Teacher self-efficacy as a determinant of job attrition

MLFTC researchers and district partners are studying how teachers’ view of their role affects workforce longevity

 Project title 
Teacher candidate affordances and perceptions of efficacy in collectively-taught elementary and typical student teaching settings

 Grant effective dates 
May 1, 2018January 31, 2019

 Principal investigator(s) 
Andrea Weinberg

 Originating sponsor 
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

The challenge

The most influential school-based determinant of educational outcomes for students is an effective teacher. This makes the nationwide shortage of pre-K–12 teachers one of the most critical issues in education today. Attrition is widely seen as the most impactful contributor to this shortage, with voluntary preretirement attrition being the leading source of teacher turnover. Research has established a negative correlation between teacher self-efficacy and attrition, yet most initiatives to address attrition have added to the responsibilities and obligations of teachers (e.g., induction programs, professional development, uncompensated leadership responsibilities), rather than addressing the commonly-cited predictors of attrition (salaries, working conditions, career advancement) that influence decisions to leave profession.

The approach

This exploratory study by Assistant Professor Andrea Weinberg, and Brent Maddin, executive director of educator workforce initiatives, creates collaborations between Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and districts and schools to address predictors of attrition. The researchers are working with their partners to pilot team-based classroom models that: 1) capitalize on teacher strengths and expertise, distributing the workload traditionally assumed by a single teacher among teams of educators; 2) create working conditions in which teachers can feel efficacious as they take on specialized roles in classrooms; 3) establish, within the specialized roles, a career ladder for teachers; and 4) support the development of MLFTC students studying to be teachers. Fundamental competencies for quality teaching are defined by 19 “high leverage teaching practices” and the competencies embedded within the ASU Framework for Character Education. The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium standards define the integration of content knowledge with approaches and practices to create learning experiences for all students.

Findings & impact

Data sources will include a researcher-created activity log for participants to record how their time is spent during work-related activities; hour-long focus groups that include discussions of the activity logs; and surveys that include a self-efficacy scale, demographic characteristics and, if applicable, MLFTC experiences. Data will be analyzed using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The aim is to move beyond interpretive research to research focused on relationships between teacher education experiences and student learning. Findings from the exploratory study will inform the submission of a Spencer Foundation grant to look deeper into the roles and self-efficacy of teachers and teacher candidates. Subsequent proposals and studies will continue to focus on practicing and preservice teachers and will be expanded to explore impacts on P–12 students.

COVID-19 information