The Role of Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Accounting Education
This thesis presents the findings from three studies which investigate the role of self-efficacy beliefs within accounting education. Non-cognitive variables including self-efficacy have been shown to improve learning outcomes in a broad educational setting (Bandura, 1977; 1980; 1981; 1984; 2001; Pajares & Schunk, 2002; Schunk, 1981; 1983); though whether this phenomenon can be generalized to an accounting student cohort is not well established in the literature (Byrne, Flood, & Griffin, 2014). Using Social Cognitive Theory as a theoretical lens, the study investigates the self-efficacy beliefs of accounting students enrolled in a mandatory first-year accounting course over two academic semesters. It is important to consider the role of self-efficacy beliefs within the context of accounting education, as accounting is perceived as mathematically challenging for many students, thereby creating a sense of learning negativity and a challenging “persona” for the discipline. As all business students are required to complete an accounting course in their business core, it becomes an interesting discipline in which to study the impact of self-efficacy beliefs upon academic performance. Furthermore, the cohort is unique since it is naturally divided, as approximately half of the respondents have had prior learning in accounting at high school. Data were gathered from students in class time via a survey. The first of the three studies presented in this thesis (n=567) investigates whether self-efficacy beliefs or prior learning have more predictor power for success in learning accounting. Results show that self-efficacy beliefs are more predictive of academic success than prior learning of accounting at high school. The second (n=88) empirically investigates whether enactive mastery can be used as a tool to change self-efficacy beliefs. The second study finds that feedback on enactive mastery can influence the level of self-efficacy beliefs over time. This is important, as higher levels of self-efficacy are more likely to lead to higher levels of academic success, and this study presents a tool in which to effect change. The third study examines where self-efficacy comes from (n=181), using Bandura’s (2001) categorization scheme, and finding several sources of influence as well as gender differences between students. Male students are mostly influenced by both the physiological state and past experience, whereas female students are influenced by verbal persuasion and past experience. This research both provides a contribution to the literature and guidance for educators to help set accounting students up for success.
Advisor: Adler, Ralph; Smith, Jeff; Berg, David
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Accountancy and Finance
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Accounting Education; Student Success; Self-Efficacy
Research Type: Thesis