Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Middle Years Teachers' Past Experiences of the Arts: Implications for Teacher Education

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Middle Years Teachers' Past Experiences of the Arts: Implications for Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the 21st Century knowledge economy there is an increasing demand for creative, flexible, adaptable and innovative members of the workforce and of the general community (UNESCO, 2006). Concomitantly, education systems are expected to evolve to accommodate these new conditions. Arts education (in this case defined as music, dance, drama, visual arts and media in Queensland) is argued to equip students with these capacities, enabling them to express and critically evaluate ideas, and allowing nations to develop the human resources necessary to tap their valuable cultural capital (UNESCO, 2006). Consequently, arts education is increasingly regarded as an essential component of a comprehensive education leading to the full development of the individual and ensuring participation in cultural and artistic life (Australian Ministerial Council on Education Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEEYTA, 2005). The teaching of the arts in the middle years (in this case defined as grades four to nine) is typically undertaken by generalist trained teachers, yet, it is in the main agreed that quality arts education requires highly skilled professional teachers with high levels of self efficacy (Andrews, 2006; Kane, 2008; Oreck, 2001). The teaching of the arts by generalist teachers with a wide range of self-efficacy beliefs is reportedly problematic around the world. Until now, the problem has been researched from a 'confidence' perspective.

However as Bartel, Cameron, Wiggins and Wiggins (2004) argue, 'confidence' alone is meaningless in determining self-efficacy unless it is accompanied by understandings around 'competence'. When both elements of confidence and competence are investigated, then efficacy is determined. In Australia few studies have explored generalist teachers from the perspective of self-efficacy, especially in Queensland where this study was conducted.

Teacher self-efficacy

Teacher efficacy or self-belief is the "extent to which the teacher believes he or she has the capacity to affect student performance" (Bergman et al., 1977, p. 137). It is constructed within the broader understandings of self-efficacy theory, which emphasises that people can exercise influence over what they do (Bandura, 2006). Self-efficacy is defined as "beliefs in one's capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments" (Bandura, 1997, p. 3). Self-efficacy theory is one of only a few conceptualisations of human control that describes a distinction between competence and confidence, used as a future oriented judgment. People use efficacy beliefs to guide their lives by being self-organising, proactive, self-regulating and self-reflecting (Bandura, 2006). This means that people may regulate their own behaviour through motivation, thought processes, affective states and actions or changing environmental conditions based around their efficacy beliefs. Perceived self-efficacy provides guidelines for enabling people to exercise some influence over how they live their lives, leading to enhanced confidence and competence.

Self-efficacy beliefs influence thought patterns and emotions that enable actions in which people can pursue goals, rebound from setbacks and exercise some control over events that affect their lives (Bandura, 1986, 1993, 1996, 1997). Effective functioning requires skills as well as the belief to use them well (Bandura, 1997). They affect performance both directly and by influencing intentions. Moreover, they are not considered a stable character trait of an individual, but rather an active and learned system of beliefs in context (Bandura, 1997). From this perspective, self-efficacy operates as a key aspect in a generative system of human competence. Bandura (1997) notes that people with high self-efficacy choose to perform more challenging tasks. They will set higher goals and commit to them. Once an action has been taken, highly self-efficacious people invest more effort and persist longer than those with low self-efficacy. …

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