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Self-Efficacy and Research Methods

Author(s): Andrew M Lane | Tracey J Devonport | Andrew Horrell

Journal: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
ISSN 1473-8376

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2004;
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Keywords: self-confidence | research methods | independent learning | dissertation

The present study investigated self-efficacy to use research methods skills in samples of sport students. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 was a quantitative study that investigated the extent to which self-esteem influenced changes in self-efficacy following the receipt of grades for an assignment from a research methods module. Ninety-seven Level 2 students completed a self-esteem scale and a self-efficacy scale at the start of a research methods module with additional self-efficacy measures being taken a week before coursework submission, and a week after the assignment was returned. Self-esteem and assignment grades were dichotomised into high and low groups using a median split. Repeated measures analysis of variance indicated a significant interaction effect, whereby individuals high in self-esteem protect self-efficacy more than individuals low in self-esteem following poor performance. Study 2 involved focus group interviews with undergraduate (n = 4) and postgraduate (n= 6) students. Seven key themes emerged from the data: difficulty of research methods; enthusiasm for learning research methods; teaching and learning in research methods; curriculum design; independent learning; importance of the dissertation, and coping with dissertation stress. The findings show that students experience difficulty internalising key research methods skills from Level 1 and 2 modules, and that this contributes towards making the dissertation an extremely challenging module. The emphasis on independent learning within the dissertation module exacerbates the importance of knowing how to use research skills, and a perceived inability to do this appears to cause stress. Collectively, both studies show that developing confidence in the ability to perform key research skills is important for success. Lecturers should be encouraged to design research methods modules that enable all students to experience mastery of research skills. Students should be encouraged to apply research skills across modules, to reinforce and strengthen their knowledge, which in turn should enhance self-efficacy.
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