Examining the Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Writing and How Self-Efficacy Affects Writing Outcomes in English Classrooms

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Examining the Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Writing and How Self-Efficacy Affects Writing Outcomes in English Classrooms

Erin Bowman

AED 663

Spring 2009

Dr. Mary Lynch Kennedy

If self-efficacy is lacking, people tend to behave ineffectually, even though they know what to do.” – Albert Bandura

This article reviews eight studies that investigate different aspects of self-efficacy and writing. I begin with my personal experience and the impact of instruction, peers, and self-efficacy on my own education. Next I give the background and theories on self-efficacy, mastery experiences, and writing outcomes. Then I discuss the methods used to choose a topic for this review and accumulate the empirical and secondary studies that are included in the body. Subsequently I discuss the research findings, and finally I propose research that should be completed to further investigate this topic, and I explain how the present research can and should transfer into the classroom.
Did you ever wonder if your students’ learning is affected by their beliefs about their capabilities? In particular, is their writing affected by their self-efficacy? Is it possible that good grades occur more often for students who believe that they are capable of mastering things, or who feel that their teachers believe that they are capable? Are students who receive bad grades less likely to be motivated for writing and other learning activities than students who receive good grades? These are questions that many teachers and researchers have asked, and a good amount of research has been done to answer them. For the purposes of this review, I will be looking at research that examines the relationship between students’ self-efficacy and writing.

As a primary student, I received many good grades, and thought highly about my abilities. I was very confident and knew that I had what it took to be successful in school. As I progressed into middle school, this confidence disappeared, and my grades began a slow decline. Stipek explains why this occurred: “Adolescence is a period when once optimistic children experience an increasing awareness of peers and their relative abilities” (as cited in Klassen, p.175). Feelings of inferiority overwhelmed me. In English class, I struggled the most. I didn’t believe that I was a good writer. This resulted in a lack of effort and low grades, which in turn made me believe that my teacher did not see me as a good writer. Was I really as unable write well, as I believed, or did my beliefs about my lack of ability limit what I was able to accomplish? Perceptions of low self-efficacy begin in primary school, specifically in low socioeconomic areas, and for many students beliefs about decreased abilities are far lower than mine were in primary school. I took things into my own hands and decided to get extra help in tenth grade.

Once I had someone assuring me that I had everything that it took to be a good student, my grades shot right back up to where they should have been all along. Nonetheless, because of my lack of self-confidence, I missed out on opportunities to be in the honors track, and I got lost in the shuffle of Regents students not doing well enough to be recognized or doing poorly enough to receive any extra attention: I was stuck in the middle because I didn’t believe that I was able to do any better than I did at the time. I was able to take the situation into my own hands and find support, but there are many students who do get left behind.
This review will explain how instructional methods, teacher perceptions, previous mastery experience, and grade level have an impact on students’ self-efficacy, especially with regard to writing. I review 9 studies based on self-efficacy and writing and discuss what was found, what is missing, and what needs to be done to move forward with research in order to close some of the gaps that I found in the present research.

What is Self-Efficacy?
Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure.”- Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura (1994) defines self-efficacy as a person’s beliefs about his/her abilities to achieve certain levels of performance which influence events that affect his/her life. If your self-efficacy is low, you don’t have confidence in your abilities; even if you do have the tools to be successful in the task at hand.
As Britner (2006) explains it, Bandura has hypothesized four sources of self efficacy:

  • First, and the most influential factor is how students interpret their previous performance, or their mastery experience.

  • Second, students form their self-efficacy beliefs from watching others perform tasks, or through vicarious experiences.

  • Third, students gain their self-efficacy beliefs through social persuasion, or their exposure to verbal and non-verbal judgments of others.

  • Fourth, physiological states such as different mood states, stress, and anxiety are determiners of self-efficacy (pp.486-487).

Students’ self-efficacy has a large impact on their confidence and their learning. Throughout this review, I refer to the writing outcomes of students. Writing outcomes are the achieved pieces of writing, achieved grades, and achieved learning that stem from writing assignments and experiences.

In order to find a complete collection of empirical and secondary sources, I searched the Wilson Omni-File, JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, and Science Direct databases. I also utilized the periodical section of Cortland Memorial Library. At first, I searched for self-efficacy and writing in secondary education and English classrooms only, but I later broadened my search to include elementary and postsecondary studies as well as studies conducted in social studies classrooms.

