Chinese undergraduates’ sources of self-efficacy: a mixed-methods investigation and exploration of individual differences
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According to social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977), self-efficacy refers to beliefs that one is capable of succeeding at particular tasks and navigating one’s environment. Self-efficacy has been hypothesized to be informed by four sources: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and physiological states (Usher & Pajares, 2008). However, little is known about how these sources are exhibited by undergraduates in China, a country with a strong collectivistic culture and an education system that emphasizes competition. Furthermore, previous cross-cultural studies have shown collectivists were more prevention-oriented; thus, fear of failure may be prevalent among Chinese students. Additionally, another unique feature of Chinese students is sibling status because of the prevalence of only children (Falbo, 1988). The purpose of this study was to investigate the sources of self-efficacy of Chinese undergraduates (N=156) and to explore the influence of individual differences including only-child status, GPA, and fear of failure. Qualitative approaches were used to code students’ responses to open-ended questions that asking what made them more and less confident in learning according to Bandura’s four sources of self-efficacy and three more additional sources of self-efficacy from recent research. Quantitative analysis revealed a number of differences in the distribution and frequencies of the sources of self-efficacy: the distinction between sources leading to more and less confidence, only-child status, GPA, and fear of failure. Implications for educators and counselors are discussed.