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Towards a re-conceptualization of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs: tackling enduring problems with the quantitative research and moving on

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Various commentators have argued for years that the study of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, largely dominated by quantitative research methodologies, has been confused. Contentious issues include the very conceptualization of these beliefs, how they are defined and accessed through research and how the research is used. One of the biggest anomalies is that, despite claiming that these beliefs are task-specific, many quantitative researchers have both assessed them globally and portrayed them as hard to impact. In contrast, some qualitative researchers have emphasized the task-specific nature of these beliefs and their potential for transformation through self-doubt, reflection and learning. This literature review examines these and other contentious issues, focusing on studies published in international peer-reviewed journals in the last few years, looking, through the use of search terms and the surveying of abstracts followed by detailed reading, for evidence of developing understandings and changing research practices. This review highlights continuing misalignment between theory and method in much of the literature, but also identifies promising research directions. Mixed methods and qualitative research designs seem to have the potential to produce insightful findings that can make the study of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs of greater use to teacher educators than has previously been the case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-189
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number2
Early online date12 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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