Summary for the 5/10/11@12.00 BST #eltchat on “Fostering Self-Efficacy in our Students”

Well, after a prolonged absence from both the Twitter/#eltchat and the blogging scenes, I am back! To mark my return, here is the summary of the #eltchat that took place at 12.00 on the 5th October 2011. “Fostering self-efficacy in our students”

(For anyone who is not yet aware of it: #eltchat is a Twitter-based discussion that takes place every Wednesday at 12.00 and 21.00 BST/GMT (when the clocks change). The topics, all related to the EFL industry, are nominated and voted upon by participants prior to discussions. The tag #eltchat can also be seen throughout the week as an identifier of all things that might interest those who work in the EFL industry.)

The first hurdle we cleared, during in this discussion on self-efficacy, was to define the term self-efficacy. What does it mean? Is it the same as confidence? Can we talk about efficacy without talking about efficiency? These were some of the questions that arose early in the chat. @Shaunwilden shared an explanatory link whose first line explains that, “self efficacy is commonly defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or outcome”. As various tweets likened it to confidence, @harrisonmike suggested that it might be “more about belief in capabilities relating to your studies (in this case language) than general confidence” and @janetbianchini said that “the drive and force of wanting to succeed play a big factor”.

Having established a working definition for “self efficacy”, we moved on to the meat of the matter: what barriers there are to self-efficacy and how we can foster this important element in our students.

Firstly, then, a look at the problems that were raised:

– “you could be a very confident person but not have a high level of self-efficacy” (@harrisonmike)

– “students compare themselves to others too much, in a negative light” (@lizziepinard)

– “sometimes there are emotional and psychological barriers to overcome” (@yitzha_sarwono)

– “difficult when learners expect it all on a plate” (@harrisonmike)

– “blaming everything on external factors” (@AlexandraKouk)

– “higher students (esp IELTS) tend to get corrected more often…plays a part in confidence levels?” (@esolcourses)

Fortunately, as well as all of these problems, a good number of solutions and suggestions for promoting self-efficacy were also volunteered! Discussion of solutions and suggestions ranged from the more general to focussing on specific areas such as error correction, the role it plays in self-efficacy and how it should be handled to foster this rather than negativity.

More generally:

– encourage students to “stop blaming everything on external factors and take responsibility for own learning” (@AlexandraKouk)

– “teachers need high efficacy too, we mustn’t overlook this” (@janetbianchini)

– “empowering students is very important as teaching is only a part of the learning process” (@juanalejandro26)

– “autonomy is key, ss need to feel they have the power to improve!” (@lizziepinard)

– “A good teacher can see capabilities in sts they don’t see in themselves and guide them towards success.” (@fbelinch)

Make “sts aware of how they learn best and making them aware that different sts learn differently can help them believe” (@OUPELTglobal)

“Keep on saying ‘I can’t learn it for you’ etc. I think some sts have the opposite views stuck in their heads” (@harrisonmike)

“We also need to bring up cultural context. Self efficacy is fostered differently all over the world” (@bethcagnol)

“Basing content on learner lives √† la dogme/ teaching unplugged IMO could help raise self efficacy” (@harrisonmike)

We, as teachers, should “increase our own awareness and not use a one size fits all approach” (@lizziepinard)

“Students definitely need intelligent & guided goals. Great help with self-efficacy, as long as they achieve them!” (@theteacherjames)

“Also direction, readiness to learn, great support and some of the ‘you can do it’ all helps” (@rliberni)

With regards error correction and feedback:

Avoid using “‘not good enough’/’this is wrong’ rather than framing positively ‘this is great lets expand on this bit'” (@TutorMe_Online)

“Positive feedback plays an important role – encouraging students to reach their potential is appreciated by students and it helps” (@janetbianchini)

Students “should be told if something is wrong, but in a diplomatic way of course – egos can get bruised pretty easily” (@janetbianchini)

Say “‘no’ in the right way!Encouragement to improve/new ideas not just a dead end of ‘it’s wrong'” (@TutorMe_Online)

“With feedback or correcting, the T needs to be seen as facilitating learning, helping the student achieve” (@OUPELTglobal)

“Sometimes you do have to be firm I’m being v blunt w/one std at the mo but I feel I have to be..” (@rliberni)

“The ‘when’ factor is crucial in correcting regarding self-efficacy. At the wrong time, it’s awful.” (@theteacherjames)

“It’s crucial to give sts a regular sense of achievement & progress. Show them that they are learning!” (@theteacherjames)

Do “model practices – e.g. exams in front of the class – to show sts what is expected and show them they can do it” (@harrisonmike)

“Use ‘guided discovery’ rather than explicit correction with lower levels” (@esolcourses)

“Sts tend to focus on what they can’t do or HAVEN’T learned. Focussing on what they HAVE achieved is important.” (@OUPELTGlobal)

All too soon, the end of our precious hour approached and the time came to summarise.

Are we any clearer on self-efficacy and how to promote it?

– “hopefully: it’s more than confidence,  takes time to develop & we need patience, enthusiasm, empathy & sensitive feedback” (@rliberni)

– we have to “build rapport and trust, negotiate clear goals, be aware of class culture and dynamics, give sensitive feedback” (@AlexandraKouk)

– we should “set high expectations for all students, & provide the structure, support and opportunities for them to be successful and show what they know.” (@wilsandrea)

– “Need to be aware that sts have a life outside of class, with all the complications that follow. Got to be realistic .” (@theteacherjames)

Finally, @janetbianchini summed up the way to promote self-efficacy thus: “encourage, empathise, make choices, and be aware of your class on many levels”

Thanks all for a stimulating hour’s discussion! See you next week… (schedule permitting!)

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