Self-efficacy – Confidence You Can Do Something Specific – Even If It’s Hard

basketball_girls_cropSelf-efficacy is the belief that you can master whatever it is you need to reach a certain goal. It is a context-specific attitude. That means it’s not super hero delusions about being able to do everything, but focused belief about specific things. Some kids believe they can learn to play basketball, but not that they can learn to read. For others the opposite is true. For still others, they may be confidant they can learn to read and to play basketball, but not that they can make good friends and sit still in class.

Can’t be taught just by telling kids

Unfortunately, there isn’t evidence that self-efficacy can be successfully taught through just telling kids they have this power. If it could, every preschooler who watched Mr. Rogers would have it! The evidence shows that what does help in learning self-efficacy is a feedback loop where learners see a direct relationship between their effort and an outcome. Basketball is a perfect feedback system. Every time a child tries for a basket, her or she comes closer or farther away from making it.

Good computer-based training can promote self-efficacy

We’re finding out that children’s self-efficacy can be indirectly developed through learner-directed, computer-based programs with strong feedback systems. When children learn something by themselves on the computer, then they credit that learning to their own power not to a teacher or other adult.