Mathematics Methodology Courses Impact on the Self-Efficacy Level of Pre-service Elementary Teachers

Description of the study

The behavior of a teacher in the classroom strongly depends on the beliefs and attitudes of a teacher (Kyriakides & Muijs, 2005). For instance, it is possible to mention such aspects as motivation of learners, their empowerment, or goal setting (Kyriakides & Muijs, 2005). This is why researchers pay much attention to the self-efficacy of educators (Kyriakides & Muijs, 2005). Many psychologists focus on the importance of people’s self-perceptions of their skills, strengths, or weaknesses (Barone, Maddux, & Snyder, 1997; Bandura, 1986). Various empirical studies have confirmed that this particular variable affects the behavior of a person and his/her performance in various areas (Hoffman, 2010; Cone, 2009).

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For instance, it is possible to mention the research article by written by Hoffman (2010) who studies the relationship between self-efficacy and ability of a person to solve mathematical problems. Additionally, one can refer to the study by Barone, Maddux and Snyder who examine the relationship between self-efficacy and teachers’ behavior in the classroom. Many strategies are adopted in order to prepare them for possible challenges. For instance, during the training, they have to cope with various situations requiring the use of different skills such as ability to modify instructions in order to meet the needs of children who may have a disability.

Additionally, one can speak about the methodology courses that help them anticipate and address possible difficulties. For instance, they should be ready to interact with students who may have special needs (Rivera, 1997, p. 2). To some extent, these courses are supposed to strengthen the self-efficacy of future teachers. They need to be confident enough while teaching mathematics or other subjects. This study will be aimed at examining the effects of mathematics methodology course on the self-efficacy of pre-service elementary teachers. This is the main questions that should be examined. Additionally, one should examine the impact of other factors that influence a person’s self-perception. For instance, it is possible to speak about such aspects as IQ, school environment, or family background since they also play an important role.

Finally, it is critical to understand how the level of self-efficacy affects the instructional methods of teachers and their behavior in the classroom. It will be based on the use of the mixed-method approach. In particular, one should speak about the interview which can throw light on the experiences of the elementary pre-service teachers, their major concerns, or beliefs about their competence.

Additionally, the research will involve the use of the survey which can be applied to measure the level of self-efficacy. Overall, the use of mixed-method approach can be viewed as the most appropriate approach which can derive the most accurate findings. It can throw light on the opinions and attitudes of the respondents. Moreover, this method is suitable for measuring the relations between several variables. To a great extent, this study can illustrate the experiences of many educators who may different attitudes towards the level of their competence.

Statement of the problem

This study is aimed at bridging the gap in the knowledge about the benefits of mathematics methodology courses. There have been various studies which can demonstrate the efficiency of programs that are supposed to improve teachers’ grasp of various educational methods (Kellenberger, 1996; Mosely, Reinke, & Bookout, 2002). Additionally, much attention is paid to the challenges that these professionals can face while interacting with children aged between five and eleven (Huinker, & Madison, 1997). Nevertheless, it is important to speak about the needs of pre-service elementary teachers whose experiences have not been fully examined.

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Furthermore, one should discuss the relationship between the exposure to methodology courses and the level of self-efficacy since these variables can be critical for the performance of these professionals. It should be noted that they can profoundly influence the academic performance of children and their long-term development. Furthermore, more attention should be paid to the training programs that are designed for the needs of these educators. Moreover, it is important to demonstrate how the level of self-efficacy influences the strategies that these teachers use in the classroom. These are the main gaps that should be bridged because in this way, one can make significant improvements in many educational practices.

Moreover, one should keep in mind that the level of self-efficacy has significant implications for students. In many cases, teachers with low self-efficacy level may not be able to motivate students (Houssart, 2013, p. 141). Additionally, such people are less likely to empower learners during their classroom interactions (Ashley, 2009). In turn, students may lose interest in mathematics or any other subject, if they are not asked to work on challenging and interesting tasks (Houssart, 2013, p. 141). In contrast, educators with high levels of self-efficiency believe that students are an important part of the learning process (Bursal, 2007).

