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Improving Self-Efficacy in Problem Solving: Learning from Errors and Feedback

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
T. Simin Hall (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Terry Ackerman

Abstract: This study examined the social cognitive theoretical prediction that self-efficacy is enhanced by feedback that fosters problem solving skills. The anxiety addressed in this study was similar to low efficacy perceptions in solving statistics problems for adults whose background is far removed from the field of statistics. The study employed an experimental process to compare the changes in efficacy, problem solving, anxiety, and satisfaction scores for 138 students in two groups of feedback and no feedback. The sample represented 23 majors in a regional public university in the South. Students in the feedback group showed a statistically significant gain in their problem scores over the no feedback group; however, the mean efficacy scores were lower for both groups after the problem solving experiment. Both groups showed similar averages with respect to anxiety and satisfaction scores in regard to problem solving. The incongruence in problem scores with efficacy and anxiety scores was attributed to students' over rating of their abilities prior to actually performing the tasks. The process of calibration was identified as an explanation for the statistically significant correlation between problem solving scores and post - efficacy scores for the feedback group. The qualitative analysis of the contents of the feedback that students provided for each question indicated that those who provided more thoughtful self-explanations, and elaborated on the rationale for their choices showed higher gains in problem scores from pre- to posttest over those who gave fewer comments or did not elaborate on their responses. The number of statistics and mathematics courses taken previously correlated significantly with students' gain in problem scores. The findings in this study support the social cognitive theoretical prediction that feedback can impact self-efficacy positively when students are provided with real time evaluation and assessment indicators. Therefore, this study needs to be implemented with similar problems over a longer period of time for students to learn how to monitor their works and peers' work and how to integrate peers' comments in deriving the solutions and receive timely feedback from the teacher on their progress.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Problem solving, Statistics anxiety, social cognitive theory, self-efficacy, technology
Problem solving--Psychological aspects
Math anxiety