Title page for ETD etd-09292008-143710

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Wedcliffe, Keren Chedva
URN etd-09292008-143710
Document Title The effect of role models on the self efficacy of the child in the middle childhood years
Degree MSD (Play Therapy)
Department Social Work and Criminology
Advisor Name Title
Ms H Bauling Supervisor
  • peers
  • role models
  • social environment
  • observational learning
  • social learning theory
  • middle childhood
  • children
  • teachers
  • parents
  • media
Date 2008-04-21
Availability unrestricted
The goal of the study was to explore the effect of role models on the self efficacy of the child in the middle childhood years.

The focus of the study was on the middle childhood or school years, a critical developmental stage with a proliferation of socialization agents – role models. The researcher was interested in the effect that observational learning (modelling) had on the socialization of the child and more specifically on his/her developing self efficacy beliefs. The researcher identified the lack of relevant literature pertaining to children and relating to the South African context. The rapidly changing global environment and pervasive media exposure of modern living begged investigation regarding the effects on the child.

A qualitative approach was used in the study in gaining subjective, experiential rich data from the child’s perspective. A phenomenological research strategy was used as the researcher sought the meaning that the children attach to role models in their lived experience. Applied research characterized the research study. The researcher hoped to enhance the existing available data by adding insight in understanding the child’s subjective experiences, insight that would be of assistance to teachers, parents and helping professionals.

- Unstructured one-on-one interviews were chosen as the method of data collection. Eight respondents, four boys and four girls, were selected through purposive, non-probability sampling method with the aim at eliciting relevant and rich data.

The theory of social learning proposed by Bandura (1963, 1986) formed the basis of the study. This theory underscores observational learning – both direct tuition and vicarious reinforcement – as the powerful vehicle of socialization of a child. Thus, role models are agents of observational learning; modelling attitudes, values, norms, beliefs and behaviours for ensuing emulation. Self efficacy beliefs are a self evaluation of the individual’s capabilities. These beliefs fuel action since an individual will act and achieve success in accordance with this evaluation.

The findings of the study highlighted the effect of significant relationships, role models, on the efficacy beliefs of the child. Peer feedback, acknowledgment and vicarious reinforcement provided by peer relationships was seen as influential in colouring the efficacy beliefs of the respondents. Teacher efficacy was seen as an important factor influencing future learning and the child’s academic success.

A relationship that was seen to hold great significance was the parent-child relationship. Parent reaction to the child’s achievement – their praise, motivation and validation – was a crucial factor impacting the efficacy beliefs of the child. The researcher found a general lack of awareness of media influences.

Role models are selected, observed, evaluated and integrated by the child as an active member of his/her social world. In conclusion, role models were seen as key figures in the developing efficacy beliefs of the child. Self efficacy beliefs govern the achievement and success of the child. These beliefs are a learned self evaluation. The study highlighted that not all role models have the same significance for the child, hold the same influence. Moreover, observational learning is both direct and indirect, including negative and positive models.

© University of Pretoria 2007


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