While scholars of writing self-efficacy (WSE) have long explored self-efficacy as multidimensional, not every crucial dimension of self-efficacy has been explored (Walker; Zumbrunn et al.; Bruning and Kauffman). Recently, scholars have called for new WSE dimensions so that scholars can better examine the contextual and relational factors of self-efficacy (Usher and Pajares 786). My thesis is one answer to this call. Using ideas from contemporary affect theory and data from an IRB-approved study on thirteen high school seniors in a language arts class, I theorize and explore a new dimension of WSE that I call affective connections. Affective connections are connections both intentional and unintentional between bodies/objects that to varying degrees stick to and influence other bodies/objects. By analyzing the study’s ethnographic data, I found that affective connections are a helpful dimension for exploring how relationships and contexts influence self-efficacy. In two particular types of affective connections—student connections to assignments and student connections to teachers—intense connections often, but not always, indicated high self-efficacy to complete tasks and skills successfully, present and generate ideas, and self-regulate. More intense connections also usually indicated less student apathy about self-efficacy tasks or skills. Yet affective connections also complicate self-efficacy. Strong connections are not inherently positive, and affective connections ultimately reveal the ever-shifting and sometimes contradictory nature of WSE. My study indicates that affective connections are an exciting, likely widely applicable dimension of self-efficacy that may bolster scholars’ understanding of self-efficacy as a highly relational and contextual concept.



College and Department

Humanities; English



Date Submitted


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self-efficacy, writing self-efficacy, connection, relationship, affect, ideation, self-regulation, teachers, assignments, multidimensionality, language arts, high school, composition, writing studies