Academic self-efficacy
Academic Self-Efficacy: Definition and Conceptual Background
A person’s confidence in their ability to organize, execute, and regulate performance in order to solve a problem or accomplish a task at a designated level of skill and ability. Academic self-efficacy refers to a person's conviction that they can successfully achieve at a designated level in a specific academic subject area.
Individuals typically select tasks and activities in which they feel competent and avoid those in which they do not.  Students who are confident in their capability to organize, execute, and regulate their problem-solving or task performance at a designated level of competence are demonstrating high self- efficacy. Self-efficacy is generally regarded as a multidimensional construct differentiated across multiple domains of functioning.  The construct of self-efficacy helps explain the finding that the behavior of individuals is not always accurately predicted from their capability to accomplish a specific task.  How a person believes they will perform is often more important.   Academic self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief (conviction) that they can successfully achieve at a designated level on an academic task or attain a specific academic goal (Bandura, 1997; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Elias & Loomis, 2002; Gresham, 1988; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a; Schunk & Pajares, 2002).
Academic self-efficacy is grounded in self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977).  According to self- efficacy theory, self-efficacy is an “individual’s confidence in their ability to organize and execute a given course of action to solve a problem or accomplish a task” (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002, p. 110).  Self-efficacy theory suggests that academic self-efficacy may vary in strength as a function of task difficulty—some individuals may believe they are most efficacious on difficult tasks, while others only on easier tasks.  Furthermore, self- efficacy is believed to be situational in nature rather than being viewed as a stable trait (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a).  Students make reliable differentiations between their self-efficacy judgments across different academic domains which, collectively, form a loose hierarchical multidimensional structure. Self- efficacy should not be confused with self-esteem or self- concept.  Self-efficacy is a task-specific evaluation while self-esteem and self-concept reflect more general affective evaluations of self (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a).   
Causally, self-efficacy is believed to effect performance via the influence on task perceptions.  For example, research suggests high self-efficacy creates a feeling calmness or serenity when approaching difficult tasks while low self-efficacy may result in an individual perceiving a task as more difficult than reality, which, in turn, may create anxiety, stress and a narrower idea on how best to approach the solving of a problem or activity (Eccles, 2005).  It is further believed that an individual's interpretation of a successfully completed mastery experience is important to the development of high self-efficacy as individuals use these interpretations to develop perceptions that they then act in concert with.  Research also suggest that vicariously observing others perform tasks can facilitate the development of self-efficacy, particularly when individuals are uncertain regarding their abilities or specific tasks and they perceive similar attributes with the observed model.
Two general categories of academic expectancy beliefs have been postulated.  Academic outcome expectations are a student’s beliefs that specific behaviors will lead to certain outcomes (e.g., “If I do homework my grades will improve”).  Academic efficacy expectations are a student’s beliefs in their ability to perform the necessary behaviors to produce a certain outcome (e.g., “I have enough motivation to study hard for this test”).  Understanding the difference between these 2 forms of expectancy beliefs is important as “individuals can believe that a certain behavior will produce a certain outcome (outcome expectation), but may not believe they can perform that behavior (efficacy expectation)” (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002, p. 111).