Exploring Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Entry Behaviors for Participation in an Online Peer Tutoring Learning Environment

Exploring Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Entry Behaviors for Participation in an Online Peer Tutoring Learning Environment

Iván Tirado-Cordero (Literacy Center of Milford, Milford, CT, USA), Kathleen M. Hargiss (MA Northwestern University, Brandenton, FL, USA) and Caroline Howard (University of California – Irvine, Oceanside, CA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsita.2014010105
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Social cognitive theory is founded on the belief that learning is shared socially. Triadic reciprocal determinism explains the interrelationship and interaction between environmental cues, behavior, and biological determinants to shape and alter the perception of the self and how individuals assume agentic perspectives in social interactions to approach challenges and pursue goals. Knowing how learners perceived their likelihood to achieve success also provides for a better understanding of the constraints and opportunities of a proposed learning solution. The purpose of this study was to explore the self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents as part of the analysis of the learners in the instructional design system (ISD) model in terms of entry behaviors for the design of a peer tutoring learning environment. The General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) was used to interview participants, using the questions as open-ended questions. Observations of the social interactions between participants were collected during focus groups to discuss their responses to the GSE scale. The results of this study suggested that individuals with high self-efficacy not only assume a direct personal agentic perspective when acting alone but that they also assume and motivate others to engage in a collective agentic perspective. Individuals with low self-efficacy assume proxy or surrogate agentic perspectives in social interactions and require prompting to engage and participate. High self-efficacy indicates effective collaboration through the collective agency, which affects success positively in a peer tutoring learning environment. Low self-efficacy affects negatively success in peer tutoring, because individuals with low self-efficacy assume a proxy or surrogate agentic perspective detaching themselves from the interactions. However, individuals with low self-efficacy, through prompting and motivation from peers with high self-efficacy can improve their interactions and as goals are reached, improve self-efficacy.
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1. Introduction

Learning is neither a transmissive nor a submissive process. Rather learning is willful, intentional, active, conscious, constructive practice that includes reciprocal intention – action – reflection activities. Humans are different from primates in their abilities to articulate an intention and then to willfully plan to act on it. Actions are integrations of perceptions and conscious thinking. (Jonassen & Land, 2000, p. v)

Learning is for Jonassen and Land a process of meaning making. This process comprises balancing individual perceptions with perceptions of what others know, the responses from the environment, and experiences that lead to action. In other words, an action feeds itself from consciousness and perception. Meaning making also occurs within a social context, and knowledge is shared among the participants within that context.

Knowledge resides in discourse and communication among individuals and their relationships. These relationships also influence how individuals see themselves, perceive their social circle, and assume how their social circle sees them. Social negotiation becomes knowledge negotiation, through which individuals engage in the meaning-making process. This theory shift leads to a focus on the development of student-centered learning theories with special attention to social-mediated communication (Jonassen & Land, 2000). Social interrelationship influences learning and self-perception, also defined as self-efficacy (Ashford & LeCroy, 2010).

Self-efficacy beliefs are domain-specific personal interpretations of capabilities to perform a task or reach a goal (Bandura, 2002; Bruning et al., 2004; Goddard, LoGerfo, & Hoy, 2004; Ormrod, 2006). Confronted by a specific task, individuals would, consciously or unconsciously, evaluate their skills to achieve the domain expectations, leading to how they will approach the task at hand. Bandura (2002) argued that self-efficacy is also modifiable under favorable conditions. According to Bandura (1989a), self-efficacy is influenced by triadic reciprocal determinism (presented in Figure 1), which is the interaction between three factors of causation: (1) behavior, (2) environment, and (3) personal cognitive factors. According to Bandura:

Figure 1.

Triadic reciprocal determinism

Human behavior has often been explained in terms of one-sided determinism. In such modes of unidirectional causation, behavior is depicted as being shaped and controlled either by environmental influences or by internal dispositions. Social cognitive theory favors a model of causation involving triadic reciprocal determinism. In this model of reciprocal causation, behavior, cognition and other personal factors, and environmental influences all operate as interacting determinants that influence each other bidirectionally. (p. 2)

According to Bandura, “because of the bidirectionality of influence between behavior and environmental circumstances, people are both products and producers of their environment” (p. 4), and “seen from the social cognitive perspective, human nature is characterized by a vast potentiality that can be fashioned by direct and vicarious experience into a variety of forms within biological limits” (p. 74). People influence their environments as their environments influence them. People select, create, and perceive their environment according to the interactions between the factors of causation, and they do this while simultaneously creating or perceiving an image of themselves within the specific environment.

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