According to Alderman (1999), motivation can be influenced by self-perception (Zimmerman, 2000). Self-perception can destroy one’s motivation to accomplish a given task based on the belief that the ability to do the task is lacking; or the motivation is suppressed because of the belief that the task lacks challenging components (Alderman, 1999; Bandura, 1997; Calder & Staw, 1975). Research indicates that students perceive themselves as more, the more challenging the goals they pursue will be (Zimmerman, Bandura & Martinez-Pons, 1992). According to Zimmerman (2000), research during the past two decades has revealed that self-efficacy is a highly successful predictor of a student’s motivation and learning.
Self-efficacy is a performance-based measure of one’s perceived ability and therefore differs theoretically from motivational constructs such as outcome expectations or self-concept (Zimmerman, 2000). Frequently, the terms self-efficacy and self concept are misunderstood to have the same meaning. Self-efficacy pertains to one’s perceived abilities to accomplish a specific task; whereas, self concept is a composite look at oneself believed to have been formed from one’s experiences and accepted evaluations from family and / or friends. Self-concept and self-efficacy may both be used outside the context of learning (Bandura, 1997; Zimmerman, 2000). The role self-efficacy plays in one’s motivation and attitude toward language learning is an important one having influence on one’s performance (Bandura, 1997; Dörnyei, 2001a; Ehrman, 1996). When looking at language learning many learners feel they have to be risk-takers because their self is put before others to perform. Those with low self-efficacy perceive tasks of difficulty as threats; these are people that dwell on their deficiencies and remember the obstacles they encounter when pursuing challenging tasks (Dörnyei, 2001a). There is a reason for connecting the concept of self-efficacy with the motivation to learn an additional language. For students to be able to focus on the task of learning with all their might and determination, they must have a healthy view of themselves as learners (Dörnyei, 2001).
Although prior successes combined with other general measures of one’s ability are considered exemplary predictors of achievement, (Zimmerman, 2000) many studies suggest that self-efficacy beliefs add to the predictability of these measures. One such study was that of students’ self-monitoring. The findings pointed to the fact that the efficacious students monitored their working time more effectively and were more persistent. The study also indicated the more efficacious students to be better at solving problems than inefficacious students of equal aptitude (Zimmerman, 2000).
Zimmerman & Bandura (1994) did a path analytic study for writing and found that self-efficacy for writing was a considerable predictor of college students’ standards for the quality of writing measured as self-satisfying. The self-efficacy beliefs also motivated the students’ use of learning strategies. According to Zimmerman & Martinez- Pons (1992), there was a substantial relation between efficacy beliefs and strategy use across the grade levels being studied. “The greater the motivation and self-regulation of learning in students with a high self-efficacy “…the higher the academic achievement according to a range of measures.” (Zimmerman, 2000, p. 88) Another study Zimmerman (2000) notes illustrates a finding of an overall effect size of .38 which this indicates that self-efficacy accounts for approximately 14% of the variance in students’ academic outcome across various sets of student samples and criterion measures. Concerning the effects of perceived self-efficacy on persistence, research has shown that it influences the learner’s skill acquisition by increasing persistence (Schunk, 1981; 2003; Zimmerman, 2000). Observably, self-efficacy plays a mediational role in motivation, persistence and academic achievement. The findings signify evidence of the validity of self-efficacy beliefs and their influence on a student’s method of learning and motivational process (Zimmerman, 2000).