Self-efficacy, goal-setting, and feedback: Their influence on Web-based learning outcomes

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Technology of




The practice of offering Web-based courses, particularly at the post-secondary level, has increased tremendously over the past several years and is expected to continue in the coming years. Paralleling the push for more online courses at colleges and universities has been the demand for K–12 teachers to increase their use of technology as a primary teaching tool. Theory has not kept pace with practice, however, leaving researchers and practitioners alike scrambling to identify the essential elements of effective instruction delivery over the Internet. To date, advice to instructors at all educational levels regarding teaching with technology has been predominantly atheoretical. ^ This study sought to develop a theory of learning and transfer from Web-based instruction by modifying Locke's Mediation-Linking Model (2001). Specifically, the current investigation examined the influence of self-efficacy, goal setting, and feedback on learning and transfer from an asynchronous Web-based training course. Data were collected from 78 pre-service teachers who completed the training at a large northeastern university. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) and a three-group sequential discriminant function analysis (DFA) were used to determine whether there were significant performance differences among treatment and control groups in the training and transfer phases of the study. ^ The results indicated that groups did not differ significantly on post-lesson measures of self-efficacy and content knowledge, nor were groups significantly discriminable in their performance during the transfer phase of the study. The findings suggest that the influence of self-efficacy, goal setting, and feedback on learning outcomes may need to be conceptually modified for the Web-based learning context. Specifically, it is proposed that a number of task, learner, and learning environment characteristics moderate the influence of self-efficacy, goal setting, and feedback on performance outcomes from Web-based instruction. Future researchers are urged to investigate the proposed moderating influences when developing a comprehensive theory of learning and transfer from Web-based instruction. Web-based instructors and designers are encouraged to be mindful of the ways in which the Web-based context may affect learner achievement and to adjust course design and content presentation accordingly. ^