Scholarly article on topic 'Self-efficacy and Metacognition as Predictors of Iranian Teacher Trainees’ Academic Performance: A Path Analysis Approach'

Self-efficacy and Metacognition as Predictors of Iranian Teacher Trainees’ Academic Performance: A Path Analysis Approach Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Behzad Ghonsooly, Gholam Hassan Khajavy, Fatemeh Mohaghegh Mahjoobi

Abstract This study aims to explore to what degree the in-service Iranian English teachers’ sense of self-efficacy and metacognitive awareness predict their academic performance A total number of 107 Iranian EFL teacher trainees at Farhangian University were asked to complete Teachers’ Sense of Self-Efficacy Scale (TSES) (Woolfolk & Hoy,1990) and Metacognitive Awareness Inventory for Teachers (MAIT) (Balcikanli, 2011). Results of the Path Analysis indicated that both metacognition and self-efficacy affect the academic performance. However, metacognition had a stronger effect. Also, results of t-test showed that there is no difference between males and females self-efficacy and metacognition.

Academic research paper on topic "Self-efficacy and Metacognition as Predictors of Iranian Teacher Trainees’ Academic Performance: A Path Analysis Approach"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 98 (2014) 590 - 598

International Conference on Current Trends in ELT

Self-efficacy and Metacognition as Predictors of Iranian Teacher Trainees' Academic Performance: A Path Analysis


Behzad Ghonsoolya, Gholam Hassan Khajavyb, Fatemeh Mohaghegh Mahjoobi0, *

a'b cEnglish Department, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, 91779-48974, Mashhad, Iran


This study aims to explore to what degree the in-service Iranian English teachers' sense of self-efficacy and metacognitive awareness predict their academic performance A total number of 107 Iranian EFL teacher trainees at Farhangian University were asked to complete Teachers' Sense of Self-Efficacy Scale (TSES) (Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990) and Metacognitive Awareness Inventory for Teachers (MAIT) (Balcikanli, 2011). Results of the Path Analysis indicated that both metacognition and self-efficacy affect the academic performance. However, metacognition had a stronger effect. Also, results of t-test showed that there is no difference between males and females self-efficacy and metacognition.

© 2014 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd. Thisisanopenaccess article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.

Keywords: self-efficacy; metacognition; academic perfromance; path analysis

1. Introduction

Due to the primary role of teachers as practitioners of educational principles, knowing teachers' personal and psychological characteristics including their perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and motivation levels has become dominant and necessary for better teacher education and pedagogical success (Bandura, 1993; Pajares, 1992).

Teachers, whose beliefs in their efficacy is a key factor in self-development and successful adjustment, are active decision makers at all levels of educational system and can make a strong influence on learners' educational

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +98-915-159-2589. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Urmia University, Iran.


experiences (Soodak & Podell, 1997. There is a large tendency to assume that teachers' low confidence in teaching English is related to their lack of English proficiency (Schwarzer and Hallum, 2008). Teachers' lack of English language proficiency is still one of the concerns surrounding teacher qualifications in English teaching (Butler, 2004; Lee, 2002; Nunan, 2003), especially in an EFL context such as Iran. Despite its intuitive appeal, assuming such an association is questionable until we can establish the relationship by an empirical study. On the other hand, sense of self-efficacy and metacognition are among those personality factors which have crucial impact on teachers' orientation toward the educational process. Each of these factors has been the subject of much research and investigation in education. In what follows, each of these teacher's personality variables will be briefly reviewed.

1.1. Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy as a significant component of social cognitive theory refers to "beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments" (Bandura, 1997, p. 3). Self-efficacy beliefs are developed through processing information obtained mainly from four sources: enactive or mastery experience, vicarious experiences, social or verbal persuasion, and physiological arousal (Bandura, 1997). Mastery experience, as the most powerful source of efficacy, pertains to individual's achievement or failure in doing a task. Vicarious experiences refer to one's observing others' performances and selecting them as models. Modeling tends to enhance the observer's self-efficacy beliefs. Verbal persuasion is obtained when an individual receives verbal encouragement about his/her capabilities to perform certain tasks; and physiological and emotional states have to do with people's physical and affective condition during task completion. For example, fatigue and anxiety influence self-efficacy.

