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Self-efficacy and delay of gratification.

Abstract

The present study examined the predictive utility of self-regulation of learning, academic delay of gratification, and motivational beliefs of teaching efficacy and academic performance among preservice teachers (N = 60). Preservice teachers' motivational beliefs and self-regulatory tendencies were significantly and positively related. The results also revealed that academic self-regulation and academic delay of gratification significantly predicted preservice teachers' self-efficacy beliefs. Academic self-regulation also significantly predicted academic delay of gratification. Educational implications are discussed.

Theoretical Notions and Empirical Findings

In recent years, the trend in teacher effectiveness has somewhat shifted from investigations centered around teachers' knowledge of their content area, ability to pass state-mandated tests, and classroom management skills, to an examination of their beliefs, motivation, and self-regulatory factors associated with teaching and learning (Dembo, 2001; Randi, 2004). This shift in focus has prompted teacher preparation programs to exert greater effort than before looking at how teacher candidates learn and are trained. For instance, Dembo (2001) proposed that learning to teach content area is not enough; rather, he proposed that future teachers also need to learn how to learn and how to self-regulate their learning process. Further, he proposed that the curricula of preservice teacher preparation programs should introduce self-regulated learning strategies into the theory and research of human learning. The latest movement in teacher preparation represents a new view of teachers, and preservice teachers in particular, as self-regulated learners (Randi, 2004). On this point, Randi (2004) argued that teacher preparation programs may develop their curricula in such a way that preservice teacher can learn how to structure their environment, manage their time and social interactions, and develop critical self-regulatory learning strategies.

Another important component of teacher preparation programs and teaching practice is the teachers' sense of efficacy. In this regard, Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk (2001) observed that "teachers' sense of efficacy is an idea that neither researchers nor practitioners can afford to ignore" (p. 803). It follows, then, that the more that sense of efficacy can help preservice teachers sustain motivation and engage in self-regulation, the stronger their performance in academic courses will be. Thus, the present study examined the predictive utility of self-regulation of learning and motivational beliefs of teaching efficacy and academic performance among preservice teachers.

Bandura (1997) conceptualized self-efficacy as "beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of actions required to produce given attainments" (p. 3). Bandura (1986) later noted that "self-development of efficacy requires mastering knowledge and skills attainable only through long hours of arduous work. This often necessitates sacrifice of many immediate gratifications" (p. 448). According to Bandura (1986), a high sense of self-efficacy belief is associated with higher levels of performance and higher commitment to remain task-focused when obstacles arise. According to Zimmerman (2000), academic self-efficacy predicts academic achievement among high school students. High self-efficacy beliefs can predict persistence on tasks, effort put forth on tasks, the level of challenge that an individual is willing to pursue, and resistance to temptations and distracting factors (Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1996).

Intrinsic interest refers to individuals' engagement in a task for the sake of the task itself (Hidi, 1990; Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000). Learners with intrinsic interest in academic tasks display enjoyment in doing those tasks, show curiosity and mastery orientation, prefer challenging and novel tasks, often exceed teachers' expectations, are not afraid of criticism and feedback, impose internal demands and standards on themselves, find novel ways to do assignments, and produce high academic performance (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000). Students who have high intrinsic interest also report having high self-efficacy beliefs, greater use of self-regulatory learning strategies, and high academic performance (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000). They persist longer on tasks, remain task-focused, and are willing to postpone immediate gratification for the sake of learning important academic work (Bembenutty & Karabenick, 1998). Preservice teachers are expected to display intrinsic interest in academic tasks associated with their teaching programs since they have willingly chosen that path as their future career. Thus, it is expected that intrinsic interest will predict preservice teachers' academic performance and use of learning strategies.

Teachers' self efficacy refers to "their beliefs in their ability to have a positive effect on student learning" (Ashton, 1985, p. 142). As Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk (2001) assert, teacher efficacy belief is a judgment of one's capability to influence desired outcomes related to students' performance, behavior, and motivation in the classroom. Evidence has consistently documented differential teaching effectiveness between teachers and preservice teachers who have a high sense of efficacy beliefs and those who have a low sense of efficacy beliefs. Teachers' high sense of self-efficacy has been associated with a high level of planning and organization (Allinder, 1994); high persistence; less critical behavior toward students (Ashton & Webb, 1986); greater displays of interest for teaching (Allinder, 1994); and stronger beliefs that student motivation and learning are in their hands (Armor et al., 1976).

According to Woolfolk and Spero (2005), teachers' self-efficacy beliefs develop during teaching preparation programs. These researchers conducted a study in which preservice teachers reported their level of self-efficacy at the beginning of their teaching program, at the end of their student teaching, and at the end of their first year of teaching. The researchers found that preservice teacher significantly increased their sense of efficacy during their educational training. Similarly, Mulholland and Wallace (2001) posited that sense of efficacy is shaped during preservice field experience. In a recent study, Cakiroglu and Boone (2002) also found that preservice science teachers, who have high self-efficacy beliefs, exhibited fewer misconceptions or alternative conceptions related to their content area. Likewise, personal self-efficacy for science preservice teachers was correlated with a humanistic view of classroom management and perceived teaching effectiveness (Enochs, Scharmann, & Riggs, 1995).

Academic delay of gratification is a key factor that impacts an individual's motivation to achieve (Mischel, 1996; Rodriguez et al., 2005). Bembenutty and Karabenick (1998) defined academic delay of gratification as students' postponement of immediately available opportunities to satisfy impulses in favor of pursuing chosen important academic rewards or goals that are temporally remote but ostensibly more valuable. The construct of academic delay of gratification is rooted in the work of Mischel and associates (Mischel, 1996; Mischel, Shoda, & Peake, 1988),

In some initial studies, Bembenutty and Karabenick (1998) examined delay of gratification in an academic context among college students. By using a questionnaire to assess academic delay of gratification, the researchers found that students who preferred temporally distant rewards (e.g., getting a high grade on an incoming test) rather than immediately available rewards (e.g., hanging around with friends rather than studying for a test) reported higher intrinsic interest in the course material, higher self-efficacy beliefs, greater use of self-regulatory strategies, and high final course grades. Thus, preservice teachers' willingness to delay gratification is expected to predict their level of self-efficacy beliefs and academic performance. To be successful in teacher training, preservice teachers would need to focus on academic goals, despite many attractive non-academic sources of gratification.

Only recently has the investigation of teachers' and preservice teachers' self-regulation of learning surfaced. For instance, Randi (2004) posited that preservice teachers need to be afforded the opportunity to develop self-regulation during their training programs. She suggested the importance of preservice teachers developing work styles and study habits that center on self-regulation of learning. Consistent with this line of thinking, Hwang and Vrongistinos (2002) found an association between elementary in-service teachers' reports of their students' use of self-regulated learning strategies and academic performance. Accordingly, preservice teachers can be described as self-regulated learners when "they are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process" (Zimmerman, 1989, p. 4).

A hallmark of the academic success of preservice teachers during their training programs is their ability to self-regulate learning through goal-setting, strategic planning, self-monitoring of progress, activating positive motivational beliefs, and reflecting on performance outcomes. Going one step further, Paris and Newman (1990) declared, "Self-regulated learning is a hallmark of academic expertise" (p. 99). Consequently, preservice teachers, who engage in self-regulation of learning, are those who display competence, high self-efficacy beliefs, willingness to delay gratification, and proactive positions on the learning process. Dembo (2001) observed that "if students don't learn self-regulatory skills, they will have difficulty adjusting their learning strategies to acquire the necessary knowledge in teaching and have difficulty developing the routines (i.e., automatized procedural knowledge) needed to accomplish the task required of teachers" (p. 27). He further argued that if teachers acquire self-regulatory skills in their own learning, "they may be better able and willing to model and teach these skills in their own classrooms ... if preservice teachers find that learning self-regulatory skills improves their own learning, they may come to value the skills and teach them to their future students" (pp. 27-28).

Hypotheses. From the theoretical notions and empirical findings discussed above, the researchers derived the following four hypotheses: (1) teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy beliefs, intrinsic interest, academic delay of gratification, and self-regulation of learning will be positively related to each other and to academic performance (i.e., number of correct answers on a non-graded test); (2) academic self-efficacy, intrinsic interest, academic delay of gratification, and self-regulation will be significant predictors of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs; (3) academic self-efficacy, intrinsic interest, teacher self-efficacy, and self-regulation will be significant predictors of academic delay of gratification; and (4) academic self-efficacy, intrinsic interest, delay of gratification, teachers' self-efficacy, and self-regulation will be significant predictors of academic performance.

Participants. Participants in this study were 60 (48 females, 12 males) secondary education preservice teachers enrolled in their first required educational psychology course during their graduate educational program at an urban college in New York City. The preservice teachers had recently changed their prior professional careers to enter the teaching program in the content areas of English education (n = 41) and Science education (n = 19) in middle and high school. In terms of instructional practices, the course focused on theories of learning and development as relevant to teachers' preparation and practice. None of the students had prior formal teaching experience or training. The administration of the instruments took place during regular instruction in the classroom. Each student selected a secret code number with which to identify their surveys across several administrations. The instructor was not aware of any individual responses, thus making the surveys completely anonymous. In addition to the questionnaires, the students took a non-graded test after the actual graded test.

Non-Graded Test. Immediately after the final graded test, participants answered 15 multiple-choice non-graded test questions related to the material covered in the actual graded test (M = 10.51, SD = 2.01). The non-graded test contained questions in the same format and on the same content as the actual graded test. The students identified their non-graded test with the same secret code used to identify their questionnaires. Their actual graded test was not used for analysis since it contained the students' identification numbers and could not be matched with the questionnaires which only featured the secret codes.

Ohio Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (OTSES). A week before taking the non-graded practice test, participants responded to the 24-item teachers' self-efficacy scale, developed by Tschannen-Moran and Hoy (2001). The OTSES measures teachers' efficacy of student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management. A sample item was: "To what extent can you craft good questions for your students?" The format for all items in the survey was a 9-point scale, ranging from 1 = nothing though 9 = a great deal. Internal consistency reliability, as estimated by Cronbach alpha, was .96 for the present sample (M = 7.10, SD = .96).

Academic Self-efficacy Scale. Preservice teachers also responded to an instrument which assessed their self-efficacy beliefs for successfully learning the material from the course in which they were enrolled (Bembenutty, 2005). A sample item from the academic self-efficacy scale was: "I am sure that I can learn all the material for the SEYS 552 final exam." Rating scale options ranged from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree. Internal consistency reliability, as estimated by Cronbach alpha, was .86 for the present sample (M = 6.01, SD = .97).

Academic Delay of Gratification. The researchers used an adapted version of the scale developed by Bembenutty and Karabenick (1998) to assess academic delay of gratification through ten scenarios (Bembenutty, 2005). The scale assesses course-specific academic delay of gratification to complete and learn the tasks and concepts of the course in which participants were currently enrolled. The students rated their preference for an immediately available attractive option versus a delayed alternative. Sample contrast items were "Hang out with your friends and then cram for the SEYS 552 final exam" versus "Postpone hanging out with your friends until after you have taken the SEYS 552 final exam." Students responded on a 4-point scale: Definitely choose A, Probably choose A, Probably choose B, and Definitely choose B. Responses were coded and averaged across items so that the scores ranged from 1 to 4, with higher values indicating a greater delay of gratification (M = 3.14, SD = .79 for this current study). Internal consistency reliability, as estimated by Cronbach alpha, was. 93 for the present sample.

Intrinsic Interest. Preservice teachers also responded to an instrument which assessed their intrinsic interest in the course and in the material they were learning (Bembenutty, 2005). A sample item from the scale was: "I enjoy answering challenging questions related to this class." Rating scale options ranged from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree. Internal consistency reliability, as estimated by Cronbach alpha, was .86 for the present sample (M = 4.06, SD = 1.46).

Academic Self-regulation. To assess the use of self-regulated learning strategies such as goal-setting, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation in the course in which they were currently enrolled, preservice teachers responded to an academic self-regulation scale (Bembenutty, 2005). A sample item from this scale was: "How often do you keep a record on how well you are doing in this course in preparation for the final examination?" Rating scale options ranged from 1 = never to 7 = always. Internal consistency reliability, as estimated by Cronbach alpha, was .93 for the present sample (M = 3.14, SD = .79).

To test the first hypothesis, the association between the variables in this study, zero-order correlations were calculated (see Table 1). See issue website http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/win2005.htm The data partially supported this hypothesis. Students with higher teacher self-efficacy beliefs scores were those more willing to engage in academic delay of gratification (r = .41, p < .01). They also reported more often using self-regulatory learning strategies (r = .49, p < .01) and high academic self-efficacy (r = .48, p < .01). Preservice teachers with higher academic delay of gratification scores had higher academic self-efficacy beliefs (r = .50, p < .01), intrinsic interest (r = .27, p < .05), and academic self-regulation (r = .66, p < .01).

Relationships between intrinsic interest scores and academic self-efficacy scores were significant (r = .37, p < .01), as were intrinsic interest and academic delay of gratification and academic self-regulation (r = .50, p < .01). Associations between preservice teachers' academic self-regulation pattern scores and academic self-efficacy scores (r = .48, p < .01) indicated that preservice teachers who more often used self-regulatory strategies had a higher sense of academic efficacy. They were also more willing to postpone immediate gratification for the sake of long-term academic goals (r = .66, p < .01). It is important to highlight that these results revealed that the non-graded test scores were not significantly correlated with any motivational beliefs, delay of gratification or self-regulation.

Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the extent to which motivational beliefs, delay of gratification, and academic self-regulation predicted teachers' self-efficacy beliefs (Hypothesis 2). Preservice teachers' academic self-efficacy beliefs and intrinsic interest were entered first, followed by academic delay of gratification and academic self-regulation. These analyses statistically controlled the effect of motivational beliefs on teachers' self-efficacy beliefs once self-regulation and academic delay of gratification were entered into the analysis. The results of the analyses are shown in Table 2. These results partially supported Hypothesis 2. In the first step of this analysis, academic self-efficacy was a significant predictor of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs (beta = .49, p < .001), but intrinsic interest was not. Academic self-efficacy and intrinsic interest accounted for 24% of the variance in teachers' self-efficacy beliefs. However, in the second step of this analysis, when academic delay of gratification and academic self-regulation of learning were added to the equation, the coefficient for academic self-regulation dropped to .35 (p < .05) and intrinsic interest nearly reached significance in an inverse way (beta = -.23, p < .10). In addition, academic self-regulation of learning was a significant predictor (beta = .29, p < .05), but academic delay of gratification did not reach a significant level. Taken together, the variables entered in the second step accounted for an additional 7% of the variance.

Another hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the extent to which motivational beliefs and academic self-regulation predicted preservice teachers' academic delay of gratification (Hypothesis 3). Teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy beliefs, and intrinsic interest were entered first, followed by academic self-regulation. These analyses statistically controlled the effect of motivational beliefs on teachers' self-efficacy beliefs once self-regulation was entered into the analysis. The results of the analyses are shown in Table 2. Again, these results partially supported Hypothesis 3. In the first step of this analysis, academic self-efficacy was a significant predictor of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs (beta = .49, p < .001), but intrinsic interest was not. However, teachers' self-efficacy beliefs nearly reached a significant level (beta = .23, p < .10). Teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest accounted for 25% of the variance in academic delay of gratification. In the second step of this analysis, when academic self-regulation of learning was added to the equation, the coefficient for academic self-efficacy dropped to .23 (p < .10) and teachers' self-efficacy was not significant. However, academic self-regulation of learning was a significant predictor (beta = .54, p < .001). Taken together, the variables entered in the second step accounted for an additional 22% of the variance.

Finally, another hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the extent to which motivational beliefs, academic delay of gratification, and academic self-regulation predicted academic performance, as indicated by the preservice teacher' scores on the non-graded test (Hypothesis 4). Teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy beliefs, and intrinsic interest were entered first, followed by academic delay of gratification and academic self-regulation. These analyses statistically controlled the effect of motivational beliefs on teachers' self-efficacy beliefs once delay of gratification and self-regulation were entered into the equation. The results of the analyses are shown in Table 2 http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/win2005.htm Again, these results partially supported Hypothesis 4. In the first step of this analysis, teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest were not significant predictors of academic performance. Teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, academic self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest accounted for 8% of the variance in academic performance. In the second step of this analysis, when academic delay of gratification and academic self-regulation of learning were added to the equation, the coefficient for teachers' self-efficacy beliefs increased to -.39 (p < .01), but was inversely related to academic performance. However, academic delay of gratification nearly reached a significant level as a predictor of performance (beta = .24, p < .10). Taken together, the variables entered in the second step accounted for an additional 5% of the variance.

Taken together, the results revealed a high correlation between the students' motivational beliefs, willingness to delay gratification, and use of self-regulated learning strategies. However, these variables were not associated with preservice teachers' scores on the non-graded test. Taken together, these findings supported the notion that preservice teachers with a greater sense of teaching efficacy in fact reported a high academic sense of efficacy, engaged in the course with high beliefs that they could master difficult tasks, and displayed high confidence in their capability to do expected tasks throughout the course. Likewise, preservice teachers who had high sense of efficacy beliefs that they could motivate and communicate well with their students also reported greater preference to stay task-focused, preferred to avoid having fun with friends when assignments are not completed, and selected to control their social and physical environment so that their long-term goals (e.g., to become a teacher) would be attained. Further, preservice teachers with a high sense of efficacy also strategically selected ways to approach learning, as well as set goals and engaged in effective planning, self-monitoring, and self-evaluating of their academic progress.

Unexpectedly, preservice teachers' scores on the non-graded test were not related to their motivational beliefs and self-regulatory indexes. It appears that their academic performance was independent of their high motivational beliefs and self-regulatory processes. Perhaps these students considered that the course was somewhat irrelevant to their future career; this notion is consistent with the fact that intrinsic interest in the course was not related to their self-efficacy beliefs. However, these results need to be interpreted with caution because most of the correlations with the non-graded test were close to zero (e.g., r = -.02), suggesting the possibility of two different groups of preservice teachers--one with high intrinsic interest and high teachers' self-efficacy beliefs who obtained high scores on the test, and one who did not have these characteristics. Certainly, future research is needed to further examine this contention. In addition, these students could think (as they informally reported to the instructor) that they did not need to place too much emphasis on the test since it was not graded.

In the first set of hierarchical regression analyses predicting teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, the results revealed that academic self-efficacy and academic self-regulation were the only statistically positive and significant predictors of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs. These findings suggested that a personal sense of efficacy plays a meaningful role for preservice teachers. Preservice teachers' beliefs about their capability to perform well in the course was associated with their beliefs on how well they could manage their classroom, influence the learning experience of their students, and communicate effectively with parents and students. These results supported the assumption that preservice teachers need two to tango during their teaching preparation training: teachers' self-efficacy beliefs and academic self-efficacy beliefs.

The preservice teachers in the present study understood the importance of controlling their actions, achieving their goals, self-monitoring their academic progress, and evaluating the completion of their tasks. They understood that they need to transform their motivation into action to remain focused on the execution of an important action that will complete their teacher training. As Como (1993) have argued, as motivation leads to the decision to act, self-regulation needs to follow the commitment in order to implement goals. The present findings support the contention that once teacher candidates are enrolled in their programs, they may engage in an action control process until their career goals and intention are fulfilled. These self-regulatory processes direct preservice teachers to initiate an action and select appropriate learning strategies, despite competing alternatives or rewards. The preservice teachers here reported knowing how to motivate themselves and increase and sustain their efforts when temptations arise; consequently, they reported remaining confident and maintaining beliefs in their capabilities.

In the second set of hierarchical regression analyses predicting academic delay of gratification, the results revealed that academic self-efficacy and academic self-regulation positively and significantly predicted preservice teachers' willingness to delay gratification to attain long-term academic goals; in addition, teachers' self-efficacy (near significantly) predicted academic delay of gratification. In short, academic delay of gratification is an important component of the self-regulatory learning process, and its implementation is associated with the preservice teachers' ability to use effective self-regulatory strategies.

In the last set of hierarchical regression analyses predicting preservice teachers' academic performance on a non-graded test, neither motivational beliefs nor academic self-regulation were significant predictors, except for academic delay of gratification which was a nearly significant and positive predictor. As discussed above, it may be that other teacher characteristics were more critical for predicting the preservice teachers' academic performance. Nevertheless, these findings offer an important direction for future research to explore the predictive factors of academic performance among preservice teachers.

The present findings further illuminate the role that motivational beliefs and self-regulatory processes play on students who are enrolled in teacher preparation programs. Clearly, self-efficacy belief is of paramount importance for effective preparation of future teachers. Likewise, helping preservice teachers to learn how to use self-regulatory strategies and implement effective strategies during their training is essential. In conjunction with this is helping teacher candidates learn to postpone immediate impulses for the sake of long-term academic goals. Another major goal of all teacher training programs should be to help preservice teachers develop and maintain academic self-efficacy. It was indeed remarkable to find that teachers candidates reported engaging in self-regulation of learning and being willing to delay gratification.

As Dembo (2001) observed, educational programs need to help their students understand that learning to teach is not enough--learning to learn is also imperative. Specifically, preservice teachers need to learn how to set and implement goals, select learning strategies, self-monitor their performance, and self-evaluate their progress. Educational programs need to move away from mostly teaching curriculum and content area courses and move toward integrating self-regulation in all courses. Teaching self-regulation of learning to teacher candidates should not be a hidden curriculum but, rather, an overt plan. In each course, preservice teachers should learn how to assess their intrinsic interest for learning, their self-efficacy, and the effectiveness of their learning strategies as well as how to select other strategies to replace ineffective ones. In addition, it is also important to know when to say no to a party, for example, the night before an important (and still incomplete) homework assignment. On the other hand, all teacher educators should heed the finding that none of the assessed motivational beliefs and self-regulatory processes were significantly related to academic performance. Additional research should continue to explore the function of self-regulation, motivational beliefs, and delay of gratification among preservice teachers.

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Hefer Bembenutty, Queens College of the City University of New York

Peggy Pei-I Chen, Hunter College of the City University of New York

Bembenutty. Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology, Department of Secondary Education and Youth Services, Queens College, and Chen, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs at Hunter College.
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