Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Emily-Jane Good Plunkett 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I am a fourth year student in the practice path of the B.Sc. Applied Psychology course at IADT. Subjects that I particularly liked were social psychology, abnormal psychology, personality and individual differences, organisational psychology, and forensic psychology. My thesis is relevant to the fields of social and educational psychology. After graduating I hope to work on a graduate visa outside of Ireland for a year, grow my small business, and decide what masters I will pursue.

Project Description

'Investigating the Effects of Gender and CAO Points on Self-Efficacy in First-Year College Students'

The General Self-Efficacy Scale was employed to gather data on students' general self-efficacy (GSE). Data on GSE and demographic information was collected using a Microsoft Forms Survey. The link to the survey was distributed online via my personal social media accounts and in-person at IADT. The participants were undergraduate students ranging from 18-45yrs (Mean= 20.2 SD= 2.87). Gender was an independent variable under investigation which was divided into males (33%) and females (67%). CAO points were divided into three groups for analysis (low = 247-400 points, medium = 401-500 points and high ≥501 points). 103 students' responses were included in the two-way ANOVA after which a LSD post-hoc analysis was conducted.

Project Objectives

The aim of the present study was to investigate if gender and Central Applications Office (CAO) points affect GSE in first-year college students in Ireland. Studies have been conducted in countries outside of Ireland which examined the effect prior academic achievement had on self-efficacy. The main measure of prior academic achievement in Ireland is the Central Applications Office (CAO) system in which students are tested on knowledge and skills then their results are translated into CAO points. Prior academic achievement was shown to affect self-efficacy in college students in previous research so the aim of this study was to examine whether the same was true in an Irish context using CAO points as the equivalent to the testing measures in other countries. The effect of gender on self-efficacy has been comprehensively studied but has also produced mixed results. The most recent literature suggests that gender does effect self-efficacy so the current study aimed to investigate whether this was true. Whether there would be an interaction between the two independent variables, gender and CAO points, was also investigated.

Project Outcomes

Hypothesis 1 stated that there would be a difference in GSE depending on gender. Hypothesis 2 predicted that there would be a difference in GSE depending on CAO points attained. Hypothesis 3 stated that there will be an interaction between gender and CAO points.
Hypothesis 2 was supported as CAO points were shown to have a significant effect on GSE. The highest significant difference was between the low (247-400 points) and high ( ≥501 points) groups which was revealed during the LSD post-hoc analysis. Hypothesis 1 was not supported as gender had no significant effect on GSE. Hypothesis 3 was also rejected as there was no statistically significant interaction between CAO points and gender. The results have the theoretical implications (e.g.) supporting Bandura’s theory of mastery skills as a factor that supports self-efficacy. Strengths of the present study were that a valid and reliable measure of GSE was used and that students were able to complete it quickly. The main limitation of the study was that the generalisability of the results is quite limited because the sample had a gender imbalance and non-probability sampling methods were used. Future research could further investigate other factors that could contribute to this finding, use a larger and more representative sample in terms of gender and diversity of colleges and investigate whether other factors such as age and level of education attained might have an effect on college students self-efficacy.