Self-efficacy, also described as self-belief, self-esteem, self-worth, self-affirmation, self-integrity, positive self-image, is recognised as one of the affective domains of Writing For Pleasure. This is because it’s a vital force in children’s academic success and their writerly well-being (Young & Ferguson 2021, 2023a, 2023b).
Low self-efficacy affects young writers in profound ways. Children with low self-confidence as writers generally dislike writing. They believe they cannot improve and therefore do not seek writing advice. They write the minimum required, have low aspirations, feel a sense of learned helplessness, and have little commitment to writing projects. They express negative views of themselves, and may even be depressed (Young & Ferguson 2023a, 2023b).
Importantly, research shows that self-efficacy alone is not guaranteed to improve children’s writing performance. Instead, our teaching needs to be directed towards giving children self-efficacy alongside agency and self-regulation (Young & Ferguson 2021).
A possible hierarchy of children’s affective emotional writerly needs as articulated by Young & Ferguson 2021
Teachers can help improve struggling writers’ sense of self-efficacy by employing the following strategies:
- Enacting a mastery through repeated practice orientation towards writing progress rather than creating a high-stakes performance culture (LINK and LINK).
- Give children regular opportunities to share what they are crafting with their friends (LINK).
- Establish a publishing goal with the children for class writing projects and let children hear the impact their writing has had on their readership (LINK).
- Set product goals for class writing projects in collaboration with the students (Young & Hayden 2022).
- Set a clear process goal for each writing session (LINK).
- Have a clear daily routine of instruction, writing time and class sharing (Kaufman & Young 2022; Young 2023).
- Deliver writing instruction which is in response to the class’ needs. Enact a ‘teach and invite’ routine for instruction (LINK).
- Undertake daily pupil-conferencing (Ferguson & Young 2021).