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Academic Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy: How Different Are They Really?

Abstract

Academic motivation researchers sometimes struggle to decipher the distinctive characteristics of what appear to be highly analogous constructs. In this article, we discuss important similarities between self-concept and self-efficacy as well as some notable differences. Both constructs share many similarities such as centrality of perceived competence in construct definition; use of mastery experience, social comparison, and reflected appraisals as major information sources; and a domain-specific and multidimensional nature. Both predict motivation, emotion, and performance to varying degrees. However, there are also important differences. These differences include integration vs. separation of cognition and affect, heavily normative vs. goal-referenced evaluation of competence, aggregated vs. context-specific judgment, hierarchical vs. loosely hierarchical structure, past vs. future orientation, and relative temporal stability vs. malleability. We argue that self-efficacy acts as an active precursor of self-concept development and suggest that self-concept research separate out its multiple components and subprocesses and invest more effort toward making students less preoccupied with normative ability comparisons in school.

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Correspondence to Mimi Bong.

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Bong, M., Skaalvik, E.M. Academic Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy: How Different Are They Really?. Educational Psychology Review 15, 1–40 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021302408382

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  • self-concept
  • self-efficacy
  • self-esteem
  • motivation