Does Self-efficacy Matter?

Does Self-efficacy Matter? On the Correlation of Self-efficacy and Creativity in IT Education

On the Correlation of Self-efficacy and Creativity in IT Education

A good friend of mine, Juhani Risku of Jyväskylä university, asked me some years ago if I wanted to collaborate on a research paper he and a few of his colleagues were planning to write. Of course, always in for something different, said yes. My contribution to be very fair was minimal, all the heavy lifting was done by the main authors. I might have had a few conversations and gave some input. I am not even sure if my input has made it in the final papers, actually.


Self-efficacy belief affects humans in life, action and work. Higher self-efficacy enables stronger contribution in fulfilling tasks, helping others in a team, and survive when facing obstacles and failures. Also, creativity correlates to higher self-efficacy. At the same time, design is a powerful skill in note-making, improving the student’s understanding of the undergoing topic in a class. Note-making, when consisting of recorded writings, self-drawn images and other supportive subjects like structural analyses, charts, ad-hoc notes, detailed features and verbal links to related themes, forms a fundamental skill and ability in learning and applying new motifs and patterns. We executed during a design class an experiment with 22 students from various faculties at two universities by designing and creating visual notebooks. The students acted as designers and visualizers, communicating to themselves and their teams with the own creations. These note-books were analysed and reflected against the questionnaire results to evaluate the impact of the course in the progress in design skills and creativity.

And the paper itself:

My thoughts then

Here is first a definition of “self-efficacy”:

Self-Efficacy is a person’s particular set of beliefs that determine how well one can execute a plan of action in prospective situations (Bandura, 1977). To put it in more simple terms, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation.

Psychologist Albert Bandura (1977) a Canadian-American psychologist and a professor at Stanford University.

I certainly have experienced that a strong self-efficacy has an effect on me being able to pursue some goal. When I am sure about something, I keep pushing and going. Does it make me more creative, though?

I am not so sure about that. I can execute my creative idea with a strong or well-developed self-efficacy. But the creative spark I get from listening to music or distractions. I get the creative spark from chaos and pressure. I get it from other mechanisms, as explained for example here.

My creative output could, however, benefit from a strong belief that I can work towards an execution of those ideas. Also, doodling and sketching and trying while doing has for me a strong meditative aspect. It is not so much about my analysis of my drawings that make me more creative, rather it is me allowing myself to “just move forward” without a judgment of my sketches that brings my creativity to the fore.

With analysis, I mean practically, that I stop with the sketch and spend real time on taking apart what I have been drawing. The problem for me is that this nagging inner voice lurks just around the corner and wants to draw conclusions such as “this cannot be made”.

My creative process benefits when I continue the sketching and occasionally glimpse at the previous sketches. I especially pay attention to mistakes or unexpected elements. Those are what I call “little presents”. There something might take place. So, I do have a strong belief of my ability to succeed, but maybe my path is just my path.