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Orientations actuelles de la recherche sur l'auto-efficacité (document en anglais)

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Two decades have now passed since Bandura (1977) first introduced the construct of self-efficacy with the seminal publication of "Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change." A decade later, Bandura (1986) situated the construct within a social cognitive theory of human behavior that diverged from the prevalent cognitivism of the day and embedded cognitive development within a sociostructural network of influences. More recently, Bandura (1997) published Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control, in which he further situated self-efficacy within a theory of personal and collective agency that operates in concert with other sociocognitive factors in regulating human well-being and attainment. In this volume, Bandura also addressed the major facets of agency -- the nature and structure of self-efficacy beliefs, their origins and effects, the processes through which such self-beliefs operate, and the modes by which they can be created and strengthened. In addition, Bandura reviewed a vast body of research on each of these aspects of agency in diverse applications of the theory.

During these two decades, the tenets of the self-efficacy component of social cognitive theory have been widely tested in varied disciplines and settings and have received support from a growing body of findings from diverse fields. Self-efficacy beliefs have been found related to clinical problems such as phobias (Bandura, 1983), addiction (Marlatt, Baer, & Quigley, 1995), depression (Davis & Yates, 1982), social skills (Moe & Zeiss, 1982), assertiveness (Lee, 1983, 1984); to stress in a variety of contexts (Jerusalem & Mittag, 1995); to smoking behavior (Garcia, Schmitz, & Doerfler, 1990); to pain control (Manning & Wright, 1983); to health (O'Leary, 1985); and to athletic performance (Barling & Abel, 1983; Lee, 1982).

Self-efficacy beliefs have also received increasing attention in educational research, primarily in studies of academic motivation and of self-regulation (Pintrich & Schunk, 1995). In this arena, self-efficacy researchers have focused on three areas. Researchers in the first area have explored the link between efficacy beliefs and college major and career choices, particularly in science and mathematics (see Lent & Hackett, 1987, for a review). This line of inquiry has important implications for counseling and vocational psychology theory and practice, given that findings have provided insights into the career development of young men and women and can be used to develop career intervention strategies. Findings from the second area suggest that the efficacy beliefs of teachers are related to their instructional practices and to various student outcomes (Ashton & Webb, 1986). In the third area, researchers have reported that students' self-efficacy beliefs are correlated with other motivation constructs and with students' academic performances and achievement. Constructs in these studies have included attributions, goal setting, modeling, problem solving, test and domain-specific anxiety, reward contingencies, self-regulation, social comparisons, strategy training, other self-beliefs and expectancy constructs, and varied academic performances across domains.

Self-efficacy's broad application across various domains of behavior has accounted for its popularity in contemporary motivation research (Graham & Weiner, 1996). Now that two decades have passed, the time seems propitious to assess the direction that this bourgeoning line of inquiry has taken in academic contexts. To that end, the purpose of this chapter is to acquaint the reader with the defining characteristics of self-efficacy beliefs, outline some problems that have plagued research in this area, examine current directions in self-efficacy research, and suggest strategies to guide future directions. To set the foundation for this exploration, a brief overview of the role of self-beliefs in Bandura's social cognitive theory will first be offered. This will be followed by a more in-depth examination of the sources, effects, and defining characteristics of self-efficacy beliefs, as well as of some problems that affect research. Because various reviews of the influence of self-efficacy in academic settings can be found elsewhere (see Bandura, 1997; Hackett, 1995; Lent & Hackett, 1987; Maddux & Stanley, 1986; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Pajares, 1996c; Schunk, 1989, 1991; Zimmerman, 1995), such a review will not be part of this chapter. Instead, major findings will be identified and discussed insofar as they inform the directions charted. Last, suggestions are offered that may help guide subsequent research and practice.

Self-beliefs and Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory - A Brief Overview

According to Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, individuals possess a self system that enables them to exercise a measure of control over their thoughts, feelings, motivation, and actions. This self system provides reference mechanisms and a set of subfunctions for perceiving, regulating, and evaluating behavior, which results from the interplay between the system and environmental sources of influence. As such, it serves a self-regulatory function by providing individuals with the capability to influence their own cognitive processes and actions and thus alter their environments.

How people interpret the results of their own performance attainments informs and alters their environments and their self-beliefs which, in turn, inform and alter subsequent performance. This is the foundation of Bandura's (1986) conception of reciprocal determinism, the view that (a) personal factors in the form of cognition, affect, and biological events, (b) behavior, and (c) environmental influences create interactions that result in a triadic reciprocality. In general, Bandura provided a view of human behavior in which the beliefs that people have about themselves are key elements in the exercise of control and personal agency and in which individuals are viewed both as products and as producers of their own environments and of their social systems.

Bandura (1986) wrote that, through the process of self-reflection, individuals are able to evaluate their experiences and thought processes (also see Dewey, 1933). According to this view, what people know, the skills they possess, or what they have previously accomplished are not always good predictors of subsequent attainments because the beliefs they hold about their capabilities powerfully influence the ways in which they will behave. Consequently, how people behave is both mediated by their beliefs about their capabilities and can often be better predicted by these beliefs than by the results of their previous performances. This does not mean that people can accomplish tasks beyond their capabilities


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