Self-Rating and Effectiveness of Courses for Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Skills, Competence, and Ability to Teach Mathematics
The research question chosen for analysis is “What are pre-service teachers’ perceptions of their skills, competence, and ability to teach mathematics?” To answer the question, seven preservice teachers were interviewed on themes of their personal self-rating, the effect of the math content courses, beliefs in their ability to teach before and after the courses, which methodology was the most effective, and what course element was the most effective.
According to the three-year study conducted by Choy, Wong, Ming Lim, and Chong (2013), the pedagogical knowledge of preservice teachers evolved significantly in the course of their professional practice, which suggested that perceptions of teachers about their skills, competence, and ability to teach are factors that change over time and cannot be easily determined at once (p. 68).
As mentioned in Marzano’s work (2007) Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement, preservice teachers’ competence, and teaching skills greatly depend on their ability to conduct lesson planning that will support their articulation skills, what they plan to do in their lessons, and why they plan on doing it (p. 34). Kaiser, Rosenfield, and Gravois (2009) suggested that teachers gain effective teaching skills and increase their competence from participating in instructional consultation services as well as interacting with their students (p. 444).
Basow and Montgovery (2006) concluded that self-ratings completed by teachers did not have any significant correlations with the ratings given by their students, which suggested that teachers’ perceptions of their professional practice only affect them and cannot be transferred to students (p. 91).
The results of the study conducted by Koksal (2013) showed the existing positive correlation between teachers’ self-perception of their competence and their general attitude towards their professional practice (p. 270). According to Struyven and De Meyst (2010), teachers’ competencies embedded into the policies and practices of educational institutions were regularly implemented, while other competencies such as cooperation with parents or teacher committees were not implemented regularly (p. 1495).
Qualitative Data Analysis
Interviews conducted with seven preservice teachers gave the following data on teachers’ self-perception: three teachers said that their rating was eight, one gave a mark of nine, and two gave seven points, while only one hesitated between eight and nine points. Such rating results (between seven and nine points) suggested that teaching courses taught respondents a lot about effective practices, techniques, and tools.
However, the rating also suggested that interviewed preservice teachers did not have enough experience and confidence to give themselves a rating of ten. The fact that the majority of interviewees acknowledged that there was always room for improvement and growth suggests that actual working experience will either improve or decrease their self-rating.
When questioned about the effect of the math content courses, interviewees gave different answers. For example, three interviewees stated that 151 and 152 math courses were beneficial for bringing them back to the basic material and contributed to their understanding of what their students usually did not understand. However, one interviewee did not have a positive experience with these courses.
Three interviewees suggested that 320 and 330 courses facilitated the development of many skills. One interviewee stated that taking math courses made him/her realize that there was more about teaching math than he/she knew about. As for the beliefs in interviewees’ abilities to teach before and aftermath courses, all seven preservice teachers indicated that they were much more confident in their math skills compared to what they had felt before.
Once asked questions about what courses (methodology or content pedagogy) were the most effective, three respondents indicated that 320 courses were the most beneficial. Four respondents (including those that mentioned 320) suggested that 330 were also effective. One out of those interviewees mentioned that 151 and 152 taught many youth concepts while the last respondent indicated that all courses taught different important information. Lastly, the answers about the most effective element in the course divided almost equally. Two interviewees suggested the effectiveness of small group instruction; two suggested peer interaction; one gave preference to partner assignments while one enjoyed hands-on activities.
To conclude, preservice teachers’ education should take into account the concept of confidence, competence, and self-esteem for making sure that they proceed with effective teaching (Russell-Bowie, 2012, p. 62). The results of interviews conducted with preservice teachers suggested that the majority of respondents were confident enough in their skills to start teaching maths; however, all of them hoped to gain more experience while teaching. 151 and 152 math courses were beneficial for the respondents to get back to the basic material.
Furthermore, bypassing 320 and 330 math courses interviewees became more confident in their skills. As for the beliefs in interviewees’ abilities to teach before and aftermath courses, all seven preservice teachers indicated that they were much more confident in their math skills compared to what they had felt before. Interviewees also stated that small group instruction, peer interaction, partner assignments, and hands-on activities were the most effective components.
