The topic we have selected for our research paper is ‘To study the influence of Academic Locus of Control & Academic Self efficacy on Perceived Academic Performance of Management students’. More accurately, it is intended to study the effect of Academic Locus of control of an individual on his/her academic performance taking Academic Self efficacy of the individual as the mediating variable.
The topic of research was identified while going through the Literature where a gap was identified as there was typically no research paper dedicated to this particular linkage of Academic Locus of Control ? Academic Self-Efficacy ? Perceived Academic Performance although there was sizeable literature defining Self Efficacy, Locus of control, Academic Performance and linking self efficacy to performance by stating relations such as the influence of self leadership on performance being mediated by self efficacy (Gregory E. Prussia et al , 1998) and findings such as efficacy expectations will lead to desired behaviour, and desired behaviour coupled with outcome expectations will lead to greater probability of desired outcomes. (Bandura, 1977) Research findings have also indicated a strong correlation between extent of consideration of occupational activities, self efficacy, interests and incentives. Moreover, self efficacy expectations were moderately related to performance in academics (E. Bores – Rangel, 1990). There were also linkages between self efficacy and locus of control. Studies also suggest that it is reasonable to expect positive relation between locus of control and self-efficacy and propose that a person with more internal locus of control (than external locus of control) will have higher self efficacy (Phillips JM et al). Similarly linkages were also found between Locus of Control and Self efficacy and Locus of Control and Academic Performance .A sample of university students was administered the survey and it was found that students’ internal locus of control predicted their academic self concept as well as their performance which was basically the GPA of the student (Garger J , 2010) . However, no direct link was found as proposed in our model of Academic Locus of control? Academic Self-efficacy? Perceived Academic Performance. It is this gap in research we intend to look upon and address. We shall check and validate our hypothesis by empirical data collection and analysis. Moreover apart from the three constructs and the four hypotheses stated in the report, certain external environmental variables shall be examined and the most significant of them will be chosen as covariates which indicate that they are important influencers of performance of students.
Theoretical Background and Hypotheses
Academic Locus of Control: Locus of control(Rotter ,1966) can be defined as the expectancy indicating the extent to which one feels that the results are a consequence of their own behaviour and abilities (internal locus of control) rather than depending on some external forces such as luck ,chance etc.(external control). The locus of control inventory was developed primarily developed to be a measure for expectancies for reinforced outcome. Locus of control has become an important personality variable (Joe, 1971) in relation to one’s perception of control over happenings.
There are a number of instruments to measure or capture the locus of control and one of the first such instruments is the Rotter scale, which is a 29 forced choice item scale. The higher the score, the greater is the externality and the scale’s internal validity was found to be in the range of 0.65 to 0.79. Another method to capture the locus of control is by the use of the Course Evaluation Survey (Ramanaiah, 1981) which contained a total of 35 items.
Previous research has shown some amount of positive correlation of locus of control with academic performance (Phrases et al, 1976). The research concerning academic performance and locus of control usually use scales other than the Rotter scale and use a customized academic locus of control scale (Trice, 1985). The ALC is a 28 point scale to measure the locus of control designed to assess the locus of control with respect to academic outcomes. The scale had an internal consistency of 0.92 and it was later on found that the scores of this scale were correlated with the scores on the Rotter scale (Trice, 1987). Studies also indicate the relation of Academic locus of control with procrastination behaviour (Janssen, 1999), students’ self efficacy (Philips, 1997) etc
A linkage between academic locus of control and academic outcomes indicates that students with internal locus of control perform better academically (Perry, 2001). Recent studies have found that students’ internal locus of control predicted their academic self concept as well as their performance which was basically the GPA of the student (Garger,2010).
Academic Self Efficacy: Self efficacy is a person’s perception about his own abilities, about what he/she can do, or achieve or have the confidence to pursue. Extensive literature has been researched to help understand self efficacy among students of academic institutions. Bandura (1977) defines self efficacy as people’s convictions in their own effectiveness and is likely to affect whether they will attempt to cope with the situation or not. Self efficacy has directive effects on activities and behavioural settings, and through increased expectations of eventual success, drive people towards increased efforts and perseverance.
