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Teacher Self-Efficacy

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Ralf Schwarzer, Gerdamarie S. Schmitz, & Gary T. Daytner, 1999
  1. I am convinced that I am able to successfully teach all relevant subject content to even the most difficult students.
  2. I know that I can maintain a positive relationship with parents even when tensions arise.
  3. When I try really hard, I am able to reach even the most difficult students.
  4. I am convinced that, as time goes by, I will continue to become more and more capable of helping to address my students‘ needs.
  5. Even if I get disrupted while teaching, I am confident that I can maintain my composure and continue to teach well.
  6. I am confident in my ability to be responsive to my students‘ needs even if I am having a bad day.
  7. If I try hard enough, I know that I can exert a positive influence on both the personal and academic development of my students.
  8. I am convinced that I can develop creative ways to cope with system constraints (such as budget cuts and other administrative problems) and continue to teach well.
  9. I know that I can motivate my students to participate in innovative projects.
  10. I know that I can carry out innovative projects even when I am opposed by skeptical colleagues.

Response format:
(1) not at all true, (2) barely true, (3) moderately true, (4) exactly true

The first step in developing a new instrument to measure teacher self-efficacy was the identification of different job skills within the teaching profession. Four major areas were identified: (a) job accomplishment, (b) skill development on the job, (c) social interaction with students, parents, and colleagues, and (d) coping with job stress. For each of these four domains teachers may hold different self–efficacy expectations. These major areas appear to be of vital importance for successful teaching.

The second step included the development of 27 items to assess these four major areas of the teaching profession. All items were constructed by explicitly following Bandura‘s social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997; Schwarzer, 1992, 1993). The theory argues for a certain semantic structure for self–efficacy items. First, the subject should be "I" since the aim is to assess an individual's subjective belief. An item should contain verbs like "can", or "be able to", making clear that the item asks for succeeding because of personal competence. Furthermore, items have to contain a barrier since there is no use in asking for self–efficacy expectancies for actions that are not difficult to perform or that might just be routine. Explicitly mentioning a barriere impies a certain grade of difficulty. Most people with a driver's license, for example, will not find it difficult to drive and will thus have a rather high self–efficacy belief in this area; but driving by night through a blizzard on icy country roads with no living soul in sight should be a different matter. Instead of a barrier can also a resource that helps to perform a demanding task can also be used to imply the grade of difficulty.

The pool of 27 items was part of a lengthy questionnaire being administered three times to approximately 300 German teachers within the nationwide field study Self-Efficacious Schools. The aim was to extract a parsimonious instrument of about 10 items to economically assess efficacy beliefs within the four areas mentioned above. The primary focus during the reduction if the items was on optimizing the validity of the instrument rather than maximizing the internal consistency.

Thus, Cronbach's alpha in the three samples was found to be between .76, and .82, test-retest reliability resulted in .67 (N = 158), and .76 (N = 193) respectively, for the period of one year. For the period of two years it was found to be .65 (N = 161).

As expected, the more specific instrument of Teacher Self–Efficacy yielded higher associations with several other personal attitudes than the General Self–Efficacy scale. This can be regarded as a first indication for discriminant validity of the new instrument. Moreover, the time teachers spent voluntarily with their students was strongly associated with their Teacher Self–Efficacy.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self–efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

Schwarzer, R. (ed.) (1992). Self–efficacy. Thought control of action. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.

Schwarzer, R. (1993). Streß, Angst und Handlungsregulation (3. Auflage). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Schmitz, G.S. (1998). Entwicklung der Selbstwirksamkeitserwartungen von Lehrern.  [Development of teacher's self-efficacy beliefs]. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 2, 140-157.

Schmitz, G.S. & Schwarzer, R. (2000). Selbstwirksamkeitserwartung von Lehrern: Längsschnittbefunde mit einem neuen Instrument [Perceived self-efficacy of teachers: Longitudinal findings with a new instrument]. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 14 (1), 12-25.

Schwarzer, R., & Hallum, S. (2008). Perceived teacher self-efficacy as a predictor of job stress and burnout: Mediation analyses. APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW,57, 152–171 (Special Issue: Health and Well-Being).    doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00359.x

Freie Universität Berlin
Abteilung für Gesundheitspsychologie
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