By guest writer Rebecca Tickell, PhD student, University of York
Having spent a varied career in a variety of educational roles and contexts, I'm currently focused on completing a PhD in Education at the University of York, where I'm researching self-efficacy beliefs related to teaching and teacher mentoring.
I’ve been invited to share my research findings with colleagues at the NELT Teaching School Hub and to ask for your support with the next phase of my research.
Self-efficacy: what it is and why it’s important
Perceived self-efficacy is an integral component of Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (1986) and it concerns people’s beliefs about their own capabilities to produce desired effects. The self-efficacy beliefs we have affect many aspects of our lives, influencing the choices we make and the goals we set for ourselves (Bandura, 1997).
Self-efficacy beliefs are domain specific, that is to say that your beliefs about your capability to execute tasks successfully, or achieve certain outcomes vary according to context e.g. you might believe that you have the skills, attributes and behaviours to make you a successful teacher but you may be less confident in your ability to scale Mount Everest. It’s also different to self-esteem, another psychological construct you may be more familiar with, although the two are related.
Bandura’s theory suggests that a person’s perceived self-efficacy beliefs are not fixed, are affected by a wide range of factors and can be made stronger. For example, a mentor’s self-efficacy beliefs could be strengthened by providing them with mastery experiences and opportunities for vicarious learning (learning from observing others) as part of a training and development programme, amongst other things.
Does it matter if teacher mentors have stronger self-efficacy beliefs?
Well, I’d argue that it does for a number of reasons e.g. stronger self-efficacy beliefs have been linked to better job performance (Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998), so if teacher mentors have stronger self-efficacy beliefs then this could lead to more effective mentoring; also, stronger teacher self-efficacy beliefs have been linked to reduced levels of teacher stress and burnout (Zee and Kooman, 2016), which is a positive for both the individual and the profession as a whole. Of course, it’s also important to recognise that our beliefs about our own capabilities are affected and influenced by our environment, and that these beliefs are part of a much bigger picture.
It may also be true that teacher mentors with a greater sense of self-efficacy may have a positive effect on strengthening the teacher self-efficacy beliefs of their mentees. A large-scale study conducted by Clark and Newberry (2019), has indicated that access to mastery experiences, vicarious learning and effective feedback positively influences the self-efficacy beliefs of beginning teachers. Teacher mentors with stronger self-efficacy beliefs may be more effective in providing these experiences for their mentees.
Teacher Mentor Competencies
Before we can measure a teacher mentor’s self-efficacy beliefs, we first need to know what teacher mentors need to be able to do, in order to be effective in their role. To gain this expert knowledge and to generate a list of teacher mentor competencies, I used the Delphi method. The Delphi method, a well-tested and established technique for generating group consensus (Iqbal and Pipon-Young, 2009), uses the collective knowledge of a panel with specific expertise in the domain of interest, to provide answers to the questions or problems put before them e.g. what knowledge, skills, behaviours and attributes do teacher mentors need to perform their role effectively?
Following the Delphi, 44 teacher mentor competencies were agreed to be required for effective teacher mentoring, grouped under four themes:
Where I need your help - scale testing and development
For each of the 44 competencies a teacher mentor self-efficacy statement was constructed to create a scale to measure teacher mentor self-efficacy beliefs. For my scale to be of any use, I now need to test it to ensure that it is valid and reliable.
To take part, please click on the link below or copy and paste the URL into your browser:
The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. Thank you for your interest and participation.
If you would like to discuss this research with me, you can contact me:
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall, Inc.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy : the exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman.
Clark, S., & Newberry, M. (2019). Are we building preservice Teacher self-efficacy? A large-scale study examining Teacher education experiences. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 47(1), 32–47.
Iqbal, S and Pipon-Young, L. (2009). The Delphi method. The Psychologist, 22(7), 598–601.
Stajkovic, A. D., & Luthans, F. (1998). Self-Efficacy and Work-Related Performance. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 240–261.
Zee, M., & Koomen, H. M. Y. (2016). Teacher Self-Efficacy and Its Effects on Classroom Processes, Student Academic Adjustment, and Teacher Well-Being: A Synthesis of 40 Years of Research. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 981–1015.