The sources that influence student teachers' sense of efficacy
The purpose of this dissertation study is to examine the variables that impact student teachers' perceptions of their teaching efficacy during their reading and writing lessons. Extending Bandura's four sources of efficacy beliefs - performance or mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal or social persuasion, and physiological and/or emotional states - this dissertation explores what other sources may impact preservice teachers' sense of efficacy.
Multiple regression analysis was conducted to investigate the sources of teaching efficacy that could influence student teachers' efficacy beliefs on both pretest and posttest surveys. Student teachers' personality was a significant predictor of efficacy for instructional strategies and student engagement in the pretest data (y = .34 and y = 29, respectively, p < .05). Student teachers' personality characteristics served as a modest predictor of efficacy for classroom management (y = .25; p = .053. Additionally, enactive mastery experiences with social and verbal persuasion (y = .23, p < .05), physiological and affective state (y = -.19, p < .05), and interactions with the cooperating teacher (y = .19, p < .05) made significant independent contributions to predicting efficacy for classroom management in the pretest data.
In the posttest data, student teachers' motivation and vicarious experiences made significant contributions to explaining the variance in efficacy for classroom management (y = .02 and y = .03, respectively, p < .05). Student teachers' motivation was a modest predictor (y = .36; p = .054) of efficacy for student engagement. The source of university training was also a significant predictor (y = .29, p < .05) of efficacy for instructional strategies. The sources related to the interaction with cooperating teachers did not make any significant independent contributions to any of the efficacy factors in the posttest survey. In particular, student teachers' personality was not a significant predictor in any of the posttest efficacy subscales, whereas personality was a significant predictor in all three of the pretest sense of efficacy subscales. A significant independent contribution made by student teachers' personality to explaining student teachers' sense of efficacy was washed out over the course of the student teaching practicum experience. Additionally, paired t-tests were conducted to examine changes in student teachers' efficacy beliefs before student teaching and after student teaching. Paired t-tests indicated that the 60 student teachers who responded to both pretest and posttest reported that their efficacy beliefs increased significantly over time during a student teaching experience in all three areas of instructional strategies, classroom management, and student engagement, as well as in overall student teachers' efficacy scores (for which mean scores increased from 3.85 to 4.33 on a 5-point Likert-type range).
Several limitations should be acknowledged in interpreting results from this dissertation study. First, among the limitations of this research are the different numbers of participants in the pretest and posttest, and that the modest sample size came from two different cohorts (Fall 2009 and Spring 2010) in one institution. Thus, caution must be exercised in generalizing from the results based on this small sample of student teachers from only one teacher preparation program who were enrolled in a student teaching practicum from two different cohorts. Another limitation of this study was the fact that all of the data were collected via student teachers' self-report instruments to measure sources of teaching efficacy and their efficacy beliefs. Thus, qualitative data in the forms of interviews and actual observations would have enriched the study to reveal sources of student teachers' efficacy and their sense of efficacy, and such data will be employed in future research.