The key to academic success

It’s not only about ability but also about believing that you can do it.


No matter when in school it occurs, academic failure can have negative consequences that may persist into adulthood. Academic success, on the other hand, can protect an individual from embarking or continuing on a problematic developmental path. Scholastic difficulties, especially during the high school years, are associated not only with higher dropout rates and problems in college, jobs, and careers but also with mental health problems.

Given these links, scientists over the past few decades have tried to identify the predictors of academic success in hopes of developing intervention strategies to promote success and combat failure. Academic self-efficacy – the belief in one’s own ability to reach an academic goal – has been shown to be a strong predictor of academic success.

The founder of the theory of self-efficacy is Albert Bandura, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University. Bandura’s studies on self-efficacy have shown that people’s actions are strongly influenced by their belief that they are capable of reaching a goal or effectively handling a challenging situation. It is important to remember, however, that while self-efficacy is a predictor of intention – it is unlikely and perhaps even impossible to perform an action if you do not believe that you are capable of doing so – ­self-efficacy beliefs and intention are two separate constructs. Self-efficacy is separate from but highly related to, the intention and skills associated with the effective performance of a given action.


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