Scholarly article on topic 'The effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending the school of foreign languages'

The effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending the school of foreign languages Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Nihal Yurtseven, Sertel Altun

Abstract In this study, the effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending Yιldιz Technical University is examined. The research group consists of 42 students attending the School of Foreign Languages. For data collection, the school's English Proficiency Test points and “Self-efficacy Perception” sub-dimension of “Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSQL)” were used. Findings were analyzed via the analysis of covariance. Results of the study indicate that the mentoring service has no significant effect on students’ academic achievement and selfefficacy perceptions.

Academic research paper on topic "The effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending the school of foreign languages"

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Procedía Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3193-3198

WCES-2011

The effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending the school of

foreign languages

Nihal Yurtseven a *, Sertel Altun b

aYildiz Technical University, School of Foreign Languages, Istanbul 34220, Turkey bYildiz Technical University, Faculty of Education, Istanbul 34220, Turkey

Abstract

In this study, the effect of the mentoring service on the academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of the students attending Yildiz Technical University is examined. The research group consists of 42 students attending the School of Foreign Languages. For data collection, the school's English Proficiency Test points and "Self-efficacy Perception" sub-dimension of "Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSQL)" were used. Findings were analyzed via the analysis of covariance. Results of the study indicate that the mentoring service has no significant effect on students' academic achievement and self-efficacy perceptions. © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Keywords: Mentoring, academic achievement, self-efficacy perception.

1. Introduction

The significance of knowing a foreign language has become a stubborn fact especially since the beginning of the Information Era in which intercommunal communication has peaked. In this context, the amount of money allocated to foreign language teaching from the budget of education and the efforts of individuals to learn a foreign language have reached an ultimate level. As one of the most prestigious universities of Turkey, Yildiz Technical University attaches importance to foreign language education and considers their graduates equipped with good foreign language skills. However, the troubles encountered in foreign language teaching and the failures experienced by the individuals have brought about the pursuit of finding a new and an effective solution.

Having been subject to a large number of researches (Luna, Prieto, 2009; Maxwell, 2009; Carter, 2008; Johnson, 2008; Hughes and Dykstra, 2008; Karcher, 2008; Morales, 2007; Allen, Eby, Lentz, 2006; White, 2006; Simmons, 2006; Wolfe, 2006; Bernier, Larose, Soucy, 2005; Karcher, 2005; Karcher, Davis, Powell, 2002; Beyene et al., 2002) and to many discussions in the recent years, mentoring is considered to have an important role in achievements of students and is often applied at schools to improve academic achievement. Within this context, the study examined the effect of a mentoring service, which will be developed and applied at Yildiz Technical University's School of Foreign Languages; on students' academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions.

* Nihal Yurtseven. Tel.: +9-0212-383-4959; fax: +9-0212-383-4903. E-mail address: nysnihal@hotmail.com.

1877-0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.270

1.1. The Concept of Mentoring

Mentoring is a process of intellectual, psychological and affective development based on relative frequency scheduled meetings over a reasonably extended time frame and that mentors accept personal responsibility as competent and trustworthy non-parental figures for the significant growth of other individuals (Galbraith, Maslin-Ostrowski, 2000, 136). Traditionally, mentoring is viewed as a dyadic, face-to-face, long-term relationship between a supervisory adult and a novice student that fosters the mentee's professional, academic or personal development (Donaldson, Ensher, Grant-Vallone, 2000, 238). Mentors help youth to apply knowledge gained in school to everyday life, and to translate life experiences into learning opportunities. They improve academic skills by helping with school projects and encouraging the use of libraries and community resources (Dondero 1997, 1).

According to DuBois and Karcher (2005, 3), there are three core elements observed while examining definitions of mentor. Firstly, the mentor has greater experience or wisdom than the mentee. Secondly, the mentor offers guidance and instruction to facilitate the development of the mentee. Thirdly, there is an emotional bond characterized by a sense of trust between the mentor and the mentee.

1.2. Mentoring for Low-Performing Students

Low-performing students are characterized by their low scores or failing grades in their academic history (Britner et al., 2006, 748). Mentoring relationships conducted with these groups help mentees change their behaviors and develop new behavioral strategies, thus reinforcing among the students development of social values and norms. Mentoring service provided for the students help increasing class attendance, improving social skills, controlling violent attitudes and helping students to pass to an upper level of education (Balcazar et al., 2006, 45)

Socio-motivational model of mentoring is developed by Larose and Tarabulsy (2005, 443) for low-performing students and it defines potential changes in the mentee with the concepts of competence, relatedness and autonomy. The extent of mentoring service and relationships has positive impacts on student's adaptation to school. In other words, success of a student depends on adequate improvement of competence, relatedness, and autonomy in the school environment.

