A Study of the Sources that
Influence Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy
Xiao Chan
under the Supervision of
Drs Louise Corvers
A Dissertation
Submitted In Partial Fulfilment for the
Requirement for the Degree of
Master of Education in Special Education Needs
The Research Committees
Roehampton University, London
Fontys University, Tilburg
Charles University, Prague
August 2007
My sincere gratitude is expressed to Drs. Louise Corvers, my tutor, for her support
and assistance throughout the study. Her knowledge in education and researching
methodology benefits me a lot. Her suggestions, comments, and questions in each
session pushed me to work harder and helped me on the way of researching.
My deep appreciation goes to Dr. Jacqueline van Swet, our programme co-ordinator,
who has exerted unending efforts to arrange lectures and sessions, organize meetings,
build up relations between us and buddy schools, and guide and comfort us when we
feel lonely and worried.
A sincere debt of gratitude is owed to Pieter Eijkhout, the councellor of my buddy
school. With great warmness, openness, and sincerity, he is a representative of the
Dutch people. His help is extremely important for the study. The friendliness and
warmness of Peter Verhagen and Lisette van Amstel touch me deeply and will be
always in my heart. Thanks also go to many other teachers of my buddy school; I
have talked with them, observed in their class, and interviewed several of them.
Thanks for their sharing and helping which benefit me both for my study and for my
teaching career.
I'd like to thank all of the teachers, friends and colleagues who have participated in
the validation session. Hannie Hermans, Dr. Susie See, Pieter Eijkhout, Sunita Singh,
Subhasis Mukhopadhyay and other critical friends impressed me with their friendly
but critical questions and comments. Their words inspired and encouraged me to
further improve my study.
I am indebted to my colleagues, especially those who stay in Tilburg. With them,
Tilburg is like a family. The friendship and the warm feeling are in Tilburg and will
still be there after I go back to China.
Special thanks go to Liu Kun, Jayati Adhikari, and Ding Yu. My life will be less
colourful without all the talking, chatting, discussing, going out together, cooking and
enjoying the food, and laughing and tearing.
I should pay tribute to my parents, who brought me up and gave me the greatest love
in the world, providing me with the foundation to continually strive for excellence in
everything I pursue.
Finally I owe deepest gratitude to my husband, Liu Zhou, who has celebrated my
successes and endured the setbacks in both my education and my life, always standing
by me with encouragement and love.
Recent research (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001; Pajares, 1996; Pintrich & Schunk,
1995; Romi & Daniel, 2001; Romi & Leyser, 2006) indicates that teachers’
perceptions of their own abilities---teachers’ sense of efficacy influence teachers’
behaviour and teachers’ success in producing student outcomes: students’
achievements, students’ motivation, students’ self-efficacy and so on. Teacher efficacy
is attracting researchers’ interest because it is powerful in predicting teachers’
behaviour in classroom.
The problem of identifying sources of efficacy and developing ways to enhance
teachers’ sense of efficacy is critical. Bandura (1977, 1995) categorized four types of
sources: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion,
emotional status. Other sources proved relative to teacher efficacy included
demographic variables, characteristics and motivation of the teacher, school level,
resources and support etc (Romi & Daniel, 2001; Romi & Leyser, 2006; Poulou, 2007;
Lin, Gorrell & Taylor, 2002) .
This study investigated several teachers through interviewing to explore which
sources influenced teachers’ sense of efficacy. Pertinent conclusions were presented
for further studies: teachers relied most on their successful experiences; at the
beginning, failures and setbacks enabled them realize the necessity of sustained
efforts; through the efforts they finally overcame difficulties and this would boost
confidence considerably. Support from colleagues was the most important to them to
survive difficult situation. Facing students with special needs, especially students with
severe behavioural problems or emotional problems, to know their needs before hand
and be prepared for what might happen would reduce worries and build up confidence.
Title Page ........................................................................................................ i
Acknowledgements ......................................................................................... ii
Abstract ........................................................................................................... iii
Chapter 1 Introduction .................................................................................... 1
1.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 1
1.2 Background of the Problem .............................................................. 1
1.3 Research Question ............................................................................ 3
1.4 Definitions ........................................................................................ 3
1.5 Significance of the Study .................................................................. 7
1.6 Limitations of the Study ................................................................... 8
Chapter 2 Literature Review .......................................................................... 9
2.1 Introduction ...................................................................................... 9
2.2 Origin of Teacher Efficacy ............................................................... 9
2.3 Review of Important Scales ............................................................. 12
2.4 Sources of Teacher Efficacy ............................................................. 16
2.5 Summary ........................................................................................... 22
Chapter 3 Research Methodology ................................................................... 24
3.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 24
3.2 Research Paradigm ............................................................................ 24
3.3 Research Strategy: Exploratory Case Study ...................................... 31
3.4 Research Methods ............................................................................. 33
3.5 Other Important Issues ...................................................................... 36
3.6 Summary ............................................................................................ 38
Chapter 4 Data Analysis ................................................................................. 40
4.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 40
4.2 Measuring Teacher Efficacy .............................................................. 40
4.3 Interviewing Sources of Teacher Efficacy ........................................ 42
4.4 Summary ........................................................................................... 48
Chapter 5 Evaluation ....................................................................................... 51
5.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 51
5.2 Measuring Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy ............................................ 51
5.3 Performance Achievements ............................................................... 54
5.4 Vicarious Experiences ....................................................................... 54
5.5 Verbal Persuasion .............................................................................. 55
5.6 Emotional Status ............................................................................... 56
5.7 Other Sources .................................................................................... 56
5.8 Summary ............................................................................................ 57
Chapter 6 Conclusions and Recommendations ............................................... 59
6.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 59
6.2 Conclusions ....................................................................................... 59
6.3 Personal Development ...................................................................... 60
6.4 Recommendations ............................................................................. 61
Bibliography .................................................................................................... 64
Appendix I Standard Scale .............................................................................. 71
Appendix II Interview Questions .................................................................... 73
Appendix III Interview Transcript (Sample) ................................................... 74
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Introduction
Since Bandura (1977) introduced the concept self-efficacy, researchers have explored
students’ outcomes.
(Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001; Pajares, 1996; Pintrich & Schunk, 1995; Romi &
Daniel, 2001; Romi & Leyser, 2006) found that teachers’ sense of efficacy are
positively related to students’ achievements, teachers’ persistence, teachers’ attitudes
towards students with special needs, and so on. The findings inspire more research in
the field. My own experience as a teacher also told me that the Chinese teachers tend
to underestimate their abilities of handling difficult situations. From this comes the
dissertation topic: what are the sources of teacher efficacy? Pre-service training,
experience, cooperation between colleagues, support from the principals and
administration, etc, which will influence teachers’ sense of efficacy? If we could make
it clear, it will help build up teachers’ efficacy beliefs and therefore improve their
persistence, their effort, their behaviour in class, and students’ achievements and
This chapter will outline the background of the research question. Chapter two will
review the related literature. Justification of methodology will be given in chapter
three, followed by data analysis in chapter four. Findings and discussions will be
explored in chapter five. Chapter six will present reflections and recommendations.
1.2 Background of the Research Question
With the Salamanca Statement, students, no matter with what kind of special needs,
have the opportunity to receive education with their non-disabled peers in mainstream
schools (UNESCO, 1994).
The statement brought a trend of inclusive schools. What is an inclusive school?
According to Stainback and Stainback (1990), “An inclusive school is a place where
everyone belongs, is accepted, supports, and is supported by his or her peers and other
members of the school community in the course of having his or her educational
needs met” (p.3). With the concept of inclusion, schools can provide a quality learning
environment for all students. Stainback and Stainback (1990) emphasised that the true
spirit of inclusive schooling is that all students should be included in the mainstream
with appropriate programmes and support to meet their individual needs. At the heart
of these statements are the keywords “everyone” and “all”.
Resultantly, increasing the number of children with special needs in educational
settings with general education peers, and the extent to which that inclusion takes
place, presents many challenges (Smith, 1998). Instructing disabled students can be
very challenging, requiring teachers to be creative and patient to employ every
possible way of adapting teaching to meet student needs, particularly in classrooms
that have students with widely different needs. During the process, how teachers view
their abilities to meet the needs of all students in classrooms is of great importance
(Pajares, 1996).
Literature (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Guskey & Passaro, 1994; Meijer & Foster, 1988)
indicates that teacher efficacy is positively related to teacher behaviour; the higher
teacher efficacy is, the more efforts teachers exert to meet the students’ needs, and the
less referral of students with special needs to special schools. Teachers with higher
efficacy would also lead to better students’ motivation, students’ efficacy beliefs, and
so on. In a word, to understand the concept of teacher efficacy and analyse how to
build up high efficacy will be practical in many aspects for education.
An examination of the literature has revealed a number of studies that have
investigated teacher efficacy (Pajares, 1997). However, most of the studies that have
examined teacher efficacy of inclusion classrooms were conducted in the United
States and were in most cases quantitative studies. These studies (Gibson & Dembo,
1984; Tshannen-Moran & Hoy; 2001; Pajares, 1997; Romi & Daniel, 2001)
investigated the relationship between teacher efficacy and students’ outcomes, teacher
behaviour, teacher persistence, so on so forth. The question what sources will
influence teachers’ sense of efficacy still needs further investigating.
Any information, as long as it shed lights on how teachers view their abilities of
adapting to the needs of a diverse student population, will be invaluable for planning
staff development programming to enhance teacher self-efficacy and instructional
skill. School policy makers and administrators, armed with knowledge of sources
which tend to influence levels of self-efficacy, can more effectively staff such
classrooms and design staff development programmes. Ultimately, improving teacher
self-efficacy is apt to benefit the students in class.
1.3 Research Question
The purpose of this descriptive study was to understand the sources that will influence
teachers’ sense of efficacy in inclusive schools. The sources of high teacher efficacy,
once identified, could provide valuable suggestions for teacher training and
supporting in inclusive classrooms.
The research question for this study is:
What are the sources that will influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
Sub-questions are:
1. Do demographic variables influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
2. Do performance accomplishments influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
3. Does vicarious experience influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
4. Does verbal persuasion influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
5. Does emotional status influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
6. What are other possible sources of teachers’ sense of efficacy?
1.4 Definitions
Special Education
Special education refers to instructional activities or educational programmes
designed primarily for students identified as having certain disabilities in one or more
aspects or as being underachievers in relation to general level (Winzer, 1993).
From the aspect of educational organisation, special education is used in the sense of
a separate system which provides education for students with all kinds of learning
difficulty, behavioural problem or emotional problem. The European Agency for
Development in Special Needs Education (2005) pointed out that inclusion “includes
the peripatetic supervision of pupils in mainstream education. Separate primary and
secondary special education is provided for children for whom it has been established
that a special approach is most appropriate”.
Special Educational Needs
Halliwell (2003) defined that children have special educational needs if they have a
learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.
Inclusion and Integration
Integration and inclusion are sometimes confusing terms; however, they have
different meanings and imply different attitudes towards students with special needs.
It is important that, as developers of greater inclusive practice, we are aware of this
confusion and in our practice be aware of the differences.
Integration is viewed as a mechanism in which individual pupils are expected to adapt
to conditions and practices in ordinary schools (Armstrong et al., 2000). It is a device
concerned with fitting children into existing systems and focuses on where pupils are
educated rather than how. The concept implies that students who have special needs
are “abnormal”; therefore, they have to adapt to the requirements of the educators.
Inclusion on the other hand is concerned with promoting participation of all pupils in
education. It emphasizes the individual provision based on special needs of the pupils
and adapts and responds to the diversity of pupils. (Booth and Ainscow, 1998).
Therefore this concept focuses on each individual, stating everyone is normal with his
or her own needs, which might be different from other people. The education should
be adapted to their needs, but not vice versa.
Self-efficacy refers to the perception of one’s own competence rather than to the
actual level of competence. This distinction is important because people normally
either overestimate or underestimate their actual abilities. People’s self-efficacy, that
is, the estimation of their capabilities, may influence the actions they choose and the
efforts they exert. Besides, over- or underestimating capabilities may also influence
how well people use the skills they possess. ‘A capability is only as good as its
execution. The self-assurance with which people approach and manage difficult tasks
determines whether they make good or poor use of their capabilities. Insidious
self-doubts can easily overrule the best of skills’ (Bandura, 1997, p. 35). In other
words, their beliefs in their abilities of handling difficult tasks will determine whether
they could make full use of their abilities or vice versa, totally spoil the abilities they
have. In most cases, slightly overestimating one’s actual capabilities has the most
positive effect on performance (Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent & Larivee, 1991).
