‘Thinking in a different corner of the
same box’: can generalists make an
effective transition to the specialist
Elaine Pattison
Newman University College
TEAN Conference 2012
• To consider how teachers can be supported in
adapting to new specialisms through the
development of self-efficacy
• To examine the theoretical applications,
through a case study of six teachers
delivering primary foreign languages (PML)
• To discuss the wider implications for teacher
education and professional development
Understanding self-efficacy
“Perceived self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s
capabilities to organise and execute the courses of
action required to produce given attainments”
(Bandura, 1997, p.3).
Four elements:
1. enactive mastery experiences
2. vicarious experiences
3. verbal persuasion
4. physiological and affective states
• Effectiveness in teacher education is of interest to all, but
can be a nebulous concept
• Self- efficacy enables us to use a more targeted instrument in
specific areas
BUT there are wider questions
• What are primary teachers preparing children for when
considering more specialist areas?
• Do we need specialists to be effective? And for whom?
• Does this lower educational standards?
Literature review
• Self- efficacy (Bandura,1997)
• Teacher self-efficacy scale[TSES] –research developed
in North America (Tschannen- Moran, Woolfolk -Hoy &
Hoy,1998 )
• Mastery experiences in relation to professional
development (Tscahnnen-Moran and McMaster, 2009)
• Studies of primary /middle school children especially in
relation to maths, science(Palmer,2006)
• Very little research related to modern languages
teachers but some in US relating to University language
assistants (Mills and Allen, 2007)
• Interpretivist paradigm
• Phenomenological approach
• Case study- small purposive sample of West
Midland schools
• Qualitative data collection through semistructured interviews
1 St Ignatius
2 Plains School
Small, late 20th c suburban Catholic Primary
Larger than average late 20th c primary
White British background
White British background, very high proportion
of free school meals and above average
proportion of learning difficulties
Outstanding Ofsted report: high staff morale
and strong leadership
Recent implementation of PML: Staff supported
by visiting PML specialist
Satisfactory Ofsted report in improving school:
teachers involve pupils in their own learning
Relatively recent implementation of PML: Staff
supported by same visiting PML specialist as
school one
Case Study
3 Brae School
4 St Dionysius
Small, late
c leafy suburban Catholic
Larger than average Victorian inner city
Good Ofsted report with strong improvement
Wide range of ethnic minority backgrounds,
proportion of school meals is high. Above
average proportion of EAL speakers .
Longstanding language provision through
permanent staff specialist
Satisfactory Ofsted report with examples of
outstanding teaching within school
White British background
Language teaching embedded in school culture
Findings :Exemplification of sources of
Using known strategies; self-evaluation; perseverance;
strength of subject knowledge; perceived as positive
Observing specialists and other teachers; team teaching;
virtual observations
Comments from peers; feedback from children; feedback
from senior management ( both positive and negative)
and affective
Enthusiasm, empathy, apprehension, frustration, stress
Evidence for Verbal Persuasion as
promoter of self-efficacy
• Vincent: The whole aspect of being judged and being
scrutinised it’s just, I think I just find it... I know it’s
important and I know it’s valuable, but it’s just
• Sophie recognised a teacher’s vulnerability: “it’s a hard
thing to be judged on your teaching ... being a teacher
is a big part of you isn’t it really?”
• Ursula on feedback: “I’m not saying it’s perfect,
nobody ever is, but it makes you feel good about
yourself, which makes your teaching better, which
makes the learning better, And then again, it’s a
circle isn’t it?”
Stories from effective teachers : Ursula
• Mature established teacher;
evidenced enactive mastery,
alluding to past
success(Swanson and Huff,
2010; Tschannen-Moran and
McMaster, 2009)
• Not in decline as postulated
by Klassen and Chiu
• Motivated by PML teaching
(Greller, 2006, cited in Klassen
and Chiu, 2010, p. 749
• Blending of self-concept and
self efficacy (Marsh et
al,2008) reinforced by
normative referencing
I do think that if you’re going
to teach it well- I mean really
teach it well, I think you do
need background knowledge.
I know that there are a lot of
teachers who will have a go,
fine, but if you really want to
explain things to children,
you do need that knowledge
Stories from effective teachers : Yvonne
• Cognitive mastery (Palmer, 2006)
• Evidence of “a combination of
security and insecurity in their
abilities” (Mills and Allen,2007,
p.221) , correlates with findings
on lower self efficacy amongst
novices (Tschannen-Moran and
Woolfolk-Hoy, 2007)
• Strong coping strategies
correlating strongly with findings
for instructional self efficacy and
student engagement (Atay, 2007).
• General teaching strategies
overcome gaps in knowledge and
satisfaction derived from this
approach (Bandura, 2008).
One thing, I’m not so
much lacking in
confidence, teaching
the French, because I
feel I can teach, if you
can teach you can
teach anything
Potentially Effective teachers: Vincent
• Coping in school: stress
• Trying to prioritise brought
with it a sense of obligation
• Professional self-efficacy
discrepancy (Friedman,
2000) i.e. gap between his
subject pedagogy strengths
and his ability to do justice
to PML teaching
• Demands of career
progression, standing of
• Influence of self doubt
( Settlage et al, 2009)
when I do feel more
confident with other
things, I’ll be able to focus
more on my language
teaching and be able to
make progress that way...
Do the practicalities of
running Planning
Preparation and
Assessment time actually
reduce teacher choice in
planning own workload?
Potentially Effective teachers: Sophie
• Highly qualified specialist, with
cognitive mastery, but
struggles to adapt
• Isolated; regrets not being
able to observe skilled peers,
(Bruce et al, 2010; TschannenMoran and McMaster, 2009;
Atay, 2007; Mills and Allen,
2007; Chacon, 2005).
