by Dr. Michael Miller
The origin of the construct of teachers’ efficacy is situated at the end of 1970s, when it was understood as the degree to which the teacher believes in his capabilities to bring about desired outcomes, such as student engagement (Ashton & Webb, 1986). A clear interest in getting to know the ultimate meaning of the construct and how it can be related to the teacher's behavior became critical. Years later, teaching self-efficacy continues to arouse the interest of many researchers because of its relevance to various aspects of the educational process, as shown in the multiple studies since the birth of the construct. According to Bandura (1986), teachers’ efficacy is not only enough knowledge of the subject and mastery of a set of teaching skills to ensure effective teaching, but it is also about teaching activities effectively. It additionally requires personal judgments about one's ability to use such knowledge and skills to teach under unpredictable circumstances, and varied time (Brand, 2000).
The conception of self-efficacy, ultimately, acts as a cognition mediator between knowledge and teaching activities (Brandt, 2006). In one study, Bliss and Mazur (2006) concluded that the efficacy of the teachers is not only related to students’ outcomes in terms of performance, motivation, and self-efficacy, but is also linked to behaviors that manifest this in the classroom.
In general, teachers with a high sense of self-efficacy show greater openness to new ideas and more willingness to try new methods if these are better suited to the needs of students. It is also believed that it helps teachers to plan and better organize their classes, spend more time and energy with students who are struggling in their learning, express great enthusiasm for teaching, and feel more committed to their profession. Self-efficacy is a belief of teachers, which ultimately affects their teaching practice and their attitude toward the entire educational process (DeCorse & Vogtle, 2007). In addition, studies show it to be a good predictor of student achievement and the sense of efficacy of teachers is directly related to their own performance. The results of several investigations, as developed by Raudenbush (2008), show that self-efficacy of teachers depends on contextual factors. The same teacher will show various levels of self-efficacy in different classes depending on whether they feel prepared to teach that subject and depending on their perception about the ability level of their students (Dodd, 2005).
The teacher with high self-efficacy feels able to involve students in the process of learning, although this perception might be limited to the level of teacher preparation. Different people with similar skills or even the same person in different situations may vary in the achievement obtained after performing an action. This has important implications for research on self-efficacy of the teacher (Dollase, 2004). Teachers face different groups of students each day, which differ in the subject taught, the level of the teacher’s knowledge, and the size of the class. Because of this, the teacher’s self-efficacy may be subjected to multiple variations. In short, to be useful and generalized, the measure of teacher effectiveness must include the teacher's perception of their effectiveness to develop large variety of tasks to perform. They must evaluate and analyze the applicability to the tasks of their daily work in a given teaching context (Dwyer, 2003).
Dr. Michael Miller is a professor specializing in learning strategies for success for online students, organizational behavior, and educational leadership. Michael has a Bachelor of Science in Education, Master of Science in Instructional Design and Development, an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership (K-12), and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Higher Education). His background includes elementary school teaching and administration, mentoring/training new teachers, curriculum development, online course design, and higher education administration. Currently, Michael is conducting research related to teacher preparation, online collaborative learning tools and processes, and effective online teaching practices through student engagement, stimulating intellectual development, and building rapport. Dr. Miller can be reached at email@example.com
Ashton, P.T., & Webb, R. B. (1986). Making a difference: Teachers’ sense of efficacy and student achievement. New York: Longman.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bliss, T., & Mazur, J. (2006). CASENET: Developing associations of experienced
and novice educators through technology. Journal of Teacher Education, 47(3), 185- 190.
Brand, S. F. (2000). Undergraduates and beginning preschool teachers working with young children: Educational and developmental issues. Young Children, 45(2), 19-24.
Brandt, R. (2006). On a new direction for teacher evaluation: A conversation with Tom McGreal. Educational Leadership, 53(6), 30-33.
DeCorse, C. J. B., & Vogtle, S. P. (2007). In a complex voice: The contradictions of male elementary teachers’ career choice and professional identity. Journal of Teacher Education, 48, 37-46.
Dodd, A. W. (2005). Engaging students: What I learned along the way. Educational Leadership, 53(1), 65-67.
Dollase, R. H. (2004). Voices of beginning teachers: Visions and realities (book review).
Educational Leadership, 51(4), 91.
Dwyer, C. A. (2003). Teaching and diversity: Meeting the challenges for innovative teacher assessment. Journal of Teacher Education, 44, 119-129.
Raudenbush, S. W. (2008). Advancing education policy by advancing research on
instruction. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 206-230.