Some Factors in the Development of Self-Efficacy Beliefs for Computer Use among Teacher Education Students
Albion, Peter R., Journal of Technology and Teacher Education
The self-efficacy for computer use of teacher education students was measured at the beginning of their course and again following a semester in which some students had completed computer courses. At both pretest and posttest the amount of time spent using computers was the factor that contributed most to the variance in self-efficacy for computer use. The influences of other factors such as personal ownership of computers and completion of computing courses appeared to be exerted through effects on levels of use. Strategies are suggested through which teacher educators might seek to increase self-efficacy of students by encouraging computer use.
Computers are an accepted part of modern life. They are used almost universally in business and are increasingly common in homes. However, concern has been expressed that computers generally appear to have had less impact in education than in other workplaces (Cuban, 1993; Papert, 1993), despite their benefits for teaching and learning having been demonstrated under a variety of conditions (Dwyer, 1994; Walker & Rockman, 1997).
Many schools would no doubt welcome additional and upgraded computers, but the slow rate of computer related change in schools cannot be entirely due to lack of computers. A recent US study found that, although almost all schools have computers and the average student-computer ratio is 10 to 1, up to 40% of 12th-graders claimed never to have a used a computer for school work (Coley, Cradler, & Engel, 1997). In an earlier study, Australian secondary schools were found to have a median student-computer ratio of 12 to 1, but about 40% of teachers were reported as making "no use of computers" (Roberts & Albion, 1993). In the UK it has been reported that only 34% of secondary and 56% of primary teachers use computers regularly and, despite the increased numbers of computers in schools, these figures have not changed significantly since 1989 (Beck, 1997).
Teachers can be expected to play a decisive role in determining patterns of computer use within their classrooms and attention to factors which influence teacher decisions about technology use should help to explain patterns of use. Studies of experienced computer-using teachers have found that perceived barriers to increased use of computers include limited access to resources, lack of time for planning and inadequate training (Hadley & Sheingold, 1993; Sherwood, 1993).
If training is a significant factor in teacher decisions about computer use, it might be expected that, compared to experienced teachers for whom computers may represent an intrusion into established practice, newly graduating teachers would be better prepared and more likely to use computers in their teaching. However, fewer than 25% of teachers graduating from some US institutions considered themselves "adequately to thoroughly" prepared for using computers in instruction (Handler, 1993). Moreover, Western Australian beginning teachers have rated their computer use in teaching lower than that of more experienced colleagues (Oliver, 1993). Oliver suggested that this may be a result of beginning teachers directing their energies towards the more pressing tasks of classroom management and lesson programming rather than towards "unnecessary challenging tasks such as implementing computer programmes." He found that although courses in personal skills for computer use appeared not to influence later patterns of u se, courses that focussed on curriculum applications of the computer tended to increase later use of computers for teaching.
Personal skills for computer use will likely be a necessary but not sufficient condition for classroom use of computers. Integrating new technologies into teaching requires that, in addition to knowing how to harness the technology for personal use, teachers be able to adapt their classroom practice. "The issues concerned with classroom management, changing teacher role and changes to teaching and learning models are more complex and difficult than the development of IT skills" which occurs rapidly when teachers are given access to the technology (Beck, 1997).
Teachers' beliefs should be among the issues to be addressed. Research has shown that teachers' planning and classroom practices are strongly related to their beliefs and that the educational beliefs of preservice teachers influence their studies and subsequent teaching behaviour (Pajares, 1992). Beliefs and attitudes of teachers have been shown to influence the uptake of technologies in their classrooms (Honey & Moeller, 1990; Marcinkiewicz, 1994; Marcinkiewicz & Grabowski, 1992), and studies of computer use during teaching practicum (Albion, 1996; Downes, 1993) have suggested that, despite possessing positive dispositions towards computer use, preservice teachers lacked confidence in their capacity to teach successfully with computers.
Teachers' belief, or lack thereof, in their personal capacity to teach effectively with computers may be a critical factor in determining patterns of classroom computer use. Studies that investigate teacher beliefs about computers and how they can be influenced should play an important role in devising more effective approaches to preparing teachers for technology integration.