1.2. Teachers' Self-Efficacy

Schwarzer and Hallum (2008) conceptualize teacher self-efficacy as one's perceived competence to deal with all demands and challenges that are implied in teachers' professional life. Thus, teachers' self-beliefs, as a powerful idea, can determine teaching behaviour and can be pertained to students' own sense of efficacy (Anderson, Hattie, & Hamilton, 2005). When individuals believe they can bring about the desired outcomes by their actions, they are likely to be more motivated to apply effort and persevere when confronted with obstacles (Bandura, 1995).

Among the efficacy information sources identified by Bandura, Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, and Hoy (1998) note that enactive mastery influences teachers' sense of efficacy most directly. The reason is that "only in a situation of actual teaching can an individual assess the capabilities she or he brings to the task and experience the consequence of those capabilities" (p. 19). In terms of the second source, i.e. vicarious experience, it is conceived as a powerful tool in pre-service teacher education (Labone, 2004; Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998). When it comes to the third source of efficacy information, Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) contend, "verbal persuasion can be general or specific: it can provide information about the nature of teaching, give encouragement and strategies for overcoming situational obstacles, and provide specific feedback about a teacher's performance" (p. 219). Lastly, with respect to physiological and emotional states, in the context of teachers' sense of efficacy, Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) believe, "high levels of arousal can impair functioning and interfere with making the best use of one's skills and capabilities," while "moderate levels of arousal can improve performance by focusing attention and energy on the task" (p. 219). For example, in the context of an Iranian junior high school, a teacher who is not proficient enough in pronunciation may experience emotional arousal (e.g., embarrassment, being threatened), which can influence his beliefs about his capability to teach English.

Teacher efficacy researchers have traditionally labeled two major sets of teachers' perceived efficacy: General Teaching Efficacy (GTE) and Personal Teaching Efficacy (PTE) (Soodak & Podell, 1997; Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990; Tschannen-Moran & Wookfolk Hoy, 2001). General Teaching Efficacy refers to teachers' beliefs about the power of factors outside of the school and teacher's control in affecting students' learning while Personal Teaching Efficacy involves teachers' beliefs about their own ability to make a difference in their students' performance. In the present study, teachers' sense of efficacy refers to judgments of teachers of English as a second language about their capabilities to bring about student change (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Guskey & Passaro, 1994).

1.3. Metacognition

The concept of metacognition was coined by Flavell (1971) but it originates from the work of ancient

philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Solomon, Buddha, and Lao Tzu (King, 2004). Perhaps the most straightforward definition of metacognition is that it is 'thinking about thinking' (Bogdan, 2000; Flavell, 1999; Metcalfe, 2000).

Brown (1987) and other researchers (Schraw, 2001; Schraw & Moshman, 1995) made a distinction between metaconitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation. Metacognitive knowledge involves declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, and conditional knowledge (Brown, 1987; Jacobs & Paris, 1987, Schraw, 2001; Schraw & Moshman, 1995). Declarative knowledge refers to one's conceptions, one's beliefs of task structures, one's cognitive goals and one's personal abilities (Schraw, 1998; Schraw & Moshman, 1995; Schraw, Crippen, Hartley, 2006). Procedural knowledge is "knowing how to do things" (Schraw&Moshman, 1995, p. 352). "Knowing when and why to apply various cognitive actions" is conceived of as conditional knowledge by Schraw & Moshman (1995, p. 353). Metacognitive regulation refers to performance in several ways, that is, a greater awareness of comprehension breakdowns, more effective employment of existing strategies and more effective use of intentional resources (Schraw, 2001). Metacognitive regulation contains three regulatory skills: planning, monitoring, and evaluating (Kluwe, 1987; Jacobs & Paris,1987). The metacognition components complement one another and serve the same purpose (Schraw & Dennison, 1994).