• Competence undermined
• Link between general teaching
stress and lower job
satisfaction (Klassen and Chiu,
• Negative influences of social
affect override the positive
aspects of mastery
They come [back] and they
tell me what they’re
learning; they speak to me
in French and that’s great.
And I know that I’ve done
some good work and I did
make languages fun for
others and they’ve carried
on. Some of them are doing
2 languages, so I know that
I did have an impact. ..
Correlation between subject
Strong subject
knowledge and mastery
*Sophie( Q: Degree)
opting out-under stress
* Vincent (Q: A level)
Prioritising- under stress
*Ursula (Q: O level)
Experienced professional Strong mastery
* Zack ( Q: GCSE) opting
for status quo
(Q: None in language
taught) Compensator
*Will ( Q:None)
Weak subject
The status of primary languages in case
study schools
• At Brae, it was “an important part of the curriculum”
• French was often “the first to get cut” (Zack)
• I think it’s overlooked in one sense, as sort of, like an
add-on”. (Yvonne)
• “The priority isn’t there for French [...] I wouldn’t
imagine going to a primary school where French is as
important as literacy to other aspects of the
curriculum”. (Vincent)
• Sophie felt “quite despondent” and argued that “it kind
of devalues you” as a PML teacher when lessons
cancelled at short notice
How effective were teachers in adapting to
teaching PML?
• Seen as positive, a fresh challenge( Cable et al,2010 )
• the challenge was implementing PML whilst
responding to the prevailing school culture
(Kelchtermans, 2009)
• Drops in self-efficacy were in line with those for
teachers learning new skills (Tschannen-Moran and
McMaster, 2009)
BUT some chose
• Withdrawal from process
Is the current position tenable?
Non-specialist teachers
• Adaptability, flexibility
perseverance and resilience
• Viable as any other subject in
the primary curriculum,
especially given a supportive
school culture
• Is quality of the language
delivered and the progression
made by the children
appropriate in the long term?
• Need recognition and
• Opportunities to grow
Symbiotic relationship
required for effective
delivery of PML in
today’s curriculum
• Atay, D. (2007) ‘Beginning teacher efficacy and the
practicum in an EFL context’, Teacher Development,
11(2), pp.203-19.
• Bandura, A. (1997) Self efficacy: the exercise of control.
New York: W.H. Freeman & Co.
• Bandura, A. (2008) 'Reconstrual of "free-will" from the
Agentic Perspective of Social Cognitive Theory', in Baer,
J., Kaufman, J. C. & Baumeister, R. F. (eds.) Are we free?
Psychology and Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University
Press, pp.86-127. Available at:
eWill.pdf (Accessed: 15 May 2012)
• Bruce, C. D., & Ross, J. A. (2008) A model for increasing
reform implementation and teacher efficacy: Teacher
peer coaching in grades 3 and 6 mathematics. Canadian
Journal of Education, 31(2), 346-370
• Cable, C., Driscoll, P., Mitchell, R., Sing, S., Cremin, T., Earl, J.,
Eyres, I.,Holmes, B., Martin, C.with Heins, B. (2010),
Languages Learning at Key Stage 2: A Longitudinal Study Final
Report, Research Report DCSF-RR198 The Open University
• Chacon, C. T. (2005) 'Teachers' Perceived Efficacy among
English as a Foreign Language Teachers in Middle Schools in
Venezuela', Teaching and Teacher Education: An International
Journal of Research and Studies, 21 (3), pp.257-272.
• Friedman, Issac A. (2000) 'Burnout in Teachers: Shattered
Dreams of Impeccable Professional Performance', Journal of
clinical psychology, 56 (5), pp.595-606
• Kelchtermans,G.( 2009) ‘Who I am in how I teach is the
message: self-understanding, vulnerability and reflection’,
Teachers' and Teaching: theory and practice, 15, pp.257-72
• Klassen, R.M. & Chiu, M.M. (2010) 'Effects on teachers' self-efficacy
and job satisfaction: Teacher gender, years of experience, and job
stress', Journal of educational psychology, 102 (3), pp.741-756.
• Marsh, H., Trautwein,U., Luedtke,O., Koeller,O. (2008) Social
Comparison and Big-Fish–Little-Pond Effects on Self-Concept and
Other Self-Belief Constructs: Role of Generalized and Specific
Others , Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), pp.510-524
• Mills, N. A. & Allen, H. (2007) ‘Teacher Self-Efficacy of Graduate
Teaching Assistants of French’, in Siskin, Jay (ed.) From Thought to
Action: exploring beliefs and outcomes’ in the Foreign Language
Program Boston: Heinle & Heinle. pp. 213-234. Available at:
http://works.bepress.com/nicole_mills/9 (Accessed: 14 May 2012)
• Palmer, D. (2006) ‘Sources of Self-efficacy in a Science Methods
Course for Primary Teacher Education Students’, Research in Science
Education, 36, pp.337-353
• Settllage J., Southerland S.A., Smith L.K., Ceglie R. ( 2009)
Constructing a doubt-free teaching self: Self-efficacy, teacher
identity, and science instruction within diverse settings,
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), pp. 102-125
• Swanson, P. & Huff, R. (2010) ‘The Relationship of Georgia's
Rural Foreign Language Teachers' Sense of Efficacy to Teacher
Attrition’, Rural Educator, 31(3), pp.16-29.
• Tschannen-Moran, M. & McMaster, P. (2009) 'Sources of selfefficacy: Four professional development formats and their
relationship to self-efficacy and implementation of a new
teaching strategy', The Elementary School Journal, 110 (2),
• Tschannen-Moran, M., Woolfolk Hoy, A. & Hoy, W. K. (1998)
'Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure', Review of
Educational Research, 68 (2), pp.202-248.

Self efficacy - University of Cumbria