Psychometric study of academic self efficacy scale

The development of Malaysia industries, infrastructures and ensuring the general well being of the country by Malaysian engineers cannot be underestimated. A new of engineering education model have been introduced to develop the interpersonal skills deal with public effectively as well as the technically competent ( Johari, 2002). In order to develop the interpersonal skills among Malaysia future engineers, a research in psychology well being have to be done. A psychometric analysis is most important part to get a valid and reliable psychology research for predicting the interpersonal skills among students. Standardized testing procedures are essential to valid testing. An invalid and misleading of the test result may alter by using of nonstandard procedures (Gregory, 2007).

The psychological test is an effective tool in measuring the attitude and mental ability. It assesses their efficiency in acquiring knowledge relevant to the job and putting what they learn to practice. The test measures emotional stability, and skills such as analytical and problem-solving skills, human communication and leadership skills.

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The standard procedure for measuring beliefs of personal efficacy includes number of safeguards to minimize any potential motivational effects of self-assessment. These safeguards are built into the instructions and the mode of administration. Self-efficacy judgments are recorded privately without personal identification to reduce social evaluative concerns. The assessments of perceived efficacy and behavior are conducted in different settings and by different assessors to remove any possible carryover of social influence from assessment to the performance setting (Bandura, 1984). For example, in this case, The College Academic Self – efficacy scale (Owen & Froman, 1988) indicates that student’s perceptions of their abilities to perform tasks, greatly influences their success.

The importance of validity and reliable measure of the sources of self-efficacy is needed. First, self-efficacy beliefs play a critical role in the academic and career choices of students (Hackett, 1995). It is important for educators or a counselors to be well known of the factors that help create and nurture the self-efficacy beliefs of their students. This information is invaluable in helping educators tailor their instructional strategies and counseling practices in ways most supportive both of their students’ self-efficacy and also of their achievement.

Educators and counselors can also make use of such assessments as they evaluate the manner in which academic programs and intervention strategies may influence the self-efficacy beliefs of the adolescents in their care. All professional educators would readily agree that identifying the ways in which students’ unrealistically low self-efficacy beliefs can be challenged and altered is an essential and critical enterprise.

Another important reason why a psychometrically sound assessment of the sources of self-efficacy is required is that the tenets of Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory regarding the workings of self-efficacy cannot effectively be tested without such assessment. Researchers who wish to understand the formation of academic self-efficacy must obtain that understanding using valid and reliable measures that faithfully reflect the sources hypothesized and their role within the broader structure of social cognitive theory. This is especially important in the field of academic motivation where the sources of self-efficacy have often been operationalized and measured in a manner that bears little resemblance to how they were hypothesized by Bandura (1986, 1997).

This study will be able to craft items to assess each source by matching them carefully to each source as it that has been described by Bandura (1997). The researcher next sought to establish a psychometrically fit model to measure the sources of self-efficacy and to test whether the model is invariant across demographic factors and the correlation with social support. This study will be also examined evidence for convergent and factor analysis by assessing the relationship between the sources, self-efficacy, and other constructs typically included in studies of academic motivation.

College Students’ self-efficacy beliefs have been found to play an important role in motivating them to learn (Pajares & Schunk, 2001). Self-efficacy refers to beliefs about one’s capability to learn or perform effectively, such as to solve a particular type of math problem. Self-efficacy differs operationally from other self-related constructs in that self-efficacy items are phrased in terms of what students can do rather than what they will do or usually do in a particular domain (Bandura, 2006). An important type of self-efficacy focuses on students’ beliefs about their capability to self-regulate learning (SRL), which refers to such processes as goal setting, self-monitoring, strategy use, self-evaluation, and self-reactions (Zimmerman, 2007).

Research has indicated that self efficacy correlates with achievement outcomes (Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1996; Schunk, 1995). Students with high self efficacy often display greater performance comparatively to those with low efficacy. Self efficacy is also equated with self competence, hence significant authorities such as parents and teachers who exert great influences should play their role efficiently in enhancing this self competence and eventually self efficacy for it has great bearings in achievement, be it in the English language or any other subjects ( Mahyuddin.R, 2006).

