Exploring the Impact of Instructional Coaching on Middle School Teacher Self-Efficacy: A Single-Case Study

Exploring the Impact of Instructional Coaching on Middle School Teacher Self-Efficacy: A Single-Case Study

Chau H. P. Nguyen, Fernando Valle, Aaron S. Zimmerman, Irma L. Almager
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3848-0.ch020
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This single-case study examined the impact of instructional coaching (IC) on middle school teacher self-efficacy to advance our grasp of how middle school teacher self-efficacy operates. The findings indicated that IC produces important influences on middle school teachers' self-efficacy in all the areas the principal interns (PIs) coached them. Additionally, the study found that feedback—be it praise or criticism—is perceived to be the most effective tool/component in raising teacher self-efficacy, whereas collaborating (at the beginning of the school year when trust has not yet been built) and modeling are considered the least effective. These results have implications for practice and research.
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Bandura (1997) theorizes, “Perceived self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” (p. 3, emphasis in original). According to Bandura (1997), individuals guide their lives and agency by their personal efficacy beliefs – that is, their perceptions of personal competences would influence, for example, the amount of effort they invest in given endeavors. If they presume certain results are beyond their power, they are unlikely to strive to make things happen. Grounded in Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy theory, Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) conceptualize teacher self-efficacy as “the teacher’s belief in his or her capability to organize and execute courses of action required to successfully accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular context” (p. 233). The importance of this construct in educational settings has been richly documented. For example, teacher self-efficacy is positively associated with job satisfaction (e.g., Klassen & Chiu, 2010), teachers’ willingness to remain in the field (e.g., Glickman & Tamashiro, 1982), and student achievement (e.g., Tschannen-Moran & Johnson, 2011). It, on the other hand, correlates negatively with job stress (e.g., Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998) and teacher burnout (e.g., Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010).

Despite the powerful role of this construct in the field of education, as Ross and Bruce (2007) lament, “few researchers have reported the effects of interventions [e.g., instructional coaching or mentoring] intended to increase teacher efficacy” (p. 50). That is, research investigating how coaching nurtures the construct of teacher efficacy has been overlooked. In like fashion, Morris and Usher (2011) complain, “Although a growing body of research attests to the benefits associated with teaching self-efficacy, less is known about how teaching self-efficacy is cultivated” (pp. 232-233). Responding to this overriding need, the present inquiry is conducted to qualitatively explore the influences of instructional coaching (IC) on teacher self-efficacy through perspectives and experiences of three middle school teachers. We chose to focus on middle school teachers with the following reason. Self-efficacy is context specific (e.g., Bandura, 1997; Klassen, 2004; Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998); however, researchers document a lack of studies on middle school teacher self-efficacy. As Klassen et al. (2011) in their recent review conclude, “Pre-service, elementary, and high school teachers were all well represented in the research, with less attention paid to the efficacy beliefs of middle school teachers” (p. 34). Investigations on middle school teacher efficacy beliefs would, thus, be a necessary step towards closing this gap and advance our knowledge in this regard (Klassen et al., 2011). Given that, the research questions addressed in the present inquiry are:

RQ 1. How do middle school teachers perceive the impact of instructional coaching performed by principal interns (coaches) on their teaching self-efficacy?

RQ 2. In middle school teachers’ perception, what component(s) of instructional coaching performed by principal interns (coaches) is/are the most effective and what component(s) is/are the least in developing their teaching self-efficacy?


Theoretical Frameworks

To guide the present inquiry, the two theoretical frameworks: the IC framework by Knight (2007) and self-efficacy theory by Bandura (1986, 1997) are deployed. Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is used because, as Oh (2011) avers, “most researchers in psychology and education attribute the concept of teacher efficacy to this theoretical framework” (p. 236).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Instructional Coach: An on-site professional developer who collaborates with teachers, identifies practices that will effectively address teachers’ needs, and helps teachers implement those practices in their classes to promote/maximize their teaching effectiveness and student achievements.

Single-Case Study: A study of a single case or a single bounded system. A single case can be a person, a group of people, a class (of students), an institution, an organization, or a process (e.g., becoming a teacher education scholar) around which there are boundaries.

Case: A bounded system or a unit of analysis.

Big Four: The four primary coaching areas, in Knight’s instructional coaching framework, including (a) behavior (classroom management), (b) content knowledge, (c) direct instruction, and (d) formative assessment on which an instructional coach should focus to help teacher achieve instructional excellence.

Teacher Self-Efficacy: The teacher’s personal belief in his or her capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to successfully accomplish a certain teaching task in a certain context.

Five Key Activities of Instructional Coaching: The five major actions, in Knight’s instructional coaching framework, including (a) collaborating, (b) modeling, (c) observing, (d) providing feedback, and (e) providing support that an instructional coach is expected to do during their coaching process.

Self-Efficacy: One’s personal belief in his or her capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to successfully accomplish a certain task.

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