Self Efficacy And The Social Cognitive Theory Education Essay

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This chapter is divided into four parts. The first part initially discusses the construct of self-efficacy in the social cognitive theory. Then, definitions and properties of self-efficacy, characteristics of high and low self-efficacious individuals, the sources of self-efficacy and the difference between this construct and other similar constructs are discussed. Moreover, the last section of the first part is devoted to the role of self-efficacy in second/foreign language achievement and proficiency in general and in specific skills. The second part is devoted to the definitions of language learning strategies and their classifications. Moreover, the role of language learning strategies in second/foreign language proficiency and achievement and the relationship between language learning strategies and self-efficacy are discussed in this part, too. The third part is devoted to the construct of anxiety in general and foreign language anxiety in particular. In this part, definitions and classifications of anxiety, the role of anxiety in second/foreign language achievement and proficiency and the relationship between foreign language anxiety and self-efficacy are discussed. The last part discusses the concept of listening comprehension and how it is related to the three constructs of self-efficacy, language learning strategies, and foreign language anxiety.

2.1 Self-efficacy and the social cognitive theory

To understand the concept of self-efficacy better, one must consider the theoretical framework of social cognitive theory. Bandura (1986, 1997) considers the social cognitive theory as a theory of human functioning. Based on this theory, human functioning can be explained through the operation of three factors that interact with each other. One factor is what Chomsky refers to as cognition, and Bandura in the social cognitive theory refers to as personal factors. Another factor is what Skinner referred to as environment and the third factor is what Bandura refers to as behavior. Bandura (1986) believed in the concept of "triadic reciprocality" in the social cognitive theory. This refers to the interaction among personal, behavioral and environmental factors. Moreover, an individual's behavior is determined by the interaction of the above mentioned factors. In this theory, individuals are considered as proactive, self-regulating, self-organizing and self-reflecting rather than reactive ones and controlled by biological or environmental forces.

Based on the social cognitive theory, individuals have a system of self-belief or a self-system that enables them to control their actions, feelings, thoughts, and motivation (Bandura, 1986; Pajares, 1997). This self-system makes it possible for individuals to make choices, choose their courses of actions, self-examine the adequacy of their behavior, interpret the outcomes, develop beliefs about their capabilities, and store this information to be used as a guide for future behavior (Bandura, 1986). Bandura (1997) considered the practice of self-reflection as the most influential mediator of human functioning and among the most arbiters of self-reflection are perceptions of self-efficacy.

2.1.1 Self-efficacy and its definitions

Bandura (1986) considers self-efficacy as the main feature in the social cognitive theory. Based on the social cognitive theory, self-efficacy is the primary determinant of an individual's motivation to act. Bandura (1986) defines self-efficacy as "people's judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances. It is not concerned with the skills one has but with the judgment of what can one do with whatever skills one possesses" (p. 391).

Besides Bandura, many researchers have provided different definitions of self-efficacy but most of them are based on Bandura's definition. Delcourt and Kinzie (1993) stated that "self-efficacy reflects an individual's confidence in his or her ability to perform the behavior required to produce specific outcomes'' (p. 36). Huang and Shanmao (1996) defined self-efficacy expectations as "the beliefs about one's ability to perform a given task or behavior successfully'' (p. 3). Schunk (2001) considers self-efficacy as "beliefs about one's capabilities to learn or perform behaviors at designated levels'' (p. 126). Moreover; Baron and Byrne (2004) identified three kinds of self-efficacy: Social self-efficacy, self-regulatory self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy. They considered social self-efficacy as the ability to maintain relationships, engage in social activities, and become assertive. They referred to the self-regulatory self-efficacy as the ability to be curious, think carefully, and avoid high-risk activities. Finally, they considered academic self-efficacy as the ability to take part in learning activities, regulate the learning activities and meet expectations.

2.1.2 Self-efficacy and its properties

Self-efficacy beliefs are not dependent on one's abilities but instead on what one believes may be accomplished with one's personal skills. Moreover, Bandura (1997) believed that there is a major difference between possessing skills and being able to use them in different situations. And that is why, different people with similar skills or the same person on different occasions may perform differently. Bandura (1997) mentioned that self-efficacy beliefs are distinguished from the skills one possesses, although they may be influenced by the acquisition of skills. That is why he assumed that self-efficacy beliefs are often better predictors of success than prior accomplishments, skills, or knowledge. For example, in educational settings, students' self-efficacy mediates between the several determinants of competence (e.g., skills, knowledge, ability, or previous achievements) and their subsequent performances (Bandura, 2006; Schunk & Pajares, 2001).

Bandura (1997) mentioned that optimistic efficacy beliefs maintain and enhance motivation, and boost performance. Optimistic self-efficacy beliefs are instrumental to the successful completion of challenging tasks. These beliefs may increase effort and persistence and promote accomplishment in challenging circumstances. In academic settings, these beliefs seem to be necessary for attempting novel tasks or for learning new materials. He also stated that "innovativeness requires an unshakable sense of efficacy to persist in creative endeavors when they demand prolonged investment of time and effort" (Bandura, 1997, p. 239).

Self-efficacy is not a fixed ability that individuals have or don't have in their repertoire of behaviors. But it is a "generative capability in which cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral sub-skills must be organized and effectively orchestrated to serve innumerable purposes (Bandura, 1997, p.36). Bandura (1997) believed that the sense of self-efficacy influences individuals' motivations, the goal they set, the effort they expend to achieve their goals and their willingness to persist in the face of difficulties and failures. For example, in an educational setting, students who have the sense of self-efficacy in their academic skills expect high marks on exams and expect the quality of their work to gain benefits for them.

Another feature of self-efficacy is that it is task and domain specific. In other words, it refers to specific judgment of a specific situation and it is not a context-free disposition. A high sense of efficacy in one domain does not necessarily mean high sense of self-efficacy in another domain. And this is why measures of self-efficacy must determine the domains of action. In educational settings, self-efficacy beliefs are more specific and situational judgments of capabilities (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996; Bong, 2006; Pajares, 1997).

