Source: Teaching and Teacher Education Volume 105
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current study was undertaken at a teacher education programme in a Finnish university of approximately 15,500 undergraduate students.
At the time of this study, there were teacher candidates enrolled in the various teacher education programmes aiming at a teaching certificate in either primary, secondary, special needs education, or guidance and counselling.
In Finland, the teaching profession is considered an attractive and highly valued profession, and, thus, entry into any teacher education programme is very competitive.
It should also be noted that, in Finland, a master's degree is required to obtain a formal qualification to be a teacher.
Therefore, all student-teachers participate in a programme that has a relatively demanding research orientation requiring completion of both a bachelor's thesis and master's thesis.
The data analysed in this study was collected in a project called ‘Opettajien arviointiosaaminen oppimisen, osallisuuden ja tuen toteutumisen edistamiseksi (OPA) [Developing teacher assessment skills to enhance learning, engagement and interactions]’.
The project has been funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education for the years 2018-2021 aiming to develop different types of assessment practices.
This study aims to investigate Finnish pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices in relation to their perceived resilience.
In addition, the study explores the relationship between pre-service teachers' self-efficacy, resilience, and several background variables.
The background variables include individual factors (i.e., gender) and contextual factors (i.e., career choice affected by having both biological parents as teachers, having one parent/caregiver as a teacher, and having relatives (other than parents) in the teaching profession; Beltman et al., 2011).
Furthermore, several lines of evidence suggested that previous teaching experience had an influence on teachers' self-efficacy (e.g., Beltman et al., 2011; Yada et al., 2018); thus, the relationships between pre-service teachers’ previous teaching experience, self-efficacy, and resilience are also examined.
The research questions (RQs) to be answered are as follows:
RQ 1. Can the three-factor structure (efficacy in using inclusive instructions, efficacy in managing behaviour, and efficacy in collaboration) of teacher self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices be found in the current Finnish pre-service teacher sample?
RQ 2. Is pre-service teachers' self-efficacy for inclusive practices related to their self-rated resilience?
RQ 3a. Do pre-service teachers' demographic variables (i.e., gender, previous teaching experience, career choice affected by having both biological parents as teachers, having one parent/ caregiver as a teacher, and having relatives (other than parents) in the teaching profession) predict pre-service teachers' self-rated resilience and self-efficacy?
RQ 3b. Do pre-service teachers' demographic variables indirectly relate to their perceived resilience via self-efficacy?
Altogether, 324 pre-service teacher students participated in a six-week-long teaching training period at one Finnish university and 105 of them responded to the electronic questionnaire sent to them.
The survey return rate was 32%.
The online questionnaire included a cover letter describing the purpose of the study, confidentiality of the collected information, voluntary nature of participation in the survey, and their right to withdraw at any point.
The questionnaire contained the questions regarding participants’ demographic characteristics and the two scales illustrated below.
Pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices was measured using the Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices (TEIP) scale (Sharma et al., 2012).
The scale contains 18 items, in which participants were required to respond to a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree).
Sharma et al. (2012) indicated that the scale consists of three sub-scales, namely ‘efficacy in instruction’, ‘efficacy in collaboration’, and ‘efficacy in managing behaviour’.
The higher score of the TEIP represented the higher level of a participant's self-efficacy.
A new scale that contained nine items was developed in the opettajien arviointiosaaminen oppimisen, osallisuuden ja tuen toteutumisen edistamiseksi (OPA) project to measure pre-service teachers' perceived resilience (see Appendix).
All items in the scale are derived from the relevant research literature.
Results and discussion
Factor structure of pre-service teacher self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices
The aim of this study was to explore Finnish pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices and their perceived resilience, as well as the association between them and their demographic variables.
The first research question sought to investigate whether the three-factor structure of the TEIP scale can be found in the Finnish pre-service teachers’ data.
