Examining Sources of Self-Efficacy in Whole-Class Problem Solving

Part of the Research in Mathematics Education book series (RME)


Self-efficacy is commonly defined as the belief in one’s abilities to attain a goal or outcome. This has significance in classroom situations where students with low self-efficacy fall into a self-fulfilling feedback loop of low aspirations leading to low performance, leading to even lower aspirations. In this research outline, we present a context in which a whole-class problem-solving implementation interrupted that loop for a student with low self-efficacy in mathematics. We demonstrate this using Bandura’s four sources of self-efficacy and offer further nuance to the original framework.


Self-efficacy Bandura Problem solving Visibly random groups Nonroutine problems 



Funding from PIA - CONICYT Based Funds for centers of excellence FB0003 and Reader Project 150135 CIAE and SFU Network for Mathematics Education are gratefully acknowledged.


  1. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71–81). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co.Google Scholar
  4. Bergen, A. (2013). Self-efficacy, special education students, and achievement: Shifting the lens. Rivier Academic Journal, 9(2), 1–9.Google Scholar
  5. Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borko, H., Jacobs, J., Eiteljorg, E., & Pittman, M. (2008). Video as a tool for fostering productive discussions in mathematics professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 417–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chamberlin, S. (2008). What is problem solving in the mathematics classroom? Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal, 23(1), 1–25.Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, E., & Lotan, R. (2014). Designing groupwork: Strategies for the heterogeneous classroom (3rd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  9. Evans, R. (1989). Albert Bandura: The man and his ideas—A dialogue. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  10. Felmer, P., & Perdomo-Díaz, J. (2017). Un programa de desarrollo profesional docente para un currículo de matemática centrado en las habilidades: la resolución de problemas como eje articulador. Educación Matemática, 29(1), 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Graham, S., & Barker, G. (1990). The down side of help: An attribution-developmental analysis of helping behavior as a low-ability cue. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 7–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hackett, G., & Betz, N. (1989). An exploration of the mathematics self-efficacy/mathematics performance correspondence. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 20, 261–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hannula, M. (2006). Motivation in mathematics: Goals reflected in emotions. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 165–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hannula, M. (2012). Exploring new dimensions of mathematics-related affect: Embodied and social theories. Research in Mathematics Education, 14(2), 137–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hughes, K., & Coplan, R. (2010). Exploring processes linking shyness and academic achievement in childhood. School Psychology Quarterly, 25(4), 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Klassen, R. (2002). A question of calibration: A review of the self-efficacy beliefs of students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 25(2), 88–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Klassen, R. (2006). Too much confidence? The self-efficacy of adolescents with learning disabilities. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (pp. 181–200). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Klassen, R., & Lynch, S. (2007). Self-efficacy from the perspective of adolescents with LD and their specialist teachers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 40(6), 494–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lambert, R., & Tan, P. (2017). Conceptualizations of students with and without disabilities as mathematical problem solvers in educational research: A critical review. Education Sciences, 7(2), 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liljedahl, P. (2014). The affordances of using visibly random groups in a mathematics classroom. In Transforming mathematics instruction (pp. 127–144). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
  21. Margolis, H., & McCabe, P. (2004). Self-efficacy: A key to improving the motivation of struggling learners. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 77(6), 241–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pajares, F. (2006). Self-efficacy during childhood and adolescence: Implications for teachers and parents. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents (pp. 339–367). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Pajares, F., & Kranzler, J. (1995). Self-efficacy beliefs and general mental ability in mathematical problem-solving. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 20(4), 426–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pajares, F., & Miller, M. (1994). Role of self-efficacy and self-concept beliefs in mathematical problem solving: A path analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(2), 193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Perdomo-Díaz, J., & Felmer, P. (2017). El taller RPAula: Activando la resolución de problemas en las aulas. Profesorado. Revista de Currículum y Formación de Profesorado, 21(2), 425–444.Google Scholar
  26. Rosenthal, R. (2002). The Pygmalion effect and its mediating mechanisms. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 25–36). New York: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schoenfeld, A. (1989). Teaching mathematical thinking and problem solving. In L. Resnick & L. Klopfer (Eds.), Toward the thinking curriculum: Current cognitive research (pp. 83–103). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  28. Schukajlow, S., Leiss, D., Pekrun, R., Blum, W., Müller, M., & Messner, R. (2012). Teaching methods for modelling problems and students’ task-specific enjoyment, value, interest and self-efficacy expectations. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 79(2), 215–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Skaalvik, E. (1997). Issues in research on self-concept. In M. Meahr & P. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 10, pp. 51–97). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press Inc.Google Scholar
  30. Skaalvik, E., Federici, R., & Klassen, R. (2015). Mathematics achievement and self-efficacy: Relations with motivation for mathematics. International Journal of Educational Research, 72, 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stevens, T., Olivárez Jr., A., & Hamman, D. (2006). The role of cognition, motivation, and emotion in explaining the mathematics achievement gap between Hispanic and White students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 28, 161–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Usher, E. (2009). Sources of middle school students’ self-efficacy in mathematics: A qualitative investigation. American Educational Research Journal, 46(1), 275–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Usher, E., & Pajares, F. (2008). Sources of self-efficacy in school: Critical review of the literature and future directions. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 751–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Williams, T., & Williams, K. (2010). Self-efficacy and performance in mathematics: Reciprocal determinism in 33 nations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(2), 453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zimmerman, B. (2000). Self-efficacy: An essential motive to learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 82–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Universidad de ChileSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations