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Predicting student success in historical learning: The relative importance of academic self-efficacy and prior historical understanding

1 June 1997


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer this central research question: What is the relative importance of academic self-efficacy and prior historical understanding to student success in a secondary history class? Quantitative research has demonstrated that a positive relationship exists between both student self-efficacy and prior historical understanding and student achievement in the classroom. However, the classroom teacher needs specific information on individual students, not general correlations among large sample sizes. Four students were given a selfefficacy questionnaire, another four students were interviewed to determine their level of historical understanding, and a final four students were given the questionnaire and interviewed. The results of the selfefficacy and historical understanding measurements were used to predict student achievement in a high school U.S. History class. Predicted achievement was then compared to actual student achievement to determine if self-efficacy, historical understanding, or a combination of both is the better predictor of student success. This research revealed that neither self-efficacy or historical understanding are accurate predictors of student achievement. Obviously both are important to successful learning, but neither successfully serve as a means to predict the level of student achievement in a history class.


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