MEASURING ACADEMIC SELF-EFFICACY OF FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

S. Matoti, M. Lekhu

Central University of Technology, Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
The study is grounded in Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and Self-Efficacy Theory. Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory emphasises how cognitive, behavioural, personal, and environmental factors interact to determine motivation and behaviour (Crothers, Hughes, & Morine, 2008). Self-efficacy is what an individual believes he or she can accomplish using his or her skills under certain circumstances (Snyder & Lopez, 2007). It is the conviction that one can successfully accomplish the behaviour required to produce a particular outcome. It is also seen as a judgment about how well one can organize and implement effective strategies in a situation that may include novel and often stressful elements. The transition from high school to university has been found to be stressful for some students and have to learn to cope on their own.

In line with this argument, this exploratory study measured the academic self-efficacy of first year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) students during the first term of their academic year. The sample consisted of 46 participants: 28 females and 18 males. The majority of the students (40) came from the Free State province where the institution is located. Only 5 students stay at the university residences or hostels. A questionnaire consisting of two parts, namely, biographical data as well as the scale for measuring academic self-efficacy, was used as a data gathering instrument. The academic self-efficacy of the students was measured on a 4-point Likert type scale of 1-4,(where 1=Not Hard at all, 4= Extremely hard) where they had to indicate how hard or difficult it would be to deal with the listed items on the academic self-efficacy scale. The 44 items on the scale were divided into four domains, namely, financial issues; ability; family related issues; and decision making skills. The overall mean for the self-efficacy scale was 1.75 and SD= 0.44. Issues that students perceived difficult to deal with were mainly financial issues. Recommendations on how to help students have been made.