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26-02-2018 | Review Article | Uitgave 2/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 2/2018

Self-efficacy beliefs of medical students: a critical review

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 2/2018
Robert M. Klassen, Joel R. L. Klassen
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40037-018-0411-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Self-efficacy is a theoretically and empirically robust motivation belief that has been shown to play an important role in the learning and development of new skills and knowledge. In this article, we critically review research on the self-efficacy beliefs of medical students, with a goal to evaluate the existing research and to strengthen future work. In particular, we sought to describe the state of research on medical student self-efficacy and to critically examine the conceptualization and measurement of the construct. Finally, we aimed to provide directions for future self-efficacy research.


We critically reviewed 74 published articles that included measures of self-efficacy beliefs of medical students.


Our review showed that (a) research on the self-efficacy beliefs of medical students is growing and is becoming increasingly international, and (b) that nearly half (46%) of self-efficacy measures showed conceptual and operational flaws.


Our critical review of 74 research studies on self-efficacy of medical students found that although research in the field is increasing, nearly half of measures labelled as self-efficacy were incongruent with the conceptual guidelines set by self-efficacy experts. We provide five suggestions for future research on the self-efficacy of medical students.
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