Teacher Efficacy
Teacher efficacy is a concept related to self-efficacy. It is a simple idea with
significant implications. Teacher efficacy is also expressed as teacher’s efficacy belief
or teacher’s sense of efficacy. A teacher’s efficacy belief is a judgement of his or her
capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even
among those students who may be difficult of unmotivated (Armor et al., 1976;
Bandura, 1977).
The concept of teacher efficacy stems from the concept of self-efficacy, a key
construct of Bandura’s (1977) social cognitive theory. Bandura has defined
self-efficacy as, ‘beliefs in one’s capability to organize and execute the courses
required to manage prospective situations’ (1997, p.2). He maintains that efficacy
beliefs largely determine outcome expectations. Similarly, repeated patterns of
expected behaviours serve to reinforce or diminish an individual’s perceived level of
Teacher efficacy has been divided into two sub-constructs, general teaching efficacy
(GTE) and personal teaching efficacy (PTE). GTE is the belief that educators, in
general, can influence student learning and overcome the effect of the environment.
GTE represents a teacher’s belief about the general relationship between teaching and
learning (Woolfolk, Rosoff, & Hoy, 1990).
PTE refers to an individual teachers’ confidence in their own teaching ability (Ashton
& Webb, 1986; Gibson & Dembo, 1984). PTE is more individual, representing a
teachers’ belief in his or her ability to affect student learning.
Sources of Self-efficacy
Bandura (1995) pointed out ‘people’s beliefs concerning their efficacy can be
developed by four main forms of influence’ (p.3). The ‘forms’ of influence are sources
of self-efficacy.
Demographic Variables
Based on studies which have investigated on the relationship between demographic
variables and teacher efficacy (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001; Pajares, 1996;
Pintrich & Schunk, 1995; Romi & Daniel, 2001; Romi & Leyser, 2006), this study
also adopts the following demographic variables: age, area of certification, gender,
grade(s) instructed, level of education attained, class size, number of students with
special needs in the classroom, and total year of teaching experience.
Performance Accomplishments
Performance accomplishments refer to the success one achieves after taking a course
of actions. They are an individual’s direct experiences and therefore are the most
powerful source of efficacy information. According to Bandura (1977), one’s
successes will increase self-efficacy and failure will decrease it.
Vicarious Experience
Vicarious experiences refer to indirect experience, such as observational learning,
modeling, and imitation (Bandura, 1977). Vicarious experiences influence
self-efficacy expectations when people observe the behaviour of others. When they
see what others are able to do, note the consequences of their behaviour, they will
expect similar consequences if they try the same behaviour (Maddux, 1995).
According to Bandura (1997), people compare themselves to the ones they observe or
they imitate. Exceeding others raises efficacy beliefs; while being outperformed
lowers efficacy beliefs.
Verbal Persuasion
Verbal persuasion, sometimes named as social persuasion, refers to the positive or
negative comment from other people (Bandura, 1977; Maddux, 1995). People would
be more confident if they are persuaded by other people that they have the ability to
perform. At the same time, negative persuasion will lower down self-efficacy. It is
usually easier to weaken self-efficacy beliefs through negative appraisals than to
strengthen such beliefs through positive encouragement (Bandura, 1986).
Emotional status
Emotional status in this study refers to whether people are in high or low spirit,
whether they are feeling well-being both mentally and physically (Maddux, 1995).
1.5 Significance of the Research
Teacher efficacy has proved to be powerfully related to many meaningful educational
outcomes such as teachers’ persistence, enthusiasm, commitment and instructional
behaviour, as well as student outcomes such as achievement, motivation, and
self-efficacy beliefs (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001). A large number of researches
have been conducted to investigate the relationship between teacher efficacy and
teachers’ behaviour and students’ outcomes. Many researches have explored and
constructed scales to measure teacher efficacy. All these researches helped us better
understand the important meaning of teacher efficacy. The following step is naturally
to ask: which aspects of the teacher or the school will influence teacher efficacy? How
to build up higher teacher efficacy to improve the quality of teaching and learning?
Some researches have been done to investigate the influential aspects of teacher
efficacy; most of them are quantitative, employing figures and numbers to prove the
co-efficiency or significant relation between different sources. This research tries to
offer understandings through qualitative study and answer the questions what the
sources are which will influence teacher efficacy.
Therefore, an investigation of sources from a qualitative aspect will assist deeper
understanding of how teachers view their teacher efficacy and how they build-up their
beliefs. This will throw some light into better pre-service training, in-service training,
and better support for teachers in inclusive schools. Since teachers are the core
of( inclusive) education, this will finally improve quality education for all students.
1.6 Limitations of the Study
The standard scale used for measuring teacher efficacy has been applied mostly in the
United States. Whether the scale fits into European culture remains in question.
Although the researcher collected other data to validate the scale, it would be better to
construct a new scale to better reflect the European educational ideas. Interviews were
supposed to bring more in-depth information of teachers’ self-efficacy. Unfortunately,
the interviews were conducted in English, which is a foreign language for both the
researcher and the participants. This to some degree affected the expressing,
understanding, and interpreting.
Chapter 2 Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
Since Bandura (1977) first introduced the concept “self-efficacy”, a great deal of
research has been done to investigate and explore what self-efficacy is, which aspects
it covers, how to measure teachers’ sense of efficacy, what sources help build up
self-efficacy, what relationship between efficacy and teachers’ performance, and so
This chapter will first of all explore the origin of the concept of self-efficacy and
briefly discuss the application of this concept. Further discussion will be focused on
the application of self-efficacy theory to education. Teacher efficacy is based on the
concept of self-efficacy which stemmed from social cognitive theory. Several scales
which have been used to measure teacher efficacy will be compared. Different
theories of sources of teacher efficacy will then be presented and a framework of
several important sources will follow.
2.2 Origin of Teacher Efficacy
2.2.1 What is self-efficacy
The term “self-efficacy” stemmed from Bandura’s social cognitive theory (1977).
Social cognitive theory suggests a reciprocal causation for our behaviour in the future
and tries to explore the potential sources. According to this theory, our behaviour in
the future is a result of three interrelated forces: environmental influences, our
behaviour, and internal personal factors such as cognitive, affective, and biological
Based on this model, Bandura (1977) concluded that this reciprocal causation
determines what we come to believe about ourselves. The environment, and the
biological mechanism are not the only determinants of what we are and how we
behave. Instead, the interplay between the external, the internal, and our current and
past behaviour constructs what we are and how we behave.
The core of Bandura’s framework is the concept of self-efficacy. Bandura (1997)
defined self-efficacy as “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the
courses of action required to produce given attainments” (p.3).
Salomon (1983) defined self-efficacy in a more general sense, stating that
self-efficacy refers to how well an individual believes he or she can handle a situation.
Since self-efficacy beliefs were obviously self-referent and, at the same time, they
were directly related to perceived abilities in specific tasks, Bandura (1997) proposed
that self-efficacy beliefs were powerful predicators of behaviour.
After Bandura introduced the new theory which used self-efficacy beliefs to predict
future behaviour, researchers soon applied it to educational research. Hackett (1995)
and Pajares (1996) stated self-efficacy beliefs were related to academic performance
and self-regulated learning. More importantly, self-efficacy beliefs help dictate
motivation (Pintrich & Schunk, 1995). Bandura (1986) observed: “People regulate
their level and distribution of effort in accordance with the effects they expect their
actions to have. As a result, their behaviour is better predicted from their beliefs than
from the actual consequences of their actions” (p. 129).
Social cognitive theory assumed that self-efficacy beliefs influence our choices, our
effort, our persistence when facing adversity, and our emotions (Pajares, 1997). To
summarize, self-efficacy theory has been used widely in current researches
concerning motivation mainly because it is strongly related to predicting people’s
behaviour in practice.
2.2.2 What is teacher efficacy
Self-efficacy is powerful in predicting behaviour and it has been applied to
educational research. Teacher efficacy, or, preferred by Bandura (1997), teachers’
sense of efficacy, is a concept which combines the self-efficacy theory and
educational research. Berman, McLaughlin, Bass, Pauly, and Zellman (1977) in their
study described teacher efficacy as “the extent to which the teacher believes he or she
has the capacity to affect student performance” (p. 137). Soodak and Podell (1993)
defined teacher efficacy as “the conviction that one can successfully bring about the
desired outcomes in one’s students”. Berman et al (1977) and Soodak and Podell
(1993) gave more or less similar definitions of teacher efficacy and their definitions
focused on teachers’ beliefs in their abilities of bringing better students’ performance.
Brownell and Pajares (1999) noted that “teacher efficacy beliefs are contextual
judgements of their capability to succeed in particular instructional endeavours”. This
definition emphasized teachers’ beliefs in their abilities to succeed in teaching.
Compared with the definition of berman et al (1977) and Soodak and Podell (1993),
Brownell and Pajares (1999) defined the term in a more general way and their
definition can cover more aspects of teaching activities which are influenced by
teachers’ beliefs. Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy and Hoy (1998) described teacher
efficacy from a contextual aspect: “teacher efficacy is the teacher’s beliefs in his or
her capacity to organise and execute courses of action required to successfully
accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular context”. In their definition, context
is prominent and courses of action in teaching are all included. This essay explores
the sources of teacher efficacy in inclusive schools; context and teachers’
interpretation of their actions and the underpinning reasons are the focus of interviews.
Therefore this essay will employ this definition when teacher efficacy is discussed.
2.2.3 Why is teacher efficacy important
Teachers’ sense of efficacy has been related to student outcomes such as achievement
(Armor et al., 1976; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Moore & Esselman, 1992; Ross, 1992),
motivation (Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989), and students’ own sense of efficacy
(Anderson, Greene, & Loewen, 1988). In addition, teachers’ efficacy beliefs also
relate to their behaviour in the classroom. Efficacy affects the effort they invest in
teaching, the goals they set, and their level of aspiration. Teachers with a strong sense
of efficacy tend to exhibit greater levels of planning and organisation (Allinder, 1994).
They are more open to new ideas and more willing to experiment with new methods
to better meet the needs of their students (Berman et al 1977; Guskey, 1988). Efficacy
beliefs influence teachers’ persistence when things do not go smoothly and their
resilience in the face of setbacks. Greater efficacy enables teachers to be less critical
of students when they make errors (Ashton & Webb, 1986), to work longer with a
student who is struggling (Gibson & Dembo, 1984), and to be less inclined to refer a
difficult student to special education (Meijer & Foster, 1988; Podell & Soodak, 1993;
Soodak & Podell, 1993). Teachers with a higher sense of efficacy exhibit greater
enthusiasm for teaching (Allinder, 1994; Guskey, 1988), have greater commitment to
teaching (Coladarci, 1992) and are more likely to stay in teaching (Burley, Hall,
Villeme, & Brockmeier, 1991).
Teacher efficacy is powerful in predicting behaviour and is positively related to
students’ outcomes. But then how do we know whether teachers have high or low
sense of efficacy as individuals? Researchers are interested in designing tools to
measure teachers’ sense of efficacy.
2.3 Review of Important Efficacy Measure Scales
2.3.1 Rotter’s locus of control
To measure teacher efficacy---this apparently powerful but complicated construct,
researchers have attempted different ways, both long, detailed measures and short,
general ones. The first studies of efficacy, conducted by the Rand Organization (Rand
Organization has sponsored a series of research and later on published the results,
therefore this series of research was referred as Rand research), were based on
Rotter’s (1966) social learning theory.
Although the teachers’ perceptions of their own capabilities are important, the
measurement of this self-efficacy sense began with a simple tool---just two items.
Berman et al (1977) designed a questionnaire consisting of a large number of items,
among which, these two items turned out to be the most powerful factors examined by
by Rand researchers in their study of teacher characteristics and student learning
(Armor et al., 1976).
The two items are as follows:
Rand item 1. “When it comes right down to it, a teacher really can’t do much because
most of a student’s motivation and performance depends on his or her home
environment.” The degrees teachers agree with this statement indicate their beliefs
about the power of the external factors, which means the environmental factors
overpower teachers’ influence on students. Teachers’ beliefs about the dominating
power of external factors are labeled general teaching efficacy (GTE).
Rand item 2. “If I really try hard, I can get through to even the most difficult or
unmotivated students.” If teachers agree with this statement, they believe they can
overcome external factors which might make learning difficult for students. Teachers
have confidence about their own teaching, believing they have experience and
abilities to develop strategies to help students overcome difficulties. This aspect of
efficacy has been labeled personal teaching efficacy (PTE). Compared with GTE,
which reflects what teachers can do in a rather general way, PTE is more specific and
Several Rand researches based on the locus of control instrument had explored
relationships between teacher efficacy and (1) teachers’ willingness to implement
innovation, (2) teachers’ stress level, and (3) teachers’ willingness to stay in the field.