In academic settings, according to Bandura (1986), self-efficacy refers to judgment of confidence to perform academic tasks or succeed in academic activities. Self-efficacy beliefs are also hypothesized to mediate the influence of other determinants of academic outcomes such as skills or past performance on subsequent actions. Efficacy beliefs also act in concert with other common mechanisms of personal agency such as self-concept beliefs, anxiety, and self-regulatory practices in influencing and predicting academic outcomes. Also, Bandura (1997) mentioned that in such settings self-efficacy affects students' aspirations, their level of interest in academic work and accomplishments and how well they prepare themselves for future careers. He identified two types of efficacy in such settings: One refers to achievement in specific subject area such as language or science and the second refers to self-regulated learning and the extent to which an individual feels successful on tasks that generalize across academic domains.

2.1.3 High and low sense of self-efficacy

Bandura (1997) stated that people usually tend to become involved in and perform activities that they judge themselves capable of managing, but they tend to avoid those situations that are threatening and they believe exceed their skills and abilities. In an educational setting, a learner is more likely to exert effort to engage in an assigned learning task when he or she sees him/herself capable of accomplishing it. When facing with difficult situations, those who have a stronger sense of self-efficacy tend to make greater efforts to deal with challenges. But those who have a lower sense of efficacy are likely to avoid engaging in a difficult task or even not try hard enough to accomplish the task. Avoiding difficult tasks leads to lower success and this, in itself, leads to even lower sense of self-efficacy.

Based on the researches done in the area of self-efficacy, there are major differences between those with high and low sense of self-efficacy. High self-efficacious people exert more attention, effort and persistence in the case of difficulties than people with lower sense of self-efficacy. Those with high sense of efficacy work harder than their low self-efficacy peers. When those with low sense of self-efficacy fail, they often put the blame for their failure on everything except their own shortcoming. High self-efficacious people set more challenging goals for themselves than low self-efficacious ones.

People with high sense of self-efficacy outperform those with low sense of self-efficacy and they employ more strategies to accomplish their goals (Bandura & Locke, 2003; Latham, 2004; Locke & Latham, 1990). Pajares (2006) reported that students with high sense of self-efficacy, regardless of previous successes or abilities, persist in the face of adversity. Moreover, these students are more optimistic and have lower stress levels and achieve more. Pajares and Schunk (2001) stated that the higher the sense of efficacy, the more energy and effort are used to keep trying tasks or situations that may be more difficult and challenging in nature. They believed that in educational settings, a self-efficacious student takes academic risks, sets goals for him/herself, compares him/herself to other peers, maintains routines, and keeps track of what works well and what doesn't regarding academic and social progress. A self-efficacious person may not have the highest grades in the class, but he/she believes in his or her own abilities to accomplish tasks, to find the right answer, to meet goals and often to surpass other peers. Schunk (1983) stated that a heightened sense of efficacy sustains task involvement and results in greater achievement and lower perceptions of efficacy lead to less persistence and lower achievement.

Regarding the difference between high and low sense of self-efficacy, Bandura (1997) stated that self-efficacy beliefs influence individuals' pursued courses of action, effort expended in given endeavors, persistence in the confrontation of obstacles, and resilience to adversity. Self-efficacious individuals will, therefore, approach challenges with the intention and anticipation of mastery, intensifying their efforts and persistence accordingly. These individuals rapidly recover their lowered sense of self-efficacy after enduring failure or difficulty, and attribute failure to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge. Students with a high level of self-efficacy perceive tough tasks as challenges. They also have higher motivation to conquer the difficulties and more confidence to accomplish demanding tasks. On the contrary, students with low sense of self-efficacy regard things as harder than they really are; they do not perceive their efforts can lead to better results, so they have less motivation to devote time to demanding tasks. He also stated that self-efficacy is a factor that can differentiate successful learners from unsuccessful ones. Eggen and Kauchak (2004) mentioned that students who have high self-efficacy are more willing to accept a challenging task, work harder, have a calmer disposition despite experiencing failure in the beginning, practice effective learning strategies, and generally generate better performance than students who have low self-efficacy, even if they have the same ability and skill.

Finally, Bandura (1997) describes the feature of self-efficacious learners as follow: self-efficacious learners feel confident about solving a problem because they have developed an approach to problem solving that has worked in the past. They attribute their success mainly to their own efforts and strategies, believe that their own abilities will improve as they learn more, and recognize that errors are part of learning. Students with low self-efficacy believe that they have inherent low ability, choose less demanding tasks and do not try hard because they believe that any effort will reveal their own lack of ability (p. 3).

2.1.4 Self-efficacy and its sources

People get their self-efficacy information from four different sources: Mastery experiences, vicarious (observational) experiences, verbal persuasions, and physiological reactions or states (Alderman, 2004; Bandura, 1997; Ormrod, 2003; Pajares, 2003; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Zimmerman, 2001).

The first source of self-efficacy is a mastery experience which is, according to Bandura (1997), the most influential source of efficacy information. Mastery experiences are prior performances that may be interpreted positively or negatively. Successful performances strengthen personal efficacy beliefs while failed performances undermine one's sense of self-efficacy. Successful performances lead to the anticipation of future success. Therefore, the information which is gathered from mastery experiences provides a reliable base from which one can evaluate self-efficacy and predict successful performance of future tasks. According to Palmer (2006), mastery experiences are the most powerful sources of creating a strong sense of efficacy because they provide students authentic evidence that they have the capability to succeed at the task. In educational settings or academic contexts, the previous success of a learner is the most influential source of self-efficacy beliefs.

The second source of information for self-efficacy is vicarious experiences. It refers to the appraisal of one's own capabilities in relation to the accomplishment of peers. One can manage a task and foster the belief that he/she might possess similar capabilities by observing the success of comparable peers. Also, observation of the failure of a comparable peer can undermine an individual's perception of the ability to succeed. So, vicarious experience may affect efficacy positively or negatively.

