Sources of middle school students? self-efficacy in mathematics: A qualitative investigation

Ellen L. Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


According to A. Bandura?s (1986) social cognitive theory, individuals form their self-efficacy beliefs by interpreting information from four sources: mastery experience, vicarious experience, social persuasions, and physiological or affective states. The purpose of this study was to examine the heuristics students use as they form their mathematics self-efficacy from these and other sources. Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight middle school students who reported either high or low self-efficacy and with students? parents and mathematics teachers. Students relied on information from all four hypothesized sources, which were combined according to various heuristics. Teaching structures, course placement, and students? self-regulated learning also emerged as important factors related to self-efficacy. Results refine and extend the tenets of social cognitive theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-314
Number of pages40
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Mathematics education
  • Motivation
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sources of self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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