According to Hartman (2001) metacognition makes teachers aware and controls over how they think about teaching and self-regulate teaching activities with respect to students, goals and situation. Teachers need to monitor and regulate their cognitive activity as well as enhancing content learning, identifying appropriate strategies, making moment-to-moment decisions to ensure students' learning and adjusting for individual differences. Thus, teachers need to think metacognitively to effectively run teaching and use instructional techniques strategically.

1.4. The relationship between metacognition and self efficacy

Metacognition and self-efficacy are similar in that both are related to individuals' ability to perform a task, solve problems and acquire new skills (Cuevas, Fiore, Bowers & Salas, 2004; Davidson, Deuser & Sternberg, 1994;; Hartman, 2001; Paris &Winograd, 1990). Improving the accuracy of metacognitive judgments has also been found to result in an improvement in learning or task performance (Kruger & Dunning, 1999).

However, there are also differences between self-efficacy and metacognition in that first, within Bandura's general model of Social Cognitive Theory, self-efficacy is a determinant of behavior and indirectly affects performance while metacognition has a complex relationship with both behavior and performance, initiating the (problem solving) behavior, monitoring performance, and changing behavior if things are not going as expected. Second, while self-efficacy is usually defined as positively correlated with behavior and performance, metacognitive judgments are often in disagreement with objective measures of learning or task performance. This results from a phenomenon known as metacognitive miscalibration where an individual misjudges his/her level of proficiency by being either overconfident or under-confident and can lead to premature termination of task effort. In other words, familiarity leads to over-confidence, while few people are willing to admit they are 'below average'. Whether inaccurate beliefs about one's self-efficacy poses a concern continues to generate debate (e.g., Vancouver, Thompson, Tischner, & Putka, 2002; Bandura & Locke, 2003).

Among the studies on the relationship between metacognition and self-efficacy, the findings from the study by Bandura and Wood (1989) showed that self-efficacy influenced performance directly and indirectly through its effects on analytical strategies, which suggests a mediating effect of metacognition in the relationship between self-efficacy and performance. According to Kanfer and Ackerman (1989), people with strong self-efficacy were more likely to use metacognitive strategies when working on a task and their performance was better than those with weak self-efficacy. In the same vein, Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent and Larivee (1991) found that students with strong self-efficacy were engaged in more metacognitive skills and had better performance scores than students with weak self-efficacy. In a study conducted by Coutinho (2007), relationships among self-efficacy, metacognition and performance were examined and it was found that metacognition is a predictor of self-efficacy, and that self-efficacy is a predictor of performance.

1.5. Teachers' Efficacy Relation to Other Factors

Available research on the relationship between teachers' self-efficacy and gender indicates that male and female teachers are not different with respect to their self-efficacy beliefs (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2007). Findings from a

study conducted by Raudenbush, Bhumirat and Kamali (1992) showed a significant difference between female and male

teachers' self-efficacy conceptions. In this study, female teachers' self- efficacy was reported to be stronger.

Studies that examined the role of experience in self-efficacy beliefs have mainly found that teachers improved their beliefs of efficacy with experience (Woolfolk & Hoy, 1993; Wolters and Daugherty, 2007; Cambel, 1996). However, findings from the studies conducted by Woolfolk (1990) and Weinstein (1988) showed higher personal and professional efficacy of novice teachers. The result of the study conducted by Soodak and Podell (1997) also indicated that experienced teachers are more resistant to change in their beliefs of personal efficacy than teachers with less experience. Self-efficacy has been reported to be correlated with age but teachers who changed schools or experienced disruptive events tended to have decreased efficacy (Deemer, 2004).