The third source of self-efficacy comes from verbal persuasion. It refers to the people's judgments of other's ability to accomplish a given task. Verbal persuasion is a weaker source of efficacy information in comparison to mastery or vicarious experiences. Verbal persuasion can be in the form of performance feedback or encouragement in overcoming obstacles. Positive verbal messages can lead to successful performances in future. On the other hand, negative persuasion can hinder the development of stronger sense of self-efficacy.

The last source of self-efficacy information is physiological or emotional states of people such as stress, anxiety, or fatigue in judging their capabilities. Physiological and emotional states can lead both to an expectation for failure or enhancing beliefs for future success. According to Bandura (1997), high emotional arousal can undermine performance and people are more likely to expect success when they are not troubled by aversive arousal than when they are tense and emotionally agitated.

Finally, it should be mentioned that self-efficacy beliefs do not come from a single source of the above mentioned information, but it is through the selection, integration and interpretation of information from these diverse sources that one's sense of self-efficacy is formed (Bandura, 1997).

2.1.5 Self-efficacy and similar constructs

There are some constructs such as self-esteem, self-concept, and confidence that have fuzzy boundaries with self-efficacy or seem to constitute a conceptual overlap with it. The common feature of all these constructs is that they all refer to beliefs about perceived ability but what distinguishes self-efficacy from them is the idea that it refers to specific types of performance and explicit desired goals or results (Pajares, 1996).

The main difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy is that self-esteem is a personal trait while self-efficacy is not. Self-esteem is a more emotional response to self while self-efficacy applies to specific fields of human behavior. Self-efficacy is the assessment of one's capabilities while self-esteem is the assessment of one's self-worth (Epstein & Morling, 1995; Maddux, 1995). According to Zimmerman and Cleary (2006), self-esteem is an affective reaction indicating how a person feels about him or herself whereas self-efficacy involves cognitive judgments of personal capacity. They stated that self-esteem is not a predictor of academic performance while self-efficacy is.

The main difference between confidence and self-efficacy is that self-efficacy is the belief in one's power to achieve certain levels of performances while confidence does not involve the person's power or ability to perform at a certain level (Epstein & Morling, 1995).

According to Pajares and Schunk (2001), an individual's self-concept involves evaluation of self-worth and it takes the cultural and social values into consideration. Self-concept has an indirect influence on performance while self-efficacy due to its task-specific nature can predict performance more easily than generalized measures of self-esteem, self-concept or anxiety (Zimmerman & Cleary, 2006). Bong and Skaalvik (2003) argued that self-efficacy can be seen as providing a basis for the development of self-concept. Moreover, Pajares (2003) stated that writing self-efficacy is a significant predictor of achievement in writing while writing self-concept beliefs are not.

2.1.6 Self-efficacy and its role in achievement and proficiency

Based on the properties of self-efficacy mentioned above, it seems that it plays a great role in determining individuals' behavior in their daily lives and especially in educational and academic settings. In this part the role of self-efficacy in individuals' achievement and proficiency will be elaborated and some major relevant studies will be reviewed. Some of these studies focus on the predictive power of self-efficacy in individuals' achievement.

Bandura (1986) assumed self-efficacy to be a much more consistent predictor of behavior than any other closely related variables. He mentioned that "many students have difficulty not because they are incapable of performing successfully, but because they are incapable of believing that they can perform successfully, that they have learned to see themselves as incapable of handling academic skills"(p. 390). Some researchers (e.g., Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1997; Schunk, 1989; Zimmerman, 1995) assumed that self-efficacy, which is an individual's judgment about his or her abilities to perform a given task can be a better predictor of success than his/her actual abilities because they considered self-efficacy a critical determinant of behaviors. Some studies that have been done in the educational settings (e.g, Berry, 1987; Schunk, 1989) have shown that when learners have the same skills or they are at the same level of cognitive skill development, their performance can be different depending on their self-efficacy beliefs. That is why, Pajares (1997) stated that people's prior accomplishments or actual abilities are not always good predictors of their subsequent success because the beliefs they hold about their abilities influence their subsequent behavior.

But some researchers (e.g, Carmichael & Taylor, 2005; Mills, 2004) warned that measuring self-efficacy in educational settings before the target skills are acquired cannot be considered as a good predictor of achievement. For example, in Mills' (2004) study, self-efficacy was measured at the beginning of a semester when the participants had not acquired the required skills to perform the tasks. So, the result revealed that self-efficacy did not predict the final grade. According to Zimmerman and Kitsantas (2005), self-efficacy can better predict or explain subsequent performance when the students are familiar with the necessary skills to perform the task being measured. Schunk (1999) also warned that high self-efficacy beliefs will not produce competent performance if students lack necessary skills. For example, Chen (2003) found that the impact of students' self-efficacy beliefs on their math performance was greater when they possessed underlying math skills.

Multon, Brown, and Lent (1991) after doing a meta-analysis of self-efficacy research found a positive and significant relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and academic performance. Moreover, they indicated that self-efficacy was strongly related to student performance in a variety of subject matters. They reported that self-efficacy beliefs accounted for approximately 14% of the variance in students' academic performance. Graham and Weiner (1996) found that self-efficacy beliefs more consistently predicted academic performance than other motivational constructs.

Recently, several researchers (e.g, Maddux & Gosselin, 2003; Skaalvik & Bong, 2003) have shown that students' academic self-efficacy is predictive of their study behavior as well as academic outcomes. Self-efficacy has consistently been shown to be positively associated with general academic achievement (e.g., Jackson, 2002; Lane & Lane, 2001) and with performance in several specific domains, including math (Pajares & Miller, 1995), and writing (Pajares, 2003; Pajares, Britner, & Valiante, 2000). Some recent studies have found a consistent link between having a high sense of self-efficacy and achievement and the fact that efficacy beliefs are one of the most important predictors of motivation and performance (Bong, 2002; Pajares, 1996; Robbins, et al., 2004; Schunk & Pajares, 2001). Also, Mills, et al. (2006) found that a stronger sense of self-efficacy leads to higher levels of achievement, greater willingness to face challenges and to exert effort.

