Perceived self-efficacy as a factor realising choice satisfaction regarding post-compulsory Physical Sciences

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Venter, Elizabeth Petronella
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University of the Free State
Societies are dependent on learners studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in order to address, for example, issues related to health, sustainability and poverty. There is a global decline in the uptake of STEM-related studies by learners at post-compulsory level, which has prompted a worldwide research focus on factors that can influence renewed learner interest in the uptake of studies related to this field. Researchers have identified four groups of factors which influence post-compulsory uptake of Science: Systemic, School, External and Individual. Self-efficacy, a concept from Social Cognitive Theory, forms part of the group of individual factors, and is under-researched in science education on post-compulsory level. Self-efficacy can also be incorporated into the Capability Approach as a conversion factor. Conversion factors transform available opportunities into realised opportunities. In this study I argue that perceived self-efficacy can possibly be seen as ‘perceived power’, in other words a personal conversion factor towards post-compulsory choice satisfaction in the context of Physical Sciences. Given the firmly established role of perceived self-efficacy in affecting a variety of aspects of people’s lives, it is conceivable for the level of perceived self-efficacy employed to affect the extent to which learners realise post-compulsory choice satisfaction regarding Physical Sciences. In 2017, I surveyed 541 Grade 10 learners from the Lejweleputswa district in the Free State, South-Africa. These Grade 10 learners were surveyed, from a capabilities perspective, on their perceived self-efficacy, satisfaction with choice regarding Physical Sciences, and some basic opportunities identified in education. Biographical data were also collected with the aim of including an account regarding the structural constraints and human diversity of learners. From a capabilities perspective, structural constraints relate to policies and institutions influencing learner opportunities, while an account of human diversity includes elements like gender and ethnicity. A simple linear regression was done to determine the relationship between perceived self-efficacy and satisfaction with choice. Multiple regression was done to adjust for biographical factors and basic opportunities identified in education. The findings show a statistically significant positive relationship between perceived self-efficacy and choice satisfaction regarding Physical Sciences. A relationship independent of biographical factors and mediated by basic opportunities in education was found. Statistically the influence of perceived self-efficacy on choice satisfaction, although small, is independent of biographical factors and basic realised opportunities in education. It is therefore conceivable that perceived self-efficacy can be seen as a personal conversion factor. This could have numerous implications regarding further research, teaching practise and policy-making.
Dissertation (M.Ed.(Psychology of Education))--University of the Free State, 2019
Achieved opportunities, agency, capabilities approach, conversion factors, perceived power, perceived self-efficacy, realised opportunities