Academic journal article Education

The Relationship between Perceived Body Size and Confidence in Ability to Teach among Preservice Teachers

Academic journal article Education

The Relationship between Perceived Body Size and Confidence in Ability to Teach among Preservice Teachers

Article excerpt


Visit a bookstore, turn on the television, read the newspaper, surf the web, or glance at magazine covers in a grocery check-out line, and one can quickly become inundated with images that reflect the nation's obsession with body size. Perceived body size is one component of body image. Health Canada (1994) defined body image as, "the picture an individual has of his or her body, what it looks like in the mirror, and what he or she thinks it looks like to others" (p. 29).

Body image can affect one's feelings and self-esteem; in fact, a relationship has been found between having a negative body image and low self-esteem (Stark, 2004; The National Women's Health Information Center, 2004). Body image can also influence self-concept, which encompasses a person's perceptions of characteristics and abilities, as well as self-evaluation (Health Canada, 1994). Simply stated, people who are self-confident tend to hold positive, although realistic views of self, generally accept themselves, and believe in their ability to accomplish their goals. On the other hand, people who lack self-confidence generally expect failure and excessively depend on what others think for their own feelings of self worth (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Counseling Center, 1996).

Personal beliefs can affect behavior (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004). According to Bandura (1994), "Perceived self-efficacy is defined as people's beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave" (p. 1). In a discussion about self-efficacy beliefs, Pajares (2002) noted that the beliefs a person holds about his or her capabilities can be a better predictor of that individual's behavior than the person's actual knowledge since perceived self-efficacy affects what individuals actually do with their skills. Further demonstrating the importance of self-efficacy, it has been shown that more confident preservice teachers are less likely to drop out of the teaching profession and think about the teaching profession in distinctly different ways than those preservice teachers with low self-confidence (Marso & Pigge, 1998b; Kalian & Freeman, 1987). This is of paramount importance since the nation is experiencing a crisis with regard to teacher retention (Heller, 2004).

Bandura (1977) presented the following areas as sources for efficacy information: 1) actual experiences, 2) vicarious experiences, 3) verbal persuasion, and 4) emotional arousal. It is reasonable to conclude that preservice teachers develop a sense of teaching efficacy in a variety of ways that might include observing other teachers (vicarious experiences), peer teaching (actual experiences), and encountering feedback from supervisors and their students (verbal persuasion), which could result in emotional arousal. Whether this emotional arousal is positive or negative depends upon feedback received. Marso and Pigge (1998a) found that high levels of anxiety, or low efficacy, about teaching negatively impacts preservice teachers as they transition into the profession.

This low self-efficacy is likely developed over time as a result of feedback received and beliefs about self, starting as early as childhood. Strauss and Pollack (2003) found that overweight adolescents were more likely to be socially isolated and to be peripheral to social networks than were normal weight adolescents. In their study of 10,039 young people aged 16 to 24 years, Gortmaker, Must, Perrin, Sobol, and Dietz (1993) concluded that overweight in adolescents may have deleterious effects on their subsequent self esteem, social and economic characteristics, and physical health, and that discrimination against overweight persons may be responsible for these negative findings.

Considering the national obsession with body size, it is likely that preservice teachers may feel anxious and experience low efficacy if their body size elicits negative feedback. …

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