Does Task-specific Self-efficacy Predict Science Competencies?

Kristin Nyberg, Susanne Koerber, Christopher Osterhaus


Self-efficacy is an affective-motivational factor that strongly predicts academic performance. With respect to science competencies, self-efficacy is related to two subcomponents that are closely associated already in kindergarten: Science content knowledge (e.g., physics knowledge) and scientific reasoning (e.g., knowing how to conduct a controlled experiment). To make accurate action predictions, the precise and specific measurement of self-efficacy is needed. With respect to different subcomponents of science competencies (i.e., science knowledge and scientific reasoning), there is to date a lack of studies that simultaneously investigate the association between students’ self-efficacy and their performance in these two subcomponents of science competencies. The complex (cross-)relations between these constructs are investigated in the present study. The sample comprised N=181 fifth graders (90 girls, 91 boys). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses suggest that the two task-specific self-efficacy scales (scientific reasoning and science content knowledge) can be distinguished from each other and from general academic self-efficacy. Structural equation models reveal that task-specific self-efficacy in scientific reasoning is related to performance in scientific reasoning (.52) and science content knowledge (.32). Conversely, task-specific self-efficacy in science content knowledge correlates with performance in science content knowledge (.36) and scientific reasoning (.27). As expected, the strongest correlations between task-specific self-efficacy and performance emerge within the domain, but the significant cross-relations show the potential for furthering both aspects of performance and self-efficacy of science competencies and a need for a more detailed (longitudinal) investigation of these complex relations.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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