Scholarly article on topic 'Basic Personality Dimensions and Teachers’ Self-efficacy'

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Gordana Djigić, Snežana Stojiljković, Mila Dosković

Abstract This study is concerned with the relationship between teachers’ personality dispositions and their self-efficacy. The aim of the research is to find out if some personality dimensions are more important predictors of teachers’ self-efficacy than others. Research was conducted on the sample of 168 teachers. Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy scale was used to measure teachers’ self-efficacy and Big Five Inventory for personality dimensions. Results show that teachers assessed their own self-efficacy quite high. The best evaluated was self-efficacy in the area of Instruction, while other aspects were evaluated lower. Among personality dimensions, the most important predictors of teachers’ self-efficacy were Conscientiousness and Openness.

Academic research paper on topic "Basic Personality Dimensions and Teachers’ Self-efficacy"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 112 (2014) 593 - 602

International Conference on Education & Educational Psychology 2013 (ICEEPSY 2013)

Basic personality dimensions and teachers' self-efficacy

Gordana Djigica*, Snezana Stojiljkovica, Mila Doskovica

aUniversity of Nis, Faculty of philosophy, Department of psychology, Cirila i Metodija 2, 18000 Nis, Serbia

Abstract

This study is concerned with the relationship between teachers' personality dispositions and their self-efficacy. The aim of the research is to find out if some personality dimensions are more important predictors of teachers' self-efficacy than others. Research was conducted on the sample of 168 teachers. Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy scale was used to measure teachers' self-efficacy and Big Five Inventory for personality dimensions. Results show that teachers assessed their own self-efficacy quite high. The best evaluated was self-efficacy in the area of Instruction, while other aspects were evaluated lower. Among personality dimensions, the most important predictors of teachers' self-efficacy were Conscientiousness and Openness.

© 2013TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selectionandpeer-reviewunderresponsibilityof Cognitive-counselling,research and conference services (c-crcs). Key words: teachers, self-efficacy, basic personality dimensions, Five-Factor model

1. Introduction

Every educational system tends to achieve the best possible quality. Quality of education is most commonly reflected in students' school achievements. This is the reason why researchers have been interested in exploring factors of students' achievements for decades. Earlier, researches were focused on students' characteristics -abilities, motivation, personal traits, their families and environment conditions. In the 1970s movement of effective schools (Lezotte, 1991; Good, & Weinstein, 1986) not only caused significant changes in educational policy and practice, but also encouraged the appearance of different research orientations in educational psychology. One of the main correlates of effective schools is the belief that the school is responsible for students' achievements because the learning process is largely carried out (or should take place) within teaching process. Thus, researchers' interest moved toward examining the factors of students' achievement within school environment. Many studies suggest that, among numerous factors related to school environment, teacher have the most powerful influence on students' achievements (Marzano & Marzano, 2003). Different research approaches

* Gordana Djigic. University of Nis, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, tel.: +381 18 514 311, fax: +381 18 514 310. E-mail address: gordana.djigic@filfak.ni.ac.rs

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Cognitive-counselling, research and conference services (c-crcs). doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1206

can be recognised among numerous studies dealing with teacher as the factor of students' achievements. Some authors pay attention to teachers' personality (Ryans, 1970; Handley, 1973), while others emphasize teachers' roles and competences (Lindgren, 1976; Beltran, 2011; Harden & Crosby, 2000). Recently, many authors have dealt with the concept of classroom management and its effects on students' achievement (Djigic & Stojiljkovic, 2011). Some researchers showed that teachers' beliefs about their own ability to influence students' outcomes can predict students' achievement and other measures of the teaching efficacy (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). Thus was defined the concept of teachers' self-efficacy.

