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Teacher self-efficacy as a long-term predictor of instructional quality in the classroom

Abstract

In this longitudinal study, we examined teachers’ self-efficacy as a long-term predictor of their mastery goal orientation and three dimensions of instructional quality: supportive classroom climate, effective classroom management, and cognitive activation. Mastery goal orientation was also analyzed as a predictor of instructional quality. Teachers’ optimism, engagement, and strain were assessed to gain information about the construct validity of the scales on self-efficacy and mastery goal orientation. We analyzed the self-report data of 203 German in-service teachers who participated in all of three time points of assessment (the years 2001, 2008, and 2011). Confirmatory factor analyses supported the assumed three-dimensionality of instructional quality. Teacher self-efficacy was found to be relatively stable and to be a long-term predictor of instructional quality as indicated by the results of latent variable modeling. Moreover, instructional quality is predicted by mastery goal orientation, which in turn is regressed on self-efficacy. As supported also by bias-corrected bootstrapping, mastery goal orientation partially mediated the relationship between classroom climate and self-efficacy. Results and an outlook for future research are discussed.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    In both of the two models, the same two residual correlations were allowed (only within the factor of cognitive activation) because the respective items have content overlap. They are similarly phrased, focus on nearly the same content, and were at adjacent places in the questionnaire. Correlations between residuals of indicators are due to shared variance that is not explained by the assumed factor structure (for more details, see Kline 2011).

  2. 2.

    Although the two gender groups differ significantly in the standard deviation of workload, we did not use Glass’s delta as effect size because neither the women nor the men of our participants are a control group or treatment group, respectively. We calculated all three Cohen’s d-values for gender differences by weighting each group’s standard deviation by its sample size according to Hedges’ g (see Ellis 2010) because women and men differ strongly in group size (♀75.4 %). To be consistent in terminology and because Hedges’ g is based on Cohen’s d, is to be interpreted in the same way with regard to its size and removes only a rather small positive bias affecting the calculation of Cohen’s d (Ellis 2010), we use the term Cohen’s d.

  3. 3.

    The factor in the MANOVA comprised four groups: teachers at elementary schools (1), teachers at low-track secondary schools or at both elementary schools and low-track secondary schools (2), teachers at moderate-track secondary schools (3), and teachers at other secondary schools (4). High-track secondary school as a school type was not included in the MANOVA because it is only 1 % of the sample.

    Note that the subsamples per school type are too small for multi-group structural equation modeling (MG-SEM).

  4. 4.

    At both of the waves, one residual correlation was allowed due to content overlap of two items (cf. Footnote 1).

  5. 5.

    The result for Model 4a (Fig. 4) in the present study rather suggests a partial mediation, even though we agree with Preacher and Hayes (2008b, p. 41) in so far that the terms “full mediation” vs. “partial mediation” can be inappropriate in many (other) cases.

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Correspondence to Josef Künsting.

Appendix—all items of the scales that are relevant for the research questions

Appendix—all items of the scales that are relevant for the research questions

Items of the scale on teacher self-efficacy (in the years of 2001 and 2008):

  • “I know that I can teach even the most problematic students effectively”

  • “I am certain that I can have positive interactions with even the most problematic students if I invest effort”

  • “I know that I can keep a positive contact with the parents of the students, even in difficult situations”

  • “I am certain that I can adapt to individual problems of students even better in the future”

  • “I am certain that I can maintain the necessary degree of serenity even in case of disruptions”

  • “I am certain that I can develop creative ideas and concepts to improve inappropriate educational patterns in the classroom”.

Items of the scale on mastery goal orientation (in the year of 2008):

  • “I continually strive to improve my own teaching”

  • “If something is going wrong in the classroom, then I regard this as an opportunity for myself to learn”

  • “I am not content with my work until I have a very good understanding of the curriculum”

  • “If something is going wrong in the classroom, then I try everything to make it better next time”

  • “I like to work on problems that are not easy to master”

  • “If students have communication problems, then I regard this as a cause to consult specialist literature”

  • “For me, classroom situations that entirely challenge me are tempting”

  • “If students have communication problems, then I persist in solving these problems until I have a solution”

  • “I permanently develop further the teaching materials I use”

Items of the scale on supportive classroom climate (in the year of 2011):

  • “I take care of my students if they have problems”

  • “The interaction between my students and myself is trusting”

  • “I get along well with my students”

  • “I take time to listen if my students want to discuss something with me”

  • “In my classroom, also the students’ opinion and perspective is of interest”

  • “In my classroom, students are not laughing at each other in case of mistakes”

  • “My students and I – we understand each other well”

  • “The way of speaking between my students and me is appreciating”

Items of the scale on effective classroom management (in the year of 2011):

  • “Students are messing around a lot during my lessons” (-)

  • “To stop disruptions in my classroom, I have to interfere massively” (-)

  • “I have to admonish my students strongly to establish quietness in the classroom” (-)

  • “My lessons take place without disruptions”

  • “Students are blathering loudly and permanently during my lessons” (-)

Items of the scale on cognitive activation (in the year of 2011):

  • “I ask questions that cannot be answered spontaneously but demand thinking”

  • “In my classroom, students know that they always have to provide a reason for their answers”

  • “I assign tasks that require comprehension rather than having an immediately identifiable solution”

  • “I let students compare and evaluate different task solutions”

  • “In all tests I include at least one task that requires giving a reason.”

  • “I assign tasks without an immediately identifiable solution”

  • “I demand from students to reason their steps of procedure elaborately.”

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Künsting, J., Neuber, V. & Lipowsky, F. Teacher self-efficacy as a long-term predictor of instructional quality in the classroom. Eur J Psychol Educ 31, 299–322 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-015-0272-7

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Keywords

  • Teacher self-efficacy
  • Instructional quality
  • Mastery goal orientation
  • Measurement invariance
  • Stability
  • Longitudinal prediction
  • Mediation