04 SES 07 B, Teachers' Knowledge And Sense Of Self: A Research Overview
Following the ratification of the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the signatory states are obliged to “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels” (Art. 24 CRPD). School settings therefore must be amended to ensure that they meet the needs of every student. Thus, inclusion constitutes an international challenge and evokes questions, for instance, about the best preparation of teachers for their pending tasks in inclusive classrooms. The presence of competent teachers is considered essential for the development of high-quality inclusive learning environments (e.g., Romi & Leyser, 2006). Hereof, teachers’ self-efficacy towards inclusive education is regarded as a main personal resource that underlies the successful implementation of school inclusion (e.g., Martínez, 2003). The concept of self-efficacy is based on Bandura’s social cognitive theory. Bandura (1997) defines self-efficacy as the confidence in one’s competences to achieve desired goals, even under difficult circumstances. Accordingly, teachers who command higher self-efficacy in inclusive education are more likely to consider themselves capable to cope with the challenge of educating heterogeneous classes than teachers with lower self-efficacy. The development of self-efficacy is assumedly based on four sources: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological and affective states. Bandura (1997) regards enactive mastery experiences as the most and physiological and affective states as the least powerful predictor of self-efficacy. Various studies confirm the assumed positive relationship between experiences in inclusive education and self-efficacy expectations to teach in inclusive classrooms (e.g., Leyser, Zeiger, & Romi, 2011). Prior contact with and experiences in educating children with special educational needs seem to have a positive impact on both teachers’ self-efficacy expectations and their willingness to work in inclusive classes (e.g., Forlin, García Cedillo, Romero-Contreras, Fletcher, & Rodríguez-Hernández, 2010; Romi & Leyser, 2006). This positive relation proves to be applicable across national borders. For instance, Malinen et al. (2013) studied in-service teachers from China, Finland, and South Africa and developed country-specific models to explain teachers’ self-efficacy in inclusive education. In all three states, prior experiences had the strongest predictive power on teachers’ self-efficacy. However, regardless of the obvious importance of teachers’ self-efficacy, only few studies consider the impact of the three other presumed sources on self-efficacy expectations in inclusive practices (e.g., Taliaferro, 2010). In their experimental study, Hagen, Gutkin, Wilson, and Oats (1998) found that pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy can be increased by vicarious experiences and verbal persuasion (i.e., videotapes). Taliaferro (2010) investigated American physical education teachers and found significant positive correlations between mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, physiological states, and levels of teachers’ self-efficacy to include students with autism. Focusing on teachers with experiences across all four sources (N=135), Taliaferro (2010) conducted a multiple regression analysis, in which the sources explained 70.2 % of variance in self-efficacy. In conformity with Bandura’s (1997) theory, mastery experiences proved to be the best predictor of self-efficacy, whereas vicarious experiences unexpectedly did not make a unique contribution to the variance. Likewise, consistent with Bandura’s (1997) assumptions, several studies also report a significant positive effect of teachers’ self-efficacy expectations on their willingness to inclusive education (e.g., Sharma & Jacobs, 2016). Against this background, it is the key aim of our study to determine whether German primary school teachers’ self-efficacy to teach in inclusive classes can be predicted by the four assumed sources, i.e., by teachers’ mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and by their physiological and affective states. We expect that self-efficacy scores can significantly be explained by the four sources and, in particular, by teachers’ mastery experiences. Furthermore, we suppose a predictive effect of teachers’ self-efficacy on their willingness to inclusive education.
The data collection for our study took place in 2019. A sample of N=524 German primary school teachers completed a paper-pencil-questionnaire on their self-efficacy expectations in inclusive education. The mean age of the participating teachers was 42.39 years (SD=10.63). They had an average of 15.62 years (SD=10.26) teaching experience and most teachers (N=355; 67.7 %) indicated that they implement inclusion in their schools. The participating teachers were mainly female (N=463; 88.4 %). The questionnaire contained scales regarding teachers’ self-efficacy in and their willingness to inclusive education as well as four scales concerning the assumed sources of self-efficacy. To assess the level of teachers’ self-efficacy, we used an adapted 7-item scale that was mainly based on an instrument developed by Kopp (2009; e.g., “I’m convinced to be able to organize classes in a way that all children can reach their goals at their own pace.”; M=3.60, SD=0.68, Alpha=.89). Teachers’ willingness to inclusive education was assessed by a 4-item scale based on existing instruments, for example by Langner (2015; e.g., “I’m willing to teach all students according to their needs.”; M=4.45, SD=0.52, Alpha=.77). Due to a lack of studies on predictors of teachers’ self-efficacy, the scales concerning those sources were predominantly specially designed for the purpose of our study. Regarding the quality of teachers’ experiences with inclusion, we used a 3-item scale (e.g., “I’ve made the experience that, in heterogeneous classes, I can provide appropriate learning opportunities for all children.”; M=3.54, SD=0.73, Alpha=.81). A 5-item scale focused on vicarious experiences (e.g., “I was able to observe other teachers that were confidently planning their inclusive classes.”; M=3.36, SD=0.91, Alpha=.92). To assess verbal persuasion, we used another 5-item scale (e.g., “I’ve often heard that I can relate well to different children.”; M=3.99, SD=0.52, Alpha=.83). A last 5-item scale was created to evaluate the affective state of the participating primary school teachers (e.g., “I’m afraid of conducting inclusive education.”; M=3.51, SD=0.85, Alpha=.82). All scales required answers on a five-point Likert scale including the possible answers: 1=strongly agree, 2=agree, 3=undecided, 4=disagree and 5=strongly disagree.
