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Self-Efficacy- The Oft Overlooked Ingredient in Success+ #65

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“Whether you think you can or that you can’t, you are usually right” -Henry Ford

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together. 

We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (https://t.me/GiftedIndia).

In this edition, Sapna Shah, Director- Gifted Programs at GenWise speaks about how self-efficacy influences the ability of individuals to reach their potential. In our work with students, we come across many who have self-defeating beliefs about their ability in a particular domain. Sometimes these beliefs are triggered when they experience challenging tasks or a high-ability peer group in our gifted programs. As expected this can cause emotional distress, and often the response is to avoid tasks or lower goals, which is not helpful (See a past post on learning to hold ‘creative tension’). In an upcoming edition next month, Sapna will discuss how to help learners build self-efficacy.

Self-Efficacy- The Oft Overlooked Ingredient in Success

Every time I have to write this newsletter post I feel extremely anxious. My mind is constantly battling the feeling “I am NOT good at writing.”

What this actually looks like is me spending a lot of time wondering what it is that I have to say that others don’t already know, staring at a blank google document hoping to find the right words and sentences, brewing countless cups of chai, lighting a few candles in the hope that it will inspire me to write the piece.

Just to share some context – I am an academically high performing individual. For most of my formal learning years I ranked in the top 5 in my classes. Over the last 20 years I have studied and worked at the world’s most selective and renowned institutions. But, when it comes to writing I just don’t think I can do it… In fact at graduate school an important criterion I would consider while selecting courses was whether the final exam was a paper or something else. I usually opted for classes which required me to do a project as opposed to writing a paper. 

In 2020 I attended a Learning to Learn bootcamp by the Stanford d.school. One of the concepts we discussed was ‘Self-efficacy’ and it has been an eye-opener. 

What is Self-efficacy?

Simply put, self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that they have what it takes to accomplish a specific task/goal in a given context. For instance we might hear learner’s say, “I am not a Math person” or “I am not a Computer Science person.” These are self-held beliefs regarding one’s ability in a specific domain. These beliefs are formed on the basis of subjective perceptions of reality. 


Individuals who have HIGH self-efficacy for the specific task approach activities more readily, they persist longer, persevere in the face of failures, and accomplish more. 


On the other hand those who perceive LOW levels of self-efficacy for a specific task are more likely to not even make an attempt or cease their efforts prematurely if they do make an attempt, fail on the task, and hence retain self-debilitating expectations about their personal competence. 

Self-efficacy is NOT the same thing as self-esteem or self-confidence. Self-esteem and self-confidence have to do with the belief of our worth and should be pretty consistent. Our sense of self-efficacy, however, can change from task to task.

The self-efficacy discussion at the boot camp made me think about my perception of my writing abilities. And the reason it was an eye-opener for me is I understood that I experienced low self-efficacy when it came to writing, especially the academic kinds. 

Why it matters? 

Self-efficacy has been shown to be an important factor in –


approach behaviors, including career choice; 


persistence behaviors, including effort and perseverance in the face of obstacles or adversity; 


and responses to effort, including stress and depression. 

In other words, people tend to weigh, evaluate, and integrate information about their perceived capabilities before they select their choices and initiate their effort. 

This is similar to my experience of opting for classes which did not require writing papers. And, when I didn’t have a choice, I struggled. I would usually put off the writing work to the last day and eventually the outcome would be mediocre leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy that I am not good at writing.  

A strong sense of efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways. 

In an upcoming edition next month, we will discuss how to build self-efficacy and how I’ve gone about embracing the writer in me. Until then I invite you to think (and if you are up for it, share with me) about an instance in your life when you experienced low self efficacy or you managed to build your self-efficacy? 

I can be reached at sapna@genwise.in

References:


Schwartz, D. L., Tsang, J. M., & Blair, K. P. (2016). The ABCs of how we learn: 26 scientifically proven approaches, how they work, and when to use them. W W Norton & Co.


Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).


Urdan, T., & Pajares, F. (Eds.). (2006). Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents. IAP.

Upcoming Events


Bird Walk for Children (Bengaluru Only)

Facilitated by the fabulous folks at Early Bird, this is an in-person event. The event blurb says-

In this Early Bird walk, we will open our eyes and ears to observe Cubbon Park as a bird habitat. We will learn about a bird’s relationship with its habitat, and discover the different components of a habitat that a bird uses to thrive. This 2 hour session will uncover important ecological concepts through birdwatching, creative activities, critical thinking and reflection.

Who Can Attend: Children between the ages of 10 to 13

When: 7 a.m. | 25 September 2022, Sunday

Where: Cubbon Park, Bengaluru: https://goo.gl/maps/dpeLWkVMkXjm87qd6


Gifted Winter Program (Gr. 6-10)- Dec 18-30

The Gifted Winter Program is GenWise’s third residential program in calendar year 2022 and is in collaboration with Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS) .

The program is from Dec 18-30, 2021 and is jointly hosted by Vidyashilp University and the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Bengaluru for children currently in Grades 6-10. Students will reside at India’s most modern sportsplex, the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence (CSE). Classes will be held at the brand new facilities of Vidyashilp University.

The program is exclusively for gifted students who are Gold/ Silver/ Bronze Scholars on Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS). If you do not have an ATS score, but are interested in the program, please contact us with your ASSET scores. If you haven’t taken ASSET recently, you can take it here.

A gripper for a soft robot cast from silicone




Exploring soap film behaviour


Details of the upcoming programs are shared below. You can also reach the GenWise team by sending a Whatsapp message or calling the below numbers.


Eklavya- 7046466866


Sapna- 9821112090

​All students in the senior track will go through 2 academic enrichment modules-


Introduction to Bio-Inspired Soft Robotics


Being a Digital Native in the 21st Century

All students in the junior track will go through 3 academic enrichment modules-


Think like a Scientist


Heroes and Villains


Viewing Current Society through a Literary Lens

Detailed module descriptions, mentor profiles and more available here.


Island Explorers 2022– an island exploration programme in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Paid). Dakshin Endeavours in collaboration with Journeys with Meaning announces Island Explorer 2022, an immersive programme in the Andaman Islands for students between ages 13-18 from October 3 to 9, 2022. The programme offers an exciting range of outdoor activities to explore the natural habitats of the islands such as mangroves, forests, marine and inter-tidal ecosystems as well as learn about the communities that thrive in these ecologically and culturally diverse group of islands.

More details are available here. Those interested can fill in the enquiry form to request for the brochure.

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