Self-Efficacy of Urban Preservice Teachers

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study was conducted with 60 preservice teachers to learn about their self-efficacy beliefs and such learning behaviors as effort expenditure, assessment of academic accuracy, and time and study environment management strategies in an educational psychology course. Results indicated that preservice teachers who had higher efficacy and used time and study environment management strategies exerted more effort than those with lower efficacy. Also, those exerting more effort were more accurate in assessing their performance capabilities, and subsequently scored higher on their practice tests.

Introduction

Teacher self-efficacy beliefs positively influence students' learning experiences and academic outcomes. However, teachers face many challenges that hinder their ability to be efficacious and impact their students positively. To better understand these concerns, many investigators are studying teachers' self-efficacy beliefs in general, while others are specifically examining preservice teachers as learners in education courses during their training. [1] The goal of the present study was to examine the motivational beliefs of preservice teachers as well as how they implement study strategies and accurately assess their learning in an educational psychology course in a teacher training program at an urban college.

Research on Teacher Self-efficacy

The conceptual focus of research on teacher self-efficacy is derived from Bandura's (1997) social cognitive theory. According to Bandura, self-efficacy refers to personal judgments of one's capabilities to perform tasks at designated levels. Self-efficacy can affect choice of activities and environmental settings since people select tasks in which they believe they can succeed. Self-efficacy also affects the amount of effort and length of persistence given to challenging experiences. For example, a person with high self-efficacy may exert much more effort on difficult tasks and persist to overcome obstacles, while someone with low self-efficacy may express doubts about capability and be unwilling to expend effort and time on such tasks.

The construct of teacher self-efficacy was first introduced in the Rand Corporation evaluation studies of factors associated with students' reading performance (Armor et al., 1976; Berman et al., 1977). Teachers' sense of efficacy was reported to have positive effects on the improvement of students' performance. Adapting Bandura's (1996) theory, Gibson and Dembo (1984) developed a measure of teacher efficacy to identify two dimensions: personal teaching efficacy (PE)--belief in one's capability to influence student learning, and teaching efficacy (TE)--belief in one's ability to effect change in student learning, regardless of external, relatively independent factors such as home environment, family background, and parental influence. Using this scale, researchers studied preservice teachers' sense of efficacy (both TE and PE) in relation to their beliefs in pupil control ideology (i.e., level of humanity), teacher autonomy on student motivation, and school bureaucratic orientation. Findings showed that preservice teachers with high PE and high TE also held more humane beliefs toward students, compared with those with low PE and high TE. In addition, teachers who perceived higher self-efficacy seemed to have more humanistic beliefs in classroom management and better lesson presentation, questioning, and classroom management behaviors. In recent studies on preservice teachers' academic learning during their training in relation to understanding and learning scientific concepts (e.g., photosynthesis, inheritance), preservice teachers with higher or positive self-efficacy beliefs in teaching science had fewer misconceptions or alternative conceptions of a scientific topic. [2]

Research on Calibration

The issue of the accuracy of learners' self-assessment of capabilities in relation to actual academic performance, or calibration, has only recently been examined. …