Measuring Teacher Efficacy for Use in Economic Education

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper introduces an instrument to assess a newly recognized and important dimension of teacher effectiveness in economic education-personal economics teaching self-efficacy. The psychological theory-based construct measures the extent to which a teacher believes he or she has the capacity to affect student performance. The prime determinant of self-efficacy is content mastery. The national emphasis on K-12 economic education with standards adopted by many states mandate teacher training interventions, often by economic education councils and centers. The instrument can serve as a training assessment device and may serve as an explanatory variable in economic learning model research.

The instrument's construct validity has been established for use in science education and other fields. The authors translated prior developed and tested personal teaching efficacy items from a larger pool. Texas public school teacher data were used to conduct factor analysis showing that the instrument loaded on only one factor--labeled personal economics teaching self-efficacy. Correlation analysis suggests that the instrument is sensitive to content mastery levels and does indeed measure a teacher's own sense of their economics teaching proficiency. The authors call for additional research to test the instrument's robustness across teacher groups, its training assessment sensitivity and its place in formal economic learning models.

INTRODUCTION

This paper describes the development and prospective applications of an instrument measuring a relatively new aspect of teacher capability-personal teacher self-efficacy. This psychological construct is defined as the extent to which the teacher believes he or she has the capacity to affect student performance. Prior theoretical and empirical work has extended researcher understanding of the construct to a relatively mature level. The instrument presented here is designed for use both as a professional educator training assessment device and for possible use as a variable in economic education learning models that seek to explain the teaching-learning process. Understanding, then enhancing, the teaching-learning process in economic education poses challenges similar to those in disciplines like mathematics, chemistry and foreign languages that require abstract thinking and reflective learning. Experimental or quasi-experimental assessment of reasons for performance variance holds the interest of many economic education researchers. Characteristics of persons on both sides of the classroom, the means and modes of the teaching process and the influence of environmental factors combine to produce performance results that remain difficult to fully quantify. Should this new dimension prove valuable in replicated studies, perhaps by way of providing significant explanatory power in economic learning models, teacher-training interventions could gain a new meter to measure their impact.

The background section frames the institutional environment in economic education. A short overview of the national economic education infrastructure coupled with economic teaching requirements imposed on Texas teachers show why developing an instrument to measure personal teaching self-efficacy could be beneficial to the discipline. Discussion on self-efficacy theory reviews the current state of thought, known self-efficacy determinants and the factors that limit change in self-efficacy.

The section on instrument construction notes the original source of the items from prior teacher self-efficacy research in science education and the compilation of selected items into the instrument assessed for this paper. The instrument's test-bed venue was the 2002 state conference in San Antonio, Texas, for the Texas Council on Economic Education. Some 228 Texas teachers voluntarily and anonymously completed the instrument for evaluation. Factor analysis revealed only one factor loading of significance that the authors labeled personal economic teacher self-efficacy. …