Self-efficacy, not self-esteem

Chicago Boyz had an interesting thread comparing the self-esteem movement to China’s focus on engineering education.

It is worth while, but it’s important to note two things that I have observed teaching 400-level classes in educational psychology

1) no serious researcher takes self-esteem seriously
2) nearly every pre-service teacher takes self-esteem seriously

I suspect this is becasue of the influence of the regular education faculty, who have limited training in the theory and methods of psychology, but a lot of exposure to educational fads like emotional intelligence.

To complicated matters, there is a predctively valid concept caled “sellf-efficacy,” which unfortunately shares the same initials as self-efficayc.

Here are examples of self-esteem questions

  • I feel good about myself (True / False)
  • I am a good person (True / False)
  • I am happy with who I am (True False)
  • I am good at math (True False)

Here are examples of self efficacy questions

On a scale of 0 to 100, how confident are you that you can perform the following tasks?

  • Correctly add these two numbers: 5 and 3
  • Correctly add these two numbers: 5353 less 3349
  • Correctly subtract these two numbers: 5 less 3
  • Correctly subtractthese two numbers: 5353 and 3349
  • Correctly multiple these two numbers: 5 and 3
  • Correctly multiplethese two numbers: 5353 and 3349
  • Correctly divide these two numbers: 5 into 3
  • Correctly divide these two numbers: 5353 into 3349

No one takes self-esteem seriously. Criticizing it is like criticizing holocaust denial: an excersize in frustration.

Self-efficacy is one of the best motivational constructs we have.

Update: Using the terms ‘entitlement’ (think: ‘self esteem’) and ‘locus of control’ (think: ‘self efficacy’) the New York Times covers similar ground.

Obama’s Distracting Fear-based Unilateralism

Protectionism may be Obama’s Iraq War, a huge, costly, error-prone, distracting, program that generates enemies and just might work.

The enemies are all over, including the generally pro-Obama CNBC

Just as Bush’s foreign policy was consumed by the Iraq War, there are signs that Obama’s economic plans may consume his foreign policy.

On Obama’s visit to our largest trade partner:

US President Barack Obama said he had assured Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday that a “Buy American” clause in his new economic stimulus law would not harm trade between the two allies.
Obama was asked about the language in the package, which he signed into law on Tuesday, during a press appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper here

On Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Japan:

TOKYO, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Japan has sent a letter to the United States expressing concern about protectionism stemming from a “Buy American” plan in Washington’s mammoth stimulus package, the top government spokesman said on Thursday.

The letter, sent on Wednesday to top aides of U.S. President Barack Obama and the Senate’s majority and minority leaders, echoes concerns by other U.S. trading partners, including Canada and the European Union. [ID:nN03517537]

“The common responsibility shared by the two countries, which are the world’s No.1 and No.2 economies, is to resist protectionism together,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.

On Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to China:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Beijing, where Chinese leaders’ are concerned about the “Buy American” clause in the stimulus package. Steve Chiotakis talks to Marketplace’s Scott Tong about why China and the U.S. are both worried.

“Old Europe” piles on:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will monitor closely a “Buy American” requirement in a $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus package, the EU executive said in its first response since the bill came into force on Tuesday.

“Following the concerns expressed both in the U.S. and internationally, President (Barack) Obama’s administration has assured its partners that it will adhere to its international commitments,” the Commission said in a statement to Reuters.

Obama has signed two “Buy American” laws: one to keep out foreign workers, and another to keep out foreign goods. Obama’s first moves have President have been to cave in to fear, turn his back on allies, and go-it-alone on the most important foreign policy issue we have.

Blog buzz for ‘Threats in the Age of Obama’

I am amazed at how popular Threats in the Age of Obama has been in the blogosphere.

Currently, 30 of the top 30 google results for Threats in the Age of Obama brings up mentions of the book that Mike Tanji edited (and for which I wrote a chapter, “An Outbreak of Democracy.”). Just as cool, searching for in the age of obama brings up three references to our edited volume, and two to Gwen Ifil’s The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. (And she has the publicity of PBS behind her — we just have a legion fo co-authors and fans, such as Radio Patriot, Devost.net, and others!)

threats_in_the_age_of_obama_cropped_cover

Zenpundit now links to a review by Pundita (cross-posted at The Real Barack Obama) of the book. Here’s what Pundita had to say:

The opinion of academics whose conclusions most closely serve the administration’s partisan leanings and defense goals come to dominate foreign policy. And because the academics are specialists, who are rarely given to investigating outside their discipline, galactic-sized chunks of reality completely escape their attention.

That explains the utter weirdness that has characterized U.S. foreign policy for decades and the escalating number of purported Black Swan events to beset these shores. (’Well it just happened like a bolt out of the blue, Mr President.’)

Tanji, a former supervisory intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, is well-aware of the limitations of the Virtual Think Tank (see his essay on the topic, which I’ve linked to above). But clearly he hopes its unfettered scope will prevent the worst oversights to arise from the blinkered research

Very cool! Threats in the Age of Obama can be purchased from Amazon.com.