They found that the time teachers spent in interactive instruction was significantly
related to PTE (Smylie, 1988). Teachers with a higher sense of efficacy had less stress
and would stay in the field longer. These results, achieved by using the sum of the
scores of the two Rand items, inspired the researchers’ interest to develop other items
and to explore the relations between teacher efficacy and teachers’ behaviour,
teachers’ performance and students’ performance (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Guskey,
1988; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001). Although these two items brought several
interesting results, researchers were concerned about the reliability of the two-item
scale and attempted to develop longer, more comprehensive measure.
2.3.2 Teacher locus of control
Rose and Medway (1981) developed a 28-item measure: the Teacher Locus of Control
(TLC). This scale requires teachers to choose between two competing explanations to
which to attribute the responsibility for student successes or failures. For each success
or failure, one explanation is related to the teacher, while the other assigns
responsibility to other factors, usually the students. The following is a sample item of
the TLC.
Sample items:
Suppose one of your students cannot remain on task for a particular assignment. Would
this be more likely to happen
a. because you gave the student a task that was somewhat less interesting than most
tasks, or
b. because the student was unable to concentrate on his or her schoolwork that day?
Suppose a new student was assigned to your class and this student had a difficult time
making friends with his or her classmates. Would it be more likely
a. that most of the other students did not make an effort to be friends with the new
student, or
b. that you were not trying hard enough to encourage the other students to be more
friendly toward the newcomer?
(Source: Rose and Medway, 1981)
The TLC predicted teachers’ willingness to implement new instructional techniques;
teachers with high efficacy were more willingly to relate students’ success and
failures to teachers. Teachers with low efficacy had higher stress.
Rotter’s locus of control and teacher locus control are based on the same theory:
Rotter’s social learning theory. The two scales help researchers understand better the
construct of teacher efficacy, however, this study will employ neither of them,
because of the slight differences between the underpinning theories. The definition
used in this study is constructed on the basis of social cognitive theory, and the
differences have been clearly explained by Bandura (1997). Bandura (1997) first
emphasized that self-efficacy is a perception of one’s competence rather than one’s
actual level of competence. People frequently overestimate or underestimate their
actual abilities, and different estimations might have a different influence on their
behaviour or courses of action in the future. People who underestimate their abilities
may not make full use of their skills. In most cases, slightly overestimating one’s
actual competence has significant positive effect on performance (Bouffard-Bouchard
et al, 1991).
Bandura (1997) articulated the differences between self-efficacy and Rotter’s (1966)
internal-external locus of control. Rotter’s theory attributed the consequences to either
internal or external factors. Teachers got high GTE if they agreed that teachers could
not overcome the influence of students’ background or environment. Teachers got
high PTE if they thought they themselves could overcome the influence of
environment. However, the theory failed to relate directly and clearly to teachers’
perception of their competence. As mentioned earlier, the actual competence does not
equal to one’s perception of his/her competence. As Bandura (1997) quoted in
Tschannen-Moran, Hoy, and Hoy (1998) ‘beliefs about whether one can produce
certain actions (perceived self-efficacy) are not the same as beliefs about whether
actions affect outcomes (locus of control)’.
Both Rand items and teacher’s locus of control took Rotter’s social learning theory as
their underpinning theory. Gibson and Dembo tried to develop a new scale based on
Bandura’s (1977) social cognitive theory.
2.3.3 The development of the Gibson and Dembo Instrument
Besides scales grounded in Rotter’s theories, another strand of research with the
underpinning framework of Bandura’s social cognitive theory and his construct of
self-efficacy also developed several scales.
Gibson and Dembo (1984) in their construction of this scale first distinguished the
differences between locus control and self-efficacy. They stated ‘individuals can
believe that certain behaviors will produce certain outcomes, but if they do not believe
that they can perform the necessary activities, they will not initiate the relevant
behaviors, or if they do, they will not persist’.
Gibson and Dembo (1984) developed a more extensive measurement of teacher
efficacy. Their measurement consists of 30 items, constructed on the ground of
extensive interviews and previous research results. They proposed three questions
when they started to construct this measurement: ‘What are the dimensions of teacher
efficacy? How do these dimensions relate to Bandura's theory of self-efficacy? What
is the internal consistency of the teacher efficacy measure?’ These three questions
guaranteed the validity of this scale. Factor analysis of the results proved that two
substantial factors could explain the differences between teachers. Gibson and Dembo
(1984) picked up 9 items loading on factor 1, which was labeled Personal Teaching
Efficacy, and 7 items loading on factor 2, labeled General Teaching Efficacy. The 9
items of factor 1 could account for 18.2% of the total variance and the 7 items of
factor 2 could explain 10.6% of the total variance. The remaining accounted for less
than 6% of the total variance. All of the items included in factor 1 reflect the teacher’s
sense of personal responsibility in student learning and correspond to Bandura’s
self-efficacy dimension. Factor 2 corresponds to Bandura’s outcome expectancy
dimension. Since reliability coefficients resulted from only 16 of the 30 items, Gibson
and Dembo (1984) suggested that future scales could contain fewer items.
Researchers developed scales to measure teachers’ sense of efficacy; on the other
hand, they were also interested in the possible sources of teacher efficacy.
2.4 Sources of Teacher Efficacy
2.4.1 Bandura’s Framework: Sources of Teacher Efficacy
According to Bandura (1977), four major sources of information influence people’s
self-efficacy beliefs: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal
persuasion, and physiological states.
Performance achievements. This source is the most influential on efficacy beliefs
because it is related to one’s direct experience. What one has experienced and
achieved will have deep impact on the beliefs about oneself. Successes boost one’s
expectations and beliefs, while failures might lower them, especially repeated failures
or failures at the early start of the course of actions. However, Bandura (1995) later
also pointed out that ‘difficulties and setbacks in human pursuits serve a useful
purpose in teaching that success usually required sustained effort’ (p. 3). If difficulties
are finally overcome through sustained efforts, efficacy beliefs will be enhanced.
Vicarious experience. Mastery experience is not the only source of information
concerning the level of self-efficacy. Besides our own experience, we also learn a lot
from other’s experience. Many expectations are derived from vicarious experience.
Seeing people similar to themselves succeed raises observers’ beliefs that they, too,
possess the capabilities to master comparable activities. Similarly, observing others
fail even they have tried hard lowers observers’ judgements of their own efficacy level.
The more similar is the observer to the observed, the more powerful the observation
will influence the observer’s level of efficacy. If the activities the observer is going to
do is quite different from what he/she observes, the observation might not influence
much on the observer (Bandura, 1995).
Verbal persuasion. Verbal persuasion is widely used when people want to encourage
or persuade others. Through suggestions or encouraging words, people would believe
that they can deal with difficulties which have failed them in the past. Compared with
people who doubt their abilities and regard themselves as deficient, people who,
through verbal persuasion, are confident about their competence are likely to exert
greater effort. Maddux (1995) states that the effectiveness of social persuasion as a
source of self-efficacy expectancies should be influenced by such variables as the
expertness, trustworthiness, and attractiveness of the source. However, this method of
building up efficacy expectations is not as powerful as the mastery experience which
induces efficacy beliefs through one’s own achievements.
Emotional status. Bandura (1995) made an analogy to explain how people’s
emotional status influenced their efficacy beliefs. When people have fatigue, aches,
and pains, they would suspect that they had healthy problems or they have exerted
beyond their limit. Similarly, when people have tension and uneasiness, they will
doubt their abilities of handling difficult situations. Bandura (1995, p. 4) concluded
‘they interpret their stress and tension as signs of vulnerability to poor performance’.
He further pointed out that mood was also an influential factor of people’s sense of
efficacy. Positive mood improves self-efficacy; negative mood diminishes it.
Therefore, positive status will help achieve higher self-efficacy, and reducing stress
and negative feelings is a good way of boosting people’s self conceptions.
To illustrate the four sources and the efficacy beliefs, Bandura (1977) used the
following frame:
Performance Achievements
Vicarious Experience
Teacher Efficacy
Verbal Persuasion
Emotional Status
2.4.2 Other Sources: Review of more recent studies
Sources related to demographic variables
Demographic variables in this study refer to age, area of certification, gender, grade(s)
instructed, level of education attained, class size, number of students with special
needs in the classroom, and total year of teaching experience. As expected,
researchers thought that senior teachers with long years of experience would have
high sense of efficacy. It also sounded reasonable to assume that male teachers and
female teachers tended to have different level of efficacy sense. If teachers have
received training in special education before starting teaching, would they be more
confident facing students with special needs? Variables concerning school, such as
school level, class size, number of students with special needs will influence teacher
efficacy or not? Safran (1985) in his search for correlates of teacher efficacy of
special education teachers found that GTE was not significantly related to the factors
he examined, but PTE correlated with number of years employed, school level
(elementary, middle, or high school), class size, class structure (open or traditional),
teacher role and principal’s support of discipline.
Dembo and Gibson (1985) had conducted a longitudinal research on pre-service
teachers and found interesting results. They reported that for student teachers, course
work and experience helped to improve PTE scores, yet in the final semester the PTE
scores decreased. Compared with teachers who had experience, pre-service teachers
tended to have higher GTE scores. However, for both groups, GTE scores decreased
with the accumulating of experience. Housego (1992) reported similar results among
Canadian teachers. Their GTE scores continuously declined from the first term of
training to the last term. However, PTE scores increased by the end of the first term of
training. In a study of pre-service Korean teachers, Gorrel and Hwang (1995) found
that Korean student teachers increased significantly in PTE scores during the four
years’ training; however, their GTE scores remained almost the same during the time.
Romi and Daniel (2001) got similar results when they conducted research on
pre-service Israel teachers. They reported there was a decrease in GTE scores between
the 1st and 4th year of training, while PTE was rather stable during the time with only
slight declining.
From the literature mentioned above (Safran, 1985; Dembo and Gibson, 1985;
Housego, 1992; Correl and Hwang, 1995; Romi and Daniel, 2001), experience of
teaching and courses of pedagogy influence PTE significantly, while GTE is
somehow not much influenced or even declines with more experience and training.
Training of general education and special education has a different impact on teacher
efficacy, especially when facing students with special needs. Freytag (2001) in her
research concluded that teacher efficacy scores were not significantly related to the
number of pre-service courses teachers completed, but the scores were related to the
area of education they have been received in training. Compared with teachers getting
training in general education, teachers with an educational background of special
education had higher levels of both GTE and PTE. Brownell & Pajares (1999) in their
research proved there was a positive correlation between pre-service preparation and
teachers’ sense of efficacy when instructing students with special needs in mainstream
educational settings. Romi and Leyser (2006) had conducted research in Israel on
student teachers and indicated that special education majors had significantly higher
scores than students with general education on PTE, and teacher efficacy for
low-achieving students.
Therefore, training of special education helps to boost teacher efficacy, both PTE and
GTE. When teachers face students with special needs in mainstream schools, it is
recommended to attend courses of special education to achieve stronger efficacy
As to other demographic variables, such as age and gender, it seems they are not
much powerful as experience, training, area of education. Tschannen-Moran & Hoy
(2002) concluded there were no significant differences in teacher efficacy beliefs
between groups based on age and gender. However, years of experience and teaching
level (elementary or secondary) contributed significantly to teachers’ sense of efficacy.
Elementary teachers had significantly higher overall efficacy scores than secondary
school teachers. Experienced teachers had higher overall scores. However, they
pointed out that it was possible that those who felt less sure about their abilities of
teaching would leave this field within a short time of teaching.
Cultural Influence
In a comparative study, Lin et al. (2002) reported differences between American
pre-service teachers and Taiwanese pre-service teachers. The US student teachers had
higher efficacy beliefs both at the beginning and at the end of their training. And the
US student teachers achieved significant increase on teacher efficacy scores (total
scores of PTE and GTE) after training while the Taiwanese student teachers’ scores at
the end of training were lower than that at the beginning. Romi and Leyser (2006)
also found that Jewish students tended to have higher efficacy beliefs concerning
students with special needs than Arab students.
Cultural influence is powerful in almost everything. Considering this, culture might
not only influence teachers’ sense of efficacy, it is possible that self-efficacy in all
aspects have been deeply influenced by culture. For example, in western culture and
eastern culture, people have different opinions on modesty and self-esteem. In
traditional Chinese culture, it is polite to be modest, sometime people under-estimate
their abilities on purpose. If culture influence is taken into consideration, we could
understand this might be one of the reasons why Lin et al (2002) found that American
pre-service teachers and Taiwanese pre-service teachers evaluated their abilities
Resources and Support
Tschannen-Moran & Hoy (2002) concluded that teachers’ sense of efficacy is highly
related to teaching resources and support from their administration. But novice
teachers and experienced teachers rated teaching resources and support differently.
Novice teachers were less satisfied with resources and support and their sense of
efficacy scores were also lower compared with experienced teachers.