Primary School
Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.” -Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969

Though self-efficacy affects students of all ages, the group of students least affected by low self-efficacy seems to be primary-level students. This may be due to the fact that young children are sometimes not completely aware of how they are viewed by their peers and their teachers. Their lack of awareness may naturally create higher levels of self-efficacy because they don’t realize that their teachers and their peers are constantly judging them which would hurt their self-efficacy and confidence. When asked to complete writing tasks, the majority of students in elementary school are excited about the assignment and believe that they have a story worth telling.

In a study investigating the impact of writing instruction on third graders’ self-efficacy, Steve Graham, Karen R. Harris, and Linda Mason (2005) studied a model for cognitive strategy instruction called Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction (SRSD). The six steps of this model, as defined by Santangelo, Harris, and Graham (2008) in an explication of the effects of SRSD on primary-aged children, are:

  • Stage 1- Develop background knowledge: to ensure that students will successfully understand, learn, and apply the strategy.

  • Stage 2- Discuss it: to make sure that students are motivated and willing to learn the new strategy.

  • Stage 3- Model it: students are shown exactly how to use the new strategy.

  • Stage 4- Memorize it: to have students become familiar enough with the steps in a strategy that they can use them automatically.

  • Stage 5- Support it: students gradually assume responsibility for using the new strategy.

  • Stage 6- Independent performance: where students have achieved the goal of SRSD and are able to consistently use a strategy over time, in multiple settings, and with a variety of tasks. (p.82)

Graham’s et al.’s participants, 72 third grade students of different ethnicities in a low socio-economic area of Washington D.C., were defined as struggling writers. There were three groups involved in this study: SRSD-only, SRSD plus peer support, and the control group (p.213). The two SRSD groups were taught genre-specific strategies for planning stories and persuasive essays that involved answering a series of questions prior to writing to help students better focus their ideas. Students were taught and reminded to carry out “three basic processes [for writing both stories and persuasive essays]: pick a topic to write about, organize possible ideas into a writing plan, and use and upgrade this plan while writing” (p.209). The only difference between the SRSD-only group and the SRSD plus peer support group was that students in the peer support group worked in pairs, and students in the SRSD-only group worked alone. Students were given writing assignments pre-test to write a story and a persuasive essay. For self-regulation, students “compared their pre-instructional performance with their performance during instruction” to see how their outcomes differed (p.209). The self-efficacy measures for planning and writing a paper were administered both pre and posttest in the form of a five item survey including questions such as: “When my class is asked to write, my paper is one of the best,” and “When writing a paper, I have trouble finding the right words for what I want to say.” Students were asked to rate these questions on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree) (p.225).

Graham et al. found that students who were instructed using the SRSD model were much more likely to succeed in their writing tasks and be more confident in doing so than those in the control group. In writing their pieces at the end of the study, “SRSD instructed students spent more time engaged in writing both stories and persuasive papers than their peers in the comparison condition” (p. 228), and there was a statistically significant correlation between SRSD instruction and the length of student writing. Length wasn’t the only variable that stood out in this study. The test (SRSD) groups wrote using the specific story and persuasive elements that they were taught, and had higher quality writing than the control group (p.229-230). This study suggests that SRSD instruction has a positive effect on primary school students. The surprise to Graham et al. was that there was no conclusive evidence that self-efficacy had an effect on the achievement of the students in this study: “Contrary to expectations, students’ self-efficacy was not enhanced by SRSD instruction. The young struggling writers in this study were generally positive about their self-efficacy before and after instruction” (p.236). Though somewhat surprising, it does make sense that the self-efficacy of these young students would not be affected by SRSD instruction, however, other variables may affect their self-efficacy for writing.

Heidi L. Andrade, Xiaolei Wang, Ying Du, and Robin L Akawi (2009) also investigated the self-efficacy for writing of elementary students by testing the effects of rubric use on students’ writing self-efficacy. Participants were 268 third through seventh grade students in a convenience sample of 18 elementary and middle school English and social studies classes. The treatment and comparison groups were both made up of 9 classes in close to equal grade ranges. Both groups received an 11 item writing self-efficacy scale three times and were asked to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 100 for questions about their confidence, skill level, ideas, organization, formatting, and voice (p. 289). Each class was asked to do a writing assignment. Classes either wrote stories or persuasive essays. The treatment group differed from the control group in three ways: 1) students in this group read a model story or essay, discussed its strengths and weaknesses and generated a list of qualities of an effective story or essay and the control group did not, 2) they received a written rubric and the control group did not, and 3) they also used the rubric to self-assess their first drafts. The control group was asked to self-assess their first drafts, but was not given a rubric to go by while doing so (p.290).