1.1. Teacher's self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the concept from Bandura's social-cognitive theory of behavioral change (Bandura, 1977, 1982, 2006). Namely, in this theory it is hypothesized that expectation of personal efficacy determines whether some behavior will be initiated and how long the efforts will be sustained in problem solving situations. Self-efficacy is concept related to people's beliefs in their capabilities to produce given outcomes. This is multifaceted concept including a differentiated set of self-beliefs linked to variety of personal functioning domains. Although self-efficacy is differentiated, specific efficacy beliefs may co-vary because successful performance in different domains is partly managed by higher-order self-regulatory skills.

According to mentioned Bandura's theory, self-efficacy is the crucial mechanism of behavioral change. It produces cognitive event that initiate behavior intended to achieve certain goal. On the other hand, this cognitive event is influenced by experience of mastery arising from previous effective performance. Also, the sources of self-efficacy beliefs are vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion and physiological states. It means that this theory emphasizes interaction between personal (cognitive) factors, individual's behavior and environmental conditions (Bandura, 1982; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). Individual's beliefs in his own efficacy determine how environmental conditions will be perceived and evaluated. Depending on this perception, certain activities and amount of effort will be initiated. People will avoid activities that they believe exceed their capabilities, but will undertake actions that they believe are consistent with their own capabilities.

It is important to emphasize that self-efficacy does not mean the simple expectation that performed behavior will produce certain outcomes (Bandura, 1977, 1982). Self-efficacy refers to individual's belief that he can successfully perform necessary actions. These beliefs in individual's own capabilities will initiate behavior directed to outcomes. If individual does not believe in his own efficacy, needed behavior will not be initiated and success will fail.

Having in mind the complex structure of self-efficacy and its relation to individual's perception of his own efficacy in different domains of personal functioning or different tasks fulfilling, it is meaningful to consider the concept of self-efficacy of teachers. Bandura developed the scale of teacher's self-efficacy as one among many scales of self-efficacy in different domains (Bandura, 2006).

Considering the influence of perceived self-efficacy on teachers' effectiveness, Skaalvik and Skaalvik (2007, 2010) further developed concept of teachers' self-efficacy. It is based on the analysis of teachers' roles derived from actual Norwegian educational curriculum that are similar to teachers' roles in any modern educational system. They distinguish six dimensions within teachers' self-efficacy, each referring to one among the most important teachers' roles. These dimensions are: Instruction, Adapting instruction to individual students' needs, Motivating students, Maintaining discipline, Cooperating with colleagues and parents, Coping with challenges. In accordance with such structure of the concept, the authors developed Norwegian Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale, (which was applied in this study).

1.2. Teachers' personality as a factor of their professional efficacy

The efficacy of teachers in their professional behavior is determined by many factors. It is very important to recognize what is the difference between successful and less successful teachers. Concerning that problem, stable personality characteristics - such as personality traits - are always of research interest. There are two basic

conceptualizations of traits. The first one views traits as the internal properties of person that cause his behavior. According to this conception, traits are internal dispositions that cause the outward behavioral manifestation. (Costa & McCrae, 1995). The second conceptualization, less accepted in the literature, views traits as descriptive summaries of persons' overt behavior (Goldberg, 1993; Larsen & Buss, 2005). Another two fundamental issues for a personality psychology based on traits are: how to identify the most important traits, and how to formulate a comprehensive taxonomy of personality traits. Numerous studies were conducted with intention to offer best solution. Some of them were based on the lexical approach, some other used statistical approach, and theoretical approach was also applied (Larsen & Buss, 2005). Researchers' efforts during last three decades resulted by personality taxonomy labeled the Five-Factor model, the Big Five etc. (Costa & McCrae, 1995; Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1990; John & Srivastava, 1999).

Five-Factor model was originally based on a combination of the lexical and the statistical approach (Larsen & Buss, 2005). It has been widely influenced and commonly accepted hierarchical model of personality structure. The lexical approach started at 1930s, with the pioneering work of Allport and Odbert (1936), Cattell also used this method, and later Tupes and Christal (1961) and Norman (1963) conducted their studies (Caprara & Cervone, 2000; Pervin et al., 2005). Costa and McCrae (1995) as well as Goldberg (1990) are particularly important proponents of the Five-Factor model which has achieved impressive replicability across samples in numerous studies using English language; it has also been replicated in different languages and cultures. Cross-cultural studies have proved the assumption that these dimensions are universal and have strengthened the position of the Five Factor model (Caprara & Cervone, 2000; Larsen & Buss, 2005; Pervin et al., 2005).

