An Examination of Student Writing Self-Efficacy across Three Levels of Adult Writing Instruction

Rodney L. Alderman, Gardner-Webb University


Adults in today’s society do not possess the necessary writing skills required to be successful in postsecondary education and in employment. Writing is an essential skill for college and the workplace. Society also expects college graduates to be critical thinkers and to utilize higher-order thinking skills. Perceived self-efficacy may impact student learning in several ways, such as helping to determine the extent to which the students desire to improve their writing skills. Self-efficacy studies suggest that there is a correlation between self-efficacy and academic achievement. Self-efficacy perception may influence students’ desires to improve their writing performance. Adults may have specific writing needs at different levels of writing instruction. Adult basic education students often have low confidence in their writing abilities. Community college developmental writing students may encounter difficulty expressing themselves effectively through their writing. College-level writing students may experience frustration in meeting the high writing demands of writing across the content areas.

The purpose of this study was to examine student writing self-efficacy across three levels of adult writing instruction, and, therefore, to better understand the differences in self-efficacy that may be evident in these various levels of writing instruction. The researcher utilized a mixed-methods research design. Data were collected through the use of a survey and through interview questions in order to determine (a) differences in student self-efficacy across three levels of adult writing instruction; (b) how past writing experiences may impact present attitudes toward writing; (c) whether mastery of specific writing skills influences student self-efficacy; and (d) the impact of self-efficacy in writing on perceived success in college.