Self-efficacy is a confidence or the lack of it in one’s own behaviour (Bandura 1978). There are four sources a person considers for evaluating his own self efficacy (Bandura 1977):
First one is one s past performance in the event under consideration (Gist and Mitchell 1992, Saks 1995, Silver et al. 1995).
The second is modelling, that is learning and gaining confidence from someone else’s success in the particular event (Bandura 1978, Gist and Mitchell 1992).
The third is social persuasion which is when a person is made to believe that he can perform something successfully through coaching (Bandura 1977, Bandura and Cervone 1986).
The fourth is psychological and emotional states like anxiety which can reduce one’s confidence in oneself(Bandura 1988)
The findings of a particular recent study of 2001, in the course of our literature review showed that past performance was a major factor influencing the grades in an MBA programme. This finding is also in tandem with the Bandura’s Self efficacy theory that past performance is one criteria used by students to judge the degree of their own self efficacy as mentioned above (Baiyin Yang Diaopin Rosa LU , 2001 )
Perceived Academic Performance: The academic performance what an individual thinks he will achieve considering related factors is Perceived Academic Performance. Performance of students is evaluated based on writing performance, oral performance and exam performance. Perceived Academic Performance is an important aspect as it leads to behavioural, motivational and cognitive changes which improve actual performance (Bardwell, 1984).
The predictors, which are important, for students’ perceived academic achievement are- whether they feel satisfied with school/institute, their perception of what the teachers expect from them, and that they have a good relationship with their fellow students. The interventions that increase the students’ satisfaction with institute/school will improve their achievement as well. (Samdal et al., 1999). Also, the past performance is a major factor influencing the achievement of a student.
It has been found that academic achievement is differentially associated with learning style preference. (Mathews et al., 1996). There exists a strong linkage between self efficacy and perceived academic achievement (Multon, Brown and Lent, 1991). The perception of self efficacy can be used for comprehending performance in academic tasks which require sustained self-monitoring.
Academic performance, in the context of management education, can be viewed as an immediate learning outcome and thus can be predicted by several precedent variables such as prior academic performance, motivation, and ability to learn. Many studies have investigated the relationship MBA academic performance (measured by GPA) and certain precedent variables (Baiyin and Rosa, 2001). A number of precedent variables including locus of control, competitiveness of undergraduate institution, undergraduate major work experience, gender, duration of formal education, age etc have been linked to perceived academic performance.
LOC and Perceived Academic Performance: People with internal locus of control are more likely to seek information regarding academic course work; internals seek information more readily than externals. It was also found that the performance of those students with internal locus of control was higher than the students with external locus of control (Prociuk, Breen 1977). In a study conducted by Otten it was found that there were low to moderate correlations between the locus of control of the students and their subsequent academic performance. It was also founds that internals were more likely to attain their degree earlier and thus, locus of control personality attributes proves to be better indicators of degree attainment than the conventionally used academic ability scales (Otten, 1977)
Students’ internal locus of control predicts their academic self concept as well as their performance which was basically the GPA of the student. Rotter (1966) in his social learning theory proposed the construct of internal versus external locus of control. Internal locus of control implies a belief of outcomes being a result of one’s own actions and behavior while external locus of control implies a belief of outcomes being a result of chance, fate or external forces. As per the expectancy theory, a student with an internal locus of control would exhibit behaviours which will lead to better and more consistent academic performance. Also, internal locus of control is strongly positively correlated to academic performance over a period of time.
Hence it is stated that (H1): ‘Academic Locus of Control will positively correlate with perceived academic performance’
Self Efficacy and Locus of Control (H2): Locus of control and self efficacy are conceptually different (earliest literature often treated it analogous to self efficacy). Rotter’s (1966) conceptual scheme was primarily concerned with causal beliefs about actions and outcomes rather than with personal efficacy. The distinction must be understood, because the convictions that outcomes are determined by one’s own action may have number of repercussions on self efficacy and behavior. People who view outcomes as self determined but lack the necessary skills would experience low self efficacy and view activities with a sense of futility (Bandura, 1977). Even, with the conceptual difference there is evidence of relationship between the two constructs. Interaction effect between these two constructs was observed by Chamblis and Murray (1979, quoted by Gist 1987): internal locus of control when combined with high self efficacy led to greater reduction in smoking
Moreover, because of the personality factors that influence self efficacy, it is reasonable to expect positive relation between locus of control and self-efficacy, hence a person with more internal locus of control (than external locus of control) will have higher self efficacy (Phillips and Gully 1997).
Another aspect that needs to be considered here is one of empowerment and self leadership, in their research Anderson, Prussia and Manz (1998) related empowerment of persons to self leadership whereas in a study conducted Thomas,Velthouse (1990) say that empowerment is broadly understood as intrinsic task motivation which is closely related to the internal locus of control also self leadership can be viewed as strategy for tasks with low intrinsic motivation and thus driven by high self efficacy (Manz, 1986). This suggests an indirect but substantial link between self efficacy and locus of control.
Another view considers the perceived level of self efficacy and self monitoring as the underlying concept that joins self efficacy and locus of control. Perceived level of self efficacy and its influence on cognitive performance suggests that perception of self efficacy can be used for comprehending performance in academic tasks which require sustained self-monitoring (Bouffard-Bouchard 1990, ). Self monitoring in turn an intrinsic part of behavioral traits manifested as locus of control of an individual, with high self monitoring behavior displayed by those with internal locus of control (Autry, Langenbach 1985).
Hence, stated that (H2): ‘Academic locus of control is positively related to academic self-efficacy’
Self Efficacy and Academic Performance (H3): Silver et al. (1995) studied the difference between individuals with differing levels of self-efficacy, on the basis of their interpretation of performance feedback and how they persevere in their self- efficacy perceptions for subsequent performance attempts. The results from show that high self-efficacy people attributed the unsuccessful performance to their individual self, while low self-efficacy persons attributed this to things beyond their control, and took no steps to improve their self efficacy
Another dimension to the link between self efficacy and academic performance is one of the personality traits, and was used in a study by Phillips and Gully (1997) to predict the performance; the outcome of the study suggests a positive relation between self efficacy and performance, this went against the previous studies on this subject which suggested that past performance increased the self efficacy which led to further improved performances.
In an academic setting the relation between self efficacy and academic performance is validated by Yang and Lu (2001), in a study on Factors influencing performance and major precedent variables affecting performance and to determine the extent to which they can actually predict performance, it was established that past performance was a major factor influencing the grades in an MBA programme. It is worth noting here that, past performance again adds to the value of self efficacy in an individual which leads to further improved performance in the future.
Active learning is also considered as one of the factors which affect the performance, Serva, Fuller (2004) took active learning as independent variable and students’ perceived performance as a dependent variable to assess the effectiveness of instructional media; and found that it is quite plausible that students who have more perceived satisfaction will continue to exert more effort towards the course.
These findings are also in tandem with the Bandura’s (1977) Self efficacy theory that past performance is one criteria used by students to judge the degree of their own self efficacy as mentioned in the introduction to this paper. Nevertheless, majority of the scholars agree that self efficacy has a positive relation with Academic performance. Hence,
Hence it is stated that (H3): ‘Academic self-efficacy will positively correlate with perceived academic performance’
From the Discussion above following Hypotheses are proposed:
H1: Academic Locus of Control will positively correlate with academic performance
H2: Academic locus of control is positively related to academic self-efficacy
H3: Academic self-efficacy will positively correlate with academic performance
H4: Academic Locus of control is positively correlated with academic performance which is mediated by academic self efficacy
Locus of Control
Operationalisation of Variables
Academic Locus of Control
For the purpose of the following research academic locus of control is concerned to be a continuum between decision outcomes and personal behaviours, attributes, or capacities. At the one end of the continuum are externals who believe that their academic performance is not under their personal control but rather is under the control of powerful others, institution, teachers perception or fate. At other end of the continuum are internals who believe that there academic performance is dependent upon their own behaviour and efforts. To measure academic locus of control an 8 item Likert-type scale is used (Perry et al., 2001)
For the present research academic self-efficacy has been described as belief that one is capable of performing well in academic scenario to attain the desired result i.e. it captures a student’s self belief that he/she can engage and complete academic course related tasks. The Academic self efficacy is measured by using 8 item academic self efficacy questionnaire (ASEQ; Wood & Locke, 1987).