According to this model, personality might be described with following five basic dimensions which represent broad domains of personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Neuroticism makes differentiation between persons in regard to emotional stability-emotional instability. It is a disposition of a person to experience negative emotions such as: sadness, fear, anxiety, wrath, guilt. Extraversion relates to sociability and activity. Persons with high scores are talkative and friendly, active, cheerful, optimistic and outgoing, full of energy. Introverts are closed, reserved, more independent and sensitive in his nature. Openness stands for intellectual curiosity, preference of diversity, a need for a change and tendency towards experimenting, inclination to new ideas and non-conventional values. Persons with high scores tend to be open-minded, to question authorities and dogmas, they are liberal and open to novelty. Agreeableness stands for trust, altruism, and compassion for others. Persons with low score tend to be cynical, selfish, suspicious about other's people's intentions, egocentric and competitive, while high score shows a tendency to be cooperative, altruistic and empathetic. Conscientiousness represents an ability of self-control in a sense of a disciplined inclination towards goals and duties, strict holding on one's own principles. So, this dimension is connected to academic and professional success.

Five Factor model showed a significant predictive value in relation to different behaviors, including professional success and academic achievement. Conscientiousness proved to be a significant predictor of job performance in general, while other dimensions are associated with the proper performance of some specific tasks. Agreeableness and Neuroticism are a good basis for predicting success in the work which is done in working groups, and Extraversion predicts success in sales or management positions (John & Srivastava, 1999).

Compared with general population, teachers tend to be higher on dimensions of Extraversion, Openness, Cooperation and Conscientiousness, and lower on dimension of Neuroticism (Tatalovic-Vorkapic, 2012). The study concerned with the relation between teachers' personality dimensions and their attitudes towards inclusive education (Todorovic et al., 2011) shows that dimension of Openness has significantly positive correlation with teachers' acceptance of inclusive education.

Taking into account research findings which suggest that personality traits are important factors of teachers' professional success, this study is concerned with the relationship between teachers' self-efficacy and basic personality dimensions.

2. Method

2.1. Purpose of the study

According to the social cognitive theory, teachers' self-efficacy influences their real professional behavior. Accordingly self-efficacy could be considered as an indicator of teachers' actual effectiveness. On the other side, personality traits have dynamic influence on the whole human behavior. Therefore it could be hypothesized that there is a connection between teacher's main personality dimensions and their professional acting, self-evaluated as more or less efficient. Having in mind these starting points, the main research questions were how teachers estimate their own ability to handle different complex professional tasks, and whether there is a relationship between teachers' personality dispositions and their self-efficacy.

Purpose of the study is to examine teachers' experience with their own self-efficacy. Another aim of the study is to examine whether teachers' self-efficacy is connected to basic personality dimensions and also to find out if some personality dimensions are more important predictors of teachers' self-efficacy than others.

The results might suggest what kind of the support is needed in strengthening teachers' self-efficacy. Also, the relationship between teachers' self-efficacy and personality dimensions should be taken into account in the process of students' professional orientation and selection of future teachers.

2.2. Participants

The sample consisted of 168 primary school teachers. Precisely, the sample included elementary school teachers (39%) and subject teachers (61%) teaching: mathematics and sciences (20%), social sciences (10%), languages (16%), and other school subjects (15%). There were 80% female and 20% male participants, which is similar to the real gender structure of teachers' population in Serbian schools. Their age ranged from 25 to 62 (average age was 44). Teachers' working experience ranged from 1 to 39 years and the average working experience was 16.5 years. The research was conducted with teachers working in many schools (more than 30) located in large cities, in small towns and rural areas in Serbia.

