Author Identifiers

Dimity Franks

ORCID: 0000-0002-8377-0654

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Lennie Barblett

Second Advisor

Gillian Kirk

Abstract

Students are experiencing an increased pressure to perform academically at a younger age with reports of the narrowing of curriculum and student disengagement. Current research literature suggests curricula should reflect the increased pressures students are facing. A focus on the social and emotional skills to support student learning is recommended to increase student engagement and enrichment and prepare students for their future. Self-efficacy is one element of social and emotional learning that demands attention. Self-efficacy is considered important for teachers to understand as it can predict how students approach their tasks as well as influence their levels of motivation and engagement for learning. Substantial research has established that self-efficacy and academic achievement are directly related, yet little is known about the strategies that facilitate the development of self-efficacy in the early years of school. This study examined teacher understandings of self-efficacy for students in Kindergarten to Year 2 in Western Australia. To describe their understanding about self-efficacy teachers provided accounts of their knowledge, where it originated, and detailed the strategies they used to facilitate the self-efficacy of their students. The study employed an Interpretivist line of enquiry as it investigated the interpretations of the participants to uncover what they understand about self-efficacy. It utilised a mixed method approach, initially collecting data from an online survey followed by semi-structured interviews with 10 participants from three different schools. The interview questions were informed by the survey data collected in the survey. Results from the study indicate that teachers do not have a strong theoretical understanding of self-efficacy but do have knowledge of elements of self-efficacy. Teachers could describe the characteristics of students with high levels of self-efficacy and provided a range of strategies they have found to be successful when facilitating self-efficacy in their students. Findings from this study will further develop teachers’ understandings of self-efficacy and highlight the importance of teaching strategies to facilitate self-efficacy in early childhood contexts.

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