1.2 Problem Statement

This study concentrates on the psychometric properties and application of the Academic Self-Efficacy Scale and its relationship with social supports and students life satisfaction. Through the haze of available measurements in self efficacy, may of them offering weak or unknown psychometric properties, and unlikely that self-efficacy can penetrate clearly (Owen and Froman, 1988). Items in Self efficacy scale should accurately reflect the construct. Self efficacy is concerned with perceived capability. Self efficacy should also be distinguished from other constructs such as self esteem, locus of control, self regulation and outcome expectancies.

Scientific advances are greatly accelerated by methodological development of assessment tools for key determinants of human functioning. Quality of assessment provides the basis for stringent empirical tests of theory. Self efficacy assessment tailored to domains of functioning and task demands identify patterns of strengths and limitations in perceived capability (Bandura, 1997).

The academic self efficacy and self efficacy in learning have been widely investigate by western researchers and educators. For Malaysian researcher, the study of academic self efficacy is quite constrictive. There are several significance to investigate the psychometric properties of the academic self efficacy scale that will be discussed in part significance of the study.

Researchers have previously investigated predictors affecting student’s decision to pursue higher education. Predictors include primary and secondary school preparations, family dynamics, self esteem, commitment to goals and social support systems. Yet, with all the services available to students and the research conducted to better understand factor associated with the above issues, there are some students who never successfully assimilate into and navigate through the university system (Shaw, N. E, 2008).

Owen and Froman’s (1988) College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale was selected for this study because it was different from most academic self-efficacy instruments. CASES was unique in that the instrument investigates feelings of academic self-efficacy as a whole as opposed to teasing out individual constructs or areas of academic self-efficacy such as English, mathematics, and reading. Owen and Froman (1988) also believed that CASES can give specific diagnostic findings that can influence holistic change to increase overall academic self-efficacy.

This study is unique because one of its objectives was not to simply find a relationship between self efficacy, academic motivation and academic achievement, but to also explore how the psychometric properties is significance before the researcher conduct a test. The study attempted to focus on the mediating variable that would explain the relationship between self efficacy, academic motivation and academic achievement.

1.3 Research Question

The research questions are listed as below;

i) Do the ASES scores demonstrate adequate internal consistency reliability, convergent validity and factor analysis of the testing for the college students?

ii) Are there significant differences in the level of academic self efficacy experienced by male and female students?

iii) Are there significant differences in the level of academic self efficacy experienced by students with the level of parents education and income?

iv) Is there a relationship between college academic self-efficacy and social support?

v) is there a relationship between academic self efficacy and life satisfaction?

1.4 Research Objectives:

i) To examine the psychometric properties of a Academic Self efficacy Scale to estimate the students’ self-efficacy.

ii) To identify the levels of self efficacy among engineering students in tertiary education

iii) To identify the relationship of self efficacy with demographic factors.

iv) To identify the relationship of academic self efficacy with students social supports.

v) To identify the relationship of academic self efficacy with life satisfaction.

1.5 Significance of the study

Many studies in educational and psychological literature revealed that measurement of self-efficacy is important in the field of education because of its key role and relationships with many other variables, which have great influences on education. For this reason, self efficacy measurements and the development of an effective measurement tool with respect to psychometric properties have become an important issue and major concern.

The educators can nurture student self-direction and personal efficacy by providing students with opportunities before, during and after instruction to exercise some control of their own learning. An emphasis on student self-direction and efficacy means that educators teach and engage students in specific strategies that offer them opportunities to make decisions and solve problems on their own without being told what to do at all times. It means, the educators can provide them with strategies designed to help them process information effectively and to be self-confident, believing that they have the abilities to succeed. And perhaps most important, we help students become more reflective about their thinking and learning processes.

The perceived attractiveness of the field of engineering and the attrition of engineering students are important issues that are significantly influenced by self-efficacy beliefs. In order to address these problems, educators must gain a better understanding of how student’s assess their confidence in their abilities to complete the tasks that they find necessary to succeed in engineering fields with their engineering self-efficacy beliefs (Hutchison, 2007).

Self-efficacy can influence people’s behavior either positively or negatively, based on their perception of their abilities concerning a particular task. It influences the choices people make, the effort they put forth, and how long they persist in the face of obstacles and failure. The efficacy beliefs of undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs have been linked to their persistence, achievement and interest.

