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Cantrell, S.C. & Hughes, H.K. (2008). Teacher efficacy and content literacy implementation: An exploration of the effects of extended professional development with coaching. Journal of Literacy Research, 40:95-127.

Author: Cantrell, S.C. & Hughes, H.K.

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This study employed a sequential, mixed methods research design to examine the self-efficacy and group efficacy of 22 sixth and ninth grade content area teachers from 8 schools in a southeastern state. These teachers participated in a profession development program consisting of a weeklong summer institute, two regional follow-up meetings, and monthly follow-up visits by literacy coaches as they worked to implement new literacy strategies in their content teaching. Coaches also provided support between visits in the form of electronic and phone communication and by sending resources at the request of participating teachers. The model used in the professional development was similar to the apprenticeship approach (Schoenbach, Greenleaf, Cziko, and Hurwitz, 1999).

In terms of the quantitative results from the study, the largest gain occurred in teachers’ sense of personal efficacy for literacy teaching. Collective efficacy was not related to implementation at the first point of observation but was significantly related at the second point of observation. Teachers who demonstrated higher efficacy prior to participating in the professional development were more likely to implement the recommended content literacy practices. In interviews, teachers affirmed that feedback and support from coaches was essential in enabling them to build a sense of proficiency over time with new teaching techniques. Coaches modeled, provided resources, and offered both on and off site support to teachers.

The findings of this study are important for those implementing coaching programs to consider. While individual self-efficacy was important at the beginning of the study, it was the teachers’ sense of collective efficacy that played an important role later in the school year. Collective teacher efficacy is defined as the “perceptions of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effect on students” (Goodard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000, p. 480). A short-coming of this study is that a complete data set for the entire year existed on only 58% of the teachers who participated. Even so, this study is well worth a careful read and discussion by middle and high school coaches, principals, and district literacy leaders.

Other findings of interest in this study include that teachers frequently mentioned in the interviews specific literacy techniques that they selected and worked to master. The teachers also identified collaboration with other teachers in their buildings as important to their growing success with implementing new literacy strategies. Some of the teachers indicated that they were were reluctant to try particularly ideas because they were concerned about classroom management or because ideas conflicted with their traditional classroom structures. However, Cantrell and Hughes state, “The primary barrier to teachers’ sense of efficacy with literacy integration was time: Time to develop their skills, time to implement the emphasized techniques, and time to collaborate with colleagues.”(p. 117)

Date Added: 11/14/2008

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