Instructional development of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) becomes important both for their contribution to college student learning and engagement and for becoming qualified scholars regarding their future role in higher education. These early teaching experiences are essential for forming self-efficacy beliefs, defined as "beliefs in one’s capacity to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments" (Bandura, 1997, p. 3). Research so far has shown the “power of efficacy beliefs” in teaching performance, motivation, and persistence in the face of difficulties (Woolfolk Hoy, 2003). Specifically, teaching self-efficacy belief directly relates to teacher commitment (Coladarci, 1992), willing to make innovations in teaching, and implementation of new methods (Guskey, 1988), and teacher burnout (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010). Most of the theoretical background on teaching self-efficacy comes from studies on self-efficacy of teachers working at K-12 level. However, few researchers focused on college teaching self-efficacy of GTAs. For example, Prieto, Yamokoski, and Meyers (2007) found a significant change in GTA teaching self-efficacy regarding teaching role (i.e., grader, lab assistant). Prieto and Altmaier (1994) found a positive relationship between GTA teaching self-efficacy and experience. On the other hand, Burton, Bamberry, and Harris-Boundy (2005) reported a non-significant relationship between teaching experience and GTA teaching self-efficacy. Inconsistent results of these studies emphasize the need for new studies to enrich the literature on teaching self-efficacy and its’ predictors, particularly at college level.
This study aimed to test a statistical model examining the relationship among GTA teaching self-efficacy, their teaching experience, mastery experience, value they attribute to college teaching, their instructor’s teaching approach and support, departmental teaching support, and number of courses they assisted. Prior to the current study, DeChenne (2010) studied college teaching self-efficacy of GTAs working in the US with a model. She examined GTA perception of training on teaching, departmental climate, teaching experience, and GTA teaching self-efficacy. In DeChenne’s study, departmental climate includes relationships with supervisor and peers. Additionally, training on teaching is a focus of her study since there is a formal training for GTAs in their country. In the current study, teaching approach and support of instructor who is a role model or whom GTA work with closely is examined rather than the relationship with supervisor. The reason behind including instructor instead of supervisor is that supervisor is not always expected to be a role model for GTA in teaching. Training on teaching was not included in the model of the current study, as there is no formal training. Mastery experience, as proposed by the most salient source in efficacy formation (Bandura, 1997), were also tested in the model as direct and indirect predictors of GTA teaching self-efficacy. Besides, the current study is an attempt to extend the reviewed literature by providing empirical data on GTA teaching self-efficacy and several associating factors, because self-efficacy in early years of teaching has a tendency to be stable in subsequent years of teaching in higher education. If positive self-efficacy is developed in the early years of teaching experience, positive attitudes toward teaching can be evolved (Woolfolk Hoy, 2003).
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company. Burton, J.P., Bamberry, N.J., & Harris-Boundy, J. (2005). Developing personal teaching efficacy in new teachers in university settings. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(2), 160-173. doi: 10.5465/AMLE.2005.17268563. Coladarci, T. (1992). Teachers' sense of efficacy and commitment to teaching. The Journal of Experimental Education, 60(4), 323-337. Creswell, J. W., & Roskens, R. W. (1981). The Biglan studies of differences among academic areas. The Review of Higher Education, 4(3), 1. DeChenne, S. E. (2010). Learning to teach effectively: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate teaching assistants’ teaching self-efficacy. Unpublished Dissertation, Oregon State University, Corvallis. DeChenne, S., Enochs, L. G., & Needham, M. (2012). Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants Teaching Self-Efficacy. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(4), 102-123. Guskey, T. R. (1988). Teacher efficacy, self-concept, and attitudes toward the implementation of instructional innovation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 4(1), 63-69. Lindblom‐Ylänne, S., Trigwell, K., Nevgi, A., & Ashwin, P. (2006). How approaches to teaching are affected by discipline and teaching context. Studies in Higher Education, 31(3), 285-298. Luo, J., Bellows, L., & Grady, M. (2000). Classroom management issues for teaching assistants. Research in Higher Education, 41(3), 353-383. Prieto, L. R., & Altmaier, E. M. (1994). The relationship of prior training and previous teaching experience to self-efficacy among graduate teaching assistants. Research in Higher Education, 35(4), 481 - 497. Prieto, L. R., & Meyers, S. A. (1999). Effects of training and supervision on the self-efficacy of psychology graduate teaching assistants. Teaching of Psychology, 26(4), 264-266. Prieto, L. R., Yamokoski, C. A., & Meyers, S. A. (2007). Teaching Assistant Training and Supervision: An examination of optimal delivery modes and skill emphasis. Journal of Faculty Development, 21(1), 33 - 43. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2010). Teacher self-efficacy and teacher burnout: A study of relations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4),1059-1069. Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2003). Self-efficacy in College Teaching. Essays on teaching excellence: Toward the best in the academy, 15(7).
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