Teacher Self-Efficacy: A Key Factor in the Success of Inclusive Education

Key Takeaway

While equal rights of participation of children with disabilities in education is uncontested from an ideological standpoint, the degree to which it succeeds in any context is highly dependent on a number of factors. In Israel, “higher perceived knowledge of inclusion policy and higher perceived school support of inclusion were both related to higher [teacher] self-efficacy regarding inclusion, which, in turn, was related to more positive attitudes about inclusion.” (Werner et al., 2021) —Akane Yoshida

Effects of Teacher Self-Efficacy 

Self-efficacy—an individual’s belief in their own capacity to demonstrate the behaviors necessary to achieve their goals1—has significant implications in teaching, where it affects teachers’ abilities to create a positive learning environment and provide effective instruction. Teachers with low self-efficacy are more likely to blame students for poor progress and be less adaptable with their teaching methods.

For their study, Werner et al. surveyed over 300 teachers working in general education and special education settings in Israel, with the aim of examining the following issues in relation to inclusion (here, defined as the “modification and preparation of the school system in order to accommodate for the needs of children with disabilities”):

  1. Are there associations between teacher self-efficacy and attitudes towards inclusion?
  2. Are there differences in attitudes towards inclusion between general education and special education teachers?
  3. Would greater knowledge of local and national-level policy in relation to inclusion, as well as school support for inclusion, have a positive association with teacher self-efficacy and attitudes towards inclusion?

Teacher Attitudes Towards Inclusion and Self-Efficacy

The researchers’ findings were as follows: 

  1. “Greater familiarity with local- and national-level inclusion policy was associated with greater self-efficacy, and the latter was associated with teacher perception of their professional roles and functions, cognitive, affective and behavioral attitudes.” 
  1. This association between self-efficacy and positive attitudes towards inclusion might also associate in the opposite direction, meaning that teachers who reported more positive attitudes had a tendency to report greater self-efficacy.
  1. Greater school support of inclusion is directly associated with greater teacher self-efficacy and more positive teacher attitudes towards inclusion, suggesting the importance of leadership in fostering competence in school staff through ongoing training in inclusive education. 

While these findings show encouraging links between the factors that lead to teacher self-efficacy, additional findings demonstrate that more proactive steps must be taken in the Israeli context in order for these connections to prove fruitful in furthering inclusive education. Only 21% of participants reported receiving any inclusion training. Furthermore, teachers rated their attitudes towards students with disabilities in inclusive settings, as well as the efficacy of inclusive practices, as “relatively low” and rated their knowledge of inclusion policy as “quite low.” 

As Werner et al. conclude, “there can be no policy without a supportive ideology, and no praxis without supportive policy.” The researchers suggest that future studies not only examine teacher attitudes towards inclusion but also their actual practice.

Summarized Article:

Werner, S., Gumpel, T. P., Koller, J., Wiesenthal, V., & Weintraub, N. (2021). Can self-efficacy mediate between knowledge of policy, school support and teacher attitudes towards inclusive education?. PloS one, 16(9), e0257657.

Summary by: Akane Yoshida — Akane believes in the MARIO Approach because it puts student agency at the heart of the learning and goal-setting process. She loves how the MARIO Framework operationalizes this process and utilizes systematic measurement of student learning and teacher effectiveness to guide interventions.

Additional References:

  1. Carey, M. & Forsyth, A. (2009). “Teaching tip sheet: self-efficacy”. APA. https://www.apa.org/pi/aids/resources/education/self-efficacy.

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Join the MARIO Family

We are a dedicated group of learners that are constantly seeking to improve the lives of the children we care for. Whether you are a teacher, parent, assistant, or administrator, we give you free access to the most recent special education related research and practices available. Our twice monthly MARIO Memo summarizes and shares studies from peer-reviewed journals, while our learning letters provide insights from MARIO classrooms.

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