Salient sources of early adolescents' self-efficacy in two domains

Amanda R. Butz, Ellen L. Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to use a mixed methodological approach to investigate upper-elementary and middle school students' (. N. =2511) descriptions of what makes them feel more confident in math and in reading. Qualitative methods were used to code students' responses to open-ended prompts according to Bandura's hypothesized sources of self-efficacy and other emergent themes. Quantitative analyses revealed that mastery experience and social persuasion were the most frequently reported sources. Responses also referred to social comparative information, teacher practices, and help availability. Fifty percent of respondents indicated a different primary source of self-efficacy in reading than in math, suggesting the domain-sensitivity of self-efficacy development. Girls described social sources more often than did boys. Responses differed according to students' previous level of self-efficacy (i.e., high or low). Implications for educators and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-61
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Math education
  • Motivation
  • Reading education
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sources of self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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