The self-efficacy for writing scale was administered for both groups three times: after the writing assignment was introduced, after the rubric was handed out for the treatment group (both groups took the survey at this time), and after the self-assessment of their drafts (with or without rubrics according to their group) (p.291). Though there was no statistically significant difference between treatment and control groups’ self-efficacy for writing surveys the first and second times, at time 3 the average score of the treatment group was higher than the average score of the control group (p.292). Andrade et al. found that though the treatment group had somewhat higher levels of self-efficacy at the end of the treatment, all participating students’ self-efficacy for writing improved throughout the instruction for the writing assignment (p.295). Therefore, due to the lack of significant evidence of improvement in writing self-efficacy for the full sample, rubric referenced self-assessment doesn’t appear to have a significant impact on students’ writing self-efficacy. Andrade et al. admit that there were significant limitations to this study: a short time period for treatment, and a mostly white, middle-class sample weaken the results of the study. However, this study did demonstrate a correlation between self-efficacy for writing and writing instruction that is promising. Looking into how studies of middle school students compare to Graham et al.’s (2005) and Andrade et al.’s (2009) study should better clarify if and how students’ self-efficacy affects their writing outcomes.

Middle School
Self-appraisals are influenced by evaluative reactions of others.”- Albert Bandura

Raquel Fidalgo, Mark Torrance, and Jesus-Nicasio Garcia (2008) looked at the long term effects of strategy-focused writing instruction on middle school students. By comparing 56 eighth-grade students who received strategy-focused writing instruction 28 months earlier (in sixth grade) to 21 eighth-grade students who did not receive the instruction in their sixth grade classes, Fidalgo et al. were able to determine if the effectiveness of such instruction lasted beyond the school year in which it was taught (p.675). To test the long term effectiveness of strategy-focused writing instruction, Fidalgo et al. administered an expository essay writing assignment to both groups of students (students all received this writing assignment in their classes) and asked students to log their writing activities while writing: each time students heard a bell ring (randomly at 30, 60, 90, or 120 second intervals) they had to indicate what writing activity they were engaged in at that moment. Choices of writing activities that they could choose from ranged from “reading references,” to “outlining,” to “thinking about content” (p.678). Students also completed questionnaires about their motivation for writing and their self-efficacy for writing and writing-related activities (p.680).

The results of Fidalgo et al.’s study on the long term effects of strategy-focused writing instruction showed that the students who had received this instruction in the sixth grade had higher quality writing on the expository essay in eighth grade than students who did not receive the instruction in their sixth grade classes. Holistic measures suggested statistically significant evidence that the test group’s essays were better in overall quality, coherence, and structure. The test group also demonstrated higher self-scores of their writing self-efficacy and writing motivation (p.684). These results show a significant correlation between writing self-efficacy, writing outcomes, and strategy-focused instruction. Students who received the instruction were, as a whole, more self-efficacious and more likely to have high quality writing than students who did not receive the instruction in their sixth grade classes (p.685).
Shui-Fong Lam and Yin-Kum Law (2007) studied the self-efficacy beliefs of 209 seventh and eighth grade students in lower-middle-class schools in Hong Kong, China. The students’ teachers were teacher-interns who were trained specifically to give the instruction for this study. The students were tested on their ability to plan and write expository essays after three vigorous training sessions which included genre-specific training and practice. At the end of the instructional unit, students were asked to complete a questionnaire about the instruction that they were given and how they thought it affected their motivation and self-efficacy for their final writing assignment (expository essay) without their teacher present in the room (pp.150-152).

