Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

READING AND TEACHING IN AN URBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL: Preservice Teachers' Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Field-Based Experiences

Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

READING AND TEACHING IN AN URBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL: Preservice Teachers' Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Field-Based Experiences

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In its report on clinical preparation and partnerships for improved student learning, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2010) called for field-based experiences that combine content and practice. Further, the National Association of Professional Development Schools' (2008) calls for a preservice teachers to be actively engaged in the school community through school and university partnerships.

However, these field-based experiences and clinical preparation vary greatly among Institutes of Higher Education (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2010). Additionally, there is consensus that preparing future teachers to face the challenges of today's classrooms is dependent upon fieldbased teacher education programs that integrate content and pedagogy within mutually supportive partnerships. With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010), creating a workforce of teachers who are knowledgeable and confident in their ability to reach all of their students is of growing importance. This challenge is especially complex for middle level teachers who face the unique challenge of motivating and teaching the young adolescent.

In a recent study in New York City, Marinell and Coca (2013) found that over half of the middle level teachers who worked in the city left their schools within the first 3 years. This staggering number may lead teacher educators to question what they can do to help preservice teachers stay in the classroom. Increasing middle level preservice teachers' self-efficacy and field-based experiences may be one way to do this. In this study, middle level preservice teachers' reading teacher selfefficacy and general teacher self-efficacy were measured on a variety of reading instruction tasks affiliated with a field-based reading course and student teaching, which were each embedded in an urban middle school.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE

This study is framed within the constructs of Bandura's social cognitive theory (1986, 1997); the National Association of Professional Development Schools' essential elements of a professional development school (PDS) (2008); and the Association of Middle Level Educations (AMLE) Teacher Preparation Standards. The following sections detail the literature in these three areas.

Social Cognitive Theory and Self-Efficacy

Bandura (1986, 1997) states that individuals are self-organizing, self-regulating, proactive, and self-reflecting in shaping their own learning and behavior. Specifically, social cognitive theory focuses on a person's beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations (Bandura, 1986, 1997). In this theory, cognition is based on the person with regard to what Bandura called triadic reciprocality between one's behavior, environment, and personal factors. Thus, cognition is multifaceted and is related to self-efficacy.

According to Bandura (1994), efficacy beliefs result from mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological arousal. An individual's personal factors may lead to an individual's sense of self-efficacy, which can determine and predict accomplishments and achievements. Bandura (1977) believed that mastery experiences create the greatest change in self-efficacy. A mastery experience is an experience wherein an individual actually completes a task. When a task is completed and the individual is successful, efficacy grows. Contrarily, when the task is not successfully completed, efficacy decreases.

An example of a mastery experience is when a middle level teacher teaches a difficult mathematical equation in the classroom. If the students are able to demonstrate an understanding of the equation, the teacher's efficacy in teaching mathematics would grow. However, if the students are unable to demonstrate their understanding, the teacher's mathematics teaching self-efficacy may decrease. …

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