A study has revealed that teachers with higher levels of confidence in their abilities can encourage pre-school students to gain more language and literacy skills.
It was however revealed that students only experienced gains when their teachers also had classrooms that emphasized emotional support for the children. This study was published in an issue of the journal Teaching and Teacher Education.
“Emotionally responsive relationships between teachers and children may be the way by which the self-efficacy of teachers can have a positive influence on children’s literacy,” said Ying Guo, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in education at Ohio State University.
The researchers involved a large, multi-state study including 67 teachers and 328 of their students. The level of emotional support in the classrooms was measured by trained coders who coded how students and teachers interact with each other. It was disclosed by the results that students whose teachers had high self-efficacy showed gains in one measure of early literary skills called print awareness and children only demonstrated gains in vocabulary knowledge skills when they had a classroom that offered emotional support in addition to having a teacher with high self-efficacy.
“Classroom quality is important, and students seem to learn more when they have emotional support in the classroom,” Guo said.
The research also revealed that teachers who had more years of pre-school teaching experience also had lower levels of self-efficacy.
“It is not that uncommon,” explained Laura Justice, co-author of the study and a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State. “Fresh teachers who are straight out of training think that they can change the world. Then, when they get into the work place they realize how serious and difficult their jobs really are. This is why we think self-efficacy may decline among some pre-school teachers through the years,” she added.