Many researchers indicated that self-efficacy has a stronger effect on academic performance than other motivational beliefs and it is found to have critical effects on various types of academic learning (Gibson, Randel, & Earley, 2000; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Yazici, Seyis, and Altur (2011) found that self-efficacy beliefs are the most powerful predictors of academic achievements. Yang (2004) and Wong (2005) stated that students learning outcome is influenced by their perceived sense of self-efficacy. Moreover, Yang (2004) asserted that students learning attitudes, learning behaviors or even learning performances are affected by their sense of self-efficacy. Wong (2005) has shown that students' performance can be facilitated by the enhancement of their sense of self-efficacy. Pajares (2002) mentioned that students' academic self-efficacy influence their academic achievements in several ways. It influences the choices students make and the courses of action they pursue. In situations that students have free choices, they tend to engage in tasks about which they feel confident and avoid those in which they don't. It also helps to determine how much effort students will expend on an activity, how long they will persevere when facing obstacles and how resilient they will be in the face of adverse situations.

Although considerable research has been done to study self-efficacy in educational and academic settings, most of these studies have been restricted to the domain of mathematical problem solving and languages other than English. For example, (Britner & Pajares, 2001; Pajares & Graham, 1999) found that perceived self-efficacy of the students mediate between their abilities and their academic performance in mathematics and science. Collins (1982) found that across ability levels, students whose self-efficacy is higher are more accurate in their mathematics computation and show greater persistence on difficult items than do students whose self-efficacy beliefs are low. Pajares and Graham (1999) aimed to determine whether mathematic self-efficacy makes an independent contribution to the prediction of mathematic performance when other motivational variables and previous achievements are controlled. They found that mathematic self-efficacy was the only motivational variable to predict mathematic performance. Ayotola and Adedeji (2009) examined the relationship between mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics achievement. The result revealed that there was a strong positive relationship between mathematics self-efficacy and achievement in mathematics. The researchers concluded that self-efficacy beliefs are important components of motivation and of academic achievement. Jaafar and Ayub (2010) also found a positive relationship between mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics performance.

In the case of languages other than English, McCollum (2003) found that the German language self-efficacy was a significant predictor of the semester final grade. In a similar study, Mills (2004) investigated the relationship between French self-efficacy in reading and listening and proficiency in reading and listening. The result of the analysis indicated that French reading self-efficacy was a predictor of French reading proficiency but French listening self-efficacy was not a predictor of proficiency in listening. Mills (2004) assumed that the failure of French listening self-efficacy to predict French listening proficiency may have been partly due to the fact that the critical task measure in the study-that is, listening proficiency test-possessed psychometric flaws.

Recently many researchers have investigated the role of self-efficacy in foreign language settings and the role it plays in the achievement and proficiency in foreign languages specially English. Hsieh and Schallert (2008) examined the relationship between self-efficacy and attribution in a foreign language setting. In their study attribution referred to the explanations individuals give for their success or failure in a particular performance. The result indicated that despite failure in performing the given tasks, students reported the same level of self-efficacy as successful students when they attributed their failure to lack of effort. The researchers concluded that even when students reported having low self-efficacy, helping them view success and failure as an outcome that they can control may increase their expectancy for success and lead to successful experiences.

Wang and Wu (2008) adopted the social cognitive model to investigate the role of self-efficacy on behavioral influences such as feedback behaviors and learning strategies and on environmental influences such as achievement. In the case of behavioral influences, the result indicated that self-efficacy was significantly related to students' elaborated feedback behaviors and use of learning strategies. However, the results indicated that self-efficacy was not related to students' academic performance. The researchers argued that this may be due to the domain specific nature of self-efficacy. They assumed that students who lack performance information or experience in the academic domain may form inaccurate estimation of self-efficacy and this may have been the reason why self-efficacy did not predict students' achievement in this study.

With regard to learning English, Huang and Shanmao (1996) found a relationship between self-efficacy of ESL students and their scores on the reading and writing sections of the TOEFL test. In a similar study, Templin (1999) divided the EFL participants into high and low self-efficacy groups and found a significant difference between the English proficiency of the two groups.

2.1.7 Self-efficacy and its role in achievement and proficiency in specific skills

Some researchers studied the role of efficacy in specific skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in English. Pajares (2003) in reviewing the predictive power of self-efficacy in writing found that writing self-efficacy makes an independent contribution to the prediction of writing outcomes and plays a meditational role that social cognitive theorists hypothesized. Moreover, he suggested that instruction in self-regulatory strategies such as goal setting, self-recording progress, revision strategies, and self-evaluating progress may increase both self-efficacy and writing skills.

Shang (2010) investigated the impact of EFL self-efficacy in reading and reading proficiency. He found a correlation between EFL learners' self-efficacy in reading and their reading proficiency. Recently, Sioson (2011) aimed to determine among the subscales of language learning strategies, beliefs about language learning and anxiety which one is the strongest predictor of performance in an academic speaking context. The result of multiple regression analysis revealed that only the motivation and expectation subscale of beliefs about language learning was the significant predictor of speaking performance. Woodrow (2011) indicated that self-efficacy is a powerful predictor of writing performance than anxiety. According to the finding of his study, highly self-efficacious students performed well in their English writing and showed desirable learning attributes such as exerting effort.

