Differences between African American and European American first-year college students in the relationship between self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and academic achievement

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First-year African American and European American college students were surveyed to examine ethnic differences in how their social cognitive beliefs (self-efficacy and outcome expectations) influenced their academic achievement. It was hypothesized that outcome expectations may better explain academic achievement for African Americans due to the fact that they may perceive that external factors such as discrimination may influence their academic outcomes. Because European Americans are less likely to anticipate discrimination, they are more likely to believe that their outcomes would be the result of their own behavior. Higher levels of self-efficacy were related to better academic achievement for both ethnic groups. However, African Americans with negative outcome expectations (e.g. my education will not lead to a well paying job) had better achievement than those with more positive outcome expectations. This pattern was not found for European Americans. Potential explanations for the relationship between outcome expectations and academic achievement for African Americans such as racial socialization for preparation for bias are discussed and implications for interventions are addressed. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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