Self-efficacy is the perceived confidence people have in their ability to perform a given task or skill. Self-efficacy has a tremendous impact on behavior; people who lack self-efficacy in relation to a certain skill are less likely to perform tasks relating to that skill set. Mentors play a critical role in shaping the research experience to increase mentees’ self-efficacy and, ultimately, mentee performance. Making explicit efforts to strengthen mentees’ research self-efficacy, like being explicit about how they are making important contributions to the team or telling them you believe they can successfully pursue a research career, can increase the likelihood that they will effectively perform the tasks that lead to these outcomes. There are four factors that build self-efficacy beliefs: mastery experience, vicarious experience, social persuasion, and emotional/physiological states. These factors, or sources, provide mentors direction for strategies to enhance and sustain mentees’ self-efficacy.

Learning Objectives for Self-Efficacy

  1. Define and articulate what self-efficacy is and its four sources
  2. Identify signs of self-efficacy in relation to research related tasks
  3. Articulate their role in fostering mentees’ research self-efficacy
  4. Practice strategies for building mentees’ self-efficacy in research

Readings/Activities to complete before the Session
note: links are to PDF files that may either display in your browser or download, depending on your settings

  1. Self-Efficacy Case Study 1
  2. Self-Efficacy Case Study 2

Optional additional reading which will enhance your understanding of the topic

  1. Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation