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The presented study is focused on the significance of implementing adaptive behavior skills (ABS) in classroom instruction. Unfortunately, some educators may lack knowledge about the most effective approaches to teaching ABS to students having intellectual disabilities (ID). At the same time, teachers’ attitudes toward teaching ABS may affect the students’ ability to work independently in performing these skills. The theoretical framework that has guided this study used Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory (SCT) of self-efficacy. The framework has served as a lens through which it is possible to review how elementary teachers perceived their ability to teach ABS to students having ID. The framework has been selected according to the purpose of the study.
The term self-efficacy can be defined as “people’s judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of actions required attaining designated types of performance” (Cherian & Jacob, 2013, p. 80). There are several definitions that exist for teacher self-efficacy; for example, Bandura (1995) defines it as the confidence a person holds based on their ability to analyze, oversee, and carry out plans necessary in future situations. Another definition for teacher self-efficacy is having the capabilities to teach specific subject matter to students even when the subject matters are difficult (Holzberger, Philipp, & Kunter, 2013). Teacher self-efficacy can also be identified as educators’ “beliefs about affecting and coping with students who have difficulty in motivation and learning” (Calik, Sezgin, & Kilinc, 2012, p. 2499). Having such convictions may be a vital trait for elementary teachers working with students having ID, who demonstrate deficits in ABS.
Elementary teachers’ beliefs and their attitudes are vital for comprehending and improving their educational practices, which shape the learning environments of their students (Bandura, 1993). Educators’ views have a powerful influence on their willingness to teach, as well as the way they deliver instruction (Tarman, 2012). Each day, elementary teachers make judgments and decisions, aiming at improving student learning. Their predispositions and generalizations can affect their perceived ability to deliver instruction. Bandura (1986) explains that individuals usually select tasks that they feel competent in, and teachers’ beliefs about their skills and knowledge, as well as their accomplishments and failures, affect their instructional actions (Bandura, 1986). Thus, the author’s work is a significant basis for the present research, as it allows for comparing the self-efficacy patterns teachers commonly show to the ones present in educators of Saudi Arabia.
Significance of Teacher Self-Efficacy
Bandura (1977) believes that social cognition emerges from the field of attitudes. He understands attitudes as mental or cognitive representations of individuals’ environment affecting their behavior. The author outlines the link between the concepts of self-belief and reflection and claims that they involve individuals’ beliefs about their abilities to perform a given task based on their experiences (Bandura, 1986, 1997). When elementary teachers know that they can affect positive future outcomes for students having ID, they become more motivated and are more likely to achieve positive results (Guo, Dynia, Pelatti, & Justice, 2014). When educators have strong self-efficacy for teaching ABS, they are prone to finding the appropriate strategies to teach ABS and are committed to working harder in fostering student success (Holzberg et al., 2013). Alternatively, if low self-efficacy exists about ABS instruction, elementary teachers are less likely to set goals and remain committed to this task (Bandura, 2006). Such a tendency will also be studied in the presented research.
Improving Teacher Self-Efficacy
In order to enhance self-efficacy, Bandura (1997) proposes observing other successful teachers and participating in professional development opportunities to build on experiences. He indicates that educators’ self-efficacy can influence both the sort of environment that they make for their students and their opinions about various instructional tasks that they will undertake to increase student learning (Sharma, Loreman, & Forlin, 2012). Teachers, therefore, should be able to control their perspectives because potential bias can have an impact on their ABS instruction for students having ID.
Challenges Associated With Teacher Self-Efficacy
Teachers also can experience significant challenges in teaching ABS to students having ID. For instance, special education elementary teachers having low self-efficacy may believe that their abilities to increase ABS for students having ID are limited, and, therefore, be reluctant to implement effective teaching strategies (Sharma et al., 2012). This theory strongly suggests that educators’ sense of efficacy can affect their attitudes and approaches in the classroom, and successful instructors are more likely to have strong self-efficacy to help students having ID to develop ABS. Thus, the self-efficacy of educators plays a critical role in improving ABS for students having ID.
Social Cognitive Theory and Study Questions
Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory (SCT) is applicable to this study because it has allowed for the analysis of teachers’ perspectives on their self-efficacy and ability to deliver ABS instruction to students having ID. Bandura’s (1986) work corresponds to the study questions, as it provides insight into the significance of educators’ perspectives towards their knowledge regarding ABS. Within his research, the author asked elementary teachers to engage in a reflective process and analyze their views on their ability to teach ABS to students having ID. The questions of the research have been framed to capture expanded descriptions of elementary teachers’ beliefs about their abilities to carry out ABS instruction. They are designed to analyze the existing barriers to teaching ABS and the benefits of these skills for students from the perspectives of this theory.
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Guo, Y., Dynia, J. M., Pelatti, C. Y., & Justice, L. M. (2014). Self-efficacy of early childhood special education teachers: Links to classroom quality and children’s learning for children with language impairment. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39, 12-21.
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Tarman, B. (2012). Prospective teachers’ beliefs and perceptions about teaching as a profession. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 12(3), 1964-1973.