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8:6 Assessment of learner self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to a learner's beliefs about her ability to accomplish a task. For example, if a person has high, positive self-efficacy about learning a second language, then she believes that she has the power and abilities to succeed in this task. On the other hand, someone with low self-efficacy feels that she does not have the power and abilities to learn a language, thus admitting failure from the start. A person with high self-efficacy is more likely to succeed at language learning and also to be more motivated to study the language seriously. Self-efficacy is not static; it can change over time depending on a person's reaction to the task and perception of herself. Self-efficacy can be linked to the portfolio by measuring students' confidence level in completing specific language tasks such as figuring out the main idea in a reading exercise. Students can complete a self-efficacy questionnaire that reflects the task objectives in your curriculum at intervals to see if there is any change in students' self perceptions. Students' self perceptions are important to teacher, parents, and students. If a student starts off with a low perception of his ability, then teacher, parents, and student can work together on learning strategies and skills to help boost the student's confidence level. Used regularly, this reflection can also help identify problems the student is having during the school year; such problems could be reflected in an unexpected decrease in self-efficacy.

Students' ratings of self-efficacy may also be compared with their goal-setting and self- and teacher assessment to get a broader picture of the student and his abilities. (Rating Your Language Learning Capability for French: Listening to French and Rating Your Language Learning Capability for Learning French: Speaking French). The questionnaire presents students with sample learning activities such as listening to the teacher or native speakers on cassettes speaking the target language. Then students indicate how sure they are that they could complete certain tasks for this activity (e.g., understand the main idea or figure out words they do not know). The questionnaire uses a rating scale with a range from 0 to 100.

Self-efficacy: a learner's beliefs about his/her ability to accomplish a task. Language learning self-efficacy is not static and can be increased through instruction.

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