Perceived Academic Performance
Rather than measuring the absolute performance in terms of GPA of the students, the present research sets out to assess the perceived performance of the subjects. By perceived performance it is meant that students have different expectations of themselves and whether they are meeting their set expectations is more important than otherwise, where they are compared against other students. Thus, the performance being measured will be the perceived academic performance of students. The self perceived academic performance (PAP) is captured by a single-item questionnaire (Richardson et al, 2005) which asks students to rate their overall academic performance on a four point scale of – a) Failing b) below average c) average or d) above average
A total of 164 respondents were administered a questionnaire, consisting of 3 parts, which was aimed to measure their Academic Locus of Control, Academic Self-efficacy and Perceived Academic Performance. A total of 109 respondents were from XLRI and rest 55 were from other b-schools of India. The students of XLRI were administered hard copy of the questionnaire and students of other b-schools were administered online questionnaire. The questionnaire contained had Roll No as identifier but it was optional to fill.
The following measures were used for the three constructs –
Academic Locus of Control: To measure academic locus of control an 8 item Likert-type scale was used (Perry et al., 2001). Total score was determined by first reverse coding the items which were formed in reverse manner and then summing the ratings across all 8 items. A sample item is “I have a great deal of control over my academic performance in my management course”.
Academic Self-efficacy: It was measured by using the academic self efficacy questionnaire (ASEQ) developed by Wood & Locke (1987). It was an 8 item semantic type of scale. The total score was determined by summing the ratings given to each item. A sample item is “You feel you are able to memorize and recall facts and concepts covered in class”.
Perceived Academic Performance: The self perceived academic performance (PAP) is captured by a single-item questionnaire (Richardson et al, 2005) which asks students to rate their overall academic performance on a four point scale of – a) Failing b) below average c) average or d) above average.
Locus of Control
The four step method developed by Kenny et al. (1998) and Baron and Kenny (1986) for mediation analysis is used the present study. In the first step – Academic Locus of Control is used as predictor variable in regression equation with Perceived Academic Performance as criterion variable. The second step uses Academic Locus of Control as predictor variable and Academic Self-efficacy as criterion variable. The third step uses Academic Self-efficacy as predictor variable and Perceived Academic Performance as criterion variable. The fourth step uses both Academic Locus of Control and Academic Self-efficacy, both as predictor variable, in the regression equation with Perceived Academic Performance as criterion variable. In the fifth step comparison of the first and the fourth regression models is done to identify the effect of the mediator i.e. the model is a Full Mediating or a Partial Mediating case.
The means, standard deviations, internal consistency (Cronbach’s I±) and correlations among the study variables have been shown in the table below. All the variables are significantly positively correlated. The values of Cronbach’s alpha for the eight items of Academic Locus of Control and Academic Self-Efficacy were found out to be 0.849 and 0.854 respectively.
Table I: Means, Standard Deviations, inter-item correlations and internal consistencies
Academic Locus of Control
Perceived Academic Performance
Notes: *Represents the Cronbach’s I±
** Single item scale and hence no need of consistency
For all the constructs p<0.01
Step I in table II shows the results of regression analysis of Perceived Academic Performance as the criterion variable with Academic Locus of Control as the predictor. This step showed that the Perceived Academic Performance was significantly correlated or depended upon Academic Locus of Control (R?=0.063, F =11.941, p<0.01).
Table II: Regression results of the four steps
First Regression (Perceived Academic Performance)
Academic Locus of Control
Second Regression (Academic Self-Efficacy)
Academic Locus of Control
Third Regression (Perceived Academic Performance)
Fourth Regression(Perceived Academic Performance)
Academic Locus of Control
Note: Dependent variables are in parenthesis
Step II in table II shows the results of regression analysis of Academic Self-efficacy of management students as the criterion variable and Academic Locus of Control as the predictor. This step showed a positive and significant correlation between the two constructs (R?=0.129, F =23.91, p<0.001). The relation of the antecedent variable with the mediator is established in this step.