2.3. Instruments

The multidimensional Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy scale NTSEF (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010) was used to measure teachers' general self-efficacy and its following aspects: Instruction, Adapting instruction to individual students' needs, Motivating students, Maintaining discipline, Cooperation with colleagues and parents, and Coping with challenge. Scale consists of 24 items, four items for each dimension. The questions are like: "How certain are you that you can explain subject matter so that the most students understand the basic principles?" Responses were given on a 7-point scale from "not certain at all" (1) to "absolutely certain" (7).

Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy Scale was constructed according to Bandura's recommendations (Bandura, 2006) and according to analysis of central tasks in teachers' daily work as they were described in Norwegian national curriculum (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). The meaning of six dimensions is as follows:

1) Instruction - This dimension is related to the teachers' estimation how much they are able to instruct students, explain subject matter, advise students in their learning and to guide students to improve their understanding of lessons.

2) Adapting instruction to individual students' needs - This dimension is a key aspect of teachers' self-efficacy related to inclusive education. It means self-evaluated teacher's competence to address the diversity of students' needs and abilities.

3) Motivating students - Four items of the scale are concerned with teachers' self-assessment how much are they able to arouse and maintain students' desire to learn, to get students to work with their schoolwork and to do their best with difficult learning problem.

4) Maintaining discipline - The basic precondition for successful teaching is the classroom discipline. Thus one of the self-efficacy dimensions is related to teachers' skills to get students, with behavioral problems, to follow classroom rules and to control any disturbing behavior of students.

5) Cooperation with colleagues and parents - This dimension of self-efficacy is connected to teachers' collaboration with other teachers and parents aimed to resolve problems and to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

6) Coping with challenge - Considering that education is passing through the serious and demanding reform processes, teachers need to be able to cope with different challenges in their everyday work with students. This is the reason why the part of the Scale is devoted to examining the self-efficacy of teachers in the use of a variety of teaching methods in terms of frequent changes in curricula and teaching organization.

Teachers' personality dimensions were examined by Big Five Inventory BFI (John, Donahue & Kentle, 1991, according to: John & Srivastava, 1999). The BFI consists of 44 items - short phrases based on traits' adjectives, known as prototypical markers of personality dimensions based on Five Factors model (Goldberg, 1993). The BFI scales contents eight to ten items for measuring each of five basic personality dimensions: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. BFI was created as a short instrument for the assessment of basic personality dimensions if no need to have the information about particular traits/facets. This is the reason why BFI was chosen for research purposes.

The short questionnaire is used to obtain data concerning control variables (gender, age, education and working experience).

2.4. Procedure

The application of the instruments was conducted in groups of teachers, participants of in-service training in the field of school assessment (30 to 35 subjects per group), by competent researchers. Each training group consisted of teachers who came from different schools and different places.

Participants were told that data will be used only for research purposes and that the anonymity is guaranteed.

Data are analyzed through descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, correlation and regression measures.

2.5. Reliability of measures

Reliability of the Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy scale (NTSES) and of its subscales is tested by internal consistency measures, precisely, by Cronbach's Alpha reliability coefficient (table 1).

Table 1. Reliability of the Norwegian Teacher Self-efficacy Scale (NTSES) and of its subscales

NTSES scales Cronbach's Alpha

NTSES in a whole 0.911

Instruction 0.694

Adapting instruction to students' individual needs 0.766

Motivating students 0.707

Maintaining discipline 0.764

Cooperation with colleagues and parents 0.515

Coping with challenge 0.627

The best measure of reliability has the scale in a whole (Cronbach's Alpha= 0.911). Among the subscales, the best reliability is found for following subscales: Adapting instruction to individual needs, Maintaining discipline and Motivating students. The lowest and not quite satisfactory reliability is found for the subscale Cooperation with colleagues and parents. The coefficients of internal consistency in this study are lower than the coefficients

cited by the authors (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010) for particular dimensions of self-efficacy in the order listed in Table 1: 0.83, 0.90, 0.83, 0.91, 0.77 and 0.81.

