I can do this! The development and calibration of children’s expectations for success and competence beliefs
Abstract We review work on the development of children and adolescents’ expectancy and competence beliefs for academic achievement domains across the elementary and secondary school years, and how they become calibrated to children’s performance. The work reviewed stems from prominent achievement motivation theories: expectancy-value theory, social cognitive theory, self-worth theory, and self-determination theory. Broadly, research on the development of children’s expectancy and competence beliefs for different achievement tasks shows that these beliefs decline from kindergarten to 12th grade, although there are different patterns of decline. Across age children’s expectancy beliefs relate more strongly to, or become better calibrated with, their performance on achievement activities. Such calibration impacts students’ motivation and self-regulation for exams and other assignments. Children’s expectancies are influenced by the feedback (supportive or critical) given to them by parents and teachers, as well as by parents’ and teachers’ expectancies for them. School instructional practices, notably ability grouping and tracking, differentially influence children’s developing expectancies. Peers also impact each other’s expectancy beliefs. We conclude the article with suggestions for future research.