Changes in self-efficacy beliefs, learning and arousal following attributional re-training in novice white water kayakers

Barker, Matthew Robert
Cairns, Simeon
Begg, Andy
Gibbs, Colin
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

One of the problems faced by teachers who train outdoor pursuits instructors in the hot‐house environment of time limited, criterion referenced training and assessment programmes in tertiary education is managing the students’ anxiety, arousal and self‐efficacy beliefs. Evidence suggests that poor progress and failure by students through these programmes is associated with feelings of increased anxiety, weak efficacy for the tasks and high physiological arousal when engaged in certain activities in outdoor environments.

The literature review focuses on three main areas of research: (1) self‐efficacy theory, (2) attribution theories, and (3) arousal and anxiety. These areas are inter‐related with the main themes of self‐efficacy and learning being discussed in each section.

An attributional re‐training intervention was trialed and it’s effects on self-efficacy, arousal and learning were measured. To give a holistic appreciation of the arousal response, emotional reactions, strength of self-efficacy beliefs, their inter-relationships in a white water kayak-training environment, a concurrent nested mixed methods approach was used. The elements of qualitative data (self-efficacy, somatic arousal, and emotional state) and quantitative data (skill, heart rate, critical flicker-fusion threshold, salivary cortisol concentration, self- efficacy and somatic arousal) were blended together to provide a fuller picture of causation and the relationships, in this white water environment.

The level of arousal students experience while participating in white water kayak training courses is characterised in Chapters 4 and 5. Very high physiological arousal was found at low to moderate exercise intensities. Heart rates showed large and early anticipatory responses and were slower to return to resting values at cessation of kayaking. The cognitive arousal marker of CFF was depressed when other arousal markers were at their zenith, particularly for females suggesting a different cognitive arousal response. The relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and arousal is examined in Chapter 6. An interactive two‐way relationship was demonstrated between arousal and self-efficacy beliefs. The formation of self‐efficacy beliefs appears to occur at differing levels of arousal for males and females. These findings suggest a more important role for arousal in self‐efficacy belief formation, in this environment, than is generally reported in the literature. Chapter 7 investigates the relationships between self-efficacy beliefs and the learning of kayaking skills. Pre and post self-efficacy correlate well with skill, however, the relationships between change in self-­efficacy and change in skill or pre and post self-efficacy with change in skill were not proportional. The performance accomplishment antecedent was the best predictor of subsequent skill. The relationships between arousal (physiological, cortical and somatic), emotion and the learning of kayaking skills are illustrated in Chapter 8. Greater learning occurs when participants have smaller changes in arousal. Anxious participants did show greater change in arousal. Chapter 9 considers the influence of attributional re-­‐training on the change in participants’ kayaking skills (learning) and their self-­‐efficacy beliefs. Attributional re-training has a positive effect on skill attainment and skill change. It also appears to have a positive influence on the development of stronger self-efficacy beliefs. Chapter 10 looks at the relationship between attributional re-training and arousal. Attributionally re-trained participants experience higher physiological arousal and a greater increase in cortical arousal. Evidence is presented to suggest that attributional re-training may lessen the depression of CFF and therefore the inferred decline in cognitive processing capacity, especially for females. Attributional re-training stimulates the notions of high positive affect (excited, confident) and low negative affect (calm, relaxed).

In conclusion, this exploratory research suggests that the environment in which white water kayak training occurs is shown to be highly stress inducing. Attributional re-training and associated self-efficacy augmentation can have a mediating role, reducing negative environmental effects on learning in white water kayak training. Further findings suggest implications for course design and programme delivery to improve learning and self‐efficacy belief development.

Attributional re-training , White water kayaking , Self-efficacy , Physiological arousal , Learning , Somatic arousal
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