The results from Lam and Law’s study showed that students became motivated when their teachers presented them with challenging tasks which ensure real-life significance. Lam and Law also found that the students’ writing performance improved as a result of their higher motivation and self-efficacy. Students who demonstrated higher motivation on the questionnaire also demonstrated better quality of writing on their expository essay. Lam and Law explain that though this was a brief study, including only four training sessions, the level of specificity of the training may have contributed to the successful outcomes of this study (p.158). It is important to note that this study did not have a control group. Though this may be somewhat alarming, I believe that this fact doesn’t alter the validity of the study because of the way in which it was conducted. It will, however, be interesting to connect the results of Lam and Law’s study and those discussed previously with younger aged students to the next grouping of studies conducted with high school students.

High School
What people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave. The natural and extrinsic effects of their actions, in turn, partly determine their thought patterns and affective reactions.”- Albert Bandura
Frank Pajares & Margaret J. Johnson (1996) examined the relationship between general self-efficacy beliefs of ninth grade students and their writing self-efficacy. Hypothesizing that students’ self-efficacy had a direct effect on writing outcomes, they also looked at students’ writing apprehension for essay writing (p.165). Participants in this study were 181 students with a variety of ethnic backgrounds in a public high school in the Southwest. All were native English speakers. Before they began writing, students were administered a self-efficacy survey which asked them to rate their self-efficacy between 0 and 100 for writing activities such as: “organize sentences into a paragraph so as to clearly express a theme,” “correctly punctuate a one page passage,” and “my teacher thinks I write well.” Students were then asked to write a 30-minute essay about their “perfect day.” Students then attached their survey answers to their essays before handing them in. Once all student essays and surveys were handed in, the authors scored the writing using a 6-point scale and compiled the surveys together and grouped them in relation to each point level essay score in order to be able to determine if student perceptions of their ability related to their actual scores (p.166).

The results showed that students’ self-efficacy beliefs predicted their performance for this task. But not only did students’ judgments about themselves have an effect on their writing, their interpretation of their teachers’ judgments also seemed to have an impact on their writing aptitude and outcomes. Writing apprehension—or the anxiety about or anticipation of bad outcomes for writing—as related to self-efficacy was also examined by the authors within the survey. The findings demonstrate that apprehensive writers tend to have low self-efficacy which reflected on their writing outcomes. This finding correlates with what the authors hypothesized at the outset of this study (p.168).

In order to define the writing approaches, or the processes that students follow while writing, of secondary students and suggest the connection between the ways that students approach writing, their self-efficacy for writing, and their writing outcomes, (p.399) Ellen Lavelle, Jennifer Smith, and Leslie O’Ryan (2002) studied a sample of 398 eleventh grade students in mandatory ELA classes at three different metropolitan schools in the Midwest. Students were given a 72 item true-false questionnaire, asking them to respond to statements about writing approaches and self-efficacy, and completed it anonymously (pp.404-405). The authors then began a second phase of the research with 49 high school juniors (many teachers opted for their classes not to participate in this second phase). Participating students took a 50 item inventory of processes in secondary writing on which they had to “strongly agree,” “agree,” “neither agree nor disagree,” “disagree,” or “strongly disagree” with each item. They were also given a 25 item self-efficacy for writing scale that asked students to rate their ability to complete writing activities such as organizing, planning and revising, managing time, and generating good topics or ideas for writing. Students were then asked to respond to an essay prompt about a personal experience (p.409). Also, teachers were asked to report student grades so that the authors could judge how students’ perceived self-efficacy related to their actual outcomes. Lavelle et al. found that perceived self-efficacy for writing was predictive of the actual grade in language arts class by comparing the results of the surveys and the holistic results of the writing sample to students’ actual grade in the class (p.411).

By looking at the writing processes of students—via their answers to the surveys about writing processes and self-efficacy—Lavelle et al. (2002) were able to discover the different ways that students approach their writing, along with how these approaches affect their self-efficacy towards writing, and they were able to compare these responses about approaches and self-efficacy to how well students scored on the essay. Lavelle et al. posit that finding out the different ways that high school students approach writing will make it easier for teachers to cater instruction to each approach. By recognizing students’ approaches to writing, the authors suggest that, teachers will be better able to adapt to the needs of their students. If teachers are better able to adapt their instruction to specific writers, they will then have the ability to target and strengthen the specific weaknesses of their students in writing—whether is in timed writing, academic writing, or more leisurely writing—creating more effective, efficacious and confident writers (p. 412).