1.6 Limitation of the study

The psychometric study will only focus on The College Academic Self Efficacy Scale(CASES) which was develop by Owen and Froman (1988). This instrument also will be used to study the level of academic self efficacy among students.

The sample only will be focus on engineering undergraduates.

This study only will be done in Higher Public universities in term of geographical, cultural and course offered by the universities.

1.7 Definition of the Terms

Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits. The field is primarily concerned with the study of measurement instruments such as questionnaires and tests. It involves two major research tasks, namely: (i) the construction of instruments and procedures for measurement; and (ii) the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement. In this study, the psychometric analysis will be involved the reliability and validity analysis. In this research, the psychometric analysis will be involved reliability, convergent validity and confirmatory factor analysis.

Academic Self efficacy

Academic self-efficacy refers to individuals’ convictions that they can successfully perform given academic tasks at designated levels (Schunk, 1991). In this study, academic self efficacy will be demonstrated by the College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (CASES) developed by Owen & Froman (1988).

College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (CASES)

College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (CASES) refers to an instruments which was developed by Owen & Froman (1988) in order to assess student’s belief that they can master the material and skills thought in university. The CASES was used in order to measure students’ levels of perceived academic self-efficacy. The scale contained 33-item with five-point Likert-type instruction to be appended.

Social supports
Life satisfaction

A global assessment of a person’s quality of life, dependent on the values and criteria deemed important by the individual (Shin & Johnson, 1978).

Engineering students

Engineering students refers for those whom learned and willing to do the creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.

In this study, engineering students refers to first year students from four selected public universities which includes Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia(UTM), Universiti Putra malaysia and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka.

Chapter 2
2.1 Introduction

This chapter will review and summarize the model and social cognitive theory and also self efficacy by Bandura (1997). The researcher has also focused on psychometrics analysis such as validity and reliability. The primary goal of understanding how students from engineering self efficacy beliefs, Bandura (1997) self efficacy beliefs, Bandura (1997) self-efficacy theory was selected to guide the research.

2.2 Social cognitive theory

The selection of a guiding theoretical construct is directed by the questions a study seeks to answer (Patton,2002). The social cognitive theory aimed to focus attention on the significant role played by observational learning and vicarious reinforcement in human functioning. Bandura (1977) developed his theory to further include the essential component of self beliefs holds as a factor in human behavior. Social cognitive theory holds that human behavior, adaptation and change are based on cognitive, vicarious, self-regularotary and self reflective processes, rather than reactive responses as claimed in behaviorist theories.

(Cognitive, affective, and FACTORS
biological events)

Figure 1.. Model of the relations between the three classes of determinants in Bandura’s (1986) conception of triadic reciprocality

Figure 1 shows the model of the relations between the three classes of determinants in Bandura’s (1986) conception of triadic reciprocality. People are viewed as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating rather than as reactive organisms shaped and shepherded by environmental forces or driven by concealed inner impulses. From this theoretical perspective, human functioning is viewed as the product of a dynamic interplay of personal, behavioral, and environmental influences. For example, how people interpret the results of their own behavior informs and alters their environments and the personal factors they possess which, in turn, inform and alter subsequent behavior. This is the foundation of Bandura’s (1986) conception of reciprocal determinism, the view that (a) personal factors in the form of cognition, affect, and biological events, (b) behavior, and (c) environmental influences create interactions that result in a triadic reciprocality. Bandura altered the label of his theory from social learning to social “cognitive” both to distance it from prevalent social learning theories of the day and to emphasize that cognition plays a critical role in people’s capability to construct reality, self-regulate, encode information, and perform behaviors.

2.3 Self Efficacy Beliefs

The self-beliefs that individuals use to exercise a measure of control over their environments include self-efficacy beliefs.

“beliefs in one’s capability to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” (Bandura, 1997, p. 2).

Self-efficacy beliefs are concerned with individuals’ perceived capabilities to produce results and to attain designated types of performance, they differ from related conceptions of personal competence that form the core constructs of other theories. Self-efficacy judgments are both more task- and situation-specific, contextual if you will, and individuals make use of these judgments in reference to some type of goal. To better understand the nature of self-efficacy beliefs it may be useful to explain how they are acquired, how they influence motivational and self-regulatory process, and how they differ from similar or related conceptions of self-belief. According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy.