Ghonsooly and Elahi (2010) found a positive relationship between the Iranian EFL learners' self-efficacy in reading comprehension and their reading achievements. The researchers indicated that high self-efficacious learners performed better than low self-efficacious learners in reading achievements. They concluded that EFL learners' self-efficacy is an important factor in the achievement of high scores in English language skills such as reading comprehension. Rahemi (2010) studied the self-efficacy of Iranian high school students. The result indicated that students majoring in humanities had a very weak English self-efficacy and held certain negative beliefs about their academic ability as EFL learners. Moreover, a strong correlation was found between their English achievement and sense of self-efficacy. Rahimi and Abedini (2009) explored the role of self-efficacy in listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners and their listening comprehension test performance. According to the results of the study, there was a significant difference between high and low self-efficacious students in terms of listening comprehension. Moreover, self-efficacy in listening was significantly related to listening proficiency.

In another study, Graham (2006) studied the role of efficacy in the development of listening skills and concluded that low self-efficacy may be particularly acute in foreign language listening due to the way in which listening is taught. It is noted by many researchers (e.g., Chambers, 2007; Field, 2008) that in many language classrooms, listening takes the form of an activity to be delivered rather than a skill to be developed in its own right.

Graham (2011) argued that self-efficacy is crucial to the development of effective listening skills. She stated that effective listening depends on learners' listening self-efficacy, on their confidence in their ability to make sense of the input to which they are exposed. Moreover, she argued that listening strategy instruction has the potential to boost self-efficacy. Such strategy instruction should be aimed at increasing learners' sense of control and expectations of success. In addition to teaching strategies, it should also offer scaffolding in the form of feedback on strategy use and drawing learners' attention to the link between the strategies used and the outcomes achieved.

Graham and Marco's (2008) study showed that intermediate learners of French who received listening strategy instruction not only performed significantly better on the listening posttest than those not receiving instruction, but also their listening self-efficacy improved more. The participants indicated that their sense of control over their listening increased at the end of the instruction. Goh and Taib (2006) reported that strategy instruction that involved EFL learners in reflecting on and discussing strategy use led not just to improved listening and strategic knowledge, but also to greater reported sense of control in their listening.

The relationship between self-efficacy and EFL listening achievement was examined by a few researchers (e.g., Chen, 2007; Rahimi and Abedini, 2009) who found a significant positive relationship between the EFL learners' self-efficacy and their listening achievement. Chen (2007) investigated the relationship between EFL learners' self-efficacy beliefs and their English listening achievement. The students' listening course grades were used as the students' listening achievement. The result revealed that there was a significant and positive relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and listening achievement. The result also showed that students' self-efficacy beliefs were much stronger predicators of language performance in the area of listening than students' anxiety and perceived value. Siegle (2000) asserts that we need to examine these kinds of relationship more specifically. It may be that this relationship is skill-specific in that higher degrees of self-efficacy in reading comprehension may not generate high self-efficacy in listening comprehension.

2.2 Language learning strategies and their definitions

Over the past two decades, different researchers (e.g., O'Malley & Chamot, 1990; Oxford, 1990; Stern, 1992) have attempted to define and categorize language learning strategies. Accordingly, language learning strategies have been defined by different scholars and researchers. Some of these major definitions are provided in this part.

Rigney (1978) defined language learning strategies as the often-conscious steps and behavior used by learners to enhance acquisition. Rubin (1987) defined language strategies as "any sets of operations, steps, plans, routines used by the learner to facilitate the obtaining, storage, retrieval, and use of information" (p. 19).

Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1990) defined learning strategies as appropriate plans to achieve individual learning goals. Richards, Platt, and Platt (1992) mentioned that "learning strategies are intentional behaviors and thoughts used by learners during learning so as to better help them understand, learn, or remember new information" (p. 209).

O'Malley and Chamot (1990) considered learning strategies as the special thoughts or behaviors individuals use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain new information. Oxford (1990) defined learning strategies as specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing L2 skills. These strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language. She considered strategies as tools for the self-directed involvement necessary for developing communicative ability. She conceptualized language learning strategies as multifaceted process-oriented tools that facilitate language learning and are of significance not just for autonomous learning but also for the achievement of communicative competence.

Cohen (2003) described language learning strategies as learning procedures used consciously by learners. Mayer (2003) considered language learning strategies as the cognitive processes developed by students during the process of learning to improve the quality of learning and help the students achieve their respective goals.

2.2.1 Language learning strategies and their classifications

A review of related literature indicates different classification of language learning strategies but in this part two major classifications of language learning strategies that are presented by O'Malley and Chamot (1990) and Oxford (1990) and the present study is based on them will be reviewed.

In O'Malley and Chamot's (1990) classification, language learning strategies are divided into three categories of metacognitive, cognitive and socioaffective. Within the metacognitive category are those strategies which involve knowing about learning, controlling learning through planning, monitoring and evaluating learning activities. Cognitive strategies deal with manipulation or transformation of the specific learning materials to be learned. And finally, the socioaffective category mainly involves those strategies related to learners involved in communicative interaction with another person, for example, while collaborating with peers and teachers in the learning process.

Oxford's (1990) framework of language learning strategies is divided into two main parts: Direct and indirect strategies. Direct strategies are those strategies that involve mental processing of the target language and that are directly linked with the learning and use of the target language. On the other hand, indirect strategies involve those strategies that deal with management to learn a language without necessarily using the target language directly. Each of the main categories of direct and indirect strategies is divided into three categories. Direct strategies include memory, cognitive and compensation strategies; and indirect strategies cover metacognitive, affective and social strategies.

Cognitive strategies enable the learner to manipulate the language material in direct ways, for example, through reasoning, note-taking, and synthesizing. Memory strategies (e.g., sound similarities, images and key words) help learners link one target language item or concept with another but do not necessarily involve deep understanding. Compensatory strategies (e.g., guessing from the context, circumlocution) help learners to make up for missing knowledge.

Metacognitive strategies (e.g., identifying one's own preferences and needs, planning, monitoring mistakes and evaluating task success) are used to manage the overall learning process. Affective strategies (e.g., identifying one's mood and anxiety level, talking about feelings, rewarding oneself, and using deep breathing or positive talk) help learners manage their emotions and motivational level. Social strategies (e.g., asking questions, asking for clarification or help, talking with a native-speaker conversation partner, and exploring cultural and social norms) enable the learner to learn through interaction with others and to understand the target language.