They are able to make learners more engaged in their studies (Margolis & Mccabe, 2006). Furthermore, they can better promote the creativity of learners and prompt them to search for innovative solutions (Lee, 2010; Ashton & Webb, 1986). These are the main details that one should consider. The problem of self-efficacy is particularly important at the time when new requirements are set for these educators (Cakiroglu, 2000).

Thus, it is possible to say that the level of self-efficacy has significant practical implications. In turn, the findings of this study are important for addressing this problem, if they are used from improving current methodology courses. Therefore, one can argue that this research can serve both theoretical and practical purposes. Moreover, it can be valuable for improving the learning experiences of children who only form their initial impressions about mathematics and other disciplines.

Purpose of the study

The main goal of this research is to study the effects of mathematics methodology courses on the self-efficacy level of pre-service elementary teachers. Moreover, this research will throw light on teachers’ individual characteristics which can profoundly influence their beliefs about their competence. Furthermore, it is important to study the impact of self-efficacy on the classroom activities. Additionally, one should focus on the overall educators’ perceptions of their skills and ability to teach mathematics. This study can significantly contribute to the current body of knowledge about the relationship between teachers’ perceptions and their classroom activities.

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By understanding these issues, educators can develop better courses for the pre-service teachers who should know how to promote the development of students and their acquisition of knowledge and skills. This research can partly exemplify the theory advanced by Albert Bandura (1986) and other researchers who examine the role of self-perceptions. More importantly, this research should illustrate the impact of methodology courses and their relations to the self-efficacy of these educators. Therefore, this study can bring significant improvements into the education of pre-school elementary teachers who lay the foundations of students’ successful performance and their willingness to study mathematics. These are some of the main objectives that can be distinguished.

Definition of terms

It is also critical to discuss the main terms that will be important for this study. At first, one should refer the concept of self-efficacy which is an important part of this research. This concept can be defined as “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” (Bandura as cited Clough & Strycharczyk, 2012, p. 84). In this particular context, the term can be interpreted as teachers’ beliefs about their ability to achieve educational goals and contribute to the proper development of children (Aemi, 2008, p. 6; Smith, 2008). It is closely related to the level of teacher’s confidence (Aemi, 2008, p. 6).

One should note that very often the self-efficacy of educators may not accurately reflect their skills (McGregor & Lesley, 2011). Moreover, the lack of self-confidence is one of the main pitfalls that should be avoided. On the whole, this concept will play an important part in the study because it will be the main dependent variable that should be measured. The understanding of this notion is important for the successful implementation of this study.

It is possible to say that in many cases, the self-efficacy of an individual is related to his/her self-esteem (Leary, & Tangney, 2005). However, these terms are not interchangeable, because self-efficacy is primarily related to the professional skills of a person, but it does not throw light on other qualities of an individual.

Moreover, it is necessary to mention such a term as a methodology course which can be described as the training provided to future teachers who should know how to apply various instructional strategies in order to improve the learning experiences of students (Parks, 2014). Furthermore, methodology courses are aimed at improving the motivational strategies of would-be teachers (Parks, 2014). So, it can be regarded as the main independent variable that should be examined. This study will illustrate the impacts of the mathematics methodology course offered to the students attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania. These are the main notions that can be singled out.

Theoretical position

This study is partly based on the social cognitive theory developed by Albert Bandura (1986) and other psychologists who try to understand the factors that influence the behavior of a person, his/her values, and attitudes. Much attention should be paid to the way in which a person perceives oneself. This variable is important for understanding the way in which an individual interacts with other people or why he/she takes certain decisions (Strohschen, 2008).

Moreover, this theory implies that the level of a person’s self-efficacy has considerable effects on his/her behavior and attitudes. For instance, one can speak about such aspects as perception of difficulties, openness to innovation, attitude towards changes, and many other issues (Strohschen, 2008). It should be noted that the level of self-efficacy shapes the outcome expectations of a person. For instance, people with high self-efficacy set high performance standards for themselves as well as others (Lenz & Shortridge-Baggett, 2010, p. 10). In contrast, people with low self-efficacy prefer to avoid challenging tasks, even if they are competent enough (Strohschen, 2008).