The structure offered to the mentee during the mentoring service helps the feeling of competence to be revealed, while involvement stimulates the feeling of relatedness and autonomy support reveals the sense of autonomy. The feeling of competence can be defined as the state in which students have positive beliefs and expectations about realizing academic goals; whereas, the feeling of relatedness is a strong link which grows between the mentor and the mentee, and accordingly strengthens relationships with other tutors and peers at school; and, the feeling of autonomy can be defined as the inner motivation of students to make personal and academic choices (Larose, Tarabulsy, 2005, 443-444).

The mentee, having experienced cognitive and affective changes with feelings of competence, relatedness, and autonomy, will also be positively affected in his/her behavioral process at school by this experience. A mentee having feelings of competence, relatedness, and autonomy will display more outstanding behaviors in issues such as seeking help at school, time management, preparation for examinations, concentration in class, and coping with transitions. Eventually, a positive result will be achieved in academic terms with adaptation, success, and stability.

1.3. Self-Efficacy Perception

Self-efficacy is an individual's own expectations and judgments related to his/her capabilities to manage prospective situations (Bandura, 1993, 117). Individuals with higher self-efficacy perceptions are likely to believe that they have adequate ability to manage the situation they have encountered. However, when they have low perceptions of self-efficacy, they predominantly tend to believe that the encountered situation is above their capacity and they do not have the knowledge and skills required to overcome the situation (O'Donnell, Reeve, Smith, 2009, 406).

Self-efficacy perception affects selection of works that individuals want to perform and of environmental conditions, they wish to be in. People avoid performing the works that they think they cannot overcome with their own abilities, or on the contrary, they do not avoid performing the works that they think that they can overcome and easily perform. Self-efficacy perception also determines the amount of the effort people spend while coping with challenges or any experiences they find repulsive. If an individual is in the opinion that a particular work is hard and

beyond his/her skills, he/she tends to interrupt or totally give up that work. On the other hand, if the perception of self-efficacy is high, the individual will spend more effort to meet challenges (Bandura, 1982, 123).

2. Method

The research was carried out via experimental research design. According to Karasar (2007, 87), experimental research design aims at identifying cause-effect relations and the research is carried out directly under the control of the researcher and the aims are expressed as hypotheses.

2.1. Participants

This research was carried out with 42 students receiving education at Yildiz Technical University, School of Foreign Languages' Basic English Department.

Table 1. Frequencies of the study group

Female Male Total

Groups N % N % N %

Treatment 9 45 11 55 20 100

Control 8 36.36 14 63.63 22 100

Total 17 40.47 25 59.52 42 100

While selecting the research group, the fact that the treatment group and the control group were at equal levels in terms of academic achievement was taken into consideration. Independent groups t-test was applied in order to find out whether this condition was fulfilled. According to the results of the analysis, there is no statistically significant difference between academic achievement averages of the treatment and control groups (t=.55; p > .05).

2.2. Data Collection

The scores obtained from English proficiency tests at Basic English Department of School of Foreign Languages at Yildiz Technical University were used in order to acquire academic achievement scores during the research. On the other hand, "Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire", which was improved by Pintrich et al. (1991) and adapted to Turkish by Altun and Erden (2006) was used to obtain self-efficacy perception scores.

2.3. Implementation of the Mentoring Service

Mentoring service was primarily born with implementation of the learning style inventory so as to ensure students to learn more about themselves. The results obtained from this inventory were shared with the students in the introductory meeting and positive feedbacks were received from the students. Additionally, issues such as definition of mentoring, the objective of such research, and benefits of mentoring for improvement of students were discussed during the introductory meeting; the course of practice was outlined and the questions of students were clarified. With individual conversations held with students during the week following the meeting, an opportunity was obtained to learn more about them. Throughout these conversations, it was also found out whether the students volunteered to participate to this practice, and almost all of them gave affirmative answers. Two different seminars were organized during the weeks following the week of individual meeting by taking needs of the students into consideration. At the end of these seminars, students were requested to write reflections and it was observed whether the messages were perceived correctly or there was any progress in students. Additionally, individual academic curricula were prepared for the students in line with their needs in the weeks before exams; study programs were organized by identifying the subjects to be studied, and extra materials were provided. The students' level of relatedness to the practice was increased through not only class activities but also in and off school activities; and, the period of implementation was finalized through preparatory studies for the final exam and concentration-enhancing studies.

3. Findings and Comments

The first hypothesis of the research was as follows: "When the academic achievement pre-test scores of the treatment group receiving mentoring service and of the control group not receiving mentoring service are taken under control, there is a significant difference between the final test scores in favor of the treatment group".

The assumptions required for the analysis of covariance were analyzed through Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test, Levene's Test, and Test for Equality of Regression; where it was concluded that these assumptions were met. The descriptive statistics and analysis of covariance on academic achievement are given in tables 2 and 3.