According to Vidal (2002), Oxford's classification is comprehensive, detailed and systematic. It is reliable and valid across many cultural groups and it links individual strategies as well as groups of strategies with each of the four language skill areas of listening, reading, speaking and writing. So, the Listening Strategy Inventory that is used in the current study is developed mainly based on Oxford's (1990) and O'Malley and Chamot's (1990) classifications.

2.2.2 Language learning strategies and their roles in achievement and proficiency

A review of the literature on language learning strategies indicates that language learning strategies have long been associated with effective language learning and that language proficiency has been consistently linked with strategy use (e.g., Green & Oxford, 1995; Hsiao & Oxford, 2002; Wharton, 2000). There are many studies showing the relationship between language learning strategy use and language achievement (Ian & Oxford, 2003; Hong-Nam & Leavell, 2006; Mori, 2007; Yang, 2003). And the general pattern found in these studies is that increased proficiency and achievement is linked to greater strategy use and that using language learning strategies has a positive impact on language proficiency and achievement. In this part some important studies in this area are reviewed

Some researchers (e.g., Green & Oxford, 1995, Oxford, 1990) indicated that proficient language learners use more strategies in language learning than less proficient language learners. Green and Oxford (1995) argued that learning strategies can foster learners' autonomy in language learning as well as assist them in promoting their language proficiency and achievement. They also revealed that successful language learners engaged in more frequent and higher level of strategy use than less successful learners. Park (1997) reported a positive relationship between strategy use and language proficiency of Korean EFL learners when proficiency was measured using TOEFL. Moreover, he found that all the six categories of language learning strategies as well as the overall strategy use were significantly correlated with the TOEFL test scores. Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1986) stated that students who frequently employ learning strategies enjoy a high level of self-efficacy which can be considered as a perception of being an effective learner.

Chamot and O'Malley (1996) indicated that less able learners often use strategies in a random, unconnected and uncontrolled manner while more effective learners orchestrate and combine their use of particular types of strategies in effective ways. Hong-Nam and Leavell (2006) investigated the use of language learning strategies by ESL students and reported that learners at the intermediate level used more strategies than beginners. On the other hand, Paris, Lipson, and Wixson (1983) indicated that the use of learning strategies is not enough to improve student achievement. Students should be motivated to use strategies and organize cognitions and their effort. In the context of learning and academic achievement, students must have a view about their capabilities, skills, and knowledge needed to complete the task of learning. In this way, individuals with high motivation and high sense of efficacy will develop high goals.

Specifically, Green and Oxford (1995) revealed that a high level of proficiency is associated with an increased use of both direct and indirect strategies. Peacock and Ho (2003) found that cognitive and metacognitive strategies show high correlations with the high language proficiency level of the participants and were used by high-proficiency learners. Chen (2002) found that compensation strategies were shown to be favored by both high and low proficiency students, with low-proficiency students outperforming the high-proficiency ones in their use of such strategies. Oxford (2001) mentioned that metacognitive strategies can be considered as often a strong predictor of L2 proficiency. Cesur (2011) found that language learning strategies such as cognitive, memory and compensation predict and have a significant and direct influence on achievement in foreign language reading comprehension.

In terms of the listening achievement and proficiency, Vandergrift (2003) studied the relationship between listening strategies employed by high school students learning French and found that more proficient listeners employed metacognitive strategies more frequently than less proficient listeners. That is, more proficient listeners are able to focus on what is being heard, plan what to listen for, and interact with both bottom-up and top-down processes, while less proficient learners would use predominately bottom up processing, such as listening for single words and use these strategies randomly. Liu (2008) found that more proficient listeners were more attentive than less proficient ones. He found that planning strategies of managing attention, directed and selective attention, and advanced organization were highly correlated with listening proficiency.

2.2.3 Self-efficacy and its relation to language learning strategies

A review of literature indicates that language learning strategy use and sense of self-efficacy seem to be related to each other. In this part some major studies which have investigated these two constructs and their relationships are reviewed.

Some of the studies focus on investigating the relationship between language learning strategy use and beliefs about language learning in general. For example, Horwitz (1988) argued that some preconceived beliefs that learners hold are likely to restrict learners' range of strategy use. Abraham and Vann (1987) suggested that learners' belief about how language operates and how it is learned may affect the variety and flexibility of strategy use. Wen and Johnson (1997) claimed that learners' beliefs may be more influential in their use of language learning strategies than strategy training. They suggested that learners who received strategy training may not employ appropriate language learning strategies when their beliefs do not accommodate their use of those strategies. Wenden (1986) found that students could not only distinctly describe their beliefs about language learning but also adopted consistent learning strategies. She also indicated that these learners' explicit beliefs about how best to learn a language seemed to provide the logic for their choices of learning strategies. Pajares and Schunk (2001) found that students who believed they were capable of performing tasks used more cognitive and metacognitive strategies and, regardless of previous achievement or ability, work harder, and persisted longer than those who did not.

In terms of self-efficacy in particular, Horwitz (1988) found that students learning ESL/EFL have a low sense of efficacy and a lack of learning strategies to gain proficiency in the language. He suggested that low self-efficacy hinders their participation in learning activities while lack of strategies prohibits them from solving problems they encounter in language learning. Students with high self-efficacy also engage in more effective self-regulatory strategies. Self-regulatory strategies deal with monitoring academic tasks effectively, persisting when confronted with academic challenges and solving conceptual problems. And as students' self-efficacy increases, so does the accuracy of the self-evaluations they make about the outcomes of their self-monitoring (Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent, & Larivée, 1991).

