What factors affect a student's self-efficacy?

Positive self-efficacy, or the belief that one can do what is necessary to achieve his/her goals, has been shown to be important in determining whether or not postsecondary students will succeed in reaching their goals. Key factors affecting self-efficacy include:

  • Positive, mastery experiences that give students a sense of accomplishment when they have faced a challenge,
  • Positive, vicarious experiences that occur when students see others succeed and feel an increased sense of their own ability to succeed,
  • Social persuasion, where other people either increase or decrease a student’s sense of confidence and ability to succeed, and
  • Negative, physiological reactions that might occur as a result of stress, depression, or anxiety.

As students experience these situations, their self-efficacy changes. Numerous studies examine the relationship between self-efficacy and positive outcomes for postsecondary students but relatively few studies have focused specifically on students with disabilities majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Information about a study on this topic can be found in the Knowledge Base article What affects the self-efficacy of postsecondary students with disabilities in STEM fields?.

This Knowledge Base article was developed through the RDE Collaborative Dissemination Project (National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education Award #HRD-0929006).

Date Updated: 

1/24/2013