It is important to remember that the theoretical ideas of Albert Bandura (1986) and other psychologists have been tested in various fields. To some degree, this model can be applied to such an area as education, especially the behavior of teachers in the classroom. Moreover, in many cases, the level of self-efficacy may be an important factor that can influence the performance of a teacher in the classroom. This is one of the reasons why the concept of self-efficacy should not be overlooked. In turn, it is necessary to understand how educational programs can shape a person’s self-efficacy. Furthermore, one should examine the impact of self-efficacy on the in-class behavior of a teacher. To some extent, this study can show to what extent social cognitive theory can be applied to education and teachers’ interactions with learners.

Significance of the study

The results of this study can have significance implications for the preparation of pre-service elementary teachers. In particular, the findings can be applied for developing strategies which can be useful for strengthening the confidence of educators. This attribute is important for the successful performance of these professionals and students’ achievement (Pajares & Urdan, 2006). They should feel confident enough to face possible challenges because even a very competent educator may not achieve professional goals if he/she does not believe in one’s professional and personal strengths (Evans, 2008).

Therefore, by using the findings of the study, educators will be able to improve the learning experiences of children. It is critical to remember that such training programs can be offered to thousands of students in the United States. Moreover, they can later work with thousands of children in the United States as well as other countries. Thus, this issue can affect many stakeholders. Apart from that, this research can throw light on the major concerns of people who may have low self-efficacy level. This information should be taken into account by people who develop methodology courses for elementary teachers (Campbell, 2004).

They need to consider the role that self-efficacy plays. It is also vital to mention that this topic has been thoroughly examined, and this research can fill this gap. Thus, it is possible to say that this research can have significant practically implications. These are the main details that can be distinguished.

Delimitations of the study

The findings of this study will be applicable only to the pre-service elementary teachers. Nevertheless, they cannot be extended to other educators. This approach can be justified because this study cannot illustrate the effects of various mathematics methodology courses. Such a goal would be difficult to achieve. Moreover, it would be impossible to control various variables that can influence the attitudes and behavior of teachers who may represent different fields. This is one of the pitfalls that had to be avoided. This is why this particular research design can be adopted for the needs of this specific research.

In contrast, by focusing only on one group, a researcher will be able to gain in-depth insights in the experiences of a specific group of educators. This is one of the points that can be made. Furthermore, this study can illustrate the effects of mathematics methodology courses. Nevertheless, it cannot illustrate the influence of other courses that can also affect the level of a person’s self-efficacy (Jones, 2006). Still, it may be difficult to examine the impact of various courses which can be offered to pre-service elementary teachers. These are some of the main issues that can be distinguished.

Limitation of the study

This study has several limitations that should not be overlooked. One should mention that the study will include at most 25 pre-service teachers, and this sample may not be sufficient for generalizing the findings (Cresswell, 2012).

This is one of the drawbacks that should not be overlooked. Moreover, it is critical to make sure that the responses provided during the interview are not misinterpreted. The participants, who will be interviewed, may not illustrate the diversity of teachers’ opinions on mathematics methodology courses and self-efficacy. Additionally, it should be kept in mind that the effects of mathematics methodology courses can depend profoundly on the instructional strategies chosen by the professor. Moreover, these outcomes can depend on the interactions between students during their studies.

These interactions may not be the same in various colleges or universities. These are some of the short-comings that should be taken into account. It is critical to remember that students, who attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania, may not represent the entire population of would-be teachers. To some degree, these limitations indicate that a single study cannot explain every aspects of this problem. This is why these issues should not be disregarded.

Summary

In this chapter, the concept of self-efficiency has been introduced. In particular, it has been shown that this attribute of a teacher is closely related to his/her behavior in the classroom. Moreover, this section of the study shows why it is important to examine the relation between mathematics methodology courses and the level of self-efficacy. This goal can be important for improving the experiences of both teachers and students.

Moreover, this chapter throws light on the theoretical framework which underlies this research. In particular, one should speak about the theory of Albert Bandura (1986) according to which the self-perception of an individual is critical for the performance in many areas. Additionally, the delimitations of this study are related primarily to the selection of subjects and identification of the courses. In turn, the main short-comings can be explained by the limited number of participants.

