Your own perspective on your academic ability is a big predictor of your academic outcomes.
Your self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to complete a task to the level that will achieve your desired outcome – for example, getting the grade you want.
Psychologists have researched self-efficacy for a long time, and they have shown repeatedly that it influences academic outcomes. High self-efficacy leads to more motivated learning and to higher grades.
Where do we get our judgements regarding self-efficacy? Well, we learn from our own experience and from the experience of observing others.
If we suffer an early failure in a task then this is liable to result in a decrease in self-efficacy, and it will be a larger decrease than when a failure follows a string of successes (particularly if the failure is followed by more success).
In the absence of personal experience, we observe others’ experience of a similar task. There is an increase in self-efficacy if the other person displays characteristics similar to yourself and you see that they experienced difficulty with the task but nevertheless persisted and succeeded. This effect is heightened when more than one other person achieves the goal.
Discussion and reflection can also influence self-efficacy expectations.
However, if we repeatedly fail at a task then we re-evaluate our self-efficacy. Our self-efficacy is lowered, leading in turn to lower achievement. So even if our levels of self-efficacy are very high, this tends not to help our persistence if we repeatedly find a task hard or if we fail at it.
This leaves implicit theories – specifically, implicit theories of intelligence. These are often referred to as mindsets.