Academic self-efficacy in a twenty-first-century Australian university: strategies for first-generation students

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Abstract

A major consideration for educators and curriculum developers is finding ways to maximise outcomes for all students. Increased diversity within student cohorts as a result of the Federal Government’s Bradley Review has seen a greater percentage of first-generation students enrolled in tertiary education courses than ever before. Accepting prior evidence for the positive relationship between academic self-efficacy and academic outcomes, this study has sought to evaluate academic self-efficacy using Bandura’s self-efficacy theory for students (N = 1806) from an Australian university boasting high rates of first-generation student enrolment. Furthermore, the effects of bridging program participation were examined within the first-generation cohort. Students completed an online cross-sectional survey and a qualitative methodology was employed. Data were analysed using SPSS® software and Hayes Process Tool©. As hypothesised, and consistent with the literature, all four sources of academic self-efficacy mediated the relationship between generational status and academic self-efficacy. Also, consistent with the literature and hypothesis, first-generation students reported lower levels of academic self-efficacy than counterparts with familial tertiary education backgrounds. Inconsistent with the literature, however, students within the first-generation cohort (N = 1134) who had participated in bridging programs reported lower academic self-efficacy than those who had not. Overall, the mediation model supported previous research and added an incremental knowledge of academic self-efficacy when applied to first-generation students. The anomaly between previous literature and the reported academic self-efficacy of first-generation bridging program participants has warranted further investigation and is the topic of a current evaluation by the authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1488
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Volume37
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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