Supporting Literacy in Math and Science Classrooms: Building Teacher Self-Efficacy Across Content Areas

Supporting Literacy in Math and Science Classrooms: Building Teacher Self-Efficacy Across Content Areas

Maria Boeke Mongillo (Central Connecticut State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0669-0.ch013
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Abstract

Teacher self-efficacy is the belief a teacher holds that he or she can successfully influence student learning. It has been tied to both positive teacher practices and student achievement. This chapter explores the challenges of building teacher self-efficacy for literacy across the math and science disciplines. It then looks at how teachers can use content area and disciplinary literacy strategies to support student learning, and suggests how teacher preparation programs and school leaders can further encourage teacher and student growth in literacy. Finally, the chapter raises questions regarding future areas for research, including the curriculum design of teacher preparation programs and student assessment strategies.
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Background

TSE is a teacher’s belief that he or she can design, organize and carry out a plan of action that will result in desired effects on student learning (Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Bandura (1977, 1986, 1997) suggests there are four influences on self-efficacy: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and physiological changes. For teachers, mastery experiences come from actual work with students. When teachers see student success as a result of their teaching, TSE increases. Vicarious experiences occur when teachers view an instructional model, either by observing another teacher in person or by watching a video. The more the teacher can identify with the model, the more likely the model will influence TSE. Verbal persuasion has roots in the comments others make regarding the teacher’s instructional practices. Remarks from colleagues, administrators, parents, students, and other stakeholders may be the source. Physiological changes are the physical changes teachers feel while teaching, such as sweating or an increased heart rate. With all four influences, those that are positive or related to student success are likely to raise TSE, while negative ones tend to lower TSE.

The development of TSE begins during teacher preparation, and continues to form as the teacher enters the classroom (Hoy & Spero, 2005.) However, once TSE beliefs are formed, they are resistant to change (Bandura, 1997; Hoy & Spero, 2005). Additionally, TSE is content specific, meaning a teacher can have high TSE for one content area, but low for another. Thus, working with preservice teachers to develop TSE across the different disciplines is important, especially for early childhood and elementary teachers who will teach multiple subjects.

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