In an attempt to find more concrete sources for self-efficacy beliefs about writing across age groups, Frank Pajares, Margaret J. Johnson, and Ellen L. Usher (2007) studied 1,256 students in grades 4-11. Students in this group were primarily middle class and white, had no LD or gifted status, and English was their first language (p.110). Pajares et al. (2007) surveyed the students about their self-efficacy as it relates to writing by asking them to provide judgments about how true of false they found certain statements like: “I get good grades in writing” and “Just thinking about writing makes me nervous” on a six-point scale (p.110). Pajares et al. also asked the students to judge their confidence and anxiety for writing skills by answering ten questions beginning with ‘how confident are you that you can:’ “write simple sentences with good grammar,” and “write a well-organized and well-sequenced paragraph.” Students’ teachers were also asked to rate them on a 1-5 scale of writing ability, achievement, and scores in terms of how they compare to the rest of the students in their grade level. Multiple regression analyses were then conducted by Pajares et al. to determine the influence of writing self-efficacy (of the full sample) on gender and grade level (p.111).

Pajares et al. (2007) found that overall “perceived mastery experience accounted for the greatest proportion of the variance in the writing self-efficacy beliefs of the students in [this] study” (p.114). For both elementary and middle school students there was a relationship between writing anxiety and self-efficacy beliefs about writing similar to the relationship found previously in Pajares & Johnson (1996). Also, students’ mastery experience and writing anxiety taken from the results of the survey both proved to be predictive of the ratings that the teachers gave these students (pp.113-115). High school students’ self-efficacy beliefs were most highly related to social persuasions, but mastery experience also had an effect on their self-efficacy for writing (p.115).

Postsecondary School
People who hold a low view of themselves will credit their achievements to external factors rather than to their own capabilities.” – Albert Bandura
Ed Jones (2008) studied 118 first-year college students who were put, based on placement exams, into basic skills sections of College English. Investigating the locus of control (LOC), or where the individual attributes control for outcomes of his or her efforts (p.211), Jones hypothesized that “locus of control [would] exhibit greater predictive strength for academic performance measures than self-efficacy measures for first-year basic writers” (p.216). Participating students were given an LOC survey that consisted of 28 items in which the students were asked to respond to with “true” or “false,” and a self-efficacy survey with eight task items on it based on the types of essays that students wrote in the course. These surveys were administered in both September and December (the first and last months of their semester) (p.218). Students also self-reported their typical high school English grade at the beginning of the semester (p.219).

The results of this study showed a correlation between self-efficacy and LOC, and end of term performance as measured by grades and writing proficiency test scores (p.225). The hypothesis was not proven through the results. Instead, Jones (2008) found that the factor that was more predictive of a student’s outcomes in writing—self-efficacy or LOC—depended a lot on the ability level of the student in question. LOC was determined to be critically more important for the least academically inclined students than for all other students (p.226). Thus self-efficacy proved to be a strong determiner of student writing outcomes. Both writing self-efficacy scores and writing grades improved for students throughout the semester, demonstrating the usefulness of such mandatory basic skills courses (p.233).

Also looking at postsecondary students, Frank Pajares and Margaret J. Johnson (1994) examined thirty pre-service teachers over sixteen weeks administering a writing self-efficacy survey which included questions about their writing skills and mechanics, along with questions about writing apprehension on the first and last weeks of their class (p.317). Students also wrote two thirty-minute essays, one pretest and one posttest, on their beliefs about the qualities that a teacher should possess (p.319). Pajares and Johnson (1994) examined the correlations between two writing self-efficacy surveys and the pre-service teachers’ writing outcomes—as observed and scored by the authors—both the first and last weeks of their class (p.321).
What is interesting about this study is the findings on writing apprehension differ from the results of Pajares & Johnson (1996) and Pajares et al. (2007). Though the pre-service teachers’ writing self-efficacy was in fact related to performance, writing apprehension was unrelated to performance (p.421). Pajares and Johnson (1996) and Pajares et al. (2007) found a significant correlation between writing apprehension and writing outcomes for middle and high school students. Students who were apprehensive about their writing in these studies tended to do worse than students who were confident about their writing abilities. For the pre-service teachers, however, this was not the case. In the words of Pajares and Johnson (1994),

