Exploring Collective Teacher Efficacy in High- and Low-Performing Schools
thesisposted on 01.05.2021, 00:00 authored by Mary Beecroft Jones
This study examined collective teacher efficacy (CTE), its formation, and its influence in a high- and low-performing school, comparing their experiences of CTE with the model suggested by theory and existing research. Collective teacher efficacy reflects teachers’ shared beliefs about their ability to positively influence student achievement beyond external factors. The malleability of CTE and research linking it to school achievement have led many to embrace enhancing CTE as a high-potential intervention for school improvement. There are, however, historically low-performing schools reporting high levels of CTE that challenge this model of CTE, which posits a mutually reinforcing relationship between CTE and achievement. In a 2015 survey of schools in an urban school district, several historically low-performing schools ranked in the top quartile for average levels of collective teacher efficacy. Through purposeful sampling of two high-CTE schools in this district, one high achieving and one low, the study explores how, and to what extent, certain factors contribute to the formation of collective efficacy beliefs in high- and low-performing schools, as well as how, and to what extent, higher levels of CTE in both contexts work through teacher effort, persistence, resilience, and goal setting to foster positive outcomes. The study employs a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, offering quantitative analyses of survey responses (n=23) and state accountability data, as well as qualitative consideration of semi-structured teacher and leader interviews (n=17). This study identifies structures, processes, and teacher experiences that influence CTE with and without school-wide student achievement. It contrasts sources of information that are consequential for school improvement with sources that foster a superficial sense of CTE, which is not associated with achievement. The findings illuminate the complex ways CTE beliefs are formed and substantiate the ways sources of efficacy beliefs matter to outcomes. This study advances our theoretical understanding of CTE by describing nuances among factors that contribute to CTE in high- and low performing schools. When informed by certain sources of information and influenced by contextual factors in particular ways, CTE can lead to positive outcomes or not; this study helps us understand more precisely how that happens.