You are here

Social messages and persuasion

29 December, 2015 - 14:47
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

A third source of efficacy beliefs are encouragements, both implied and stated, that persuade a person of his or her capacity to do a task. Persuasion does not create high efficacy by itself, but it often increases or supports it when coupled with either direct or vicarious experience, especially when the persuasion comes from more than one person (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2004).

For teachers, this suggests two things. The first, of course, is that encouragement can motivate students, especially when it is focused on achievable, specific tasks. It can be motivating to say things like: “I think you can do it” or “I've seen you do this before, so I know that you can do it again.” But the second implication is that teachers should arrange wherever possible to support their encouragement by designing tasks at hand that are in fact achievable by the student. Striking a balance of encouragement and task difficulty may seem straightforward, but sometimes it can be challenging because students can sometimes perceive teachers' comments and tasks quite differently from how teachers intend. Giving excessive amounts of detailed help, for example, may be intended as support for a student, but be taken as a lack of confidence in the student's ability to do the task independently.