In the absence of students’ perceived improvement in their writing skills, results of the posttest essay scores show that these skills did improve over the semester. That is, the confidence of our participants in their usage, grammar, composition, and mechanical skills did not increase, but, as judged by their essays, the skills themselves did improve. (p.323)

Results of the self-efficacy survey administered at the end of the semester indicate that students did not think that their writing had improved over the sixteen weeks, but their scores on the post-test essays did show improvement in their writing. Comparing Pajares and Johnson’s (1994) findings to Pajares and Johnson (1996), we might infer that as students mature—possibly due to higher levels of stress and higher expectations—their apprehension stops affecting their work. More research needs to be done to draw firmer conclusions from this, but it should be noted that this study did find a significant relationship between writing self-efficacy and writing outcomes (pp.322-323).

Conclusions and Next Steps
The studies I discuss in this literature review indicate a connection between self-efficacy and writing, and a number of variables:
Writing Apprehension:

Pajares & Johnson (1996) and Pajares et al. (2007) discussed self-efficacy for writing and writing apprehension. They found that for middle and high school students, writing apprehension and self-efficacy for writing were strongly related. Writing apprehension and self-efficacy for writing also were determining factors of students’ writing outcomes in these studies. In Pajares & Johnson (1994) students writing outcomes were not found to correlate with their writing apprehension. Students’ self-efficacy, however, did correlate with their writing outcomes.

Instructional Methods:

Graham et al. (2005) found a statistically significant correlation between self-regulated strategy instruction (SRSD) and elementary student writing outcomes, but did not find a significant correlation between SRSD and self-efficacy. There was, however, a correlation between SRSD and quality of student writing in this study. Andrade et al. (2009) compared the self-efficacy and writing outcomes of elementary students who received rubric-referenced instruction to those who did not receive rubrics. They found that in this case, the rubric-referenced instruction did not have a statistically significant impact on students’ self-efficacy, but it did impact their writing outcomes. Fidalgo et al. (2008) looked at the long-term impact of strategy-focused writing instruction on middle school students’ self-efficacy and writing outcomes. They found a statistically significant correlation between both. Students who received the instruction had higher self-efficacy and better writing outcomes over two years later. Lam & Law (2007) studied the impact of rigorous genre-specific instruction on middle school students and found that students whose teachers provide them with very specific instruction had higher self-efficacy, better writing outcomes, and were more motivated to write.

Teacher Beliefs:

Lavelle et al. (2002) examined the writing approaches of secondary students and how these approaches affected students’ self-efficacy and writing outcomes. They asked teachers to report student grades in order to compare how the teacher graded the student to students’ work for the purposes of the study. Studies conducted by Pajares et al. (2007) and Graham et al. (2005) also indirectly looked at how teacher beliefs affect student self-efficacy and writing outcomes through specific questions in their self-efficacy surveys. Pajares et al. (2007) and Lavelle et al. (2002) had similar results: teacher beliefs had a direct impact on student self-beliefs and writing outcomes. Graham et al. (2005), however, did not share this conclusion and attributed their different results to the young age of the participants in their study.

Predicting Future Writing Outcomes:

Pajares & Johnson (1996), Lavelle et al. (2002), and Jones (2008) all look at the effectiveness of self-efficacy scores on predicting the writing outcomes of students. These studies had similar results and found that self-efficacy does seem to be an accurate predictive measure of future writing outcomes.

From the results of the above studies, we can draw specific conclusions about self-efficacy and writing, and the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Students with low self-efficacy will not do as well at writing-related activities as students with high self-efficacy.

There are some limitations to many of the studies in this review. There is only one long-term study of self-efficacy and writing (Fidalgo et al. 2008). Many of the studies also have limited measures. Simply stated, surveys alone are not adequate determiners of such important findings. Students don’t always tell the truth on surveys. Therefore, results should not stem from surveys alone. More specific research needs to be done on self-efficacy and writing now that it has become clear that there is a significant correlation between the two.

Research still needs to be done in order to have a more complete picture of the relationship between self-efficacy and writing at all levels of education with different demographics of students. Specifically, research should be done in the areas of teaching approaches and methods, writing approaches, and different demographics of students. In the aforementioned studies, students’ writing outcomes are closely related to their self-efficacy. Now, research needs to be directed towards finding effective instructional methods and approaches for fostering self-efficacy.
The good news is that we are well on our way to having more help and answers for students who lack confidence in their abilities and their writing. With more research and teacher involvement, students’ self-efficacy can be raised, and hopefully better learning outcomes will soon follow.