As expected, we found significant positive correlations between the assumed sources of efficacy and levels of teachers’ self-efficacy in inclusive education (r=.31–.56, p≤.001) as well as between teachers’ self-efficacy and their willingness to work in inclusive classes (r=.33, p≤.001). Results from structural equation modeling in Mplus further underline the relevance of the different assumed predictors of teachers’ self-efficacy in inclusive practices. Together, the sources explained half of the variance in teachers’ self-efficacy scores (R²=.50, p≤.001). In our structural equation model, mastery experiences proved to be the most powerful predictor of teachers’ self-efficacy in inclusive education (Beta=.42, p≤.001). The results also show a significant unique contribution of vicarious experiences (Beta=.21, p≤.001) and teachers’ affective states (Beta=.13, p≤.05) to the variance of their self-efficacy, whereas verbal persuasion did not emerge as a significant single predictor of primary school teachers’ self-efficacy expectations in inclusive education. The expected relation between teachers’ self-efficacy and their willingness to work in inclusive classes, in turn, also proved to be significant (R²=.16, p≤.001; Beta=.40, p≤.001). Thus, our results support the theoretical assumptions made by Bandura (1997), who considered mastery experiences to be the most powerful predictor of self-efficacy (Taliaferro, 2010). However, it is an interesting finding of our study that verbal persuasion did not appear as a significant single predictor of primary school teachers’ self-efficacy in inclusive education. This contrasts not only Bandura’s (1997) theoretical assumptions, but also the results of Hagen et al. (1998), who found that teachers’ self-efficacy can be increased by verbal persuasion. Finally, the results of our study confirm the often-reported positive relation between teachers’ self-efficacy and their willingness to work in inclusive classrooms (see also Bandura, 1997; Sharma & Jacobs, 2016). The results of our study can be taken into account for preservice teachers’ and in-service teachers’ training and development.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy – the exercise of control. New York: Freeman. Forlin, C., García Cedillo, I., Romero-Contreras, S., Fletcher, T., & Rodríguez Hernández, H. J. (2010). Inclusion in Mexico: Ensuring supportive attitudes by newly graduated teachers. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(7), 723–739. Hagen, K. M., Gutkin, T. B., Wilson, C. P., & Oats, R. G. (1998). Using vicarious experience and verbal persuasion to enhance self-efficacy in pre-service teachers: “Priming the pump” for consultation. School Psychology Quarterly, 13(2), 169–178. Kopp, B. (2009). Inklusive Überzeugung und Selbstwirksamkeit im Umgang mit Heterogenität – Wie denken Studierende des Lehramts für Grundschulen? [Inclusive beliefs and self-efficacy in exposure to heterogeneity – How do elementary school teacher trainees think?]. Empirische Sonderpädagogik, 1(1), 5–25. Langner, A. (2015). Kompetent für einen inklusiven Unterricht. Eine empirische Studie zu Beliefs, Unterrichtsbereitschaft und Unterricht von LehrerInnen [Competent for inclusive teaching. An empirical study of teachers’ beliefs, readiness to teach, and instruction]. Wiesbaden: Springer. Leyser, Y., Zeiger, T., & Romi, S. (2011). Changes in self-efficacy of prospective special and general education teachers: Implication for inclusive education. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 58(3), 241–255. Malinen, O.-P., Savolainen, H., Engelbrecht, P., Xu, J., Nel, M., Nel, N., & Tlale, D. (2013). Exploring teacher self-efficacy for inclusive practices in three diverse countries. Teaching and Teacher Education, 33, 34–44. Martínez, R. S. (2003). Impact of a graduate class on attitudes toward inclusion, perceived teaching efficacy and knowledge about adapting instruction for children with disabilities in inclusive settings. Teacher Development, 7(3), 473–494. Romi, S. & Leyser, Y. (2006). Exploring inclusion preservice training needs: A study of variables associated with attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 21(1), 85–105. Sharma, U. & Jacobs, K. (2016). Predicting in-service educator’s intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms in India and Australia. Teaching and Teacher Education, 55, 13–23. Taliaferro, A. R. (2010). Validation of an instrument to explore physical educators’ beliefs toward inclusion: Application of self-efficacy theory. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC. United Nations (2006). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [CRPD]. Available at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf (last accessed: 15.01.2020).
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