1. Mastery Experiences

“The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences,” Bandura explained (1994). Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

2. Social Modeling

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed” (1994).

3. Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to belief that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.

4. Psychological Responses

Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations. However, Bandura also notes “it is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important but rather how they are perceived and interpreted” (1994). By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.

Bandura (1986) considered self-reflection the most uniquely human capability, for through this form of self-referent thought people evaluate and alter their own thinking and behavior. These self-evaluations include perceptions of self-efficacy, that is,

“beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations”.

These beliefs of personal competence affect behavior in several ways. They influence the choices individuals make and the courses of action they pursue. People engage in tasks in which they feel competent and confident and avoid those in which they do not. Efficacy beliefs help determine how much effort people will expend on an activity, how long they will persevere when confronting obstacles, and how resilient they will prove in the face of adverse situations-the higher the sense of efficacy, the greater the effort, persistence, and resilience. Efficacy beliefs also influence individuals’ thought patterns and emotional reactions. People with low self-efficacy may believe that things are tougher than they really are, a belief that fosters stress, depression, and a narrow vision of how best to solve a problem. High self-efficacy, on the other hand, helps to create feelings of serenity in approaching difficult tasks and activities. As a result of these influences, self-efficacy beliefs are strong determinants and predictors of the level of accomplishment that individuals finally attain. For these reasons, Bandura (in press) argued that beliefs of personal efficacy constitute the key factor of human agency .

2.4 Engineering Self Efficacy

Numerous studies examining the role of self efficacy in students’ pursuit of engineering careers have generally found a positive correlation between self-efficacy and academic achievement in engineering disciplines (AWE, 2005). For example, it has been found that one’s self-efficacy beliefs influence on effort, persistence, and perseverance in goal attainment (Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Bouffard-Bouchard, 1990; Schunk & Hanson, 1985). Similar findings reveal that high self-efficacy beliefs influence the academic persistence necessary to maintain high academic achievement amongst college students enrolled in science and engineering courses (Lent, Brown, & Larkin, 1984, 1986).

Previous research also has clearly made the case that the construct of engineering self efficacy can be an important contributor to success in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) career education by influencing the choice to pursue STEM careers and the persistence with which it is pursued.

Hutchison et al (2006) have done a survey incorporating qualitative measures of student self-efficacy beliefs to administer 1,387 first-year engineering students enrolled in ENGR 106, Engineering Problem-Solving and Computer Tools, at Purdue University. The survey was designed to identify factors related to students’ self-efficacy beliefs, their beliefs about their capabilities to perform the tasks necessary to achieve a desired outcome. Open-ended questions prompted students to list factors affecting their confidence in their ability to succeed in the course. Students were then asked to rank these factors based on the degree to which their self-efficacy beliefs were influenced. Gender trends emerged in student responses to factors that affect confident in success. These trends are discussed in light of the categories identified by efficacy theorists as sources of self-efficacy beliefs. The results presented here provide a useful look at the first-year engineering experiences that influence students’ efficacy beliefs, an important consideration in explaining student achievement, persistence, and interest.

2.5 Academic self efficacy

Bandura (1997) believed that self-efficacy contributes to the academic achievement of students. Bandura proposed that individuals make a cognitive judgment about their mastery of present situations in view of their past experiences, and proceed to carry out the necessary behaviors to accomplish the task at hand.

Students are affected by personal (e.g., goal setting, information processing) and situational influences (e.g., rewards, teacher feedback) that provide students with cues about how well they are learning. Self-efficacy is enhanced when students perceive they are performing well or becoming more skillful. Lack of success or slow progress will not necessarily lower self-efficacy if learners believe they can perform better by expending more effort or using more effective strategies (Schunk, 1995).

Schunk (1991) in his study has also proposed that self-efficacy is critical to the academic achievement of adolescents. He hypothesized that self-efficacy influences a students’ choice of activities. Students with a high level of self-efficacy will select more challenging learning tasks, therefore expending more persistence and effort to obtain higher achievement outcomes, whereas students with low level of self-efficacy will avoid difficult and challenging tasks that require more effort and persistence, and thus, obtain lower achievement outcomes.