Zimmerman (1990) mentioned that effective use of learning strategies is closely linked to the development of sense of efficacy which in turn leads to expectations of successful learning. Also, Pintrich and De Groot (1990) found that academic self-efficacy was related both to cognitive strategy use and to self-regulation through the use of metacognitive strategies. They suggested that raising self-efficacy might lead to increased use of cognitive strategies and higher performance. Moreover, they suggested that students who have stronger self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to be cognitively engaged in their work and more likely to attempt to control their thinking and efforts. Also, those students who are more anxious about tests are less likely to persist at their course work and use fewer cognitive and metacognitive strategies.

Bandura (1997) stated that individuals who ask for help and who think they are able and feel efficacious are not threatened by asking for adaptive or instrumental help. He also mentioned that those who are efficacious use more deep processing strategies such as cognitive strategies than those who have lower self-efficacy beliefs. Huang (1997) found relationships between self-efficacy and the use of several language learning strategies including affective strategies, metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies.

Yang (1999) found significant correlations between self-efficacy as a factor of beliefs about language learning and the use of strategies in all six categories especially with the use of functional practice strategies. She stated that students who had positive perceptions about their own language learning ability reported actively engaging in English activities, for example, reading for pleasure in English, watching TV or listening to radio programs in English, and initiating English conversations. Yang (1999) suggested that teachers should foster positive beliefs that lead to effective learning strategy use and minimize negative beliefs that inhibit learning.

More recently, Anstrom (2000) investigated the relationship between self-efficacy and language learning strategy use of high school students from different languages. He found a positive and significant correlation between strategy use and self-efficacy across different languages. In addition, students with greater strategy use considered themselves to be self-efficacious. The author recommends that promoting strategy use can be considered as a way to increase students' self-efficacy and teaching self-efficacy can raise students' achievement in a second/foreign language.

In the same way, Wong (2005) surveyed the relationship between language learning self-efficacy and language learning strategy use of ESL pre-service teachers in Malaysia. The result indicated that there was a significant positive relationship between language learning strategy use and language self-efficacy. Also, the result of the interview the researcher conducted with the participants revealed that high self-efficacious pre-service teachers reported more frequent use of more language learning strategies than low-self-efficacious ones. In another study, Woodrow (2006) indicated that those who have high self-efficacy have a preference for metacognitive learning strategies.

Magogwe and Oliver (2007) suggested that there may be a connection between increased strategy use and higher sense of self-efficacy beliefs. In their study, they found more overall use of language learning strategies among more proficient learners than less proficient ones. They also found that there was a significant and positive correlation between the use of language learning strategies and self-efficacy beliefs. Mills, Pajares, and Herron (2007) found that self-efficacy in learning French was related to high grades, metacognitive strategy use and self-regulation.

Wang and Wu (2008) found that high self-efficacious students tended to use learning strategies such as rehearsal, elaboration, critical learning skills. In their study, they found that high efficacy students used more high-level cognitive strategies than low-level cognitive strategies. They also reported that in the study those students who received elaborative feedback rather than receiving the knowledge of correct response had promoted their self-efficacy beliefs at the end of the study. They also found that self-efficacy was not related to students' academic performance. They suggested that this may be due to the lack of performance experience in assessing self-efficacy in the specific domain because self-efficacy is a domain specific construct and students who lack performance information or experience in the academic domain may have inaccurate estimation of self-efficacy.

Yilmaz (2010) explored the relationship between language learning strategies, proficiency and self-efficacy beliefs of Turkish EFL learners. In his study based on self-efficacy, the participants were divided into three categories of good, fair and poor. He found a significant difference in the use of cognitive strategies between good and poor learners in favor of good learners and also between fair and poor learners in favor of fair learners. Regarding the compensation strategies, a significant difference was found between good and poor learners in favor good learners, and between fair and poor learners in favor of poor learners. With regard to metacognitive strategies, a significant difference was found between good and fair learners and fair and poor learners. He suggested that the emerging picture was that students with high proficiency reported using cognitive, compensation and metacognitive strategies more frequently than less proficient students.

Zaree (2010) found that beliefs about language learning were significantly related to language learning strategy use and language proficiency of Iranian EFL learners. Also, language learners' self-efficacy correlated with the use of all types of learning strategies except metacognitive ones in which most of the learners seemed to be weaker.

Adnan and Mohamad (2011) examined the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs, use of language learning strategies and students' achievement in Arabic. They found that language learning strategies have a strong correlation with self-efficacy beliefs. The result indicated that there was a significant relationship between language learning strategies and student achievement but no association was found between self-efficacy and achievement. They suggested that self-efficacy as one of motivational factor has a great role in influencing the frequency and types of language learning strategies used. They suggested that teachers need to provide challenging assignments and guidance so that their students can be successful.

Abedini, Rahimi, and Zaree (2011) studied the relationship between Iranian EFL learners' belief about learning English and their use of language learning strategies and their proficiency in English. Their results revealed that those students that held more positive and reasonable beliefs generally used the strategies more and also had higher level of language proficiency. They also found that the self-efficacy category of beliefs about learning a language was strongly correlated with the use of all categories of language strategies except the metacognitive one in which the majority of students were weak. They argued that one possible reason for the low frequency of metacognitive strategy use is because of instructors' teaching method.

2.2.4 Self-efficacy and its relation to language learning strategies in specific skills

The above mentioned studies consider the relationship between language learning strategies and self-efficacy regarding different languages, and specifically English in general. However, some researchers have studied the relationship between the learning strategies and self-efficacy in particular skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

In terms of speaking, Sioson (2011) found a negative relationship between language learning strategies and beliefs about language learning in a speaking context. He suggested that this may be due to the fact that when students think that language learning is difficult, they tend to use specific strategies that enable them to cope with or meet the perceived difficulty or demand of learning a language. He also found that when students used more metacognitive strategies, they had less feelings of communication apprehension, fear, and general feelings of anxiety. This may be due to the fact that metacognitive strategies deal with goal setting and monitoring of learning which somehow lessen the students' anxiety and possibly make them more confident.