Motivation and Characteristics
Poulou (2007) in her study has investigated nearly 200 fourth-year student teachers in
Greece and found that self-perceptions of teaching competence, personal
characteristics, and motivation for teaching were contributory factors to teaching
efficacy. When teachers really liked their jobs and enjoyed teaching, they believed
they could improve students’ performance. Like being socially related to people also
helped build up teachers’ confidence of teaching performance.
2.5 Summary
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).
Self-efficacy was related to people behaviour in the future (Bandura, 1997). Due to its
power in predicting behaviour, self-efficacy has been used in researches of various
fields. When this concept was applied into education research, teachers’ sense of
efficacy emerged.
Woolfolk Hoy and Hoy (1998) defined as follows: “teacher efficacy is the teacher’s
beliefs in his or her capacity to organise and execute courses of action required to
successfully accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular context”.
Teacher efficacy is important since studies proved that it was positively related to
student outcomes (Armor et al., 1976; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Moore & Esselman,
1992; Ross, 1992), motivation (Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989), and students’
own sense of efficacy (Anderson, Greene, & Loewen, 1988). Teachers’ efficacy
beliefs also enable them to be more patient, to exert more efforts, to be more open to
innovation, (Berman et al 1977; Guskey, 1988), to be less critical of students when
they make errors (Ashton & Webb, 1986), to work longer with a student who is
struggling (Gibson & Dembo, 1984), and to be less inclined to refer a difficult student
to special education (Meijer & Foster, 1988).
How to measure teacher efficacy is confusing researchers. Different scales have been
constructed and applied. Gibson and Dembo’s scale was based on Bandura’s social
cognitive theory. They conducted a large-scale quantitative research to prove the
reliability and analysed the co-efficiency of part of the items.
After understanding the importance of teacher efficacy and the construction of
measuring scales, researches would be more interested to investigate the sources of
teacher efficacy. According to Bandura (1977), four major sources of information
influence people’s self-efficacy beliefs: performance accomplishments, vicarious
experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states.
Safran (1985) found that PTE was correlated with number of years employed, school
level (elementary, middle, or high school), class size, class structure (open or
traditional), teacher role and principal’s support of discipline; while GTE was not
related to these factors.
Training of general education and special education has a different impact on teacher
efficacy, especially when facing students with special needs. Teachers with
educational background of special education had higher levels of both GTE and PTE
(Romi & Leyser, 2006).
Other sources were found to be related to teacher efficacy. Tschannen-Moran & Hoy
(2002) concluded that teachers’ sense of efficacy is highly related to teaching
resources and support from their administration. Poulou (2007) concluded that
self-perceptions of teaching competence, personal characteristics, and motivation
were closely related to teacher efficacy.
Chapter 3 Methodology
3.1 Introduction
In this chapter, the methodology of this research will be discussed. The study tries to
understand the sources of teacher efficacy. It is in nature a descriptive case study.
Interpretation and construction of the unknown aspects of sources of teacher efficacy
will be the focus. Therefore, a constructivism will be employed. This chapter will first
compare the two major paradigms in educational research: positivism and
constructivism. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages; but the nature of this
study decides the chosen paradigm: constructivism. After discussing paradigms, the
chapter will explore the theory of case study to underpin the research. Methods of
collecting data will be presented based on the chosen methodology. A questionnaire
will be used; this content of this questionnaire is a modification of the Gibson and
Dembo Scales; follow-up interviews will be designed as semi-constructed with
theoretical background of Bandura’s sources of self-efficacy and other findings of
recent researches. Discussion of reliability and validity of data collecting will follow,
as well as ethical considerations. Limitations of the research methods will be pointed
out and further recommendations for future researches will be given.
3.2 Research Paradigm
Philosophy has become so important in social science that, without it, researchers
cannot place themselves in appropriate positions to conduct their research. As quoted
in Bridge and Smith (2006), Carr claimed that ‘research...always conveys a
commitment to philosophical beliefs even this is unintended and even though it
remains implicit and unacknowledged’.
The term “paradigm” has been introduced on the basis of philosophical understanding
and it has become a tradition now to define one’s paradigm before one starts
researching. Paradigm, however, is so complicated that since Kuhn (1962) introduced
this term, a variety of definitions can be found in all kinds of books. A paradigm is
often seen as a set of assumptions and beliefs that ‘represents a worldview, defines the
nature of the world and the individual’s place in it, and helps to determine criteria
used to select and define research inquiry’ (Plack, 2005). Within the theoretical
framework of paradigms, all researchers could share the same ideas and assumptions
and do researches with the same understanding (Kuhn, 1962). Welle-Strand (2003)
pointed out that paradigm was the foundation of theories and research methods.
Educational researchers began to apply paradigm to support their research and justify
their aims and ideals. Hausstatter (2004) indicated further that a ‘paradigm is
therefore more than simply the rules of how to do a particular type of research’. The
whole community of a certain research field, including the researchers, the books, and
the journals, would be influenced and constructed on the basis of paradigm.
3.2.1 Positivism
Positivism aims at understanding how the real world is and how things really work.
Social scientists do their research by observing from a distance. The reality is
something far away for scientists to see and to observe. Birley and Moreland (1998, p.
30) put it in a simple way: in positivists’ view, ‘reality may be perceived as an
objective ‘out there’ phenomenon’. Positivists try to explain the rules and principles
and use the explanation to predict phenomena, no matter the investigated are natural
phenomena or human beings (Carr and Kemmis, 1986). Therefore, knowledge
consists of verified hypotheses which can be applied as rules and principles to predict
in other settings.
According to Carr and Kemmis (1986, p. 61), ‘the label ‘knowledge’ can only be
ascribed to that which is founded in “reality” as apprehended by the senses’.
Researchers access the only true reality through senses, to see and to observe. Guba
and Lincoln (1989, p. 84) summarized that positivism ‘asserts that there exists a
single reality that is independent of any observer’s interest in it’.
The relationship between the observer and the observed is that ‘the researcher and the
researched person are independent of each other’ (Robson, 2002, p. 27). Cohen and
Manion (1980, p. 22) pointed out the positivist view ‘requires the social scientist to
adopt the perspective of a detached, outside observer intent upon classifying what he
sees and hears in the light of some theory he holds’. Social scientists do their research
by observing from a distance. The reality is something far away for scientists to see
and to observe.
Positivists try to apply the theories and methods of natural science to social science
and hence quantitative data are the basis of positivism. Robson (2002) regarded that
positivism relied on facts to test hypotheses. Carr and Kemmis (1986, p. 62)
underlined two beliefs of positivism: 1) terms such as ‘aims, concepts and methods’
should be adopted in social science; 2) the ‘model of explanation’, or, the mechanism
of natural sciences should also be obeyed in social science. The mechanism is to
define concepts and propose hypotheses first, design experiments, control particular
variables, collect quantitative data, and therefore verify or reject hypotheses. Thus, the
terms and the models, which have been proved successful in natural science, would
also help researchers to solve problems in social science.
Guba and Lincoln (1989, p. 89) described positivists’ methodology as ‘an
interventionist methodology’ because this method controls a lot of variables and
excludes all ‘possible contaminating influences’ to make it possible for the observer to
see a real world, a real truth. To find out causal relation is the key to understand how
things work. Hammersley (1989, p. 17) commented that ‘for positivists, all scientific
inquiry shares the same methodological principles’.
However, positivism has its own disadvantages and faces many critiques. In
educational research, the knowledge researchers want to require is how to understand
the phenomena, such as children’s behaviour problems, emotional problems, and
ADHD. The objects in educational research are human beings; it is too decisive to say
there is only one reality for complicated human beings. And it is still doubtful whether
all of the hidden reasons can be observed or not by detached observer. Based on
positivism, all phenomena can be observed directly and should always be like that.
Yet it can hardly be imagined that researchers could observe all the problems
mentioned above. Guba and Lincoln (1998, p. 205) commented that for positivists, it
was inappropriate to involve ‘social, political, cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender
factors’. However, education is closely related to the issues.
Another critique is about one of the assumptions of positivism: the observed and the
observer should be independent from each other. The observer is detached from the
observed. Most of the critiques come from a social scientist point of view. Since the
observed are not passive objects but human beings, it is impossible to totally separate
the observer and the observed (Guba and Lincoln, 1989).
Quantitative methodology is primarily used in positivism. However, one of the
critiques is statistical result is meaningless to individuals. Guba and Lincoln (1998)
had a good metaphor: that 80% of patients with certain syndromes get cancer does not
mean a particular patient with those syndromes will get cancer. Generalization and
application of statistic results lose the meaning here.
Positivism relies on quantitative data to test a pre-set hypothesis. It is normal in
natural science. While in social science, it would be difficult to verify a hypothesis no
matter how much data is available. It is possible to arrive at a theory by deduction but
impossible to do it only through induction (Guba and Lincoln, 1998). This
undermines positivism heavily. If no real truth can be found, the basis is destructed.
Too much control of variables is creating an artificial environment and this will
undermine validity greatly, especially external validity.
3.2.2 Constructivism
The basic assumption of the constructivistic paradigm about the nature of reality is
that ‘reality is socially constructed’ (Mertens, 1998, p. 11). Since knowledge consists
of a series of constructions made by individuals, there might be contradictions and
competition. Constructivism is open to these contradictions and will adapt to new
constructions and change with development. Mertens (1998) gave good examples: the
concepts of disability, feminism, and minority have different meanings to different
individuals and these concepts might change as new constructions come in. Different
from positivism, the reality of constructivism is not ‘out there’. Constructivists
maintain that ‘reality can be seen only through a windows of theory’ (Guba, 1990, p.
25), which means it is not the detached and objective reality while it is within the
researcher’s mind and construction.
Constructivism accepts that multiple realities exist, and realities are not governed by
natural laws. On the contrary, they are based on human beings and their experience
(Guba and Lincoln, 1989). Since social science involves human beings, and especially
human behaviour and human actions, constructivism aims at revealing ‘the meaning
of particular forms of social life’, and tries to ‘enlighten and illuminate’ people the
rules and the meanings of their action(Carr and Kemmis, 1986, p. 90). Guba and
Lincoln (1998, p. 206) put in an abstract way: ‘Realities are apprehendable in the
form of multiple, intangible mental constructions, socially and experientially based,
local and specific in nature’.
Mertens (1998, p. 13) also expressed similar idea about the epistemological
assumption of constructivism that ‘data, interpretations, and outcomes are rooted in
contexts and persons apart from the researcher’. The nature of constructivism decides
that interactive, dialectical way is the main approach to understand individuals’
mental construction. Since they are interconnected, the observer cannot keep a
detached objective position. His/her values will be present all the time and influencing
the observed.
Since constructivism tries to understand the hidden rules of human beings’ behaviour
and action, the interaction between two sides, the confirmation of the rules from the
correspondents, and the experience of individuals are the focuses of constructivists.
Interpretive methods, such as interviews and observation will be the main methods
and offer more aspects for the researcher (Robson, 2002). The research should involve
many different individuals and perspectives to allow the researcher to construct
several competent realities, and thus to improve and revise construction (Guba and
Lincoln, 1989).
Constructivism avoids many problems caused by positivism; however, it is more aptly
to arouse ethical risks. Guba and Lincoln (1989) predicted several risks of
constructivism. The first one is that the observer-observed contact, no matter the
relationship is fragile or intimate, is possible to hide partial truth or influence the
understanding and interpretation. Sometimes close relationship and the ‘full or near
full involvement in the setting may bring an almost total identification with the group’
(Punch, 1998, p. 177). The second risk is ‘the difficulty of maintaining privacy and
confidentiality’ (Guba and Lincoln, 1989, p. 132). The interactions between the
observer and the observed will go on several rounds, with feedback given, and the
inquirer usually provide several constructions to the inquired into. It is hardly possible
to keep all information confidential and it is easy for the participants to get to know
each other. The third risk is that it is difficult to gain trust from the participants. The
researcher needs to interview, observe, give feedback, and compare several
constructions from different participants. There is not enough time to build a mutually
trust-worthy relationship with the participants. The fourth risk is the open negotiations.
In positivism, sometimes researchers will deceive participants to get “true”
information. However, deception is forbidden in constructivism. Researchers should
explain research issues, aims, and methods to participants clearly. And it is required to
take into consideration of ‘human dignity, self-esteem, and self-agency’ (Guba and
Lincoln, 1989, p. 135). But it is difficult to achieve openness in a short time.
Besides ethic critiques, the methodology of constructivism is also challenged. How to
evaluate a constructivist research is in doubt. Denzin and Lincoln (1989, p. 27)
proposed to use ‘credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability’ as
evaluation criteria. However, critics still remain doubtful of the scientific quality of
these terms. Qualitative methodology ‘is limited in terms of inferential power’
(Borland, 2001). Borland (2001) gave a specific example of case study. Based on the
qualitative data gathered from one institution’s customers, the researcher can
generalize about the Greek life; however, they cannot generalize how individuals feel
about Greek life in other institutions.
