Self-Efficacy Perceptions of Prospective Social Studies Teachers in Relation to History Teaching

Article excerpt

Self-efficacy is one of the important concepts of the social cognitive theory. It can be defined as individual's perception of his or her own capabilities for organizing and successfully executing the courses of action required to attain designated types of performance. Self-efficacy denotes individual's perception of the performance that he/she can demonstrate against different situations, not the skills of the individual (Bandura, 1997). Individual's belief in his or her skills and abilities affects his/her motivation, and consequently his/her success (Kurbanoglu, 2004).

Teacher efficacy can be explained as his or her self-efficacy perception relating to teacher's reaching his or her students and enabling them to learn effectively. There can be many factors that determine teacher's self-efficacy perception, however, the success rate to be observed in students in the course of time would serve as one of the important characteristics in this sense (Woolfolk, 1990). Teachers' pedagogical self-efficacy perception will also affect students' motivation and attitude toward the course (Alderman, 1999). Relying on themselves in attaining educational goals, teachers will be able to increase students' self-confidence. Teachers with high self-efficacy perception rely on their students' learning capacity more compared to those with low level of self-efficacy, and they endeavor in line with that purpose. Teachers with high self-efficacy perception can endeavor to create an effective educational life using a variety of strategies, methods and techniques in the classroom (Alderman, 1999).

Teachers' self-efficacy perception is one of the major determining factors in classroom management as well. Teachers with high instructional self-efficacy perception endeavor spending their time in the classroom mainly with academic studies and productive activities aiming student development, while those with low level of self-efficacy use their teaching periods to solve discipline and noise problems and to talk about mistakes made by students (Bandura, 1997).

Differences between teachers with high and low self-efficacy can be listed as follows (Eisenberger, Conti-D'Antonio, Bertrando, 2005):

Teachers with high               Teachers with low self-
self-efficacy perception         efficacy perception

Believe they would perform       Have weak belief that they
teaching in an effective         would perform teaching in an
manner.                          effective manner.

Believe they can establish       Do not see themselves
communication with problematic   efficacious in classroom
students through extra           management.
efforts, and teach them as
well.

Endeavor to include families     Meet the families only during
in the education process of      parents meetings.
children.

Have high expectations for       Endeavor to solve disciplinary
students to be successful.       problems through negative
                                 sanctions.

Do their job willingly and       Do not do their job
affectionately.                  affectionately.

Self-efficacy perception is also effective in individual's future goals. Individuals with high self-efficacy perception also have high levels of future goals and they endeavor to attain these goals. On the other hand, individuals with low self-efficacy perception have rather modest goals, which are easier to attain. Because such individuals do not believe they can even do more, they are unable to use their capacities fully, and fail to reach the required performance (Woolfolk, 1990).

Although self-efficacy perception of teachers is important for all courses, it has a distinct meaning in history courses. Undoubtedly, history is one of the main courses, where students experience difficulties in understanding and in terms of motivation. Teachers should have a high self-efficacy perception for successful teaching against any negative attitudes students may adopt toward the history lesson. …