Part 4: Embedding Opportunities for Students to Practice Self-Efficacy
- Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 1: Teaching Students What Self-Efficacy Is and Why It Is Important
- Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 2: Helping Students Understand Their Strengths and Challenges in Self-Efficacy
- Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 3: Approaching Challenges With a Growth Mindset
Part 4: Embedding Opportunities for Students to Practice Self-Efficacy
You have finished exploring activities to address three student learning targets:
- Part 1: Students can define self-efficacy and provide personal examples of why self-efficacy is important.
- Part 2: Students can identify their strengths and challenges related to self-efficacy.
- Part 3: Students can differentiate between fixed and growth mindset and can describe how the brain changes when you learn or practice skills.
You should understand the two components of self-efficacy, how the brain changes as we learn new things or practice concepts we haven’t mastered yet and how you can help students differentiate between fixed and growth mindset. This portion of the module will explore ways to embed opportunities for students to practice concepts covered in Parts 1–3 with feedback and facilitated reflection.
Let’s begin by revisiting the Six Instructional Criteria (Gaumer Erickson et al., 2017) for self-efficacy instruction.
Instructional Criterion 4 entails providing students with opportunities to practice self-efficacy. Students need ongoing opportunities to practice each component. For example, ideal practice opportunities might occur when students set goals for accomplishing a task, prepare to learn challenging new concepts or struggle with reducing their emotional reactions. However, students can practice self-efficacy throughout the day on smaller tasks such as correcting math problems or completing assignments. Many students may need to start practicing self-efficacy with smaller tasks so that they realize the benefits of practicing self-efficacy more quickly.
Just as we provide students with specific feedback on their writing, math, or extracurricular activities, we also need to give them feedback on their self-efficacy efforts. Feedback is the fifth instructional criterion. We can provide feedback by noticing when students begin to persist longer at challenging tasks and use growth mindset phrases when they experience a struggle in their learning.
Giving students opportunities to reflect as they build self-efficacy will result in students putting forth greater effort and ultimately increasing confidence in their abilities. Here are a couple questions to prompt student reflection and fulfill the sixth instructional criterion:
- What is going well or not going well in your efforts to build self-efficacy?
- Are there actions or strategies you’ve applied to certain tasks that could help you in other areas?
4. Reflect and Apply: To help you better understand embedding instructional criteria into content, review this video of an educator who provided self-efficacy practice in her middle school social studies classroom. As you watch this video, listen for the first four instructional criteria and how Sandy addressed Criteria 5 and 6 (feedback and reflection). Record your thoughts on page 8 of the Educator Workbook.
Let’s review how Sandy addressed each of the instructional criteria in her social studies class.
- Sandy addressed Instructional Criterion 1 by facilitating a discussion on what self-efficacy is and the two components of self-efficacy. She displayed the Self-Efficacy poster in her classroom and talked about each component. She also helped students identify the importance of having self-efficacy by relating it to historical figures.
- Sandy addressed Instructional Criterion 2 (understanding how self-efficacy is important to students personally) by holding a class discussion about how they could use self-efficacy specifically in the social studies classroom. Her students chose to use an effort meter to focus on their effort and progress in learning vocabulary words.
- For Instructional Criterion 3, we hear Sandy talk about giving her students the Self-Efficacy Knowledge Test. She reviewed the results with the students and helped them determine their areas of strength and opportunities for growth related to the self-efficacy components. She also made note of students who scored particularly low in one or both components.
- Sandy provided several different opportunities for her students to use Instructional Criterion 4 (practice) in her classroom. For example, she created an Effort Meter form that she attached to her students’ vocabulary tests that helped them practice focusing on their effort and progress. She also used a game she created to help her students practice defining self-efficacy concepts, and she helped her students practice using Mastery Experiences to build their self-efficacy by using an Academic Victory Log where students can use their past academic successes to build their self-efficacy.
- Sandy provided feedback, Instructional Criterion 5, to her students by using the Effort Meter form to provide written feedback on her students’ effort and progress in learning vocabulary words.
- For Instructional Criterion 6, Sandy used her Effort Meter form to provide students with a few reflective questions that will help them determine how well they are applying each component and what they could do to improve their effort and learning.
Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 1: Teaching Students What Self-Efficacy Is and Why It Is Important
It is important to illustrate how and why self-efficacy has been crucial to relevant people within your course content (e.g., literary characters in English, historical figures in social studies, scientists in biology or other sciences). As students are introduced to content-specific figures, ask them to reflect on how self-efficacy helped these people accomplish their goals. Provide written or verbal feedback reinforcing the connection to self-efficacy (or providing elaboration as needed). Then encourage students to reflect on their learning, including how that person’s example of self-efficacy might be relevant to their own lives.
Students can practice analyzing situations within your content, such as historical events, athletic competitions, or scientific discoveries, and determine how self-efficacy was applied.
Journaling is another way to help students practice recognizing when they used or did not use self-efficacy strategies. Allow time during your entry or exit routine for students to journal about their awareness of their own self-efficacy and steps to build it; ask students to provide personal examples of why self-efficacy is important in their lives.
Watch this video to see an example of an assignment to demonstrate understanding of self-efficacy.
Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 2: Helping Students Understand Their Strengths and Challenges in Self-Efficacy
In Part 2, you explored activities to help students identify their strengths and challenges related to self-efficacy. The activities focused on assessing students’ learning of self-efficacy concepts, how to help them determine which components of self-efficacy are their areas of strength, and opportunities for growth. For example, in “Teach Students: Identify Self-Efficacy Strengths,” students rated their application of each self-efficacy component related to something they needed to learn or get done. Consider using this chart as an expanded practice activity. Ask students to fill this out weekly, give them feedback each week, and have them reflect on their progress over time.
Asking students to determine their current level of self-efficacy related to concepts you are teaching is another way to support them in identifying their areas of strength and challenge. This practice idea has students identify specific parts of a concept they know well and have strong self-efficacy in versus which parts of the concept are challenging them, resulting in low self-efficacy. We call it Easy and Challenging Aspects. As students complete assignments, ask them to reflect and identify which parts were easy and which parts were more difficult (e.g., What part of this assignment was easy for me? Which part was more difficult? What do I need to learn?). You can add this activity to the end of each longer assignment so that students routinely practice identifying their areas of strength and challenge. Finally, provide them with a brief written or verbal feedback regarding their reflections.
Finally, you could ask the students to keep a Strategy Log throughout the year. As students begin working on a new concept, ask them to determine which self-efficacy strategies they will use to help them accomplish the task (e.g., approaching it with a growth mindset, reminding myself that putting in the effort to learn, viewing mistakes as strengthening my brain) and later ask them to reflect and write about how well the strategy worked for them. Periodically, provide students with written or verbal feedback when you notice them applying one of the strategies.
Embedding Practice Opportunities for Part 3: Approaching Challenges With a Growth Mindset
You can support students in learning to recognize and rephrase their use of fixed mindset phrases with growth mindset phrases by keeping a Fixed vs. Growth Mindset anchor chart in your classroom. Each time students verbalize a fixed mindset statement about something, they can write the fixed mindset statement on one side of the chart and then a rephrased growth mindset statement on the other. Encourage students to refer to the anchor chart whenever they notice themselves or their peers falling back into fixed mindset language. Then, throughout the year, ask students to reflect on their demonstration of a growth mindset and provide them with verbal feedback when they correct fixed mindset statements to a growth mindset.
The learning target for Part 3 also includes the expectation that students be able to describe how the brain changes when they learn and practice skills, a concept called neuroplasticity. You can support students in practicing this concept by creating a Neuropathways anchor chart. For example, the chart could read, “This week our neuropathways were strengthened by practicing ____.” Have students continue adding to the chart as new concepts are introduced or as they practice concepts they need to better understand. Prompt students to periodically reflect on the chart to emphasize how much their brains have grown through their effort and practice. Provide students with verbal or written feedback as you notice them putting in the effort, especially if the student initially struggled with challenging content.
Remember that when students practice and receive feedback and opportunities to reflect on their growth in self-efficacy, they are much more likely to be able to generalize their use of self-efficacy when they face a challenge in any context. We have provided you with a few examples of how opportunities for students to practice self-efficacy can be embedded into any classroom.
Additional instructional activities are described in Teaching Self-Efficacy in Middle and High School Classrooms by Noonan & Gaumer Erickson (2017). Facilitated virtual and onsite professional learning is provided internationally by recognized Competency Framework Trainers. Determine your next steps using the checklist on page 12 of the Educator Workbook.