Educational research has mainly adopted positivism paradigm in 1920s, and 1930s.
Positivism has its advantages: the experiments are designed carefully to guarantee its
validity and reliability. This makes research meaningful and helpful for guiding
practices. However, the research subjects are human beings and cannot be treated as
simple variables. The whole process, with all values and personal opinions excluded,
to control all variables, to predict results, to test hypotheses, and to transfer the rules
to other settings, renders it more artificial rather than real life. And during the whole
research process, the observer will have difficulty in maintaining distant and objective.
Hammersley (2006) directly admitted that educational research would involve values,
which means researchers cannot be objective and distant. Elliott (2006) echoed this
opinion and further indicated that educational research is meant to ‘realise educational
values in action’. From practical purpose, it would be meaningless not to involve
teachers’ and researchers’ values in the whole process.
Small (2003) listed some practical reasons for the popularity of constructivism in
educational research. Student-centredness has been recognized and emphasized;
cognitive theories and psychological theories have been developed. These inspire the
researcher to interpret students’ mental models and constructions of how things really
are. Nevertheless, constructivism is difficult to handle, especially when credibility and
transferability are considered. The qualitative data acquired in one situation is
sometimes impossible to be applied in another setting.
3.2.3 Adopting Constructivism in this Research
The purpose of the research is to investigate which sources will help build up teacher
efficacy. The literature review in the previous chapter indicates that most of
researches focus on how to measure teacher efficacy in a quantitative method and try
to analyse the causal relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher behaviour and
students’ performance. However, investigation into the sources of teacher efficacy is
far behind the researches which look into results or consequences of higher teacher
efficacy. This study focuses on the influential sources of teacher efficacy:
1. Do demographic variables influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
2. Do performance accomplishments influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
3. Does vicarious experience influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
4. Does verbal persuasion influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
5. Does emotional status influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
6. What are other possible sources of teachers’ sense of efficacy?
This study has the following features:
---interpretative. The study tries to investigate into teachers’ self perceptions of
their abilities; therefore, will definitely analyse the case from the participants’
perspectives. The researcher will interpret what she has observed and what she
understands during the interviews. Understanding and knowledge of sources of
teacher efficacy are constructed step by step by individuals---the researcher and all the
participating teachers.
---subjective. Since knowledge consists of a series of constructions---how people
understand what things are and how things work, the observer and the observed have
to interact a lot. And it is this interaction between the observer and the observed that
will inform the researcher about the “mental construction” and provide valuable data.
Therefore the relationship between the inquirer and the inquired into is interconnected
and influenced by one another. In other words, in this study, the researcher will
interview the participating teachers; during the process, asking and answering
questions help explore the hidden sources of teacher efficacy.
3.3 Research Strategy: Exploratory Case Study
Case study is ‘a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation
of a particular contemporary phenomenon with its real life context using multiple
sources of evidence’ (Robson, 2002, p. 146). This contemporary phenomenon makes
people immediately think of individuals; however, the case can be a group, an
institution, an innovation, a programme and so on (Robson, 2002).
As a research strategy, the case study is used in many situations to contribute to our
knowledge. Not surprisingly, the case study has been a common research strategy in
social sciences.
Case study is not a methodological choice but a choice of what is to be studied. Once
the case has been chosen, it becomes the focus of the research, no matter the research
will be conducted analytically or holistically, through repeated measures or
hermeneutically, or by mixed methods (Stake, 2000). In other words, ‘each strategy
can be used for all three purposes---exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory’(Yin,
2003, p. 3). Case studies can be used to for exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory
purposes. Similarly, experiments can also be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.
Yin (2003) has given examples of case studies to illustrate the difference between
exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory purposes. An exploratory case study aims at
providing information about unknown subject. It is most frequently used in pilot
studies (Yin, 2003). Explanatory cases are suitable for doing causal studies. It is
commonly used when the researcher tries to find out the relations between several
factors. Descriptive cases require that the investigator begin with a descriptive theory,
or face the possibility that problems will occur during the project (Yin, 2003).
Five strategies are commonly used in researches: experiment, survey, archival
analysis, history and case study. When and why choose a case study for this research?
As Yin (2003, p. 6) has pointed out, the choice of a certain strategy depends on three
(a) the type of research question posed
(b) the extent of control an investigator has over actual behavioural events
(c) the degree of focus on contemporary as opposed to historical events
The research question of this research is ‘what are the sources of teacher efficacy’.
According to Yin (2003), this type of research question is ‘a justifiable rationale for
conducting an exploratory study’ (p. 6). However, for an exploratory study, each of
the five strategies can be chosen and applied. Yin (2003) pointed out that ‘how’ and
‘why’ questions were more explanatory and likely to lead to the use of case studies.
The research question in fact can be viewed from another aspect: why teachers differ
in sense of teacher efficacy and what are the influential sources? An explanatory case
study would try to find out the causal relationship between factors and phenomenon;
while an exploratory case study aims at developing ‘pertinent hypotheses and
propositions for further inquiry’ (p. 6). This research is designed as a pilot study of
what are the possible sources of teacher efficacy. As a pilot study, the research is not
aiming at finding out the causal relationship between possible sources and teachers’
sense of efficacy. It is more reasonable for the researcher to propose pertinent
hypotheses for further inquiry. Therefore, the research strategy of this research is
exploratory case study.
3.4 Research Methods
3.4.1 Participant selection
Since the research is designed to investigate the influential sources of teachers’
sense of self-efficacy, it is advantageous to select randomly from all kinds of schools.
As the researcher is conducting the research in an European culture, it is better to
choose different countries to select schools randomly. Samples should be
representative in every aspect. The selection of participants determines the quality of
the research and therefore remains central in qualitative research. Polkinghorne (1989)
suggested that research participants should have ‘the capacity to provide full and
sensitive descriptions of the experience under study’ (p. 47). Yin (2003) indicated that
a case study would be more convincing if data of the study came from various sources.
If the samples include teachers from primary and secondary schools, novice and
experienced teachers, female and male, teachers with educational background in
special education and without, the research might get more interesting results.
However, due to several limitations, such as lack of time, lack of resources, lack of
hands, and language barriers, it is extremely difficult to select randomly and at the
same time make the sample representative. The researcher happened to have a chance
to establish “buddyschool relationship” with a secondary mainstream school in the
Netherlands, therefore it is convenient to visit the school and to interview the staff and
the pupils there. The case of this research is this mainstream school in the Netherlands.
The researcher wants to investigate into the case from a certain angle: teacher efficacy
level of this school and the possible sources why teachers have the certain level of
efficacy beliefs. The selection of this case is due to practical reasons.
3.4.2 Data Collection
Measuring Teacher Efficacy. As illustrated in chapter 2, Gibson and Dembo’s
Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) has been widely used to measure teachers’ sense of
efficacy. Although it has been proved to be efficient and reliable when measuring
teachers’ sense of efficacy, Gibson and Dembo (1984) pointed out that only 16 items,
among which 9 items were related to Personal Teaching Efficacy (PTE) and 7 items
related to General Teaching Efficacy (GTE), had been analyzed and proved to be able
to explain the variance much better than other items. Therefore Gibson and Dembo
(1984) suggested a scale with 16 to 20 items for future research. Woolfolk and Hoy
(1990) adapted it slightly to propose a 22-item scale, including the 16 highly
correlated items. This research adopted this scale to measure teachers’ sense of
efficacy. Six teachers were randomly selected from the school and filled in the
questionnaire-form scale. Some open-ended questions were listed after the scale to
clarify their age, gender, grades of instruction, years of teaching, teaching subjects,
level of education, and area of education.
Interviews. Semi-constructed interviews were followed by the measuring teacher
efficacy. The six teachers were randomly selected; the researcher tried to cover the
demographic variables mentioned in chapter one. Among the six teachers, 2 have
experience of less than 5 years; 2 have experience of 6 to 15 years; and 2 have
experience of more than 20 years. They teach different subjects and different grades.
The numbers of students with SEN in their class also differ greatly. All of them are
willing to participate in the research. All the six teachers have been interviewed
concerning sources of teacher efficacy.
Documents Review. The students of this school have done a questionnaire (SVL
Overzicht, which has been conducted in this school in March, 2007) to indicate their
motivation, their feelings of well-being at school and their self-concept last term. The
results of the students of the six teachers have been reviewed to get information about
the teachers.
3.4.3 Expected Outcomes
Demographic variables explain the variance between teachers to some degree. Grades
instructed, years of teaching experience, and area of certificate will have significant
influence on teachers’ sense of efficacy in inclusive classrooms. Teachers who teach
lower grade and have more years of experience tend to have higher teacher efficacy.
Teachers who have a certificate or training in special education score much higher
than teachers who have only certificate in general education.
Teachers’ sense of efficacy will be influenced mainly by their own experience.
Achievements and successes will improve their perceptions; failures, especially
failures at the early beginning will lower efficacy beliefs.
Vicarious experience will also be influential, though not as powerful as mastery
experience. Teachers observing other teachers’ class will be helpful. The greater the
degree of similarity between the observer and the observed, the more influential
vicarious experience will be.
Verbal persuasion is an easy and convenient way of boosting teacher efficacy. When
persuaded that they have the abilities to deal with difficult situations, teachers would
exert more efforts.
Positive emotional status will help teachers to achieve better efficacy beliefs while
negative feelings will lower efficacy beliefs.
3.5 Other Important Issues
3.5.1 Validity
The study applied the Gibson and Dembo’s Teacher Efficacy Scale to measure
teachers’ sense of efficacy. This scale has been adopted and applied in many
researches (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Burley et al., 1991; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993;
Moore & Esselman, 1992; Soodak & Podell, 1993), achieving good results and
proved to be reliable. However, this scale is mainly used in the United States. When
we consider the different culture in the United States and in European countries, we
should be aware of the potential limits of using this scale. As indicated in chapter 2,
teacher efficacy level is positively related to students’ efficacy level and students’
motivation. Therefore we could to some degree validate the using of this scale by
reviewing documents. If the teacher achieves high scores and has high sense of
efficacy, and at the same time, his/her students show high level of efficacy beliefs and
have strong motivation, we might consider that this scale is reliable.
Peer debriefing. Throughout the whole process, I have kept on talking and discussing
my ideas and the developments of the research with my critical friends and other
colleague students. I also kept contact with my colleagues in China who had
experience of doing research in this field. I had critical friends in my buddyschool too.
All of them gave me valuable suggestions and helped me improve the validity of my
research. For example, when I consider using the Gibson and Dembo scale, one of my
critical friends suggest that I should take into consideration that the culture and the
educational environment are different in the United States and the European countries.
This inspired me to think about how to validate this scale in a different culture.
Therefore reviewing of the documents became one part of the data collection.
The ‘Validation Session’ was of great importance. During this session, I shared my
research with critical friends and got valuable suggestions in the form of defense. The
process itself was beneficial. Trying to describe the research to others, I clarified
thoughts and shaped ideas. The committee consisted of teachers of Fontys Oso, my
tutor, two fellow students, a guest scholar of Erasmus Mundus, and the school
counsellor from the school where the research was conducted. Comments and
questions inspired me; suggestions and arguments were taken to validate this research.
One important suggestion on the session was that whether the concept of teacher
efficacy adopted in this research and the concept of teacher efficacy on which the
scale based were the same. If the two concepts did not match, then the validation
remained in doubt. Therefore in chapter, this pointed has been clarified; the concept
adopted in the research and the concept on which this scale was built up were the
3.5.2 Ethical Considerations
Ethical considerations, perhaps, are the most important issue in case studies of
individuals. In all circumstances, the researchers should consider the ethical
implications and psychological consequences for the participants in their research.
The essential point is that the participants’ aspects should be taken into consideration;
‘foreseeable threats to participants’ psychological health, values or dignity should be
eliminated’ (British Psychological Society, 1978).
The participants in my research were teachers. First of all, I asked for permission to
do the research in the school. After getting introduced to the individuals, and before I
conducted, I explained to each of them my interest was only in getting more
knowledge about my research topic; all the findings would only be used for better
understanding of this topic. I would not start my interview unless they agreed, and
each recording was done after getting permission. I ensured them that I was the only
person who would listen to the recordings and there was no access to the original
recordings for anyone else. After the interview, I sent each of the teachers the
subscript of his/her interview to make sure that I listened carefully and understood
correctly. An interpretation of the interviews was also sent to teachers and other
related staff in the school for their agreement and approval. The draft of this research
has been sent to the teachers and school leaders involved. In this way, all teachers
involved and the school could believe that I tried my best to avoid misinterpretation
and leakage of information about the teachers and the school I have done research
3.6 Summary
In this study, the research subjects are teachers, and the research process is mainly an
interaction between the researcher and the subjects. The aim is to construct knowledge
about sources of teacher efficacy, which is behind the teachers’ behaviour and
performance. The interaction between the researcher and the subjects makes it
difficult for the researcher to be aloof and distant. And the research methodology is
qualitative. The nature of this research determines the choice of constructivistic
When the research question is a ‘what’ or ‘how’ question, it is suitable to employ case
study (Yin, 2003). The research method of this study is an exploratory case study.
