From Maybe I Can to Yes I Can: Developing Pre-Service and Inservice Teachers' Self-Efficacy to Teach African American Students

By Siwatu, Kamau Oginga; Frazier, Paul et al. | The Journal of Negro Education, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

From Maybe I Can to Yes I Can: Developing Pre-Service and Inservice Teachers' Self-Efficacy to Teach African American Students


Siwatu, Kamau Oginga, Frazier, Paul, Osaghae, Osariemen J., Starker, Tehia V., The Journal of Negro Education


In this article, the authors describe self-efficacy building activities that practitioners can use in the preparation of teachers who are efficacious in their ability to teach African American students. The general principle underlying these suggested activities is that preparing teachers should entail fostering the development of competence and confidence. Becoming an effective teacher of African American students requires both the acquisition of related skills and the self-efficacy beliefs to put those skills to use. Practitioners are encouraged to explore ways in which these and similar activities can be incorporated into all facets of teacher education.

Keywords: self-efficacy, teacher education, multicultural education/diversity

As evidenced by the numerous reports written by government and educational agencies, and recent empirical studies, teacher attrition rates have become a significant concern among educational admiumstrators (Ingersoll, 2003). Research findings suggest that attrition is highest in schools with a high percentage of low income, high poverty, and minority students (Kersaint, Lewis, Potter, & Meisels, 2007). Consequently, school administrators are in a constant search for teachers to ftil the vacancies caused by those who leave the profession. WhUe urban schools are relatively successful in hiring new teachers, many ofthe new hires are often unprepared, inexperienced, and in the early stages of their teaching careers (Chizhik, 2003). Like their predecessors, after being assigned to teach in America's most chaUenging schools, many of these newly hired teachers leave the profession within three to five years (McKinney, FuUer, Hancock, & Audette, 2006).

Educational researchers have noted that the high attrition rate in urban schools may be a result of teacher preparation programs' inadequate preparation of teachers for diverse classrooms (Dill & Stafford- Johnson, 2003; McKinney, Haberman, Stafford-Johnson, & Robinson, 2008). Since 28% of students enroUed in urban schools are African Americans (Strizek et al., 2006), researchers have begun examining ways mat teacher education can better prepare pre-service and inservice teachers to deUver high quahty instruction to African American students. Researchers believe that preparing teachers to teach African American students involves transforming teachers' multicultural attitudes (e.g., Gay, 2000), increasing their culturally diverse knowledge base (e.g., Gay, 2002), and helping them develop the sküls needed to effectively teach African American students (e.g., Milner, 2009). WhUe these steps wiU go a long way in increasing teachers' knowledge, this acquisition of pedagogy-specific knowledge and skills are inadequate predictors of teacher's classroom behavior (Pajares, 1996). According to Bandura (1977), knowledge and action are mediated by a person's beUef in their capabUities (i.e., self-efficacy) to put the acquired skills to use. In his program of research, Bandura found that self-efficacy beliefs are powerful predictors of future behavior.

In dus article, the authors aim is to describe self-efficacy building activities that practitioners can use in the preparation of teachers who are efficacious in their abiUty to teach African American students. First, some background information wtil be provided regarding the preparation of highly qualified teachers who are able to teach students from culturaUy and linguistically diverse backgrounds, in general, and African American students in particular. Next, the authors will define the characteristics of self-efficacy beliefs and examine why it is important that teacher educators prepare teachers who are efficacious in their ability to teach African American students. Third, they describe the factors that influence the formation of self-efficacy beliefs. The article concludes with some specific self-efficacy building activities that can be used in the preparation and training of teachers of African American students. …

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