Academic Self-Efficacy

Scale: Patterns of Adaptive Learning (PALS) - Academic Efficacy subscale

What it measures:

  • A youth’s perception of competence to do his/her class work.

Intended age range: 5th to 9th graders

Brief description: This scale consists of 5 items. Sample items include: “I'm certain I can master the skills taught in class this year” and “I can do even the hardest work in this class if I try”. Youth respond on a 5-point scale: Not at all true, A little true, Somewhat true, Mostly true, or Very true. The options A little true and Mostly true are added to the original version.

Rationale: A number of developmentally appropriate measures of academic efficacy exist for children and adolescents. However, available measures vary widely; some focus on specific subjects or classes, whereas others emphasize efficacy beliefs specifically related to homework completion or include questions about the youth’s ability to enlist social resources (e.g., help from teachers). The Academic Efficacy subscale provides an assessment of a youth’s beliefs about his or her academic abilities more generally. Additionally, the measure is relatively brief and has good evidence of reliability and validity in school-aged samples.

Cautions: None.

Special administration information: More general wording (e.g., “school work” versus “work in this class”) may be more appropriate for elementary school students, who tend to spend most of their day in the same classroom and/or with the same teacher. When used with older students, the questions can be modified to refer to a specific academic domain (e.g., Math), as domain- or task-specific questions may provide a more accurate assessment of self-efficacy, which can differ across domains or tasks.

How to score: Each item is scored from 1 (Not at all true) to 5 (Very true). The total score is computed by averaging across all 5 items.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores reflect greater levels of perceived academic ability.

Access and permissions: The measure is available for non-commercial use at no cost and is available here. The measure is located on page 20 of the manual.

Alternatives: Programs interested in a more robust assessment of academic self-efficacy may want to consider Bandura’s Children’s Self-Efficacy Scale. This 23-item measure assesses three types of academic self-efficacy: self-efficacy for academic achievement, self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, and self-efficacy in enlisting social resources. A list of items and a description of the measure can be found in the original publication, which is available here.

Citation: Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hruda, L. Z., Anderman, E., Anderman, L., Freeman, K. E., Gheen, M., Kaplan, A., Kumar, K., Middleton, M. J., Nelson, J., Roeser, R. & Urdan, T. (2000). Manual for the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. Retrieved from

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