Albert Bandura is a psychologist who has created a theory, known as the Social Cognitive Theory, that basically analyzes grit and determination. Having heard very little other than that simple explanation, I was surprised to learn that the social cognitive theory is comprised of two elements – observational learning and self-efficacy. This then had me reflecting on my own life, specifically in regards to self-efficacy, which is your belief that you can succeed in specific situations. I had high self-confidence for in school performance, but I had low self-efficacy in regards to math. I walked myself back mentally to my junior year of high school in and created the following mental picture for myself.
My confusion over this math lesson has forgone any state of help and my feelings wane into hopelessness. My brain just wasn’t built for math. The teacher asks for any last questions. I can’t even describe what I don’t know. I shrug to myself and hold back my frustration at the size of the homework assignment that I needed to complete for tomorrow. I won’t be able to do the assignment, why bother trying?
I can see that my low self-efficacy caused my grades to suffer because I had no belief that I was capable of completing the assignment.
I also learned that teachers need to work with their self-efficacy. It is hard to picture an adult learning well into their careers, but I learned and now believe that in all stages of life we are constantly learning – especially for educators who are embedded in an academic lifestyle. I was also able to connect because as a teacher in training it is easy to assume that self-regulation and organization will come naturally the day I enter the classroom in the role of a teacher. As I am now learning, that is not the case. I will need to keep learning.
Lastly I learned how to successfully encourage self-efficacy in the classroom. On the list, I connected to the suggestion that I feel will work best with my teaching personality, and that is to set learning goals for the students and model a mastery orientation for them. This will not only encourage the students to learn self-efficacy, but it will drive me to continue refining my own self-efficacy.
One question I still have: At what point does high self-efficacy lead to burnout?