Assessing the contribution of a constructivist learning environment to academic self-efficacy in higher education

Abstract Self-efficacy for learning, which refers to students’ beliefs in their capabilities to regulate their own learning, could determine students’ motivation and academic achievement and, therefore, is significant in the learning process. This study examined how educational efforts based on constructivist theory were associated with the self-efficacy beliefs of students within higher education settings. Perceived constructivist pedagogical principles and academic self-efficacy were measured for a sample of 167 undergraduate college students studying in a Problem-Based Learning environment (PBL) informed by constructivist theory, and in a traditional lecture-based environment which used conventional environments and to identify which perceived constructivist dimensions in the PBL environment were more contributive to academic self-efficacy beliefs. Multivariate analysis of covariance, path analysis and regression analysis showed that students in the PBL course perceived the learning environment as more constructivists and having high academic self-efficacy relative to the lecture-based environment. The construct ‘motivation towards reflections and concept investigation’ (the extent to which high-order meta-cognitive learning functions towards knowledge are stimulated) was the most dominant positive predictor of academic self-efficacy. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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