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The Role of Teachers’ Self-efficacy Beliefs and Habits in Differentiating Types of K–12 Science Teachers


This study is framed by Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Dewey’s idea of habits and investigates types of science teachers based on four constructs: (a) self-efficacy beliefs, (b) twenty-first-century learning attitudes, (c) the frequency of implementing inquiry-based instruction, and (d) the frequency of using technology in teaching. K-means clustering analysis was run on a sample of 837 US elementary and secondary science teachers. Multinomial logistic regression was then used to characterize each group using variables such as years of teaching experience, National Board Certification (NBC) status, gender, grade-level taught, school location, STEM career awareness, and leadership attitudes. We found four science teacher groups and named them the idealist, moderate, reform-minded, and generalist. Further analyses revealed that gender and geographic location did not significantly influence cluster membership. However, we found that clustering was significantly associated with NBC status, grade-level taught, years of teaching experience, STEM career awareness, and leadership attitudes. Notably, the reform-minded science teachers were more likely to hold an NBC status, teach secondary science, and have a high awareness of current STEM careers. Moreover, the generalist science teachers were those teaching elementary levels and without NBC status. These findings inform the design of tailored professional development programs targeting specific science-teacher characteristics.

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We would like to thank Malinda Faber and Alana Unfried for their work on the development of the original data set and survey instruments.

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Correspondence to Eric N. Wiebe.

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This work is supported by the National Science Foundation through the grant DUE-1038154. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Portions of the work were also supported by the Golden LEAF Foundation.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Tables 3 and 4

Table 3 The full validation results of instruments using Rasch modeling
Table 4 The 26 indices and their proposed best number of clusters

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Rachmatullah, A., Hinckle, M. & Wiebe, E.N. The Role of Teachers’ Self-efficacy Beliefs and Habits in Differentiating Types of K–12 Science Teachers. Res Sci Educ 53, 337–355 (2023).

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