When Perception Becomes Reality: A Study of the Efficacy Beliefs of Texas Student Teachers Stemming from Personal Interactions with Cooperating Teachers
Smith, LaTonya 1980-
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Teacher preparation programs help ensure that highly qualified teachers are prepared for the challenges faced in every classroom. The student teaching experiences within the teacher preparation programs have been identified as the capstone of developing highly qualified teachers. Education leaders agree the interactions between cooperating teachers and student teachers are critical when attempting to predict the evolution of the student teacher into becoming a highly qualified teacher (Hamman, Fives, & Olivarez, 2007). Another factor predictive of highly qualified teachers centers on teacher efficacy – the internal belief of a teacher about his capabilities to successfully perform teaching tasks (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). With teacher efficacy being a common measure of future teacher quality, understanding if the interactions between a cooperating teacher and a student teacher have an effect on the perceived abilities of a student teacher seems worthy of exploration. A paired sample t test was used to discover if a change in interactions between cooperating and student teachers existed from beginning to end of the student teaching rotation. This assessment also was utilized to determine if a change in interactions lead to a change in teacher efficacy among student teachers. Additionally, a One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was employed to determine if any significant difference(s) existed between the responses of elementary, middle, and high school student teachers. Finally, a bivariate correlation was used to determine if a significant relationship existed concerning student teachers’ perceptions of teacher efficacy and interactions with cooperating teachers. Descriptive statistics (e.g., mean, median, range, and standard deviation) were calculated for each subscale group on each of the surveys and at each school level. The results revealed that a change in interactions between student and cooperating teachers did occur during student teaching semester. Student teachers perceived their levels of teaching efficacy had changed as well. Participants reported moving from a lower sense toward a higher sense of teaching efficacy during the course of the semester. However, no statistically significant relationship was found to exist between the perceived teacher efficacy of student teachers and their perceptions of imitative and guided interactions with cooperating teachers.
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