As for the relation between teachers' sense of efficacy and their proficiency or academic achievement, the results obtained from a study by Chacon (2005) indicated that teachers' perceived efficacy was positively correlated with self-reported English proficiency. Findings from the study conducted by Eslami and Fatahi (2008) also showed the positive relationship between perceived level of language proficiency and sense of self-efficacy. It has been reported that sense of efficacy of teachers who get higher academic degrees or pursue their studies for further education improves (Campbell, 1996; Cantrell,, Young & Moore, 2003; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993).

The implications of the above mentioned studies drive the purpose of this study to investigate self-efficacy beliefs and meta-cognitive awareness among junior high school Iranian EFL student teachers in relation to their self-reported level of English language proficiency. Therefore, the following research questions are posed:

(1) In what degree do teacher trainees' sense of self-efficacy and metacognitive awareness predict their proficiency level?

(2) Is there a significant difference between male and female teacher trainees' metacognition and self-efficacy scores?

2. Methodology

2.1. Participants

The participants of the present study were 101 Iranian EFL student teachers (47 male and 54 female). Their years of teaching experience ranged from 1 month to 12 years. They had been teaching EFL for at least 12 hours a week since they had started their career. All the participants were undergraduate student teachers at university for teacher education in Mashad. None of the teachers had travelled to or studied in English speaking countries. Convenient sampling procedures were used for participant selection. If the teachers agreed to participate, then the surveys were administered.

2.2. Instruments and Procedures

Teachers' perceived current English language proficiency level and their personal and professional profiles, Woolfolk and Hoy's (1990) version of Gibson and Dembo's (1984) Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) and Metacognitive Awareness Inventory for teachers (MAI) (Balcikanli, 2011) provided the framework for the instruments used in this study. The Woolfolk and Hoy's (1990) instrument consists of 22 items answered on a 6 point Likert scale ranging from 1-strongly agree to 6-strongly disagree. TES includes 3 subcomponents (efficacy for student engagement, efficacy for instructional strategies, and efficacy for classroom management). Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) (Balcikanli, 2011) consists of 24 items answered on a 5 point Likert scale ranging from 1-strongly agree to 6-strongly disagree. MAI includes 6 subcomponents (declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, conditional knowledge, planning, monitoring, evaluating). After explaining the aim of the study, the questionnaires were distributed to the students at the same time within the same week. The students, who volunteered to participate in the study, filled in and returned the questionnaires to the researchers.

Language proficiency was self-assessed in this study. The reason is that such assessments are efficient and relatively easy to administer; they take less time than other types of proficiency assessments (LeBlanc & Painchaud, 1985), and show reasonably acceptable correlations with other objective measures (Blanche & Merino, 1989).

Furthermore, teachers' perceptions of their language proficiency, and not necessarily the actual language proficiency (Kamhi-Stein & Mahboob, 2005) would more likely influence their perceived self-efficacy. Hence, the participants were asked to rate their current levels of English proficiency using a scale from 0 to 20.

The reliability of the instruments was assessed by computing Cronbach's alpha coefficients for each of the five major subscales mentioned above, which resulted in .75 for EFL teachers' self-efficacy in engagement, .71 for their self-efficacy in management, .69 for self-efficacy in implementing instructional strategies, and .83 for MAI.

3. Results

First descriptive statistics and correlations among the variables were computed using SPSS 18 (See Tables

1 and 2).

Table1. Descriptive statistics

Mean Standard Deviation

Self-efficacy 98.24 1.85

metacognition 76.38 2.14

Grade Point Average (GPA) 15.68 1.57

Table2. Descriptive statistics and correlations

1.self-efficacy 1.00

2.metacognition .31** 1.00

3. Grade Point Average (GPA) .25** .29** 1.00

In order to answer the first research question, a special type of structural equation modeling (SEM), Path Analysis, was used. SEM is an advanced statistical procedure which examines the relationships between variables simultaneously. The only difference between SEM and path analysis is that in SEM we have both latent and observed variables; however, in path analysis, only observed variables are used.

Figure 1 shows the proposed model to examine the predictability of the teacher trainee's GPA based on their metacognition and self efficacy scores.