Andrade, H. L.;Wang, X.; Du, Ying; Akawi, R. L. (2009). Rubric-referenced self-assessment and self-efficacy for writing. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(4), 287-301.
Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of Mental Health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998). http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/BanEncy.html
Britner, S. L., & Pajares, F. (2006). Sources of science self-efficacy beliefs of middle school students. Journal for Research in Science Teaching, 43, 485-499.

Fidalgo, R., Torrence, M., Garcia, J-N. (2008). The long term effects of strategy-focused writing instruction for grade six students. Contemporary Educational Psychology 33(4), 672-693.

Graham S., Harris K. R., Mason L. (2005). Improving the writing performance, knowledge, and self-efficacy of struggling young writers: The effects of self-regulated strategy development. Contemporary Educational Psychology 30(2), 207-241.
Jones, E. (2008). Predicting performance in first-semester college basic writers: Revisiting the role of self-beliefs. Contemporary Educational Psychology 33(2), 209-238.
Lam, S., & Law, Y. (2007, Winter2007). The Roles of Instructional Practices and Motivation in Writing Performance. Journal of Experimental Education, 75(2), 145-164. Retrieved February 25, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.
Lavelle, E., Smith, J., & O'Ryan, L. (2002). The writing approaches of secondary students. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72(pt3), 399-418.
Pajares, F., & Johnson, M. J. (1994). Confidence and competence in writing: The role of writing self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, and apprehension. Research in the Teaching of English, 28, 313-331.
Pajares, F., & Johnson, M. J. (1996). Selfefficacy beliefs in the writing of high school students: A path analysis. Psychology in the Schools, 33, 163-175.

Pajares, F., Johnson, M., & Usher, E. (2007). Sources of Writing Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Elementary, Middle, and High School Students. Research in the Teaching of English, 42(1), 104-20.

Santangelo, T., Harris, K., & Graham, S. (2008, March). Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development to Support Students Who Have Trubol Giting Thangs Into Werds. Remedial & Special Education, 29(2), 78-89.

Author and Year

Nature of Study



Andrade, Wang, Du, Akwai


Self-efficacy and rubric-referenced writing.

(N=268) 3-8th grade elementary and middle school students

Rubric referenced instruction had no impact on self-efficacy in comparison to control group/ but did have an effect on writing outcomes

Fidalgo, Torrance, Garcia


Long-term effects of strategy instruction on self-efficacy and writing

(N=77) 8th grade

56 who had previous instruction

21 who did not

There were long-term effects of strategy instruction on students’ self-efficacy and writing outcomes

Graham, Harris, Mason


SRSD and writing outcomes for story writing and persuasive writing.

(N=72) 3rd grade students [low socio-economic status]

SRSD has a great impact on motivation for and length of writing but has no impact on self-efficacy of the 3rd grade students in this study.



Predicting performance based on self-beliefs

(N=118) first-year college

Basic skills writing class

Found a correlation between self-beliefs and outcomes/ students self-efficacy predicted their outcomes.

Lam, Law


Student motivation in relation to teacher expectations.

(N=209) 7-8th grade Hong Kong, China

Students have better learning outcomes when they are expected to complete challenging tasks that are relevant to their lives.

Lavelle, Smith, O’Ryan


Self-efficacy and writing outcomes.

2-part study.

(N=398) 11th grade


(N=49) 11th grade

Students’ perceived self-efficacy was predictive of their grade in language arts class.

Pajares, Johnson


Self-efficacy, performance in writing, writing apprehension.

(N=30) postsecondary

Pre-service teachers

Self-efficacy is in-fact related to performance, but writing apprehension is not related to skill level.

Pajares, Johnson


Self-efficacy and writing performance. Self-efficacy and ethnicity.

(N=181) 9th grade Southwest

[Variety of ethnicities.]

Self-efficacy has a large impact on student performance. Hispanic students have the lowest perceived Self-efficacy.

Pajares, Johnson, Usher


Self-efficacy and writing outcomes as related to grade level and gender.

(N=1256) 4-11th gr

Girls and elementary students report the highest levels of self-efficacy and mastery experience.

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