Assessing teachers' self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




In this information age, higher-order thinking has become increasingly important. Yet, despite major initiatives designed to enhance students' cognitive skills over the past 20 years, young people are not always competent thinkers. Since self-efficacy research indicates a relationship between teacher self-efficacy, performance, and student achievement, insight into teachers' self-efficacy towards teaching these skills is important. ^ This exploratory study addresses three questions: (a) What are teacher self-efficacy levels with respect to the teaching of thinking skills? (b) What differences exist with respect to levels of self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills among teachers? (c) What combination of variables explains the largest variance among teachers with respect to self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills? To address these questions, K–12 teachers in New England (N = 432) were surveyed using a 5 point Likert-style, 26-item instrument (alpha = .83–.93), The New Millennium in Mind. ^ Data analysis utilized descriptive statistical procedures, multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA), and standard multiple regression. Analysis of data indicates: (a) teachers are least self-efficacious towards teaching higher order thinking and transfer of thinking (M = 3.46 and M = 3.16, respectively); (b) self-efficacy differs significantly depending upon subject taught or specialty; nature of training; degree to which training satisfies needs in terms of teaching thinking skills; and thinking strength or combination of thinking strengths possessed; and (c) the most significant regression equation (p < .05, R2 = .41) indicated a combination of high levels of satisfaction with training, a rich variety of training opportunities and experiences, and high levels of creative thinking strength, either on its own or in conjunction with analytical and practical thinking strengths, predict higher levels of overall self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills. This study reveals ways in which levels of self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills may be raised and teachers' classroom needs with respect to teaching thinking skills may be satisfied. The powerful relationship between creative thinking and teachers' self-efficacy towards teaching thinking skills provides a fertile ground for future research. One possible avenue is the deliberate development of this thinking strength in all teachers by way of preservice and inservice training. ^