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Teachers' self-efficacy.

Why is it important to study teachers' self-efficacy? Self-efficacy beliefs have been studied in teacher education, students' academic achievement, mental health, counseling, and sports, among other areas. Many attribute this widely studied construct to Bandura, who defined self-efficacy as personal judgments of one's capabilities to perform tasks at designated levels. The conceptual focus of research on teachers' self-efficacy is derived from Bandura's (1997) social cognitive theory. Stemming from Bandura's (1997) theoretical model of self-efficacy, various aspects of the teachers' self-efficacy construct have been examined in the articles featured in this issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly. These studies, as well as prior research, consistently show that teachers with higher self-efficacy are more likely to be effective in their classrooms by exhibiting enthusiasm for teaching, being open to students' ideas, using innovative instrumental methods that reflect their instruction, and motivating students to learn.

These articles span international research in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and Turkey as well as throughout the U.S. They employ both quantitative and qualitative approaches and offer reviews of the literature on teachers' self-efficacy. Kang and Neitzel, for example, conducted a literature review on empirical studies of teacher efficacy, focusing on a conceptual model and the construct's relationship with various personal and contextual variables. This review offers a helpful background for understanding teachers' self-efficacy.

The topic of mentor teachers is presented in several articles through the self-efficacy lens, particularly given the importance of mentoring novice teachers, professional development, and strengthening teachers' self-efficacy to address teacher retention. In this light, Hall et al.'s validation and reliability testing of a self-efficacy measure focuses on its relevance to mentor teachers. Ward articulates how her three-year university- and school-based partnership project impacted beginning teachers' efficacy during their early years of teaching. Gulla also examined mentoring teachers' self-efficacy beliefs in her story-sharing study, documenting how novice teachers who heard mentor teachers' stories developed self-efficacy and improved their instruction. Similarly, Saffold found that as mentoring teachers interacted with novice teachers in an urban setting, their own self-efficacy was strengthened.

To better understand how teachers develop self-efficacy beliefs, a few studies here focused on preservice teachers and the sources that influence those beliefs. Specifically, Szabo, Bailey, and Ward studied two sources of efficacy (vicarious experience and verbal persuasion) that contributed to developing preservice teachers' self-efficacy beliefs. Also examining sources were Aydin and Woolfolk, who found that preservice teachers' self-efficacy was related to positive relationships with mentors and teaching support. Other important related sources were preservice teachers' self-regulation of time and study environment strategies, and their efforts exerted in studying, as Chen and Bembenutty demonstrated.

A range of content areas was featured throughout these studies. Kim and Choy found that preservice teachers with greater content and pedagogical knowledge of music were more efficacious than those teachers without. Similarly, in the sciences, Sarikaya, Cakiroglu, and Tekkaya found that preservice teachers with a higher science knowledge level and positive attitudes toward science teaching contributed to their efficacy beliefs. In May's study, preservice teachers with higher science teaching efficacy were more knowledgeable about engaging with students and implementing activities, while in mathematics, Isiksal and Cakiroglu investigated preservice teachers' gender and course grades on math teaching self-efficacy, but found no significant differences. Finally, in language and reading acquisition, Haverback and Parault, who compared two groups of preservice reading teachers, found that tutors reading to elementary school children did not significantly change their self-efficacy, compared to those without this experience.

In sum, these and the other articles on self-efficacy featured in this issue of AEQ are unique in their approaches to examining important and understudied issues in teachers' self-efficacy. By working with in-service, preservice, and mentoring teachers; sources contributing to teachers' self-efficacy beliefs; and various settings, contexts (e.g., urban schools, teacher education programs, field sites), and content areas, these studies constitute a spectrum of practical research dedicated to understanding teachers' self-efficacy.

Dr. Peggy P. Chen

Assistant Professor, Hunter College, CUNY
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Article Details
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Author:Chen, Peggy P.
Publication:Academic Exchange Quarterly
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2005
Words:651
Previous Article:Self-regulation of learning.
Next Article:Developing teacher efficacy through shared stories.
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