Figure 1 The Development of Academic Self Efficacy ( Adapted from Schunk and Pajares, 2001)

Familial Influence on Self-Efficacy

Peer Influence

Role of Schooling

Transitional Influences

Developmental Changes in Self-Appraisal Skill

Gender Differences

Ethnic Differences


Students with higher self-efficacy expend greater effort, exhibit more persistence and demonstrate greater resilience in the face of adverse situations. As a result of these influences, self-efficacy beliefs are strong determinants of the level of accomplishment (Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1996), and therefore contribute tremendously to intellectual development which leads to academic success (Bandura, 1995).

In addition, the research literature includes several studies which emphasize the effect of self-efficacy on numerous positive outcomes as well as academic achievement. In this case, not only has self-efficacy been found to positively relate to higher levels of achievement, but also it has a strong association with a variety of adaptive academic 30 outcomes such as higher levels of effort and increased persistence on difficult tasks. This finding has been confirmed across a number of experimental and correlational studies involving students of different ages (Bandura, 1997; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Also, in a correlational study conducted by Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2002), was found that self- efficacy is positively related to student cognitive engagement and their use of self- regulatory strategies as well as general achievement as indexed by grades (Pintrich, 2000b; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Wolters, Yu, & Pintrich, 1996). Lastly, further evidence exists in the research literature that confirms Schunk’s hypothesis that students who have positive self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to choose to continue to take more difficult courses over the course of schooling (Eccles et al., 1998).

Although several studies confirm the positive effect of self-efficacy on academic achievement, there also seems to be a number of other mediating influences or related variables that provide further explanation of this relationship. In view of possible mediating influences, there exist contradictions in the literature regarding the exact nature of the relationship of self-efficacy with other related variables (e.g., goal orientation, motivation) in explaining positive academic outcomes, as well as its precise strength in predicting academic achievement, irrespective of these variables. Such discrepancies in the research literature should be considered in examining the effect of self-efficacy on academic achievement. The finding that self-efficacy beliefs tend to decline as students advance through school (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996) has been attributed to various factors, including greater competition, more norm-referenced grading, less teacher attention to individual student progress, and stresses associated with school transitions. These and other school practices can weaken academic self efficacy, especially among students who are less academically prepared to cope with increasingly challenging academic tasks. Lock-step sequences of instruction frustrate some students who fail to grasp skills and increasingly fall behind their peers (Bandura, 1997). Ability groupings can lower self-efficacy among those relegated to lower groups. Classrooms that allow for much social comparison tend to lower the self-efficacy of students who find their performances inferior to those of their peers.

Students’ involvement and participation in school depend in part on how much the school environment contributes to their perceptions of autonomy and relatedness, which in turn influence self-efficacy and academic achievement. Although parents and teachers contribute to feeling of autonomy and relatedness, peers become highly significant during adolescence. The peer group context enhances or diminishes students’ feelings of belonging and affiliation (Hymel, Comfort, Schonert-Reichl, & McDougall, 1996).

2.6 Social support

College students may seek social and emotional support from their family and friends. Social support, or receiving emotional, informational, and/or tangible support from other individuals (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), has been linked positively with the maintenance of physical health during stressful situations.

In addition, the perceived availability of social support, rather than the actual use of social support, may actually be more important in protecting individuals from the harmful effects of stressful situations (Holahan & Moos, 1987). Further, social support may be an important component of college students’ transitioning successfully to the college environment (Hays & Oxley, 1986) and college students’ academic achievement (DeBerard et al., 2004), with low levels of social support being related to a lack of persistence in academic endeavors (Mallinckrodt, 1988).

Given these findings, it is possible that support from family and friends is extremely important in the lives of college students during their college careers, particularly as they experience and make attempts to cope with academic-related stress. For example, one study using a sample of first- and second-year college students, most of whom were without daily parental contact, showed that parental support predicted significantly the grade point average (GPA) of these students. In contrast, support from friends and romantic partners did not predict GPA significantly (Cutrona et al., 1994). These results indicated that, although parents may be removed physically from college students’ daily life, they still may have a major impact on college students’ academic performance. As a result, the perceived level of emotional support from college students’ parents may be related greatly to many aspects of their college career, including their academic performance and their experience of academic-related stress.

2.6.1 Parental support

Seminal attachment theories developed by Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth and

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