Academic journal article Science Educator

Pre-Service Teacher Self-Efficacy Beliefs regarding Science Teaching: A Comparison of Pre-Service Teachers in Turkey and the USA

Academic journal article Science Educator

Pre-Service Teacher Self-Efficacy Beliefs regarding Science Teaching: A Comparison of Pre-Service Teachers in Turkey and the USA

Article excerpt

Results from a study to compare preservice elementary teachers' efficacy beliefs at a large Turkish university and at a large American Mid-Western university indicate that the preservice elementary teachers in these two countries may have different science teaching efficacy beliefs.

The issue of teachers' efficacy is of importance as teacher preparation programs throughout the world attempt to address shortages of qualified, competent teachers. In the field of science education, monitoring and reacting to the issue of efficacy seems to be one way in which teacher preparation programs are evaluating the structure of programs. In developing countries there is an immediate need for qualified and innovative science instruction as governments attempt to insure that a pool of scientists, engineers and computer specialists are trained for business and academic research and citizens are provided with (and retain) some understanding of science. This study provides a comparison of the self-efficacy of future science teachers in two countries (one developed and one rapidly developing). Analysis suggests what might be learned to aid teacher preparation programs in many settings.

Teachers' sense of efficacy is a construct derived from Bandura's (1977) theory of self-efficacy in which the generalized behavior of an individual is based upon two factors, (a) a belief about action and outcome; and (b) a personal belief about one's ability to cope with a task. Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy (2001) defined teacher efficacy as a teacher's "judgment of his or her capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among those students who may be difficult or unmotivated." (p.783)

Teacher efficacy has been found to be one of the important variables consistently related to positive teaching behavior and student outcomes (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Ashton & Webb; 1986, Enochs et al., 1995;Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990; Henson, 2001). Research on the efficacy of teachers suggests that behaviors such as persistence at a task, risk taking, and the use of innovations are related to degrees of efficacy (Ashton & Webb, 1986). For example, highly efficacious teachers are more likely to use open-ended, inquiry, studentdirected teaching strategies, while teachers with a low sense of efficacy were more likely to use teacherdirected teaching strategies such as lecture or reading from the textbook. Research indicates that students generally learn more from teachers with high self-efficacy than those same students would learn from those teachers whose self-efficacy is low (Ashton & Webb). Woolf oik and Hoy argue that teacher efficacy is one of the few constructs about teachers that is related to "the behavior of learning of students."

The construct of teacher efficacy has been explored by a number of researchers in recent years. For example, Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) proposed a model of efficacy that integrates several important components of social cognitive (Bandura, 1997) and locus of control theories (Rotter, 1966). Within this model, teacher's efficacy judgments are the result of the interaction between a personal judgment of the relative importance of factors that make teaching difficult and a personal assessment of his or her personal teaching competence or skill.

Bandura ( 1986) argues that teacher efficacy is a situation-specific and even subject-specific construct. For example, a teacher's self-efficacy may be low while teaching science, but high while teaching language arts. For this fictitious teacher they may devote more time to language arts instruction in comparison to science. Furthermore this teacher might have more personal interest in participating in professional development activities related to language arts as opposed to science.

Enochs and Riggs (1990) claimed that a teacher's belief system is important in elementary science teaching. They suggest that two types of beliefs seemed relevant, belief that student learning can be influenced by effective teaching (outcome expectancy beliefs) and confidence or belief in one's own teaching ability (self-efficacy belief; Gibson & Dembo, 1984). …

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