16 July, 2008
OVER THE BOARD WITH HARRY-Albert Bandura and self-efficacy
How can we explain the phenomena of boy’s enthusiasm and success in the Chess Squared Program (CSP)? They do poorly at math/science these days compared with girls and fall way behind girls on every index particularly EQ areas yet they do so well at chess.
The key issues raised here centre upon self efficacy, resilience and achievement. The CSP has engendered high success amongst many low achieving boys. Low performing boys, and boys generally, bring high levels of interest, self belief, goal striving and enthusiasm to the chess program, qualities lacking, for many of them, in their other school pursuits.
Why do boys continue to play chess unhampered after a series of defeats when in other intellectual and physical pursuits they often surface as quitters with clear symptoms of low frustration tolerance?
One key issue is chess, while being stigmatised as nerdy, nevertheless carries the aurora of battles and medieval warfare which makes it almost forgivable given its intellectual nature.
The Canadian Socio-cognitive Theorist Albert Bandura, sort to embed the theory of self-efficacy into a broader socio-cognitive theory. He has focused on studying how efficacy beliefs impact on human functioning and intellectual development in youth.
To explain self efficacy Bandura argued we needed a comprehensive theory placed within the context of a unified conceptual framework which explained the origin of beliefs and the structures through which they operate, and the outcome of those beliefs. Bandura points out, “The value of a theory is ultimately judged by the power of the methods it yields to produce desired changes (1995, p.2).”
Bandura says, “Peoples level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case (1995, p2).” Bandura states unequivocally that research consistently shows that personal efficacy is a significant determinant in achievement and human motivation (1995, p3). Central to the work of Albert Bandura is the intellectual conviction that it is young people’s belief in their own personal efficacy that will help them meet the challenges of an increasingly complex, changing world (Bandura 1995). The question for Bandura is how we can develop young people’s personal efficacy to deal with modern psychological pressures and manage their lives successfully.
Bandura says, “The Capability to produce valued outcomes and to prevent undesired ones, therefore, provides powerful incentives for the development and exercise of personal control (1995, p2)”. Bandura goes onto say, “A resilient sense of efficacy requires experience in overcoming obstacles through perseverant effort (1995, p.3)” This is something CPS students regularly experience in the heat of competition experienced during in-house and regional tournament chess.
Bandura, clarifying self-efficacy, says, “Perceived self efficacy refers to the belief in one’s capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to manage perspective situations (1995, p.2)”
What are the sources of efficacy belief for Bandura? Bandura says, “The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences. They provide the most authentic evidence of whether one can master whatever it takes to succeed (1995, p.3)”.
Many boys feel empowered in the chess program because of their innate playing strength. Bandura says, “Success builds a robust belief in one’s personal efficacy. Failures undermine it, especially if failures occur before a sense of efficacy is firmly established (1995, p.3).” Bandura states that developing a sense of self-efficacy through mastery experiences involves ‘acquiring the cognitive, behavioural, and self regulatory tool’ and planning skills to achieve fruitful outcomes in a complex and changing world (1995, p.3).
We have accumulated immense data showing boys achievement levels compared with girls and their endeavours elsewhere. From a research perspective how can we explain it? Bandura argues, (referring to youth) that having a sense one can succeed makes them more likely to bounce back from setbacks (1995, p.3).
Surely we can argue ‘low frustration tolerance’ is rooted in thought saturated with fear of failure and a life with few mastery experiences. Many boys these days see themselves as academically inferior to girls and from an early age begin to define their masculinity in sporting terms. One boy said to me, “Girls are smarter than boys. Boys are stupid. We are good at sport.”
Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies, ed Albert Bandura, Cambridge University Press, 1995