Optimizing science self-efficacy: a multilevel examination of the moderating effects of anxiety on the relationship between self-efficacy and achievement in science

Emma C. Burns, Andrew J. Martin*, Roger K. Kennett, Joel Pearson, Vera Munro-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Extant research has demonstrated that anxiety is negatively associated with self-efficacy, especially in science. However, social cognitive theory also posits that anxiety and self-efficacy are likely to dynamically interact (i.e., moderate), such that a student high in anxiety may not garner the benefits of high self-efficacy. It has been suggested that classrooms may also be characterized in terms of this problematic dynamic, such that class-average anxiety may impede potentially positive effects of class-average self-efficacy. Despite this, very little work has focused on the extent to which anxiety thwarts the positive effects of self-efficacy at either the student- or classroom-level, and none has done so among secondary school students or in science specifically. Thus, the present study examines the main effects of science anxiety and self-efficacy on science achievement, as well as the moderating effects of science anxiety on the relationship between science self-efficacy and achievement, at both the student- and classroom-level. With a sample of N = 1,075 high school students clustered in N = 99 science classrooms, doubly latent multilevel structural equation modelling demonstrated that science self-efficacy positively predicted science achievement at both student- and classroom-levels. Also, at the student-level (but not the classroom-level), science anxiety negatively moderated the effects of science self-efficacy on science achievement, such that students high in self-efficacy with higher anxiety scored lower in science achievement than those with lower anxiety. Interestingly, however, student-level (but not classroom-level) findings also suggested a potentially arousing role of anxiety for students low in self-efficacy. These findings have theoretical implications and suggest that a dual intervention approach (i.e., concurrently promoting science self-efficacy and reducing science anxiety) at student-level and interventions targeting self-efficacy at the classroom-level may be warranted to optimize science achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101937
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Volume64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • science
  • self-efficacy
  • anxiety
  • social cognitive theory
  • achievement
  • multilevel modelling
  • doubly latent

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing science self-efficacy: a multilevel examination of the moderating effects of anxiety on the relationship between self-efficacy and achievement in science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this