would be utilized to assess the self-efficacy levels of the participants. The questionnaire was acquired in Schwarzer’s personal website for free and copies were made for each participant. The academic achievement questionnaire was likewise distributed in the same manner.Thirty undergraduate college students were selected as participants to this study according to their availability and willingness to voluntarily fill-out two brief questionnaires with guarantee of their anonymity and confidentiality of results. The first questionnaire measured the participants’ academic achievement by determining their Education Qualification points.

Basically, high qualification points indicated high academic achievement and low qualification points implied low academic achievement. The GSE immediately followed after the first questionnaire has been filled-out. Participants rated each statement in the questionnaire with scores of 1-4, 1 denoting high disagreement and 4 showing high agreement. It took no more than ten minutes to fill-out both questionnaires.Design ProcedureScores in the academic achievement questionnaire were recorded along with the ratings made in the GSE scale.

A Pearson Product-Moment Correlation test was then conducted to test the scores for any significant relationship.ResultsThe results showed a significant positive correlation between self-efficacy and academic achievement (r=0.880, n=30, p<0.01, one-tailed). Thus, the hypothesis in this study was confirmed. That is, high self-efficacy levels tend to correspond to high academic achievement.

DiscussionPast research have proven that individuals who have high self-efficacy have a stronger self-belief that they can perform novel or difficult tasks, or cope with adversity – in a variety of settings, i.e. academic achievement than those with low perceived self-efficacy. This study has once again affirmed such proposition. In the field of education, it appears that developing high self-efficacy levels should start early. Parents, teachers and peers contribute to the development of one’s self-beliefs during childhood and hence, particular attention should be placed on this area.

Feedback should be given whenever a task is completed so that there would be continuity and consistency in building-up beliefs and confidence over one’s capabilities to perform activities and skills and achieve desired outcomes.Future ResearchIt has been argued that much of the research on self-efficacy has been focused too much on the cause-and-effect factor and not on how self-efficacy actually influences outcomes in academic achievement.  A strong suggestion for future research in this area is to examine the interaction of self-efficacy to other belief constructs and self-regulatory practices during and academic undertaking such as the establishment of goals and evaluation of the progress towards achieving those goals in any particular task (Zimmerman, 1989).