Self-efficacy is a critical factor in the success of workplace training programs. Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief in their ability to succeed at a task or achieve a goal. L&D professionals can play a crucial role in increasing trainee self-efficacy, which in turn can improve learning transfer and job performance. In this article, I’ll suggest some research-supported strategies that L&D professionals can use to enhance trainee self-efficacy.
Bandura (1977) hypothesized that self-efficacy affects the choice of activities, effort, and persistence. Compared with students who doubt their learning capabilities, those with high self-efficacy for accomplishing a task participate more readily, work harder, and persist longer when they encounter difficulties. How can L&D pro's influence this?
Provide Clear Performance Objectives
OK, this one is probably obvious but one of the most effective ways to increase trainee self-efficacy is to provide clear performance objectives. Self-efficacy beliefs are a response to a question central to motivational behaviour: ‘Can I do this task?’ When trainees understand what they are expected to learn and how they will be evaluated, they are more likely to feel confident in their ability to achieve those goals.
L&D professionals can ensure that performance objectives are clear and measurable by using the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This approach provides trainees with a clear roadmap for their learning journey and helps them build confidence in their ability to succeed.
Provide Frequent Feedback
Feedback is another critical component of building trainee self-efficacy. When trainees receive regular feedback on their progress, they are more likely to believe that they can improve and achieve their goals. In a meta-analysis by Kluger and DeNisi (1996), feedback was found to have a significant positive effect on self-efficacy.
L&D professionals can provide feedback in a variety of ways, such as through quizzes, assignments, or simulations. Feedback should be specific, timely, and actionable to help trainees identify areas for improvement and build confidence in their ability to succeed.
Modeling, or demonstrating how to perform a task, is another effective strategy for increasing trainee self-efficacy. In a study by Lauzier & Haccoun (2014) found that trainees exposed to positive-only models reported higher self-efficacy after training, while Schunk & Gunn (1985) found that modeling the importance of using task strategies enhanced students' motivation and skill development, and emphasizing both task strategy use and achievement beliefs led to the highest self-efficacy.
L&D professionals can use modeling by providing trainees with demonstrations of how to perform specific tasks or skills. This approach can help trainees build confidence in their ability to perform those tasks and transfer their learning to the job.
Encouraging trainees to reflect on their learning experiences can also help build self-efficacy. In a study by Schunk and Ertmer (2000), participants who engaged in self-reflection had higher self-efficacy than those who did not engage in reflection. Yu, Jeon & Park( 2013) found that collaborative reflection had a greater impact on self-efficacy than individual reflection.
L&D professionals can encourage self-reflection by providing opportunities for trainees to reflect on their learning experiences. This can be done through activities such as journaling, group discussions, or self-assessments. By reflecting on their learning experiences, trainees can identify areas of strength and weakness, develop strategies for improvement, and build confidence in their ability to succeed.
In conclusion, self-efficacy is a critical factor in the success of workplace training programs. L&D professionals can enhance trainee self-efficacy by providing clear learning objectives, frequent feedback, modeling, and encouraging self-reflection. By incorporating these strategies into their training programs, L&D professionals can help trainees build the confidence and skills they need to succeed on the job.
If you are interested in reading more, see the research cited below:
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191
Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254-284. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.119.2.254
Lauzier, M., & Haccoun, R. R. (2014). The interactive effect of modeling strategies and goal orientations on affective, motivational, and behavioral training outcomes. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 27(2), 83-102.
Schunk, D. H., & Ertmer, P. A. (2000). Self-regulation and academic learning: Self-efficacy enhancing interventions. In Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 631-649). Academic Press.
Schunk, D. H., & Gunn, T. P. (1985). Modeled importance of task strategies and achievement beliefs: Effect on self-efficacy and skill development. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 5(2), 247-258.
Yu, B. M., Jeon, J. C., & Park, H. J. (2013). The effects on learning motivation and self-efficacy according to the type of reflection. The Journal of Educational Information and Media, 19(4), 837-859.
Fergal is a learning transfer expert who shares his evidence-based learning transfer approaches with the learning community. Fergal holds an MSc in Education and Training, and a BSc in Psychology. Contact Fergal for speaking engagements, writing opportunities, or learning transfer consultancy by visiting www.fergalconnolly.com.