Blog 6 – Research Plan

In general, my work tends to involve both student motivation at large (Bae & DeBusk-Lane, 2018) and writing motivation more specifically (Ekholm, Zumbrunn, & DeBusk-Lane, 2017; Zumbrunn, Ekholm, Stringer, McKnight, & DeBusk-Lane, 2017). In short, my personal passion involves using person-centered approaches, namely Latent Transition, Profile, and Class Analyses to assess latent groups of students’ motivation. In a good bit of my work in writing, I focus on latent profiles of writing self-efficacy that focus on the cognitive components of what a student goes through and forecasts themselves having the ability to execute: writing mechanics, self-regulation, and being capable of generating ideas to write (Bruning, Dempsey, Kauffman, McKim, & Zumbrunn, 2013). Over the past 40 years of research, writing self-efficacy has proven to be a dominant theme predictive of future writing performance, which is in-line with many other domains in education (Pajares, 2002, Klassen, 2003, Klassen & Usher, 2010). That being said, there is utility in understanding students’ writing self-efficacy, as it can be an early indicator of doubt, difficulty, and the foundation that can undermine future success.

Zumbrunn et al., 2017

Derived from Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, self-efficacy is commonly procured or ‘sourced’ from four main areas and experiences: mastery experiences (past performance), social persuasions, vicarious experiences, and emotional and physiological states (Usher & Pajares, 2008).

Here, I am most interested in social persuasions and vicarious experiences that may or may not serve to bolster efficacious beliefs. To be more specific, and to generally get a grasp of both the method (social network analysis) and the collective interaction between student-to-student relations, I am only interested in ‘academic self-efficacy,’ not specifically writing. I do this for simplicity and to not overcomplicate this relationship. To further explain, social persuasions are commonly the feedback we receive from others that encompass the immediate and applicable environment. In this case, the feedback, relations, and interactions with others can serve as social persuasions. Additionally, vicarious experiences are commonly understood to be self-appraisals of one’s own capabilities in relation to others. The people for which surround an individual within the situational context influence how self-efficay beliefs are judged and determined. Therefore, I’d expect inter-classroom relations to influence this source of efficacy.

Therefore, to make the theoretical and causal leap, I’d hypothesize that those with more robust networks to also receive more self-supporting sources of self-efficacy. Conversely, I’d expect those that do not have a robust network to lack applicable sources of self-efficacy and therefore report less academic self-efficacy. Further, because there are fairly well established social norms associated with particular domains (like females tending to have higher english, writing self-efficacy and males having higher math and science efficacy), I’d expect females from my target sample to exhibit more ‘academic’ self-efficacy, as the class is in the School of Education and is primarily composed of pre-service teachers (who are commonly and dominantly female) (Pajares, 2003; Klassen & Usher, 2010). This is likely paired with more robust networks form females, as they are commonly reported to be more social creatures (Weisberg, DeYoung, & Hirsh, 2011).

Therefore, my question would be: Are those with more diverse and robust social networks also believe they are more academically capable?  Also, do women tend to be more social and report higher academic self-efficacy than men? If so, does the type of network change (those they typically socialize with, those they collaborate with, those they speak to often, ect.) influence this relationship?

This network, as I foresee it, would be a directed graph based upon students’ responses to questions about to who they regularly interact and relate with. That is, the nodes will be students, differentiated by either self-efficacy or gender (both), and the edges will be directed, pointing towards those they express interaction with.

I plan to use one of three of the School of Education’s Developmental classes for pre-service teachers. I have access through a few of their professors. Though they tend to be mostly female, I have access and they can provide preliminary results that may be interesting and suggestive to future work.

So, to clarify, I plan to get the class to answer a fairly short survey that includes their gender, academic self-efficacy (How confident are you that you can get an A in this course?), and, of course, the way in which they relate. As mentioned, this will include those they most regularly collaborate with, interact with, discuss class topics with, have spoken to at all, ect. I think picking three of these types of relations would be adequate enough for this project.

To my knowledge, there is not specific social network research in this area to date. However, based upon the aforementioned theoretical basis, I’d expect particular trends to exist. Therefore, this work would likely further validate gender norms in this gender specific arena and further establish another lens to depict and explain both vicarious experiences and social persuasions in terms of their sourcing of efficacious beliefs.

Nevertheless, experience sampling and other more intensive ways to collect data, such as Fu’s (2005) contact diary, may provide more dynamic and changing views on these relationships between those who students interact with and their efficacy. Using the more detailed approach, at least from my vantage, would offer for detail to pick out the peculiarities of self-efficacy, gender, and academic self-efficacy (especially if I collected the full scale–which I dont plan to do, as it is long and I’d rather respect the class’ time–perhaps for a full study).  I do, however, believe both networks would offer valuable perspectives and either may benefit the researcher depending on time, availability of participants, etc. Even further, networks such as Carrasco, Hogan, Wellman, and Miller (2006), that incorporate the “spatial distribution o social activities” along with the social network, can also offer a nuanced and detailed account of what is actually going on in a network.



Bae, C. L., & DeBusk-Lane, M. (2018). Motivation belief profiles in science: Links to classroom goal structures and achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 67, 91–104.

Ekholm, E., Zumbrunn, S., & DeBusk-Lane, M. (2018). Clarifying an Elusive Construct: a Systematic Review of Writing Attitudes. Educational Psychology Review, 30(3), 827–856.

Klassen, R. (2002). Writing in early adolescence: A review of the role of self-efficacy beliefs. Educational Psychology Review, 14(2), 173–203.

Klassen, R. M., & Usher, E. L. (2010). Self-efficacy in educational settings: Recent research and emerging directions. In T. C. Urdan & S. A. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement (Vol. 16, pp. 1–33). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Pajares, F. (2003). Self-Efficacy Beliefs, Motivation, and Achievement in Writing: A Review of the Literature. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 19(2), 139–158.

Usher, E. L., & Pajares, F. (2008). Sources of Self-Efficacy in School: Critical Review of the Literature and Future Directions. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 751–796.

Weisberg, Y. J., DeYoung, C. G., & Hirsh, J. B. (2011). Gender Differences in Personality across the Ten Aspects of the Big Five. Frontiers in Psychology, 2.

Zumbrunn, S., Ekholm, E., Stringer, J. K., McKnight, K., & DeBusk-Lane, M. (2017). Student Experiences With Writing: Taking the Temperature of the Classroom. The Reading Teacher, 70(6), 667–677.

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