Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ellen L. Usher


Self-efficacy, or a belief in one’s ability to complete a task, has been shown to predict student success and persistence. Rural students have a history of lower college enrollment and degree attainment than urban students. However, no studies have compared self-efficacy or its sources across rural and urban groups. The purpose of this study is to examine differences in how rural and urban middle school students develop self-efficacy and self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in the domain of math. Data were collected from 174 rural students and 1743 urban students in grades 6-8 in the southeastern United States. Measurement invariance analyses determined that rural and urban students respond to measures of self-efficacy and its sources similarly, but not identically. Comparison of latent means revealed that rural students reported more vicarious experiences than urban students. However, structural equation modeling showed that rural students relied solely on mastery experience when evaluating their self-efficacy. This differed from urban students who relied on mastery experience, vicarious experience, and negative physiological state when judging their self-efficacy. This study is the first to compare self-efficacy across rural and urban groups and extends research examining self-efficacy and its sources in understudied populations.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)