Step III in table II shows the results of analysis of Perceived Academic Performance as the criterion variable with of Academic Self-efficacy of management students as the predictor. This step showed a positive and significant correlation between the two constructs (R?=0.261, F =57.174, p<0.001). The relation between the mediator variable and the outcome variable is established in this step.
Step IV of the table II, the regression was conducted with Perceived Academic Performance as the criterion variable and both Academic Locus of Control and Academic Self-efficacy as the predictors. It is observed that when the mediator is taken as independent, the standardized beta coefficient becomes smaller and the significance of the overall test increases (R?=0.268, F =29.47, p<0.001).
For testing the hypotheses, all four steps are taken together for the analysis. The first three steps prove the first three hypotheses beyond any doubt. Academic Locus of Control was significantly related to Perceived Academic Performance in the first step and Academic Self-efficacy in the second step but becomes insignificant in the fourth step. This suggests that Academic Self-Efficacy fully mediates the relationship between Academic Locus of Control and Perceived Academic Performance. H4 is therefore supported beyond doubt. Sobel’s test is used to re-confirm the mediation effect of Academic Self-efficacy and the statistical significance of the mediated effect was found (Mediation Effect=0.172, Z score= 5.112). Thus the positive relationship between Academic Locus of Control and Perceived Academic Performance is fully mediated by Academic Self-Efficacy.
Discussion of Results:
The results of the research are in line with the literature showing a positive correlation between the Academic Locus of Control and Perceived Academic Performance. The study for management students, for whom the environment is quite different from school or early college, intrinsic motivation and internal locus of control become important for persistent academic performance (Garger et al, 2010).
The present study goes on to prove that individuals with a higher “internal” locus of control can add upon or better leverage their self-efficacy i.e enactive mastery, vicarious learning, verbal persuasion and psychological arousal (Bandura,1977) and better deliver at academic performance.
Perceived Academic Performance has also been used as an indicator for future success linking the past performance with the future performance. This research goes on to prove that perceptions of self efficacy are significant in predicting academic performance. Thus educationalists at the management institutes can use the above findings to redesign the course pedagogy to for more efficient means of dissemination of knowledge and help improve the overall academic performance of students.
Limitations & Implications
Some of the limitations of the research were that the subjects used in this study were only from top 5 B-schools instead of a more diverse sample which would yield more generalized results & conclusions. The sample size is rather restricted at 164 and a larger sample size would be required to improve accuracy and generalize the results. Another point to be mentioned is that the field survey did not return correct proportion of response from female population and hence the effect of gender as a moderating variable could not be effectively studied. Moreover, the perceived performance is only a prediction made by the students and does not reflect the true grades obtained by them and hence requires further analysis to validate it as a proxy to predict grades. Also, the effect of other factors e.g. cultural background/external environment etc. has not been analyzed therefore, in the international paradigm, the research is less generalizable.
Many areas of research are opened up by this research work. The most important of these being:
Effect of Teachers’ self efficacy & locus of control on student performance can be studied
Impact of course design and feedback mechanism in B-Schools and elsewhere on the self efficacy and locus of control
Generalising the research to the international arena where students from various cultural and family backgrounds are captured
Studying the relationship among the constructs so propose based on gender by collecting a more representative sample of both the sexes.
Research on the relationships by taking actual performance into consideration over and above the perceived academic performance
The study provides a new relationship between Academic locus of control , Academic Self-efficacy and Perceived academic performance. This is an important finding for management institutions to seek ways to improve academic performance. There Research paper also gives insights such as, the presented hypothesis, if found true can help the faculty at management institutes in devising most effective knowledge dissemination mechanisms as per the student profile that comes out. Also the results of the research can help in establishing the performance of a prospective candidate and can be used for the purpose of selection of candidates for a management institute and most importantly the results can help institutes in creating the right environment to develop the academic self-efficacy of the students, thereby improving the academic performance of the students and making the institute more effective by taking this questionnaires results at different points in time , once when the students are just beginning their course at a B-school and once at the time of completion of their course , thus measuring the effectiveness of the institute in imparting value to the student community.