Fig. 1. The proposed model of GPA based on metacognition and self-efficacy scores

As can be seen in figure1, both metacognition and self-efficacy are assumed to be the direct predictors of GPA. AMOS 20 software was used for examining the relationships. After running the sofware, the analyses were done. The results are shown in figure2.

Fig. 2. Path Analysis results

To check whether the model fits the data adequately, goodness-of-fit indices were used. There are different indices used for fit of the model. In the present study, X2/df, GFI, CFI, and RMSEA were used. To have a fit model, %2/df should be less than 3; GFI and CFI should be above .95; and RMSEA should be less than .06 (Hu & Bentler, 1999). In the present study, f/df = 2.45; GFI= .96, CFI= .98, and RMSEA= .05. This shows that the proposed model fits the data adequately. As can be seen in Figure 2, both metacognition (P=. 37, p<.001) and self-efficacy (P=.25, p<.01) were significant predictors of teacher trainee's GPA. However, metacognition was a stronger predictor of teacher trainee's GPA than self-efficacy. Also, a significant correlation path was significant here, the path between self-efficacy and metacognition (P=.41, p<.001).

To answer the second research question, two independent-samples t-tests were run (Table 3). First, self-efficacy was examined with regard to gender, to check whether there is a significant difference between males' and females' self-efficacy. Results of the independent-samples t-test indicated that there is no significant difference between males' and females' self-efficacy (t=1.12, df=99, p>.05). Moreover, metacognition was also checked to see whether there is a significant difference between males' and females' metacognition. Results of the independent-

samples t-test indicated that there is no significant difference between males' and females' metacognition (t=1.24, df=99, p>.05).

Table3. T-test results for males and females' self-efficacy and metacognition

t df Sig.

Self-efficacy 1.12 99 .12

Metacognition 1.24 99 .15

4. Discussion

The main purpose of the present study was to examine the predictability of the teacher trainees' academic achievement (in this study their GPA was considered) based on their self-efficacy and metacognition scores. For this purpose, an advanced method of statistical analysis, path analysis, was used. Moreover, the difference between males and females' self-efficacy and metacognition was investigated.

The results of the SEM indicated that both metacognition and self-efficacy affect teacher trainees' GPA. However, metacognition was a stronger predictor of GPA. This implies that when teachers have a high active control over the cognitive processes engaged in their learning, they have a better performance in their learning. However, one cannot deny the role of beliefs teachers have about their capabilities for organizing the procedures to achieve the given goals. Therefore, when teacher trainees monitor their performance, plan for the upcoming sessions, and control over how they think about teaching and self-regulate teaching activities with respect to students, they have a higher GPA. And its effect is more than teacher trainees' perceived competence to deal with all demands and challenges that are implied in their professional life.

Also, the correlational path between self-efficacy and metacognition showed that these two constructs are positively and significantly related to each other. It is consistent with previous research (Kanfer and Ackerman, 1989) who found a positive relation between these two constructs. Therefore, the higher the self-efficacy of the teachers, the higher is their use of metacognitive strategies. Also, we can say that when teachers have a high level of metacognition they have a higher self-efficacy.

Moreover, the results of the t-tests showed that gender does not affect teacher trainees' self-efficacy and metacognition. It implies that there is no significant difference between male and female teacher trainees' self-efficacy and metacognition.

The present study has some pedagogical implications. Based on the results of path analysis, metacognition and self-efficacy are two influential factors in teacher trainees' GPA. It implies that teacher trainers should be aware of their students' self-efficacy and metacognition. Metacognition can be taught and many strategies can be taken to increase teacher trainees' self-efficacy.

There were also some limitations in the present study which can be addressed in the future research. First, only two variables of metacognition and self-efficacy were examined in the present study. Other individual difference variables like motivation and self confidence can be investigated in the future research. Second, the present study did not use an experimental design. Some experimental procedures can also be used for examining the effect of training on increasing the metacognition and self-efficacy.


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