Case studies can be used for different purposes. An exploratory case study is
frequently employed to explore possible relations between certain factors. When there
is inadequate information to propose hypotheses or the research is a pilot study, it is
appropriate to use exploratory case study. This research is regarded as a pilot study,
and the researcher will conduct further studies later based on the research results.
Besides, it is lacking in information to propose hypotheses at this moment. An
exploratory case study suits the research best.
The case selection of this research is due to practical reasons. A mainstream secondary
school in the Netherlands has been selected. The school is investigated as a single
case; the research wants to understand the teachers’ sense of efficacy and its sources
in the school environment. Six teachers of this school have been randomly selected;
the teachers are different in several aspects: teaching experience, teaching subjects,
and grades of instruction. A standard scale has been employed to measure these
teachers’ efficacy beliefs; interviews help understand the sources behind the level of
efficacy; documents are reviewed to validate the measuring tool.
All the teachers were willingly to participate in the research; the interviews were
recorded after their approval; the subscripts of the interviews had been sent to all
teachers involved to make sure that the researcher understood and interpret correctly.
The draft of this thesis had been sent to teachers and school leaders involved.
Chapter 4 Data Analysis
4.1 Introduction
This chapter analyses the results from the data collection. It draws together the data
gathered from the different research methods, the questionnaires, the interviews, and
the analysis of the documents. The chapter also incorporates tables and quotations and
sometimes refers to the appendices.
All the collected data have been analysed based on the research questions. The study
set out to find responses to the following research questions.
1. Do demographic variables influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
2. Do performance accomplishments influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
3. Does vicarious experience influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
4. Does verbal persuasion influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
5. Does emotional arousal influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
6. What are other possible sources of teachers’ sense of efficacy?
4.2 Measuring Teacher Efficacy
Altogether six teachers filled in the questionnaires which meant to measure their sense
of efficacy.
Demographic Data
In this study, the following demographic data were investigated: years of teaching,
grades of instruction, number of students in the class, number of students with
Individual Educational Plan in the class, and area of education.
Years of Grades
of Number
Teaching Intruction
Area of Education
the with IEP
Teacher A 0-5
Grade 1, 2
Teacher B 0-5
Grade 3, 4
Teacher C 6-10
Grade 3, 4
background of Special
Grade 1, 2
Teacher E 20-25
Grade 3, 4
Teacher F
Grade 3, 4
Research Question 1: Do demographic data influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
The following table shows the teachers’ sense of efficacy based on the adapted Gibson
Teacher A Teacher B Teacher C Teacher D Teacher E Teacher F
(Note: According to Gibson (1984), for Personal Teaching Efficacy, the higher the
Lickert Scale, the higher efficacy belief the teacher holds. For General Teaching
Efficacy, the lower the Likert Scale, the higher efficacy belief the teacher has.)
For the least experienced group, which have been teaching less than 5 years, teacher A
has the highest personal teaching efficacy and general teaching efficacy, while teacher
B has the lowest personal teaching efficacy but gets rather high general teaching
efficacy. For the group with experience between 6 and 15 years, both teacher C and
teacher D have very high personal teaching efficacy but have the lowest general
teaching efficacy. For the group with more than 20 years of experience, their sense of
personal teaching efficacy and general teaching efficacy are in the middle, not too
high but not too low. Although it is not possible to state the relations between
demographic variables and teacher efficacy, we could still observe that teachers with
more years of teaching experience got lower scores than teachers with experience of
less than five years. This might suggest that with the increasing experience, there is a
slight decrease in efficacy level. The number of students with SEN in class does not
influence the level of efficacy. Teaching subjects and grades have no significant
influence either.
4.3 Interviewing Sources of Teacher Efficacy
Research question 2: Do performance accomplishments influence teachers’ sense of
Just by practicing, and then I will learn.
What Experience is very important. It’s always learning. Even now I
to am still learning.
become a good For me, at the beginning, you have to learn everything from
others and from the colleagues. But later on, you have your own
experience; you can rely on your own.
A lot of practicing. Don’t stay in Fontys (education insititute).
Don’t read too much of the books because children are always
different from what the books say. Just jump into the water and
see how it goes.
The first year I really had very difficult classrooms. I just didn’t
want to step into the class again...The second year, I was more
confident because I survived the first year.
By teaching. Experience accumulates.
All the teachers interviewed indicated that in the first and/or second year they have
learned much and this helped them build up confidence. They emphasized that the
successful experience in the beginning was very important to their teaching. And later
on, they still learn a lot from practice and this helps extremely.
Research Question 3: Does vicarious experience influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
You can observe. You see what the teacher does in the class, and
Question: Is it you see the reactions of the children. And you can focus on all
useful to observe the children, but not on one child. You can learn what is good or
teachers’ bad for them. Then you can practice in your own class.
For me, at the beginning, you have to learn everything from
others and from the colleagues.
For the first or second year, it’s very important to observe other’s
class. Especially when you observe the subject you are going to
teach, you will learn so much from the observation. And you will
also build up confidence by observing. And you can learn good
ways of handling from observation.
The new teachers can go to the experienced teachers’ class. It is
useful, but not that much.
For observing others’ class, though when asked, all the teachers agreed that it was
useful, they did not mention it themselves when asked “what would you recommend
to the new teachers or teachers-to-be”. And all the teachers pointed it out that it was
useful at the first or second year. For the later on period, they implied that one’s own
experience was more important.
Research question 4: Does verbal persuasion influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
Research question 5: Does emotional arousal influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
These two questions are combined because the interview results indicate that they are
closely related and intertwined. It is difficult to relate the information given by the
teachers to only one of these two sources.
Yes. We have a team. In our team, we have good relationship and
question: Do you help each other a lot. This is very important. If there is a
problem, you can ask them how to solve it. And we will make
your out the solution.
after Yes, for me, it’s very important. Without my buddy, without my
colleagues, I couldn’t make it in my first year.
Does it
The most important thing is to talk with your colleagues. To talk
about the problems of your students.
Let your colleagues know what’s wrong. And ask for their help.
No matter how long you have been teaching, every year, you
always have problems, whether they are small or big. You need
to talk about it.
Yes. Support from your colleagues is the most important.
Whenever I need, I get a lot of support from them.
By talking, you feel relieved. Then the problem is kind of
solved. Others only give suggestions; you should practice it
For this question, teachers’ responses are a little bit different from what was defined
by Bandura (1997). Their responses indicated that talking with colleagues itself is a
kind of relief and the problem is already solved somehow. And they said they could
get suggestions and support from colleagues. These suggestions might not work, but
then they knew this didn’t work and tried another way. Sometimes suggestions work
and they would accumulate experience. But they didn’t mention whether their
colleagues “persuaded” them that they could do it. It is more like “you can try this or
that”, but not clearly “you can do it if you try”. In this sense, the talking and
communication between colleagues is like a combination of social persuasion and
reduction of emotional stress. The talking relieves pressure and anxiety; therefore it
helps rebuilding confidence.
The teachers of this school have high efficacy when facing special needs students.
The sources behind this belief are mainly two points: everybody is different so we
respect difference; to really understand their needs and then we can help them to the
Willing to include SEN students; hesitating to refer them to special schools
Interview Questions
What do you think about To pay more attention to them.
children with special needs?
What do you think about Every child is special. Respect them.
children with special needs?
What do you think about We should give them a chance.
children with special needs?
What do you think about If a pupil has a really severe problem, if it’s really
difficult to handle, then he/she should go to other
What do you think about Inclusion is a very good thing, but there are
If you had more training in Not really. You learn so much while you do it. The
special needs, would you feel
most important is to practice.
If you had more training in Yes. Teachers should learn something about
special needs, would you feel ADHD, to know learning problems, etc.
What is important for a As a teacher, you have to go down to the level of
teacher to be inclusive?
the students. And listen to the children. To
understand the needs of the students. To learn
ADHD, to know something about the learning
problems, etc.
What is important for a It’s important to be open to it. Keep an open culture
teacher to be inclusive?
in the class and all the students will understand and
accept the special needs children.
What is important for a It’s very important to recognize them. They are the
teacher to be inclusive?
same as other normal children. Because in most
times they feel they are out of the group, we should
create a safe environment for the special needs
children, pay a lot of attention to them, and have a
small class size so you can give enough attention to
the students who need it.
What is important for you to Attitude. Being curious about the needs of the
be inclusive?
students. Being creative. Being open-minded to
students, to parents, to colleagues, etc. To see
possibilities of every possible way.
From the quotes, it is apparent that the teachers accept students with special needs and
do not treat them as abnormal children. They regard every child as a special
individual and are open to the problems and prepared for what they will face in the
class. Attitude towards inclusion is the most important if one wants to be successful in
inclusive class. Information in advance about the children’s needs helps to boost
teacher efficacy. Several teachers mentioned that if one knew and expected what
might be the difficulties in class, it was much easier and teachers would be more
confident that they could handle the situation.
Research question 6: What are other possible sources of teachers’ sense of efficacy?
Interviews revealed several sources of teacher efficacy other than Bandura’s theory.
Good relationship Good relationship is very important. You must have good
with students
relationship with the children.
The students would like to do the homework for you. They do
the job not because they want to but because of the good
relationship with you.
Just think of the time when you were a student. If I thought the
teacher was a bad man, then my score wasn’t good. If I liked
that teacher, then the subject was ok.
Good relationship with the students is very important to both teachers and students.
For teachers, when they know that students would accept what they suggest or require
is relieving and this knowledge makes them more certain about their performance in
Teacher role
Be yourself.
To be yourself means that you don’t play the role of being a
A teacher is not a friend. You are a teacher, and you have to
earn respect. If you are a friend, they won’t respect you any
more. You have to be a teacher in a friendly way. It’s very
important to be the teacher.
Have your rules. You can make a joke, and you can laugh with
students, but you have your rules.
You don’t have to be a nice or popular teacher. Treat the
students with respect. Have structure and be consistent with
what you say you will do. You should have distance, but the
distance is not too much.
I am not paid to be sweet. I am paid to teach. To do what I am
supposed to do and do it well.
To be yourself. To be flexible. Don’t be one of the pupils.
Don’t be popular. Know what you are teaching.
First you should let pupils know you. Being yourself comes
first. You should love children, accept them, accept their
background, and accept the way they live, the way they learn.
Teaching comes second. Don’t teach for money or holiday.
Don’t teach what you don’t know. You must know the subject.
The emphasis put on good relationship between teachers and students is very
interesting. To be friendly with the students, to keep a close relationship with them,
but equally important is not to be a friend, a popular person among students. All
teachers interviewed emphasized the importance of the role of being a teacher but not
a friend. This role makes the students respect the teachers and trust the teacher, and as
a result teachers’ efficacy beliefs are enhanced.
The impression during all the interviews is that all the teachers enjoyed good
relationship with the students; however, they highly evaluate the role of being a
teacher, to earn respect of the students by acting a teacher but not a friend.
Other sources pointed out by the teachers are: characteristics, communicative skills,
collaboration between colleagues, and school culture.
4.4 Summary
Teachers’ experience will slightly influence teachers’ sense of efficacy. With more
experience accumulating, their GTE scores slightly decrease. Teaching subjects and
grades do not influence the level of efficacy. The number of students with SEN are
not influential either.
Performance achievements are the most important to boost efficacy beliefs. All the
teachers regarded their experience in the first or second year as the fundamental basis
of their confidence. The interesting point is that all of them suffered a lot at the
beginning of their teaching careers; however, the survival after continuous efforts
finally made them more confident.
Vicarious experience, though mentioned as useful by the teachers, seemed much less
important compared with direct experience. One of the teachers pointed out the
similarity between the observed and the observer was important. An interesting point
mentioned by one teacher emphasized that one could learn a lot during observation to
understand students’ responses and reactions. When teaching, it was difficult to know
the reactions of all students while in observation, one could learn more about students.
This is more similar to direct experience---to learn students’ needs by one’s own
All teachers viewed support between colleagues as the most important thing in
building up confidence. Support and collaboration were sometimes concrete and
detail and were sometimes a chance of letting out the negative feelings. In this sense,
talking itself was a relief and could somehow solve the problem. The suggestions they
got from other colleagues may not work; the final solution still depended on their own
practice and experience.
When talking about SEN students, the teachers had high level of efficacy on general.
