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Trio measures K-12 teacher efficacy

Lisa Looney presents research titled, “Exploring Early Childhood Teachers’ Sense of Teacher Efficacy” in the President’s Dining Room Monday. The research demonstrated that teacher effectiveness varies in part depending on where teachers are in their careers. / photo by Jasmin Miranda

Lisa Looney presents research titled, “Exploring Early Childhood Teachers’ Sense of Teacher Efficacy” in the President’s Dining Room Monday. The research demonstrated that teacher effectiveness varies in part depending on where teachers are in their careers. / photo by Jasmin Miranda

Liz Ortiz
Staff Writer

Lisa Looney, assistant professor of education, unveiled the results of a research project that discovered the correlation between teacher efficacy and student performance at the faculty lecture Nov. 18 in the President’s Dining Room.

Andy Steck, Denise Kennedy and Looney’s project, “Exploring Early Childhood Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy” defined teacher efficacy as the teacher’s belief in their ability to affect the students’ performance.

“Although the data is still in the preliminary stages, the research states that if a teacher has high efficacy, they are more likely to set more challenging goals for students, persevere and create a more positive learning environment,” Looney said.

A voluntary survey was given to 200 teachers and 500 parents throughout the Baldwin Park Unified School District as well as a few private schools.

Looney, Kennedy and Steck used the mixed method approach to conduct their research.

They collected data through the survey for the fall 2013 semester and will collect data again in the spring 2014 semester. So far, they only have input for about 35 teachers’ data into the computer statistics program.

Efficacy was measured based on student engagement, instructional practices, math instruction, nurturance, limit setting, instrumental care, play and satisfaction.

The survey measured these different aspects on a scale of one to five.

Looney said that out of the data they have input in the computer, there is an overall a lack of variability with the results.

She said there are a few points of interest in the categories of play, math, nurturance and satisfaction.

They discovered that efficacy for play and math were low with the teachers who taught at the pre-school level.

“Perhaps that has to do with the lack of communication skills between a toddler and teacher,” said Zach Robertson, sophomore English major. “As the child gets older and better develops his or her communication skills, the teacher may feel more inclined to play with and interact with the child.”

Looney considered this theory as a possibility, but said further analysis was necessary to conclude the reason pre-school teachers do not play and engage students as much as grade school teachers.

The survey also unveiled that teachers who are in their mid-career are less satisfied with their job than teachers who have just started teaching or teachers who are late in their career.

“Teachers who are in the middle of their career are no longer excited and may have a lower level of confidence, which leads to a lower level of satisfaction,” Looney said.

Looney and her colleagues plan to use the data they are collecting to impact the education program and help improve teachers’ efficacy.

“(Looney’s) findings made me aware of the different aspects of teaching,” said Cory Acker, junior speech communication and political science major. “A teacher’s self-perception can affect the way they teach their class and affect the students, both developmentally and emotionally.”

Looney said that they will continue to analyze the teachers’ data and begin to analyze the parent data to discover how parent and teacher efficacy compares and contrasts.

They also plan to gather qualitative data from both teachers and parents through interviews and focus groups.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

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