The breadth of the construct of educational beliefs has led researchers to identify subconstructs including beliefs about confidence to affect students' performance (teacher efficacy), about the nature of knowledge (epistemological beliefs), about perceptions of self (self-concept) and about confidence to perform specific tasks (self-efficacy) (Pajares, 1992). According to Bandura (1997), "perceived self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one's capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments" (p 3), and such beliefs are the most central mechanism of personal agency through which people strive to control the events that affect their lives.
Olivier and Shapiro (1993) reviewed a number of studies relating computers and self-efficacy and concluded that there was "evidence to support the importance of the construct as a critical predictor of future trends in computer attitudes and usage patterns." Other studies have found evidence that computer experience does not directly affect subsequent behaviour regarding computer use but is mediated by self-efficacy (Hill, Smith, & Mann, 1987) and for the benefits of modeling as compared to tutorial training as a means of increasing self-efficacy for computer use (Gist, Schwoerer, & Rosen, 1989).
The original computer self-efficacy scales tended to reflect the prevailing technical emphasis on operating skills including the use of terminal systems (Hill et al., 1987; Murphy, Coover, & Owen, 1989; Torkzadeh & Koufteros, 1994). Rapid changes in computer technology pose a challenge to create self-efficacy scales which are specific enough to reflect the differentiated nature of the construct but which retain relevance over time. One scale that has evolved over time is the Self-efficacy for Computer Technologies (SCT) instrument devised by Kinzie and Delcourt (1991) to examine the computer self-efficacy of preservice teachers in relation to attitudes as measured by their Attitudes to Computer Technologies (ACT) instrument, which is comprised of two scales measuring Comfort/Anxiety and Usefulness. Originally the SCT focused on the use of applications such as word processing, electronic mail, and CD-ROM databases but it was subsequently adapted for use with a broader group and extended to cover spreadsheets, databases and statistical packages (Kinzie, Delcourt, & Powers, 1994). In the latter study, hierarchical regression analysis was used to demonstrate that self-efficacy for the use of specific computer technologies as measured by the SCT was typically influenced by attitudes as measured on the ACT, frequency of use of the relevant technology, and attendance at relevant training.
Self-efficacy instruments typically include two scales to measure efficacy beliefs (judgement of ability to perform) and outcome expectancy (judgement that successful performance will achieve a result) (Bandura, 1997). Logically it is possible for a person to believe that a particular behaviour will produce a result and at the same time believe that they are not capable of performing the behaviour effectively. In such a case the person may opt not to try since the chance of success is judged as low. Other combinations of high and low efficacy beliefs and outcome expectancy will produce different behaviour. The SCT had six scales to measure efficacy beliefs for specific aspects of computing but did not explicitly include a scale for outcome expectancy thus limiting its predictive power or requiring assumptions about outcome expectancy. However, despite this limitation the SCT might be used to predict likely behaviour since the Usefulness scale within the ACT instrument could be considered as a measure of outco me expectancy because someone who believes that computers are useful evidently expects that their application will produce worthwhile effects.
If, as seems likely, some skill in the personal use of computers is a prerequisite for effective use of computers in teaching, then it would follow that teachers' self-efficacy for personal computer use might contribute to their self-efficacy for teaching with computers. Knowledge about the self-efficacy beliefs of preservice and practising teachers and how those beliefs are modified might suggest more effective approaches to influencing factors which play critical roles in the uptake of technology in classrooms.
Background to This Study
Since 1989 all undergraduate students at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) have been required to take units intended to meet core objectives in computer literacy. When the core computing requirements were first implemented it was reasonable to assume that most students enrolling at USQ had limited exposure to computing in their secondary education. In this context the requirement could be seen as a forward thinking initiative to ensure that all graduates would have the basic computing skills likely to be required during their course of study and in their future professional careers.
The content and presentation of units has been reviewed periodically and adaptations have been made to reflect changes in the technology. Standard unit elements have included basic features of computer hardware and operating systems together with common applications software such as word processing, spreadsheets and databases. Specialist modules covering more advanced spreadsheets, Logo, or programming in C, were included for students destined for business, education, or sciences respectively. More recent changes include …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Some Factors in the Development of Self-Efficacy Beliefs for Computer Use among Teacher Education Students. Contributors: Albion, Peter R. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. Volume: 9. Issue: 3 Publication date: Autumn 2001. Page number: 321. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.