Gender Differences in Academic Outcomes: The Role of Self-Efficacy and Racial Identity
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This study investigated how African American high school boys and girls differ in academic self-efficacy expectations, racial identity, academic performance, and educational expectations, and how well academic self-efficacy and racial identity attitudes predict academic outcomes in these students. Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), incorporating racial identity models, provided the theoretical framework for the study. Participants were 150 African American students attending a predominantly Black high school. Students completed a demographic questionnaire, including self-reported GPA and educational expectations; the Beliefs in Educational Success Test (BEST; Majer, 2006, 2009); and the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity-Teen (MIBI-T; Sellers et al., 1998). Hypotheses were: African American women will have higher levels of academic self-efficacy (Hypothesis 1), academic performance (Hypothesis 2), and educational expectations (Hypothesis 3) than African American men; The difference between African American men and women in academic performance and educational expectations can be partially accounted for by gender differences in academic self-efficacy (Hypothesis 4); Academic self-efficacy moderately positively predicts academic outcomes in African American students (Hypothesis 5); Racial identity attitudes provide unique prediction of academic outcomes beyond that provided by academic self-efficacy (Hypothesis 6); and the positive relationship between academic self- efficacy and academic outcomes will be stronger for African American men and wfomen with higher racial centrality attitudes (Hypothesis 7). Results for Hypothesis 1 through 3 revealed gender differences only for educational expectations with men unexpectedly reporting higher levels than women. Hypothesis 4 was not examined because there were no gender differences in academic self-efficacy. Hypothesis 5 results revealed that academic self-efficacy moderately predicted both academic performance and educational expectations. For Hypothesis 6, racial identity attitudes provided minimal incremental prediction of academic outcomes, except that Humanist and Assimilationist attitudes were inversely related to academic performance and educational expectations, respectively. For Hypothesis 7, racial centrality did not moderate the relationship between academic self-efficacy and academic outcomes. Overall, there was limited evidence for gender differences in the academic variables. The results supported SCCT but provided limited evidence for the incremental contribution of racial identity attitudes in predicting academic outcomes. Interpretation of the findings, theoretical and applied implications, and future directions are discussed.