Teacher efficacy: Context of diversity

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Administration|Education, Teacher Training




The purpose of this study was to determine whether teachers' feelings of efficacy vary by student language background and if teachers' ethnicity and teacher participation in diversity training were related to teacher efficacy in this context. This study began with the premise that teacher efficacy may actually be variable, that is, changing in different contexts or with different experiences. Prior research on teacher efficacy typically measured efficacy in one context or at one particular point in time. Because low teacher efficacy has been correlated with low student academic achievement, it might be concluded that efforts to improve student achievement through improvements in teacher efficacy would be futile. If the educational goals include raising the bar for all students, teacher efficacy becomes a significant part of the equation. ^ A modified version of Gibson and Dembo's Teacher Efficacy Scale (1984) was distributed to a random sample of elementary public school teachers who were members of the Connecticut Education Association. Survey data obtained from 234 respondents were analyzed statistically to answer the five research questions formulated for this study. ^ Through t tests, correlations, and the ANOVA and MANOVA procedures, the findings indicated that higher teacher efficacy ratings were associated with standard English-speaking students and lower ratings with non-standard English-speaking and non-English speaking students. Teacher efficacy does vary according to the language backgrounds of students. While the MANOVA results must be viewed cautiously because of unequal cell sizes, there was no significance found for the interaction or for teacher ethnicity, although diversity training appeared to have a positive impact on teachers' feelings of efficacy. ^ The research described here suggests that teacher efficacy may be much more dynamic than most studies would indicate. The current investigation has revealed that teacher efficacy changes even with the faces of students before whom the teacher stands. As a result of this study, administrators, teacher certification and professional development program coordinators, and educators themselves should now be able to develop a clearer picture of factors which contribute to or enhance efficacy and use this knowledge to improve the educational achievement of all students. ^