How might we design conditions so that our learner’s are able to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve?

WHAT IS SELF EFFICACY?

Self Efficacy “reflects the individuals’ beliefs in their capability  to successfully complete courses of action. (Bandura, 1977) which influences task choice, effort expenditure, and grit under aversive stimuli and failure (Bandura, 1986).  Research shows that if a learner shows a high level of efficacy, they will perform well academically. (Bouffard-Bourchard, 1990) In our classrooms, we see that there are diverse levels of self-efficacy.  This phenomenon is due to the environmental conditions that your learners have been expose to whether it’s messages from family and friends and whether it be an positive or negative experience in one’s life.  As an educators, we strive to change the internal dialogues of our learners so that they believe in themselves so that they are able to  perform complex tasks within their zone of proximal developments.

THE BRAIN ON SELF EFFICACY

Before we get into the strategies that you can implements in your classroom, let’s see what the brain does when the person believes in themselves.  According to Peter Rosen, his studies showed that if participant had high levels of self efficacy, their response time to perform complex tasks lessen and tasks were done more accurately.  In other words, tasks were done quickly and with quality.  “These findings suggest that SE (self-efficacy) is beneficially related to neural indices of stimulus processing, and improved stimulus processing may help explain the association between SE and improved task performance” (Rosen, P. 2010)  Though there are varying factors affecting this phenomenon and more studies are needed to see how these other factor influence one’s self-efficacy, the research is very promising and in fact applicable in our classroom.

SETTING THE STAGE FOR INCREASED SELF-EFFICACY

SETTING THE SPACE

Developing your learner’s self efficacy needs to start off with setting a safe space to learn.  The space must have a learning culture where it is safe to have conversation with peers with little to no judgement.  It is also a space where it is OK to make mistake as a long as the mistakes are gear to meeting the learning goal. It is also a space to have structured fun.  We want to make sure the learning is a rewarding experience so that our learner are want to enter another experience again and again.

SETTING SMART GOALS

S.M.A.R.T. (Specfic, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely) goals focus the learner’s attention on improving in the area that they state.  The goals have to come from the learners. Though there are learner’s who will have a difficult time stating, what goals they want pursue.   As a learning facilitator, we would want to work with our learners to develop SMART goal and create an actionable plan to meet them so that they are able to execute that plan. Start small, write it down, frequently check-in with the learner and celebrate the learner once they met that goal.

THE POWER OF DELIBRATE PRACTICE

Practice without setting a goal is kind of life swimming with no location to swim to.  Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance. (Clear, J. 2018) As a learning facilitator, we need to design experiences in which our learners can set to their goals with an adult that they have a positive relationship with.  Scaffolding a topic and constant use of formative assessment is a great way to receive feedback from your learner to inform you and the learner’s themselves on whether they demonstrated growth and proficiency in particular skill.

DESIGN AND DEVELOP LEVELED EXPERIENCES

There is a lot research on particular framework such as project based learning, problem learning, inquiry based learning, constructivist learning that provides a learning path focused not on answer but on the process of getting to the answer.    As a learning faciliator, we must develop experiences, within the skill level of the learner, the learner’s zone of proximal development.  Once the learner feel confident about the skill being learn, then we can add another set of complexities and assess the learn by integrating those complexities with their current learning framework.  This scaffolding will not only build the learner knowledge in a step wise motion but also build the learner’s confidence and self efficacy.

IMMEDIATE AND MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK

Our learner need to know what they did well on and what they need to work on.  In fact positive or need growth feedback are just pieces of information.  From a growth mindset perspective, we use that information to change our own behavior and to try again until we demonstrate the skill accurately.  More research is currently being looked at in terms of the relationship between one’s resiliency and the type of feedback given.  I’m hypothesizing that giving more positive feedback and growth opportunities feedback on a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio, gives just enough information to focus on what they need to work.  Over-inundating a person with feedback can potential cause cognitive overload and inability to figure out an area of focus. Make sure the feedback is personalized and focused on the learner’s goals.

SELF REFLECTION

We need to set the space and model self reflection.  From a neuroscience perspective, reflection is the brain’s opportunity to rewire certain neural connections and solidify particular neural connection.  The implications of this neural phenomenon is that thru self-reflection, we give the learner’s space and time, to make sense of the experience, to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, to sustain behaviors that are giving them success, and to disconnect behavior giving them errors.  Unfortunately, we don’t give frequent time for self reflection because of our traditional model of constantly giving information and constant exposure to different learning stimuli causing cognitive overload and lessening capacity for one to reflect as reflection is a cognitively heavy process that require a focused space.

In my classroom, these are the core strategies are fundamental to set your students up to believing in themselves, though there are so many strategies out there.  Hopefully you can apply these strategies in your classroom.

Happy Teaching!

WORK CITED

Bandura, A. (1977). Self efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215.
Bandura, A. (1986). The explanatory and predictive scope of self-efficacy theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4(3), 359-373.

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