Learning With Computer-Based Learning Environments: A Literature Review of Computer Self-Efficacy

Jun. 20, 2009

Source: Review of Educational Research. Vol. 79, Iss. 2; p. 576-580. (June 2009)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Although computer-based learning environments (CBLEs) are becoming more prevalent in the classroom, empirical research has demonstrated that some students have difficulty learning with these environments. The motivation construct of computer-self efficacy plays an integral role in learning with CBLEs. The goal of this review is to synthesize literature that has empirically examined factors related to computer self-efficacy and the relationship between computer self-efficacy, learning outcomes, and learning processes with CBLEs.

Research Questions

To determine which studies to review, the authors used research questions that have been prevalent in the rich history of self-efficacy in academic learning:
(a) What are the sources of self-efficacy? (b) What is the relationship between self-efficacy and learning outcomes? and (c) What is the relationship between self-efficacy and learning processes?

Conceptual Framework of Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is derived from the social cognitive theory (SCT; Wood & Bandura, 1989) originated by Bandura (1986). SCT accounts for the role of self-regulatory, self-reflective, cognitive, and vicarious processes in human behavioral adaptation. According to this theoretical framework, individuals are proactive and self-regulating. Central to this underlying assumption is Bandura's conception of reciprocal determinism, which suggests that human functioning is a dynamic interplay between environmental, behavioral, and personal influences.
This dynamic interaction, termed triadic reciprocality, helps explain how individuals acquire and maintain certain behavioral patterns.


This research reviewed 33 articles. These articles were grouped based on the three research questions. 25 articles examined factors related to computer self-efficacy. Second, 5 studies focused on the relationship between self-efficacy and learning outcomes with CBLEs. Finally, 3 studies examined the relationship between students' self-efficacy and learning processes with CBLEs. These three themes represent the three research questions of this literature and serve as the organizational structure. Each research question raises different theoretical and methodological issues.

Results indicate that behavioral and psychological factors are positively related to computer self-efficacy. Students who receive behavioral modeling report significantly higher computer self-efficacy than do students who receive the more traditional instruction-based method when learning with CBLEs. Computer self-efficacy is related both to learning outcomes and to learning processes with CBLEs. This review also offers theoretical and methodological issues for future research in the area of computer self-efficacy.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Wood, R. E., & Bandura, A. (1989). Effect of perceived controllability and performance standards on self-regulation of complex decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 805-814.

Updated: Jul. 01, 2009