Table 2. Descriptive statistics of academic achievement scores of groups

Groups N Pre-test Mean SD Post-test Mean SD

Treatment 19 20.73 16.93 62.89 11.46

Control 21 20.57 14.59 58 19.24

Table 3. Analysis of covariance on academic achievement final test scores when pre-test scores are taken under control

Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F P

Contrast 234.75 1 234.75 .92 .34

Error 9119.13 36 253.3

When table 3 is examined, results of the analysis of covariance show that, as p>.05, there is not a significant difference between the final test scores in favor of the treatment group when academic achievement pre-test scores of test and control groups are taken under control.

The second hypothesis of the research was as follows: "When the self-efficacy perception pre-test scores of the treatment group receiving mentoring service and of the control group not receiving mentoring service are taken under control, there is a significant difference between the final test scores in favor of the treatment group".

The assumptions required for the analysis of covariance were again analyzed through Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test, Levene's Test and Test for Equality of Regression; where it was concluded that these assumptions were met. The descriptive statistics and analysis of covariance on self-efficacy perception are given in tables 4 and 5.

Table 4. Descriptive statistics of self-efficacy perception scores of groups

Pre-test Post-test

Groups N Mean SD Mean SD

Treatment 20 37.1 6.79 39.95 6.69

Control 20 32.55 7.63 35.85 5.75

Table 5. Analysis of covariance on self-efficacy perception final test scoreswhen pre-test scores are taken under control

Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F P

Contrast 49.3 1 49.3 1.6 .21

Error 1107.42 36 30.76

When table 5 is examined, results of the analysis of covariance show that, as p>.05, there is not a significant difference between the final test scores in favor of the treatment group when self-efficacy perception pre-test scores of test and control groups are taken under control.

4. Conclusion, Discussion, and Suggestions

One of the reasons for the fact that mentoring service does not create a significant difference on academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of students at School of Foreign Languages might be because of the relationship between self-efficacy perception and academic achievement. The fact that there is not an increase in academic success, despite the support provided and the students' efforts during the mentoring service, might have brought along a failure in creating a difference in self-efficacy perceptions of students.

Another reason for the mentoring service's not creating a difference on academic achievement might be due to the instability in the difficulty level of the measuring instrument used to ascertain academic achievements of students. Although the questions in the examinations are elaborately prepared by Testing and Evaluation Office and reviewed by native English speakers, the questions may sometimes be very easy or difficult. The impact of mentoring on academic achievements of students might not have been fully revealed as a result of this very situation.

When the literature is reviewed, a number of researches are found which claim that there is a reciprocal relationship between academic achievement and self-efficacy perception. Elias et al. (2009) aimed at identifying the relationship between self-efficacy perceptions of low-performing students and their skills of learning mathematics and foreign languages. At the end of the study, it was concluded that low-performing students had low self-efficacy at learning mathematics and foreign languages. Following the research in which relationship between motivations and academic achievements of English learning students were examined in terms of goal orientation, English learning self-efficacy perceptions and self-regulation skills, Wu (2006) manifested that there is a positive relationship between self-efficacy perceptions and academic achievements and goal orientation attempts of students. In their research, Fan et al. (2008) examined the relationship between academic self-efficacy perception and academic achievements in mathematics and English classes, whereupon they revealed a positive relationship between academic self-efficacy perceptions and academic achievement. During his study to identify the variables affecting foreign language success and motivation, Hsieh (2008) concluded that students with higher self-efficacy perceptions, positive attitude towards foreign language, and lower anxiety in learning foreign-language obtained higher academic achievement. Mills (2004), following his research in which the impact of self-efficacy perception and other motivational variables on academic achievements of students with intermediate level of French, found out that students with higher self-efficacy perception had lower anxiety in learning a foreign language and had higher academic achievements.

Compared to relationships lasting for 6 months-1 year or 3-6 months, mentoring relationships for a period of one year and longer have higher effect on students in obtaining academic, psycho-social and behavioral results (Grossman, Rhodes, 2002, 213). Having regard to this opinion, it can be considered that mentoring service does not create a significant difference on academic achievements of students due to insufficiency of the implementation period.

Individuals have very little eagerness to resist to and cope with challenges unless they believe that they will obtain desired results in their work; and, whatever the motivating factors are, the most basic factor is individual's belief on his/her performance (Bandura, 1999, 28). On this regard, another reason for the fact that mentoring service's not creating a difference on academic achievement might be that self-efficacy perception is a value which was already acquired by individuals and is hard to change within a short time.

4.1. Suggestions

• The period of application can be extended in further researches so that the impacts of mentoring service on academic achievement and self-efficacy perception will be more explanatory.

• The research involved cooperation with 20 students in the implementation phase of mentoring service. The future researches can be carried out with larger groups so that the impact of mentoring on academic achievements and self-efficacy perceptions of students can be better examined.

• In this research, the impact of mentoring was studied only on students. Evaluation of the mentoring service by mentors can be ensured in future researches by carrying out studies regarding perspectives of mentors.

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