Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Kendra Garrett


Social Work


This study explores school choice policy and its relationship to student feelings of self-efficacy. Bandura’s (1999) Social Cognitive Theory is used to conceptualize the research question. School choice is the predominant model in which many families find themselves embedded as their student approaches schooling. Given this context, families/students that make a conscious choice about where to attend school tend to have positive academic outcomes. A sample of 36 students from a mid-sized, private university in St. Paul, Minnesota was surveyed about whether or not they chose their high school, how they felt about the school they attended, and then assessed their feelings of self-efficacy using the New General Self-Efficacy Scale (Chen, Gully & Eden, 2001). The survey also explored demographic factors that tend to be related to high feelings of self-efficacy and/or better academic outcomes. Results of a t-test on the self-efficacy scale revealed no significant difference between the mean self-efficacy scores of school choosers versus non-choosers. A significant difference was found between school choosers and non-choosers on their perceptions about the quality of the school they attended. Further research is recommended to explore how school perception may affect individual feelings of self-efficacy with a larger, more diverse sample. The social justice of school choice policy is questioned, as it relates to providing equal access to the perception of a good education. Recommendations are made for school and community social workers to empower students by boosting their self-efficacy through mastery experiences, and social modeling reflective of their own communities. Further, suggestions are made to challenge negative school perception on the micro, mezzo and macro level.

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