Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Robert Lucking

Committee Member

Raymond F. Morgan

Committee Member

Joanne Scheibman


Social cognitive theory explains the role that one's level of confidence plays in the accomplishment of a specific task. According to Bandura (1982, 1995), self-efficacy beliefs should align with performance. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships among reading/writing self-efficacy beliefs and reading/writing standardized placement test scores of diverse community college freshmen. Additionally, this study sought to understand the sources of these students' reading/writing self-efficacy beliefs through the descriptions of experiences they feel have influenced those beliefs.

There were three major research questions: (1) What is the strength of the relationships among reading/writing self-efficacy beliefs and reading/writing standardized placement test scores of diverse community college freshman writers? (2) Is there a difference in the strength of relationships among the scores of reading/writing self-efficacy beliefs and scores on standardized reading/writing placement tests of diverse community college freshman writers? (3) How do diverse community college freshman writers describe the experiences they think explain the relationships among their writing self-efficacy beliefs and their standardized writing placement test scores?

The study was conducted in two phases, with quantitative data obtained in the first phase and qualitative data in the second. Variables included race, age, sex, and placement in freshman composition. Among the findings of this study was that African American students in the research sample overestimated their reading and writing self-efficacy beliefs to a greater degree than Caucasian students. Moreover, for Caucasian students, a positive statistically significant relationship existed among their standardized reading/writing placement test scores and their reading/writing self-efficacy beliefs scores. A similar statistical relationship did not exist for African American students. Even for both groups placed into freshman composition without a prerequisite reading or writing course, the dissimilarity in statistical significance was found.

Qualitative data obtained from 19 interviewees suggest that a strong difference existed in the relationship of language at home and at school for Caucasian and African American students. For the African Americans in the sample group interviewed, monolingual or bidialectal functioning suggested experiences of identity conflict and stress. Caucasian students, on the other hand, did not share similar experiences of conflict and stress.


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