Experience and Persuations in Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Skills, Competence, and Ability to Teach Mathematics
The research question “What are pre-service teachers’ perceptions of their skills, competence, and ability to teach mathematics?” was also examined through a perspective of themes such as mastery experience, vicarious experience, social persuasions, and the psychological factor, which all make up a cohesive framework for teachers’ self-efficacy in the classroom.
Coined in 1994, the concept of self-efficacy pertains to an individual’s beliefs about the capability to perform a particular task on the designated level (Redmond, 2016, para. 3). According to Steyn and Mynhardt (2008), mastery experiences are crucial components for forming teachers’ self-esteem and self-confidence in the teaching environment compared with the information they received from social comparisons (p. 563). Vicarious experiences are beneficial for altering the beliefs of self-efficacy by transmitting the competencies as well as comparisons to others (Wagler, 2011, p. 2).
To make sure that individuals believe that they have the necessary skills for completing a designated task, social persuasion is used as the component of self-efficacy. In such cases, it is suggested that others encourage an individual to perform a task through constructive feedback (4 Ways to develop self-efficacy beliefs, 2014, para. 15).
The perceived level of self-efficacy can also be largely influenced by the emotional and psychological responses of an individual. If, for example, an individual is nervous about performing a specific task, the self-efficacy may be significantly weaker compared to those individuals that do not experience any nervousness or panic (4 Sources of self-efficacy in the workplace, 2013, para. 5). Over the last three decades, the field of educational research explored the notion of self-efficacy as an essential component to teachers’ success (Artino, 2012, p. 76); therefore, studying its characteristics is of the highest importance.
Qualitative Data Analysis
Mastery experiences were highly beneficial, as reported by the interviewed preservice teachers. Three respondents valued manipulative tasks and tools that facilitated creative thinking; for example, teaching math to a professor that acted as a school student and made some mistakes. Hands-on opportunities and activities were outlined as beneficial by two respondents, while one mentioned teaching each other and one enjoyed watching videos of other people teaching. Such results suggested that practical tasks were the most effective mastery experiences that help develop self-efficacy in preservice teachers.
When discussing vicarious experiences with preservice teachers, three interviewees indicated modeling activities as positively influencing their self-efficacy. Observing peers was a procedure that received contrasting feedback: while one respondent stated that peer observation was useful for seeing a phenomenon from a new perspective, another indicated that it made him/her nervous because of the fear to underperform in comparison with his/her peers. One respondent mentioned that teaching each other math was beneficial while another mentioned the positive impact of activities where teachers gave examples.
The component of social persuasions was explained as effective when instructors gave feedback on performance. Six respondents indicated that explanations, negative and positive feedback given by professors helped solve many issues with their self-confidence. One interviewee mentioned that the task of teaching small lessons to other students promoted self-confidence alongside with feedback given by the professor.
Lastly, when discussing the psychological factor regarding self-efficacy, five out of seven interviewees indicated that mood and emotional state greatly affected their learning. For example, if one was in a good mood, one’s self-efficacy in performing a specific task tended to be much higher. However, two respondents stated that professors’ attitudes towards teaching influenced them the most. For instance, one interviewee stated that his/her professor was always going straight to the topic of the lesson so that no one had any opportunities to relax or to get distracted. Such a strategy was effective because self-efficacy was achieved by focusing on the task instead of preparing for it by creating a positive atmosphere.
To sum up the results of the interviews, self-efficacy in preservice math teachers greatly depended on effective strategies about mastery experiences. Practical tasks were proven to be the most effective mastery experiences that develop self-efficacy in preservice teachers. Modeling activities were suggested as the most effective vicarious experiences while peer observation received contradicting feedback. For instance, if a professor praised one individual, a respondent felt pressured to perform at the same level, even if he or she did not possess the same skills. The psychological factor was proven to be greatly contributing to increased self-efficacy.
Two respondents also indicated that performing the task itself boosted their self-esteem and confidence rather than their mood. Self-efficacy was defined as one of the most important preconditions to behavioral change (Bandura, 1982, p. 122). The analysis of qualitative data about preservice math teachers showed that behavioral change was affected by several factors.
Therefore, further research and increased attention to the concept of self-efficacy is needed so that future teacher is equipped with knowledge on how they can improve their confidence, skills, and ability to teach specific subjects. Furthermore, increased self-efficacy will positively influence the overall educational process for both teachers and students.
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