All the NTSES subscales correlate high with the scale in a whole (correlation coefficients range from 0.761 to 0.811, significant at the 0.01 level). All inter-correlations between subscales of NTSES are middle (Pearson's coefficients range from 0.470 to 0.688) and all of them are significant at the 0.01 level.

The reliability of Big Five Inventory (BFI) is slightly lower, but relatively close to the limit values. Cronbach's Alpha reliability coefficient for the Inventory in a whole is 0.617, and for particular subscales it ranges from 0.612 for Neuroticism, to 0.727 for Extraversion and Openness (0.636 for Conscientiousness, and 0.639 for Agreeableness). Reliability coefficients obtained in this research are lower than reliability measures in American and Canadian samples, where they typically range from 0.75 to 0.90 (John & Srivastava, 1999).

3. Results

3.1. Teachers' self-efficacy measures obtained in examined sample

The first task was to examine how teachers estimate their self-efficacy. Teachers assessed their own self-efficacy quite high (Table 2). The best evaluated was their self-efficacy in the area of Instruction (the way they explain the subject matter), while the self-efficacy in Motivating students was evaluated as the worst.

Table 2. Average measures of teachers' self-efficacy on the NTSES in a whole and on its dimensions

NTSES scales Results range from - to Mean SD

NTSES in a whole 24-168 137.68 16.09

Instruction 1-28 23.80 3.26

Adapting instruction to students' individual needs 1-28 22.59 3.47

Motivating students 1-28 22.17 3.34

Maintaining discipline 1-28 23.11 3.70

Cooperation with colleagues and parents 1-28 22.97 3.18

Coping with challenge 1-28 22.62 3.03

The significance of differences between average measures of particular dimensions of teachers' self-efficacy was checked by t-test.

The average estimation of self-efficacy in the area of Instruction is significantly higher than teachers' self-efficacy in all other dimensions. All differences are significant at the 0.01 level except the difference between Instruction and Maintaining discipline that is significant at the 0.05 level. It means that teachers feel more competent for their teaching role in the narrowest sense than for all other roles that they should perform in the classroom. However, successful performing of these other professional teachers' roles is very important because it represents the foundation of quality teaching.

Also, the average estimation of self-efficacy in Motivating students is significantly lower than measures of all other dimensions (at least at the 0.05 level) except the Adapting instruction to students' individual needs. Consequently development of competencies in the area of motivating students could be the priority for examined teachers.

3.2. Basic personality dimensions measures obtained on examined teachers' sample

The next step in analysis was to determine the expression degree of basic personality dimensions in our sample of teachers (Table 3). Since the results range for particular scales of Big Five Inventory are not the same,

the indexes of dimensions' expression were computed depending on the size of maximum value. The indexes provide a comparison of the average measures on different scales.

Table 3. The expression degree of basic personality dimensions (Big Five) in examined teachers' sample

BFI scales Results range from - to Mean SD Indexes of dimensions' expression depending on the size of maximum values

Neuroticism 8 - 40 17.98 4.14 0.45

Extraversion 8 - 40 30.05 4.33 0.75

Openness 10 -50 39.99 4.62 0.80

Agreeableness 9 - 45 36.39 4.23 0.81

Conscientiousness 9 - 45 38.58 3.70 0.86

In general, the pattern of the expression extent of personality dimensions in our sample is similar to other researchers' findings in Serbia, as well as in Great Britain (Djuric-Jocic et al., 2004; Knezevic et al., 2004; Costa & McCrae, 2010). As usually, women have somewhat higher Neuroticism than men (DM=2.69, p<0.01), and men have somewhat higher Extraversion than women (DM=2.26, /><0.05). Also, the most expressed dimensions Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and Openness in our teachers' sample could be explained through the sample structure. Namely, teachers in the examined sample were participants of the training in the area of school assessment. The training program proposed that the trainees should pass their knowledge to other teachers in their schools. It is reasonably to suppose that school principals selected those teachers which were seen as the most competent to perform this task. It is likely that these personality dimensions contributed to the assessment that the selected teachers could successfully complete the task.

