How can self-efficacy lower the levels of temptation in student learning?

Apr 28 2022

Key Takeaway: 

Temptation can hamper engagement and perseverance directed towards a specific task and cause distractions that can impact the learning process of a student. One way to maintain motivation for a given task is to allow students to choose their tasks and activities based on their interests. Another way is to foster self-efficacy, which enables the student to believe that they are capable of maintaining a high level of motivation and focus. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Attractive Alternatives: Temptation vs Engagement

When working on important tasks, there are always attractive alternatives that tempt us away from our work, be it social media, talking to a friend or even cleaning the house. In their study, Kim,Y., (Washington University), Yu, S.L., (Ohio State University) and Shin, J. (Seoul National University) explored how the effects of self-efficacy can impact the notion of temptation over a period of time. “As students’ learning does not happen in a vacuum, target tasks should be examined in relation to the distracting tasks to better depict motivational challenges that students face within the educational context.”1

“When the attractiveness of an alternative exceeds that of the current task, students feel tempted, and the motivation for the alternative rises.”2 Even if students have high motivation for a certain academic task, they may not engage in the learning if there is another task that is more motivating or attractive to them. 

Researchers suggest that the presence of temptation can hamper engagement and perseverance towards a given task by distracting the student to the extent that it will adversely affect their learning process. Milyavskaya and Inzlicht (2017) “found that simply experiencing temptation led to depletion and lower goal attainment.”3 Fries and Dietz (2007) “suggested that the negative impact of temptations comes from lowering motivation for the learning activity. Students often succumb to temptation and fall into the trap of task-switching or procrastination.”4

Self-Regulated Learning and Student Motivation

Self-regulated learning (SRL) can improve “the ability to concentrate on the target task in the presence of tempting alternatives”5 Self-regulated learners are more likely to maintain their motivation and sustain their engagement on a current task, instead of being distracted by other alternatives.

The current study focused on the aspect of self-efficacy for SRL, which is a crucial aspect of SRL. “Abundant evidence suggests the strong link between self-efficacy, motivation, and performance. If students perceive themselves as capable of planning, managing, and regulating their own academic activities, they are more likely to have higher confidence in learning and mastering their activities.” Previous research suggests that higher levels of self-efficacy for SRL can contribute to “higher academic self-efficacy, higher achievement, and less school dropout.”6

One way to maintain student motivation is to allow students to make their own choices and decisions. “It is important to provide meaningful choice opportunities to students to promote their interest, on-task engagement, and persistence.”7 Teachers have also realised that choice provides students a sense of responsibility and self-control, thus making students more involved and engaged in academic activities. This is especially important and effective for students with low interest or SRL skills. 

Summarized Article: 

Kim, Y. E., Yu, S. L., & Shin, J. (2021). How temptation changes across time: effects of self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and autonomy support. Educational Psychology, 1-18.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem—Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enables students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Academic researcher Yeo-eun Kim participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:

  1. Hofer, M. (2010). Adolescents’ development of individual interests: A product of multiple goal regulation? Educational Psychologist, 45(3), 149–166.
  2. Hofer, M. (2007). Goal conflicts and self-regulation: A new look at pupils’ off-task behaviour in the classroom. Educational Research Review, 2(1), 28–38.
  3. Milyavskaya, M., & Inzlicht, M. (2017). What’s so great about self-control? Examining the importance of effortful self-control and temptation in predicting real-life depletion and goal attainment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8(6), 603–611.
  4. Fries, S., & Dietz, F. (2007). Learning in the face of temptation: The case of motivational interference. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(1), 93–112.
  5. Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2005). How to resist temptation: The effects of external control versus autonomy support on self-regulatory dynamics. Journal of Personality, 73(2), 443–470.
  6. Caprara, G. V., Fida, R., Vecchione, M., Del Bove, G., Vecchio, G. M., Barbaranelli, C., & Bandura, A. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of the role of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in academic continuance and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 525–534.
  7. Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84(6), 740–756.
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