Investigating Teacher Efficacy: Comparing Preservice and Inservice Teachers with Different Levels of Experience

Feb. 15, 2012

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 34, Iss. 1, p. 16-40, 2012.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This research examined differences in the levels of domain-specific and general efficacy across groups of preservice and inservice teachers.
Specifically, the author addressed the following research questions:
1. How do teaching efficacy beliefs of preservice, novice, and experienced teachers differ?
2. To what extent do preservice and practicing teachers with various levels of experience differentially judge their teaching efficacy for instructional strategies, student engagement, and classroom management?

The participants were 484 teachers, who divided into four classifications:
The preservice teacher—prior group consisted of undergraduate students who had achieved junior status but had not yet enrolled in student teaching.
The preservice teacher – post group represented undergraduate students who had already completed student teaching and were enrolled in a capstone course necessary for program completion.
The novice teacher and experienced teacher classifications represented graduate students enrolled in a masters of arts in elementary education program and were differentiated by the number of years of teaching experience.
The Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale was used to assess the efficacy of all participants.


The findings revealed that experienced teachers held the highest general teaching efficacy as well as the highest efficacy with regards to domain-specific areas such as student engagement and classroom management.

These findings indicate that teachers who persist through novice experiences, and continue engage in the day-to-day activities of teaching improve at effectively interpreting and assessing their teaching performances.
These improvements are likely to contribute to a higher sense of efficacy
These findings corroborate the fact that the longer a teacher remains in the profession, the greater the likelihood that she or he will demonstrate positive efficacy.


One recommendation for institutions of higher education is to create opportunities for preservice teachers to explicitly examine their efficacy beliefs and confidence in their abilities while engaged in coursework and field experiences.
Students need opportunities to establish their teaching efficacy early in their coursework and again during student teaching experiences.

Greater confidence can be built as preservice teachers engage in experiences that allow them to manage as many aspects of the classroom as possible in conjunction with opportunities to reexamine beliefs at periodic intervals.

The author suggests that teacher education institutions must focus on the context of mastery experiences to allow preservice teachers to test various teaching approaches under the guidance of a mentor.
Teaching efficacy has been shown to have a significant impact on teachers' behavior, and, perhaps more importantly on their attitudes and effort.

Updated: Aug. 27, 2014