3.3. Correlations between basic personality dimensions and assessed teachers ' self-efficacy

The main research problem is whether teachers' self-efficacy is connected to basic personality dimensions and also to find out if some personality dimensions are more important predictors of teachers' self-efficacy than others.

The first step was the analysis of correlations between measures of personality dimensions and of teachers' self-efficacy (Table 4).

Most of correlations are low and significant. It is obvious that the relation of teachers' self-efficacy with Conscientiousness, Openness and Extraversion is more stable than the connection with two other personality dimensions. Among the personality dimensions Neuroticism has the lowest and the less stable correlation with teachers' self-efficacy. Obtained correlations clearly show that at least the part of the variance in the estimated level of teachers' self-efficacy can be explained by differences in the expression of the basic dimensions of personality.

Table 4. Pearson's correlation coefficients between basic personality dimensions and measures of teachers' self-efficacy (** p< 0.01; *p<0.05)

BFI Neuroticism BFI Extraversion BFI Openness BFI BFI Agreeableness Conscientiousness

NTSES in a whole -,287** ,402** ,393** ,238* ,432**

Instruction -,168 ,284** ,389** ,192* ,354**

Adapt the instruction to the individual -,275** ,204* ,281** ,164 ,425**

students' needs

Motivating students -,115 ,267** ,379** ,241** ,304**

Maintaining discipline -,187* ,248** ,227** ,173* ,281**

Cooperation with colleagues and -,203* ,221* ,239** ,237** ,278**

parents

Coping with challenges -,152 ,207* ,328** ,078 ,294**

The next step was the regression analysis that was aimed to examine the predictive power of particular basic personality dimensions in relation to teachers' self-efficacy. The regression analysis was based on determined correlation coefficients. The same procedure was performed for the teachers' self-efficacy in a whole, as well as for each of its dimensions. The basic personality dimensions were inserted into the regression model according to the amount of their correlation with the self-efficacy (or its dimensions).

The first regression analysis was done to show the predictive power of personality dimensions in relation to the teachers' self-efficacy in a whole. Personality dimensions were inserted into the model in following order: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, Extraversion and Conscientiousness. Although in the previous analysis all personality dimensions were in significant correlation with the general measure of teachers' self-efficacy, in this analysis predictors became insignificant with every new predictor insertion into the model. Thus, last inserted dimension of Conscientiousness was proved to be (among tested personality dimensions) the only significant and the most powerful predictor of teachers' self-efficacy (Beta=0.274, p<0.01). The regression model is significant at the 0.000 level (R=0.54) and it could explain almost 30% of variance in self-efficacy measures (R=0.295).

The same predictive model was applied for each particular self-efficacy dimension. Each model involved only personality dimensions that were in significant correlation with concrete self-efficacy dimension and in order that depended on the amount of correlation.

The analysis showed that, although regression models are significant (p<0.01), basic personality dimensions are not quite appropriate predictors of following dimensions of teachers' self-efficacy: Maintaining discipline (R2=0.123), Cooperation with colleagues and parents (R2=0.151) and Coping with challenges (R2=0.143). As it could be seen, the proportion of variance that could be explained by tested model is too low - only 12-15%.

Tested predictive models for dimensions: Instruction, Adapting instruction to individual students' needs and Motivating students, were somewhat more appropriate.

Instruction as the dimension of teachers' self-efficacy could be best predicted by personality dimensions Openness (Beta=0.230, p<0.05) and Conscientiousness (Beta=0.233, p<0.05). The model including four personality dimensions (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Agreeableness) could explain 24.5% of variance of this self-efficacy dimension (R2=0.243, significant at the 0.000 level).

Tested predictive model for Adapting the instruction to individual students' needs, involving four personality dimensions (Extraversion, Neuroticism, Openness and Conscientiousness), showed that the best predictor of this self-efficacy aspect is Conscientiousness (Beta=0.325, p<0.01) and that such model could explain 20.1% of variance of this self-efficacy dimension (R2=0.201, significant at the 0.000 level).

