The Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Education is for students wishing to teach children from birth to 8 years old. Discussions with the Program Manager suggested that this career could be the most demanding of the teaching professions, due to the long hours, limited time for professional development, and limited opportunities to collaborate or discuss challenges with colleagues. In fact, across the teaching professions in Australia research has found that 25% of beginning teachers (fewer than 3 years’ experience) will resign.
There are a number of strategies that schools and education departments could implement to better support teachers, but an important role that the Academic program could play could be by instilling strong teacher self-efficacy. Teachers with a high level of teacher self-efficacy have been shown to be more resilient in their teaching and likely to try harder to allow all students to reach their potential.
The CDL team recommended that at the beginning of the Program students should complete a teacher self-efficacy survey, and this should be completed again after the first placement, and if required again during 2nd semester. The survey tool to be used was the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001), which was used in a study by Griffith University in 2010. The scale consists of 24 items, assessed along a 9-point continuum with anchors at 1-Nothing, 3-Very Little, 5-Some Influence, 7-Quite a Bit and 9-A Great Deal. The scale also consisted of 3 subscales (Instructional Strategies, Classroom management and Student Engagement).
The assessment activity was then based on what strategies students were going to put in place to help increase their self-efficacy while studying or on placement. This is important as Bandura (1997) asserts that self-efficacy beliefs are most at play in early, learning and that, once developed, are resistant to change. The four main sources of self-efficacy are mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, vicarious experiences and emotional arousal, with the students able to be specific with the types of activities from each source that they would use.
This activity was presented to the Early Childhood Education Program team meeting in September along with a number of other CDL recommendations for implementation in 2018. As well as the primary aims of increasing student’s self-efficacy this activity could help reduce future shock that a student may experience in either the placement setting or in their first paid position,
Academically there is a substantially amount of research into self-efficacy across a range of careers that programs could use a survey for students to assess their confidence levels. Within DSC Programs this author found surveys for programs relating to Project Management, Social Work and Translating and Interpreting.
The Self-Efficacy survey relies on students being honest about how confident they are about essential skills and competencies within their future profession. If they are not honest (which may be due to feelings of shame or embarrassment if they rate themselves low in confidence) they will not be able to develop strategies to increase their confidence with these skills.
Tschannen-Moran, M. and Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001) Teacher Efficacy: Capturing an Elusive Construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783-805.