In terms of reading comprehension, Shang (2010) found a significant and positive relationship between the use of strategies (cognitive, metacognitive and compensatory) and perceived sense of self-efficacy in reading comprehension. Also, students' self-efficacy beliefs in English showed a correlation with their reading achievement. But no significant correlation was found between strategy use and reading achievement.

In a similar study, Li and Wang (2010) studied the relationship between self-efficacy as a motivational construct and reading strategies as a cognitive construct. The results showed that reading self-efficacy was significantly and positively related to the use of reading strategies in general and the use of three subcategories of reading strategies: metacognitive strategies; cognitive strategies; and social/affective strategies, in particular. Highly self-efficacious readers reported significantly more use of reading strategies than those with low self-efficacy. The researcher noted that in the process of reading, highly self-efficacious readers may make feasible reading plans including goal setting, time arrangement, and materials selection and adopt some cognitive strategies that are appropriate for themselves such as making inferences, note-taking, elaboration, grouping, deduction, and transferring. In addition, they may adjust some reading strategies when these strategies do not work for them, and regulate their negative feelings such as stress and anxiety when encountering reading failures. Finally, they may evaluate their reading performance accurately and discuss some topics with their teachers and peers. Conversely, low self-efficacy readers seldom make reading plans, cannot employ cognitive strategies effectively and appropriately, tend to become anxious and frustrated when confronting difficulties, and seldom evaluate their reading performance or talk with others about their difficulties.

With respect to listening comprehension, Schunk and Rice (1984) found that verbalization of listening strategies after modeling by a teacher helped strengthen learners' self-efficacy and performance. They claimed that verbalization help learners to attend more fully to strategies and aid their encoding. If the verbalization matches what the teacher has modeled, they continue to use their strategies and then self-efficacy is likely to be increased as it strengthens the learners' sense of control and implies they can succeed if they want to. Finally, Graham (2011) mentioned that the act of talking about one's strategies to another person, for example in paired listening tasks, can increase listeners' metacognitive awareness and hence increase their sense of control over their listening.

So, the review of literature in the area of self-efficacy and language learning strategies up to now indicates that both constructs indeed have a role in proficiency and achievement of ESL or EFL learners. Moreover, these two constructs are in most cases related to each other. Another construct that seems to be related to ESL or EFL achievement and proficiency and to the self-efficacy and learning strategy use is the construct of anxiety. The next part is devoted to the construct of anxiety and its role in language achievement and proficiency.

2.3 Foreign language learning anxiety and its definitions

In order to understand the concept of language anxiety, it is better to define the concept of anxiety first. Spielberger (1983) defined anxiety as "the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of autonomic nervous system" (p. 15). Two concepts closely related to the concept of anxiety are language anxiety and Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety (FLCA). A review of the literature on anxiety indicates that language anxiety is a distinct type of situation-specific anxiety. MacIntyre and Gardner (1994b) defined language anxiety as "the feeling of tension and apprehension specifically associated with second language contexts, including speaking, listening, and learning" (p. 284).

According to MacIntyre and Gardner (1994b), Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety is considered to be a situational specific anxiety experienced in the well-defined situation of foreign language classroom. Horwitz, et al. (1986) defined language anxiety as "a distinct complex of self-perception, beliefs, feelings, and behavior related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of language learning process" (p. 128). It may arise from self-doubt, frustration, and perceived (or fear of) failure. When anxiety is associated with learning a foreign language, it can manifest itself in altered performance, lower test scores, and final grades. If it is severe, it can even lead to a change in the students' academic or career plans.

According to Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1991), possible causes of FLCA are communication apprehension, test anxiety and fear of negative evaluation. Young (1991) summarized six possible sources of FLCA: personal and interpersonal issues, instructor-learner interactions, classroom procedures, language testing, instructor beliefs about language learning, and learners' beliefs about language learning. Chan and Wu (2004) stated that factors such as teachers' attitude and evaluation, parents' expectations, and students' achievement are the potential sources of FLCA. Nitko (2001) mentioned three reasons for students' being anxious. The first one is lack of competence. The second one is lack of proper study skills, and the third one is wrong self-perceptions about their capacities. Oxford (1990) mentioned that poor foreign language learning skills are the cause of foreign language anxiety, not the result.

MacIntyre and Gardner (1994a) stated that FLCA may occur at each of the following stages: input, processing, and output. Input anxiety refers to the apprehension that students experience when they are presented with a new word or phrase in the target language. Processing anxiety refers to the apprehension students experience when performing cognitive operations on new information. Output anxiety involves the apprehension students experience when required to demonstrate their ability to use previously learned material. According to these researchers, these three stages are somewhat interdependent and each stage depends on the successful completion of the previous one.

A review of the literature demonstrates skill-specific characteristics of FLCA; that is, an independent and distinguishable aspect of this construct can be considered in each of the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. For example, Cheng, et al. (1999) investigated the relationship between FLCA and foreign language writing anxiety. They found that foreign language writing anxiety is a more specific type of anxiety closely related to the language -particular skill of writing. Matsuda and Gobel (2001) studied FLCA and foreign language reading anxiety and suggested that the two constructs were distinct, although they apparently shared an important sub-component which was lack of confidence. Elkhafiafi (2005) posited that listening anxiety in Arabic is a phenomenon related to, but distinguishable from general foreign language learning anxiety. That is why to achieve the purpose of the current study; foreign language listening anxiety is investigated.

2.3.1 Foreign language learning anxiety and its classifications

In the literature related to anxiety, two major classifications can be found for the concept of anxiety. The first one is the dichotomous distinction between debilitative and facilitative anxiety. Scovel (1991) stated that facilitative anxiety "motivate the learner to fight the new learning task; it gears the learner emotionally for approach behavior" (p. 22). Scovel (1991) mentioned that debilitative anxiety "motivates the learner to flee the new learning task; it stimulates the individual emotionally to adopt avoidance behavior" (p. 22).

In the second classification anxiety is divided into th