Self-efficacy and academic performance among college students: analyzing the effects of team-based learning

College participation rates are growing among students of lower socioeconomic status and first-generation students (those who are the first members of their families to attend college), however their success rates do not keep pace with students of higher socioeconomic status and those whose family members have attained college degrees. Research indicates that one element impacting college students’ success rates is confidence in their ability to bring about intended outcomes in the face of challenges (self-efficacy). Guided by Constructivist Learning Theory, this study was designed to assess the possible impact of increasing opportunities for successful completion of goals (efficacious actions) in introductory college courses. A total of 159 university students in four introductory sociology courses were either assigned to a control group taught using the conventional lecture style of teaching, or an experimental group which adopted the Team-Based Learning framework. Eligible participants completed pre- and post-tests to assess possible changes in self-efficacy levels, and final course grades were monitored to assess differences in final grades. It was hypothesized that adding opportunities for efficacious actions into lower division introductory college courses would increase both self-efficacy and grades among first-generation college students and therefore narrow the achievement gaps.