The authors’ results were in line with those of the earlier studies in both Finland and other countries (Savolainen et al., 2012; Sharma et al., 2012; Yada et al., 2018) that the TEIP scale consists of three separate but correlating sub-domains: efficacy in instructions; efficacy in managing behaviour; and efficacy in collaboration.
In addition, the TEIP scale had high internal consistency, and thus, the findings provided additional support to the reliability and validity of the instrument to be used for pre-service teachers.
Finnish pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices was lower than for in-service teachers compared to the results of a previous study, which measured Finnish in-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices (according to Savolainen et al. (2012), for Finnish in-service teachers).
Further, pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in Finland was lower than that reported in previous research for pre-service teachers in different countries (Loreman et al., 2013; Sharma et al., 2015).
Conversely, Finnish in-service teachers' self-efficacy was found to be at the same level as or higher than in-service teachers from other countries (Savolainen et al., 2012; Yada & Savolainen, 2017).
However, with the comparison of mean scores of self-efficacy, caution must be applied, as there is a potential for response bias influenced by cultural and contextual effects (Mitchell, 2005).
Therefore, future studies are recommended on how Finnish pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy in different dimensions is developed or undermined during and after pre-service teacher education.
In terms of three sub-domains of teacher self-efficacy (i.e., efficacy in inclusive instruction, managing behaviour, and collaboration), it is interesting to note that, in the previous study, the results indicated that Finnish in-service teachers' self-efficacy in managing behaviour was significantly lower than the other two self-efficacy factors (Savolainen et al., 2012); however, such a tendency was not found among the pre-service teachers.
Further work is needed to fully understand how three sub-domains of teacher self-efficacy increase or decrease during and after preservice teacher education.
Relationship between pre-service teacher self-efficacy and resilience
The second research question was to examine whether there is a relationship between pre-service teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices and their self-rated resilience.
The results of this study showed that pre-service teachers' self-efficacy significantly and positively predicted their perceived resilience.
This finding is consistent with the previous literature, indicating that teachers' self-efficacy is crucial for their resilience, as it is consistently associated with the development of their resilient qualities (Beltman et al., 2011; Gu & Day, 2007).
The authors’ findings further confirmed that it is important to enhance pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy in teacher education programmes to educate resilient teachers before they start their demanding jobs.
Direct and indirect effects of demographic variables on self-efficacy and resilience
With respect to the third question about the relative importance of pre-service teachers' demographic variables on their self-efficacy and perceived resilience, this study found that previous teaching experience had a significant positive effect on self-efficacy.
The result matches those observed in earlier studies which showed that teachers' self-efficacy in implementing inclusive practices was influenced by previous teaching experience regarding students with disabilities (Malinen, Savolainen, Engelbrecht, et al., 2013; Yada et al., 2018).
Previous research has suggested that mastery experiences, that is, one's perception on successful or unsuccessful performance, is the strongest source of self-efficacy (Bandura,1997; Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2007; Usher & Pajares, 2008).
It can be assumed that pre-service teachers with more previous teaching experience have gained more mastery experiences, which further enhanced their self-efficacy.
Moreover, the result of mediation analysis revealed that previous teaching experience had a positive indirect association with pre-service teachers' perceived resilience via self-efficacy.
Thus, previous teaching experience led to positive changes in self-efficacy and in turn positively affected teachers' resilience.
Finally, the only demographic background variable that had a direct significant relationship with pre-service teachers’ perceived resilience was gender, in which female students showed higher scores on the resilience scale.
This finding is consistent with that of Demetriou et al. (2009) who found that female teachers devoted more effort and importance to teaching than male teachers and indicated that female teachers may be more likely to retain their teaching profession.
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Yada, A., Tolvanen, A., & Savolainen, H. (2018). Teachers’ attitudes and self-efficacy on implementing inclusive education in Japan and Finland: A comparative study using multi-group structural equation modelling. Teaching and Teacher Education, 75, 343-355.