The attitude was the key to including SEN students. All of them accept and respect
students with SEN, and they tried to really understand students’ need and to adapt
teaching to various needs. To get information before hand was also important when
one wanted to be successful in teaching SEN students. If one was better prepared and
knew exactly what might happen, one was more capable to deal with difficult
situations when SEN students were included in class.
Most of the teachers attributed their confidence and success to the good relationship
with the students. All of them agreed that building up good relationship was the first
step to be a successful teacher. But one need not pamper the students; respect and
discipline would be more efficient to establish good relationship. Teachers’
characteristic was important. To love children and to enjoy being with them would be
extremely important to be a good teacher.
Chapter 5 Evaluation
5.1 Introduction
The previous chapter has described and illustrated the research findings in details.
This chapter will evaluate the research and try to answer the research questions:
What are the sources that will influence teachers’ sense of efficacy?
The evaluation of the research will follow a string of the sub questions mentioned in
chapter 1. Validation of the research method and data collection is an important part
of the evaluation. All the data collected will be interpreted and related to the literature
review. Pertinent proposition will be proposed for reference of further studies.
5.2 Measuring Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy
Chapter 2 has explored several important scales which have been used in teacher
efficacy researches. The locus of control developed by Rotter (1966) is convenient
and reliable, though it only contains 2 items. Researches who have used this scale
reported satisfying results. Later on, Rose and Medway (1981) developed a 28-item
measure: the Teacher Locus of Control (TLC). This extended scale is based on the
same theory and proved reliable to some degree. The underpinning theory of this scale
is Rotter’s social learning theory, and his definition of teacher efficacy is slightly
different from Bandura’s social cognitive theory. To make the definition of teacher
efficacy and the measuring scale match, a scale adapted from Gibson and Dembo’s
Teacher Efficacy Scale has been adopted. This scale has been approved reliable and
valid by a great number of researches, most of which have been conducted in the
United States. However, when the researcher considered using this scale in a different
cultural background in Europe, it is advisable to do a pilot study to check the
reliability of this scale.
Due to limited time, the researcher employed other documents to prove the validity.
Literature review has shown that teacher efficacy is positively related to students’
motivation, and students’ self-efficacy. The documents of students’ motivation and
self-efficacy (which has been conducted through questionnaires last term at this
school) indicated that students will be better motivated and more confident of
achieving good results in tests if their teachers have higher efficacy beliefs. This
supports the validation of adopting this scale to some degree; though the documents
reviewed are only concerning the six teachers and it is impossible to analyse the
co-efficiency between teachers’ efficacy and students’ performance.
The efficacy scores achieved by the teachers indicated that demographic variables
have no significant influence over teachers’ sense of efficacy. Among these six
teachers who have filled in the form, 3 teachers who get the highest PTE scores were
different in teaching experience, varying from little experienced to much experienced.
It is difficult to conclude that more experienced teachers have higher teacher efficacy.
However, the interesting point is that all these teachers think experience is one of the
most important things that help them become a good teacher. As to the GTE, among
the three teachers who get the highest GTE scores, two of them have experience of
less than 5 years, but one has experience of more than 20 years. The more important is
what teachers have said about their beliefs. All of them regard their own teaching
practice and experience accumulated during practicing are invaluable in building up
their confidence. All the teachers, especially the less experienced teachers, believe
they will even do better with more practice. They will learn something new every year,
and they will be better equipped to meet various needs of the students.
Teaching subject is another variable which has been interesting in the research.
Teachers who teach social sciences think it’s easier to be flexible in their class; they
could adapt to students with different needs. They would prefer social sciences more
than technical subjects, because they would not be fitted and they are less confident if
they were teaching technical subjects. And in their opinion, it is more strict and less
flexible in technical subjects. Teachers who teach technical class are just the opposite.
They think the social sciences, which have been taught in small classes with rows of
chairs and desks, are very difficult. If they were put into the class with the door shut
and with the class alone in their first year of teaching, they could not imagine how to
pull through. In their opinion, technical class is more interesting and they feel better
supported by other colleagues; they could help the students focus on their work much
better and they enjoy a lot during the teaching. The good point is both types of
teachers enjoy their own subjects and feel more confident about their own teaching.
As to the research topic, teaching subject is not an influential source of teacher
Teaching levels do not influence teacher efficacy, either. Among the three teachers
with highest scores of PTE, two are teaching grade 1 and grade 2; one is teaching
grade 3 and grade 4. Among the three teachers who get the highest GTE scores, one is
teaching grade 1 and grade 2; the other two are teaching grade 3 and grade 4.
All the six teachers have Bachelor’s degree in general education. Almost everybody
admitted that they had little idea about special education before they entered the class;
however, four of them indicated that theoretical knowledge was not much important,
especially compared with experience accumulated in real teaching. When asked
whether special education training would help them when facing special needs
children, they would rather prefer real teaching practice, though they still thought
theories were important.
Small class size is important to teacher efficacy. All teachers emphasized that with
smaller size, they could pay attention to each child and adapt to their needs easily.
With too many students in a class, then they could not do this even they try hard. But
the number of students with Individual Educational Plan does not influence their
efficacy beliefs as the total number of students does. When asked the reason, they
thought before teaching a class, even with a lot of children who have difficulties in
learning, because they knew it in advance and were prepared for it, they did not feel it
more difficult than class with less students with IEP.
5.3 Performance Achievements
According to Bandura (1995), direct experience is the most important source. Success
boosts self-efficacy, while failures, especially happening at the early stage, would
lower efficacy beliefs considerably. The interview of the teachers proved that their
own experience was most relied on when they evaluated their abilities and sources of
teacher efficacy. Teachers interviewed did say that success helped a lot, but they also
pointed out that these successes were not easy ones. In the beginning of teaching, they
experienced great difficulties. At least four teachers mentioned that first year teaching
was really difficult for them; somehow, with their practicing, learning, and getting
support from other colleagues, they overcame difficulties one by one. After one year,
they found they pulled through and the result was not bad. Therefore they were more
confident about their own abilities and knew that difficulties could be overcome if one
really tried hard. This is very similar to Bandura’s (1995) theory. Easy successes did
not help for cultivating persistence when facing difficulties. If people only experience
easy successes, they would expect quick results and would be easily discouraged if
they could not get results after a short period of efforts. ‘A resilient sense of efficacy
requires experience in overcoming obstacles through perseverant effort’(Bandura,
1995, p. 3). Difficulties and setbacks, to some degree, are useful telling people that
success usually requires sustained effort. When people exert efforts continuously, they
accumulate experience in facing adversity and could persevere more and could
recover from setbacks quickly and then continue to work hard. By sticking it out
through difficult times, they cultivate higher sense of efficacy.
5.4 Vicarious Experiences
Besides the most influential source, performance achievements, vicarious experience
is also referred as useful by teachers who have been interviewed. All teachers agreed
that at the beginning period, to observe how other teachers perform helped them. One
teacher mentioned it was very useful if the observation class was the same subject that
he/she was going to teach. When asked how observation helped, two teachers said
that when you observe successful actions in the class, you would expect that you
could do the same. Even when you see something wrong happens, you can analyse the
reason behind and would avoid it in your own class. Another advantage is that when
you are busy teaching, you would not be able to notice the response of each child;
while you can focus on the whole group more when you observe. Hence you
understand the students better and this makes you more confident of teaching.
Teachers’ view about vicarious experience is similar to Bandura’s (1995) theory in
one aspect: it is useful to some degree; the more similar the observer is to the
observed, the more influential the observation will be. However, the teachers’ words
implied that observation would be useful at only the first stage of teaching. And the
observation is useful is also because they get experience directly from another angle:
they could observe the whole class, the response of each student, and therefore they
understand the students better. Once they have accumulated their own experience,
they would not prefer observation anymore.
5.5 Verbal Persuasion
According to Bandura (1995), verbal persuasion alone could hardly serve to instill
high beliefs of personal efficacy. If people are given encouragement in an unrealistic
way, their confidence built upon this verbal persuasion might be ‘quickly
disconfirmed by disappointing results of one’s efforts’ (Bandura, 1995, p. 4). On the
other hand, if people are persuaded that they are not competent enough, they would
easily accept it and would try to avoid the situation that they believe they cannot deal
with. The interviews proved this. Several teachers pointed out that when one tries to
help, it is much better to tell the person positive things and to be encouraging; it never
works if one only points out the mistakes and implies inadequate competence.
Bandura (1995) also suggested that ‘efficacy builders do more than convey positive
appraisals’ (p. 4). Besides persuading people to believe in their competence, efficacy
builders should provide situations in which they will achieve success and avoid
placing people in situations which might be too difficult at the stage of building up
teacher efficacy. The interviews proved that positive encouragement from colleagues
is extremely important to teachers. All teachers put support from colleagues as
important as their teaching experience. However, the support they mentioned is a little
bit different from ‘persuasion’ mentioned by Bandura (1995). Bandura’s verbal
persuasion refers to the words like “you have the ability to do this”, “you can do it”;
while the teachers interviewed said they would share whatever difficulties with the
colleagues and get suggestions from others. By sharing and getting suggestion, they
feel relieved and regain confidence again to deal with difficult situation. Sometimes
they might not need specific advice or ideas, but by talking about the problem is
already relieving and this helps extremely. Therefore, the support the teachers cherish
so much in this school is somehow more close to another source mentioned by
Bandura (1995), emotional status.
5.6 Emotional Status
As stated by Bandura (1995), when people feel tension, they attribute it partly to their
lack of abilities or their poor performance. Mood affects people’s judgements of their
self-efficacy. Positive mood enhances perceived self-efficacy; while negative feeling
reduces it. Therefore Bandura (1995) suggested the fourth way of enahancing teacher
efficacy, to reduce stress, to reduce negative emotion. Interviews with the teacher are
not directly related to this. Only one teacher mentioned her/his own experience that
when she/he was in low spirit she was less confident in the class and her poor
performance, vice versa, increased lower efficacy. She/he mentioned it was useful to
keep one’s spirit high when one enters the class. But as mentioned above, the support
from colleagues is more like a method of reducing negative feelings. When teacher
felt discouraged or they had low confidence in dealing with the situation, they could
always talk it out with other colleagues; this is a good way of reducing stress and it
has great effect on regaining confidence.
5.7 Other Sources of Teacher Efficacy
A very good system is of great importance to the teachers. Team work helps a lot. Any
teacher, if she/he has a problem, she/he can go to the team leader and also other
colleagues to talk about it and ask for suggestion. Team meeting is a good chance for
all the teachers to share experience and work out solutions. In this school, teachers
enjoy the team work so much. All the six teachers pointed out they would not feel
worried because they know they could get support anytime they need. This relieving
is especially important for teachers who are at the early stage to build up teacher
Teacher’s character is another important source. All the six teachers mentioned they
love students and enjoy being with them. They said if one loves the students, then it is
natural to think for them and do everything for them; therefore, one can be a good
teacher. However, if one does not love children, then it is better to leave this field.
They have confidence that their love for the children makes the best for them. All the
other strategies and skills can be cultivated later; loving the students is a prerequisite.
For successful teaching, to establish good relationship with the students comes before
teaching the ‘knowledge’. To love the students, to enjoy being with them, then the
teacher has achieved half success.
5.8 Summary
Similar to Bandura’s (1995) theory, direct experience was most relied on when
teachers analysed the sources of their efficacy beliefs. Successes and failures were
both helpful to boost their confidence. Successes were not achieved easily; failures
were finally overcome by sustained efforts. After exerting efforts continuously,
teachers were paid back and therefore established higher confidence.
Vicarious experience is useful to some degree, but it is much less important compared
with direct experience. Teachers pointed out that observation would be helpful
especially in the first or second year. Later on, they would rely on their own
experience more.
Verbal persuasion was not apparently related to teachers’ source of efficacy. The
support mentioned by the teachers was focusing on discussing a problem and giving
suggestions. It was different from Bandura’s (1995) definition of verbal persuasion: to
persuade people whether they have the ability or not. Positive verbal persuasion
would be more helpful to establish higher efficacy than negative persuasion. Only one
teacher mentioned that positive comment from other teachers (more experienced ones)
were more beneficial to new teachers than negative comment.
Emotional status was mentioned by only one teacher. She suggested that keeping
one’s spirit high when one enters the class would bring better results and make the
teacher more confident. The support between colleagues served this function also---to
reduce the negative feelings and to lift teachers’ spirit.
Other sources indicated by the teachers included good system, team work, team
meeting, and teacher’s characteristics. A good system guarantees the smooth running
of team work and team meetings. The support and collaboration between team
members were extremely important to all the teachers. Within the team, they would be
far more confident because they knew that they could get help whenever they need it.
