ERG SES G 12, Studies in Education
This study examines the academic self-efficacy of students in International Master’s Degree Programmes (IMDPs) in Finland. The main aim is to investigate if students’ academic self-efficacy differs based on students’ field of education. The main research questions of this paper are:
(1) How is students’ academic self-efficacy?
(2) Are there any differences between students’ groups based on their field of education and their self-efficacy?
(3) Do students have different self-efficacy based on their cultural background?
The IMDPs have attracted a growing number of students to Finland; in 2013 there were almost 20,000 international degree students (Centre for International Mobility 2015a). This new intercultural academic environment has not been studied in depth so far and the research gap expands considering the need to explore students’ self-efficacy, emotional and sociocultural adjustment. International students encounter various challenges during their adjustment process in a new academic and non-academic environment. Nilsson (2007) assumed that higher levels of self-efficacy could decrease anxiety and increase patience when international students face academic challenges. The study of Zhang and Goodson (2011) showed that self-efficacy has a positive connection with sociocultural adjustment. Yet, limited studies on self-efficacy in the context of IMDPs in Finland have been published.
Academic self-efficacy is defined as student’s belief in successfully executing academic tasks (Schunk, 1991) and it is based on Bandura’s social cognitive theory (1982). Bandura (1986; 1997) defined self-efficacy as a person’s judgement of being capable of successfully completing a task in a designed environment. A number of studies highlighted the high correlations between self-efficacy and students’ persistence (Multon et al., 1991), self-efficacy and achievement (Gore, 2006; Zajacova et al., 2005) as well as self-efficacy and grades (Chemers et al., 2001; Zajacova et al., 2005). Higher self-efficacy has been related with less anxiety and stress (Barry & Finney, 2009). Additionally, self-regulation and metacognition have been found to highly correlate with self-efficacy (Bartimore-Aufflick et al., 2015).
The aforementioned results indicate the importance of students’ self-efficacy and have led to the development of this study. The field of education has been chosen as a background variable to divide the students in groups due to the lack of studies investigating students’ self-efficacy and their differences. One more reason of this choice is the variety of the structure, curriculum, content, research and teaching methods between academic disciplines.
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