The predictive power of tested model concerning Motivating students is similar to previous (R2=0.201, significant at the 0.000 level). Model involved dimensions: Agreeableness, Extroversion, Conscientiousness and Openness. Among them, the best predictor of this domain of self-efficacy is Openness (Beta=0.255, p<0.05).

The regression analysis showed that basic personality dimensions are weak but significant predictors of teachers' self-efficacy. Among personality dimensions the most important predictors of teachers' self-efficacy are Conscientiousness and Openness.

3.4. Teachers' self-efficacy and its relations with control variables

The analysis showed that teachers' self-efficacy does not significant correlate with age and working experience of teachers.

The gender differences are significant factor only in the case of Maintaining discipline. Men assessed better their self-efficacy in this area than women (DM=1.62, p<0.05).

Finally, elementary teachers assessed their self-efficacy better than subject teachers regarding Adapting instruction to the individual students' needs (DM=1.195, p<0.05) and Motivating students (DM=1.121, p<0.05). These two self-efficacy dimensions are assessed the lowest in the whole sample. Bearing in mind this difference and also the fact that these two dimensions were estimated the lowest by the entire sample, it could be supposed that different basic education of teachers contributes to better assessment of the self-efficacy in the sample of elementary teachers. Namely, study programs preparing future elementary teachers contain more psychological, pedagogical and methodic subjects and more practice, than study programs aimed to prepare future subject teachers. Also, during the process of the educational reform in Serbia, elementary teachers had more (than subject teachers) in-service trainings that supported their competences for new professional roles. It is possible, as well, that the age of students and their psychological and developmental characteristics provide more favorable self-perception of professional competences in elementary teachers than in subject teachers sample.

4. Conclusion

In this research teachers assessed their self-efficacy quite high. Instruction is the best evaluated dimension of teachers' self-efficacy. Motivating students and Adapting instruction to individual students' needs are the worst evaluated dimensions. This finding suggests that teachers need additional support to develop their competences for coping with complex everyday tasks connected with motivating influence on students and individualization of teaching process. This kind of support is especially important for subject teachers, whose assessment of the self-efficacy in these areas was significantly lower when compared to the self-assessment of elementary teachers. Having in mind earlier mentioned differences between study programs for future elementary and subject teachers (less professional practice and less psychological, pedagogical and methodical subjects included into study programs for future subject teachers), it is clear that appropriate educational and in-service programs may contribute to development of these professional competences of teachers. Also, results of this study represent a clear guideline for the teachers' faculties in Serbia. They need to enhance the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills that are necessary for successful performing more and more complex teachers' tasks in modern education.

Having in mind vicarious experience as the source of self-efficacy, the great resource for in-service teachers training could be seen in model lessons conducted by teachers experienced in different aspects of teaching process. Through observation of model lessons teachers with lower evaluated self-efficacy could build more favorable self-efficacy beliefs, which would support the improvement of their practice.

It is certain that there are numerous factors connected with teachers' experience with their self-efficacy in general and in particular self-efficacy domains, like: teachers' self-esteem, their real achieved professional success; feed-back coming from the side of students, parents, colleagues, principals and educational administration; characteristics of students teachers work with (abilities, motivational orientations, interests, adopted social and moral values, socio-economic status...); quality of basic teachers' education and in-service programs etc. Our research results show that basic personality dimensions (Big Five) are weak, but significant predictors of teachers' self-efficacy and that they might explain a part of differences in teachers' self-efficacy measures. Conscientiousness and Openness are, among five basic dimensions, the most powerful predictors of teachers' self-efficacy. This finding could be taken into account in the professional orientation process, especially for students at the end of secondary school, before their application for studies. Also, selection of candidates in employment could be partially based on appropriateness of their personality dimensions pattern for future complex and demanding professional tasks.

Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by Ministry of Science and Technological Development, Serbia, within the research project No. 179002.

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