Teacher’s character is another important source. Loving the students and enjoying
being with them were considered to be the prerequisite of being a good teacher. Some
teachers even mentioned that if one did not enjoy being with the students, then she/he
should leave this profession.
Chapter 6 Conclusions and Recommendations
6.1 Introduction
The study is a pilot research and the conclusions are only pertinent and premature. As
an exploratory case study, it has yielded interesting results and the results can provide
information to propose hypotheses for further research.
This chapter will first present the conclusions. I will then reflect on my personal
development during the research, and discuss how to apply the findings of the study
into further researches which will be conducted in China. Recommendations will
follow the discussion.
6.2 Conclusions
Among all demographic variables investigated in the study, age, education level, area
of education, and number of students with IEP in the class have no significant impact
on teacher efficacy. Teachers’ scores of both PTE and GTE do not show any
difference among less experienced and much experienced teachers. However,
according to the interviews, years of teaching experience has influenced their
perceptions greatly. Class size is also regarded as important in their confidence of
managing a class.
All teachers rely on their own teaching experience---performance achievements---to
build up their self-efficacy. This echoes Bandura’s (1995) theory. They also pointed
out the first year and/or second year they had been facing a really difficult time;
however, once they pulled it through, their confidence was considerably enhanced and
they could rely on their own experience. Setbacks and difficulties at the beginning
provided a chance for them to understand sustained efforts could overcome
difficulties and therefore when facing problems they would be more confident and
would like to put more efforts.
Vicarious experience is useful to some degree. Teachers thought at the beginning
stage, it is useful to observe other teachers’ in class; and observing the subject that
she/he is going to teach will be extremely helpful. The success of others triggered
their confidence; they would expect the same or equally good performance of
themselves. Others’ inadequacy would also remind them not to make the same
mistake. The interesting point is that teachers mentioned when observing, one can
have a chance to notice the response of each child; while when one is busying
teaching, it is likely to ignore some children. This enables their understanding of the
students’ needs better and therefore boosts their confidence.
Verbal persuasion is ranked as important as performance achievements by the teachers.
But what they refer is the support given by colleagues and team leaders. It is not only
that others encourage them that they could work it out; it is also sharing problems and
worries with colleagues,
a way of reducing pressure and relieving tension. They
could get suggestions from others, and the feeling of being supported, the knowing
that one can get support and encouragement anytime one needs are the most important
to them. Therefore, the support between colleagues serves two functions: one is to
persuade people to believe their competence; the other is to reduce negative feelings,
which is the fourth source listed by Bandura (1995).
Teachers’ characters and motivation are very important sources. In fact, teachers who
have low motivation and do not enjoy being with students should leave this field,
according to them.
6.3 Personal Development
The choice of standard scale is a new try for me. I have never used it before. However,
the study made me realize that a standard scale has its range of application. Cultural
difference should always be kept in mind. For example, with Chinese cultural
background, I tended to under-estimate my abilities of teaching, and I would attribute
students’ success to their own efforts rather than my instruction. If I were asked to fill
in the forms of the standard scale, I might get very low efficacy. Therefore, the scale
used in future research in China needs to be adapted to the certain culture.
Doing case study is a whole new thing for me too. I have conducted quantitative study
before and thought that was a ‘scientific’ way of doing research. At the beginning of
this study, I wanted to do that too. Talking with my tutor and critical friends, and
attending many sessions concerning research helped me understand the importance of
case study and how much a case study could tell the researcher. The sessions about
case studies and data analysis are particularly interesting and beneficial. Doing a case
study requires abilities of communication, creativity, flexibility, and thorough
understanding. It is scientific too; and, in some sense, it yields more meaningful data
for the researcher. A qualitative case study relies on the researcher’s experience. As a
novice, I need to improve my skills of asking appropriate questions and asking them
in a clear way. I could feel I have improved the skills and could reduce my bias bit by
bit as the research goes on.
The findings inspired me a lot. As a teacher, I have rather low self-efficacy and tend to
give up when facing difficult situations. The teachers I have interviewed are confident
and willing to try everything for their students are really good examples for me. The
words ‘being a teacher’ and ‘being yourself’ are hovering in my mind since the
interviews. To know other sources of teacher efficacy is also beneficial to me as a
teacher. I have never thought of ‘being yourself is the first step to be a good teacher’. I
am more used to learning instruction skills and administrating skills (which are
emphasized in China); but the interviews with the teachers helped me understand that
one could enjoy teaching and teach well only when she/he is not ‘performing a role’.
6.4 Recommendations
The standard scale chosen has been used many times in the United States; however, it
might not fit into the European culture. It was true that there was no standard scale
based on the European culture, but if time allowed, a pilot study should be conducted
and feedback be employed to adapt the scale to better fit in the situation. Later on,
when further studies are conducted in China, it is better to construct a scale based on
situations in China and select enough samples to prove the reliability and validity of
the scale. And then use the scale as a measurement in the studies.
Since all interviews were conducted in English, there might be misunderstandings or
misinterpretation. Although the researcher has sent the scripts of the interviews and
the dissertation to teachers and staff concerned for their opinions, it is still hard to
avoid all possible misunderstandings or misinterpretation. It is better to do interviews
in the native language of both the interviewer and the interviewees. Observations and
documents review can be powerful proof of the validation and reliability of the
interviews. However, due to lack of time, the researcher only did a little bit of
documents review. To observe teachers’ behaviour in the class can reveal more
information about their beliefs of competence.
If further researches can be conducted in China, first of all, I would like to do a pilot
study to test the reliability and validity of the scale used for measuring teacher
efficacy. Necessary adjustments should be made according to different culture and
educational system. Observation should be employed instead of documents review to
validate the measuring tool. Observation in class is a more direct way to understand
teachers’ behaviour and performance. Observation results will be more powerful in
validating the scores achieved by using the measuring tool.
Comparative studies would be interesting. Culture affects teacher efficacy, for
example, Lin et al. (2002) pointed out that American student teachers achieved higher
scores than Taiwanese student teachers. Analysing sources of teacher efficacy of
teachers from different cultural background can throw light on pre-service training,
in-service training, teacher screening, teacher support and so on. For example, the
team work in the school is very important in building up teachers’ self-efficacy in the
school where the research was conducted. In China, it is seldom to have team work
and team meetings. We tend to have meetings for all teachers or at least for teachers
of one grade. In such meetings, personal voice is subdued and there is rare chance to
share difficulties and experience. Since all teachers I have interviewed rank the team
work as the highest beneficial, I am particularly interested of introducing this system
to China and expect it will improve teachers’ efficacy level.
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Appendix I Standard Scale
A number of statements about organizations, people, and teaching are presented below. The
purpose is to gather information regarding the actual attitudes of educators concerning these
statements. There are no correct or incorrect answers. We are interested only in your frank
opinions. Your responses will remain confidential. We are gratitude for your kind cooperation.
Instructions: Please indicate your personal opinion about each statement by circling the
appropriate response at the right of each statement.
KEY: 1=Strongly Disagree
2=Moderately Disagree
4=Agree slightly more than disagree
3=Disagree slightly more than agree
5=Moderately Agree
6=Strongly Agree
1. When a student does better than usually, many times it is because I
exert a little extra effort.
5 6
2. The hours in my class have little influence on students compared to
the influence of their home environment.
5 6
3. The amount a student can learn is primarily related to family
5 6
4. If students aren’t disciplined at home, they aren’t likely to accept
any disciplines.
5 6
5. I have enough training to deal with almost any learning problem.
5 6
6. When a student is having difficulty with an assignment, I am
usually able to adjust it to his/her level.
5 6
7. When a student gets a better grade than he/she usually gets, it is
usually because I found better ways of teaching that student.
5 6
8. When I really try, I can get through to most difficult students.
5 6
9. A teacher is very limited in what he/she can achieve because
5 6
10. Teachers are not a very powerful influence on student achievement
when all factors are considered.
5 6
11. When the grades of my students improve, it is usually because I
found more effective approaches.
5 6
12. If a student masters a new concept quickly, this might be because
I knew the necessary steps in teaching that concept.
5 6
13. If parents would do more for their children, I could do more.
5 6
a student’s home environment large influence on his/her achievement.
14. If a student did not remember information I gave in a previous lesson,
I would know how to increase his/her retention in the next lesson.
5 6
15. The influences of a student’s home experiences can be overcome by
good teaching.
5 6
16. If a student in my class becomes disruptive and noisy, I feel assured
that I know some techniques to redirect him/her quickly.
5 6
17. Even a teacher with good teaching abilities may not reach many
5 6
18. If one of my students couldn’t do a class assignment, I would be able
to accurately assess whether the assignment was at the correct level
of difficulty.
5 6
19. If I really try hard, I can get through to even the most difficult or
unmotivated students.
5 6
20. When it comes right down to it, a teacher really can’t do much
because most of a student’s motivation and performance depends
on his/her home environment.
5 6
21. Some students need to be placed in slower groups so they are not
subjected to unrealistic expectations.
5 6
22. My teacher training programme and/or experience has given me
the necessary skills to be an effective teacher.
5 6
Would you be kind to fill in the following blanks?
Your age: __________
Which grade you are instructing: ___________
Your years of teaching: __________
Your level of education attained: ___________
Number of students in your class: ___________
Number of students with an active Individual Education Plan in your class: __________
Your area of education: _____________________ (general education, special education, etc.)
Thank you so much for you kind help!
Appendix II Interview Questions
1. What do you think about inclusion?
2. How do you help students with special needs?
3. What is important for you to become a good teacher?
4. Is it helpful to observe in other teachers’ class?
5. If you have received training in special needs, will you feel more confident when
you face students with special needs?
6. What is useful if the teacher wants to be inclusive?
7. Do you communicate with your colleagues? Is it important to you?
8. What suggestions do you have for teachers-to-be?
Appendix III Interview Transcript (Sample)
1. What do you think of inclusion?
Inclusion is a very good thing, but there are borders. If the situation is reaching the
borders of the teacher, then we have to talk about it, to think of other solutions or
maybe other schools. I am positive towards inclusion but there are borders.
2. Which is important for you if the teachers want to be inclusive?
Attitude. Being curious about the needs of the students. Being creative. Being
open-minded to students, to parents, to colleagues, etc. To see possibilities of every
possible way. To appreciate.
3. What kind of students with special needs do you have in your class?
Most of them have dyslexia. Two of my students have problems of attitude. We made
special plans for them. To talk with parents, and to help them change their attitude a
little bit. For the dyslexia, we have a protocol. First they have to be diagnosed by the
psychologists. Then they have a memory card for them and for the teachers. The
teachers are informed how to handle dyslexic students. For example, to have
larger-printed materials, to give oral examinations, to listen to the text instead of
reading, etc. The care-taking team will help all the teachers to be prepared to teach
students with dyslexia.
4. When you face difficult students to handle, how do you solve the problem?
Sometimes I just have a timeout. A little timeout will help. Talk with the mentor, and
the mentor will give advice. Meet with all the teachers, to talk about the plan. If the
plan doesn’t work, the teaching group will go to the care team. And the care team,
together with the teaching group and the parents, make another more specific plan. If
this doesn’t work either, then we will try to talk with more partners about this problem.
For me, in my class, I am strict.
5. As a teacher, what contributes to your success of being a good teacher?
The most important thing is to talk with your colleagues. To talk about the problems
of your students. The second thing is to follow courses. To learn how to handle
difficult situations, to learn how to manage the class.
6. Could you still recall of your first and second years, what difficulties you faced and
how you handled them?
I started my career with mental retarded students. It was very difficult. As a teacher,
you have to go down to the level of the students. And listen to the children. when you
listen to them, you will find that they give you information and that information is a
start of what you can do. And this can be only achieved that when they feel that they
are secure, they are recognized as individuals, they feel like being here. You have to
respect the students.
7. What do you recommend for the new teachers?
To be yourself and to listen to the students. This is the most important. To be yourself
means that you don’t play the role of being a teacher.
8. What do you recommend for the training programme, the preparation of the
To learn how to manage a class is very important. To manage a class by using
different teaching forms, styles, etc. But the most important thing is to listen to the
students. To understand the needs of the students. To learn ADHD, to know something
about the learning problems, etc. They should also have the communicative abilities
to talk with the students and the colleagues.
9. What have you learned through all those years?
If you make a good plan, and you stick to that plan, and you have to talk with parents
and students, then you can help them a little bit.
10. Are you confident now to solve difficulties? Compared with many years ago, were
you confident at that time?
Now I am confident, but I can’t solve all the problems. So I need some timeout. When
I first became a teacher, I realized that I didn’t know much about how to handle
mental-retarded students. For me, my career is also a personal growing. Now I am
still growing when I teach. The mission of including students is to make possibilities
for them.
11. How do you support all the teachers?
To communicate with the teachers. To communicate in an efficient way.
12. Which subject do you teach?
English, Dutch, social sciences.