Confidence in one's abilities is important in any new venture if one hopes to continue with the venture in the future. Self-efficacy is a crucial component and theory behind the Project GAIN program. Bandura described self-efficacy as the "beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainments." (Bandura, 1998, p. 3). GAIN™ uses golf to positively change participants' self-efficacy. This is done by structuring many facets of the program to reflect to the four sources of self-efficacy: enactive mastery experience; vicarious experiences; verbal persuasion; and physiological and affective states.
Enactive Mastery Experience
Efficacy is most influenced through mastery experiences. Bandura (1997) describes these experiences as being the result of overcoming obstacles successfully. This will be implemented into Project GAIN by increasing how individuals view their mastery of skill. Implementation will also include improving people with disabilities' ability to cognitively feel they can accomplish other tasks successfully.
One way Project GAIN utilizes enactive mastery to increase self-efficacy is through structuring lessons differently for different participants depending on their abilities, needs, and desires. Some may not be able to physically tolerate 18 holes of golf, or they may desire to achieve a level of skill and ability necessary to go to a driving range or miniature golf course. The key is that lesson plans are individualized to establish a task/goal for each individual that will be moderately challenging so that the participant will likely succeed, resulting in feelings of personal accomplishment. The confidence gained from success in a challenging task would be undermined had the task been perceived by the individual as easy to accomplish. On the contrary, if tasks are perceived as too difficult or impossible, they tend to lower self-efficacy, thus reducing the individual's willingness to engage in the activity in the future.
Project GAIN structures activities to aid in the development of self-confidence. This allows participants to challenge themselves by developing their level of mastery at each facet of the game. This ensures that participants are not stretching far beyond their abilities and engaging in the game in ways that would not be very comfortable for them. It also works to create tasks that are increasingly challenging as participants acquire more skills and confidence in their abilities.
Vicarious experiences occur through opportunities to observe how others respond to a given situation. While such learning can occur through observing how an experienced golfer reacts to a given situation, seeing people similar to oneself (such as a mentor who is also learning the game, or other participants with disabilities) succeed by persistent effort, influences participants' beliefs that they too are capable of succeeding in similar situations and tasks. Through modeling appropriate behavior and demonstrating ways of thinking, models share their knowledge and teach participants effective skills and strategies for appropriately and successfully managing tasks. Project GAIN capitalizes on this source of efficacy, as there are numerous models for participants to learn from. Whether it is an experienced golfer modeling skills and golf etiquette, a mentor who is modeling appropriate social skills, or successful navigation around obstacles and success of a fellow participant one can identify with, participants are more than likely to find at least one "role-model" capable of influencing their efficacy beliefs.
Verbal persuasion is the giving of positive verbal feedback. This can have a positive effect on self-efficacy as long as the feedback is given immediately following the behavior and is perceived by the participant as an honest appraisal of his or her performance (Margolis & McCabe, 2006). It is important to give honest feedback so that participants do not have unrealistic beliefs about themselves. In addition, if participants are given positive feedback when they have not legitimately earned it, they may come to view praise in the future as insincere. Project GAIN staff has gone through comprehensive training that incorporates field experience in teaching golfers with disabilities as well as appropriate interactions and communications. Educating staff on these crucial matters ensures a greater probability that this source of efficacy will be implemented accordingly.
Physiological and Affective States
|GAIN praticipants work as a team to aquire skills to succeed in golf and and beyond.|
Project GAIN Intentional Programming and Individualized Lesson Plans
Intentional programming uses individualized lesson plans so that each participant can achieve optimal success. The more comfortable and confident the participants are, the more likely they are to continue with golf after the program has ended. Each lesson also involves at least one social or inclusive activity. When done at the start of the lesson, the activity serves as a way to break down barriers and inhibitions and thus reduce anxiety before moving on to the rest of the lesson. It also allows for the participants and mentors to get to know each other in a fun and relaxed environment, enabling new friendships to form among the group members.