Self-efficacy is students’ belief in their own capabilities to complete a given task. It includes an evaluation of the skills they have in the context of the situation. Self-efficacy is closely tied to motivation; a student’s level of self-efficacy can directly affect how motivated that student is to succeed in a course (Nguyen and Goodin 51-52). Research indicates there is a positive correlation between academic self-efficacy and academic performance and that addressing lack of self-efficacy early in students’ academic careers can have a long-term influence on students’ success in college (Krumrei-Mancuso et al. 8-20).
Furthermore, research also indicates that self-efficacy is a predictor of success in first-year college math courses (Seifeddine 221), and struggling math students frequently bring negative attitudes about math with them to the classroom (Baxter et al. 38). Lack of self-efficacy about math competence can affect processing and memory, which leads to reduced performance in math (Benken et al. 16). However, “[s]tudents with higher mathematical self-efficacy will be more diligent when faced with difficult mathematical problems and more accurate in computing mathematics than students with lower mathematical self-efficacy” (Prabawanto 1).
Students who have low academic self-efficacy frequently have fixed mindsets. Learners who embrace a growth mindset understand that they develop and improve their skills and abilities through focused work and perseverance (Dweck). Interventions, particularly those that address a learner’s mindset, can affect student anxiety, self-efficacy (Samuel and Warner), and success in math (Silva and White). Increasing self-efficacy is fundamental to the process of “building or rebuilding the mathematical foundation for underprepared mathematics students” (Baxter 38) which “should improve their confidence in mathematics while simultaneously improving their mathematical ability” (Baxter 51). To help students develop their academic self-efficacy, Soar Towards Success will address the negative self-efficacy that students in the target population have so that when these students take their first college-level math course, they will have increased self-efficacy and confidence to face the challenges of the college-level math course