Reference List

Aemi, P. (2008). Teacher Self-efficacy and Beliefs for Teaching Mathematics in Inclusive Settings. New York, NY: ProQuest.

Ashley, S. (2009). Self-efficacy Beliefs of Elementary General Education Teachers in Inclusive Classrooms and the Role of Professional Development. New York, NY: ProQuest.

Ashton, P., & Webb, R.B. (1986). Making a difference: Teachers’ sense of efficacy and student achievement. New York, NY: Longman.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Barone, D., Maddux, J., & Snyder, C. (1997). Social Cognitive Psychology: History and Current Domains. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Bursal, M. (2007). Turkish preservice elementary teachers’ self- efficacy beliefs regarding mathematics and science teaching. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8(4), 649-666.

Cakiroglu, E. (2000). Preservice elementary teachers’ sense of efficacy in reform oriented mathematics. Bloomington, Ind: Indiana University Press.

Campbell, R. (2004). Assessing Teacher Effectiveness: Developing a Differentiated Model. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Clough, P., & Strycharczyk, D. (2012). Developing Mental Toughness: Improving Performance, Wellbeing and Positive Behaviour in Others. New York, NY: Kogan Page Publishers.

Cone, N. (2009). Pre-service elementary teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs about equitable science teaching: Does service learning make a difference? Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(2), 25-34.

Cresswell, J. (2012). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.

Evans, M. (2008). A Study of Mathematics Novice Teacher Perceptions of Their Self-efficacy by the Type of Alternative Certification Program. New York, NY: ProQuest.

Hoffman, B. (2010). “I think I can, but I’m afraid to try:” The role of self-efficacy beliefs and mathematics anxiety in mathematics problem-solving efficiency. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 276–283.

Houssart, J. (2013). Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy. New York, NY: Routledge.

Huinker, D., & Madison, S. K. (1997). Preparing efficacious elementary teachers in science and mathematics: The influence of methods courses. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8(2), 107-126.

Jones, T. (2006). Examining Potential Determinants of Parental Self-efficacy. New York, NY: ProQuest.

Kellenberger, D. (1996). Preservice Teachers’ Perceived Computer Self-Efficacy Based on Achievement and Value Beliefs Within A Motivational Framework. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 8(2), 124-140.

Kyriakides, L., & Muijs, D. (2005). Drawing from teacher effectivess research and research into teacher interpersonal behaviour to establish a teacher evaluation system: A study on the use of student ratings to evaluate teacher Behaviour/Commentary. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 40(2), 44-68.

Leary, M., & Tangney, J. (2005). Handbook of Self and Identity. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Lee, T. (2010). Teaching mathematics creatively, New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Lenz, E., & Shortridge-Baggett, L. (2002). Self-Efficacy In Nursing: Research and Measurement Perspectives. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Margolis, H., & Mccabe, P. (2006). Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation What to Do, What to Say. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(4), 218-227.

McGregor, D., & Lesley, C. (2011). Developing Reflective Practice: A Guide For Beginning Teachers: A Guide for Beginning Teachers. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill International.

Mosely, C., Reinke, K., & Bookout, V. (2002). The Effect of Teaching Outdoor Environmental Education on Preservice Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Self-Efficacy and Outcome Expectancy. The Journal of Environmental Education 34(1), 9-15.

Parks, A. (2014). Positive Psychology in Higher Education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Pajares, F., & Urdan, T. (2006). Self-efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents. New York, NY: IAP.

Rivera, D. (1997). Mathematics Education and Students with Learning Disabilities: Introduction to the Special Series. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(1), 2-19.

Smith, C. (2008). An Analysis of Special Education Teachers’ Overall Sense of Efficacy Beliefs and Attitudes Toward Co-taught Classrooms. New York, NY: ProQuest.

Strohschen, G. (2008). Handbook of Blended Shore Education: Adult Program Development and Delivery. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Mathematics Methodology Courses Impact on the Self-Efficacy Level of Pre-service Elementary Teachers
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