The topic of this study is the attitude of special education elementary teachers toward teaching adaptive behavior skills (ABS) to children suffering from intellectual disabilities (ID) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The investigation of this topic is possible to carry out through the lens of social cognitive theory (SCT) of self-efficacy. This theoretical framework will contribute to the validation of the perspectives used by the teachers to construct their system of beliefs regarding the process of teaching ABS to students with ID.
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SCT was introduced by Bandura (1997) and is concentrated on such skills of an individual as organizing and carrying out of a task which contributes to the overall advancement. According to Ashton and Webb (1986), teacher self-efficacy is comprised of several components.
The first one is teaching efficacy which addressed teacher’s work effectiveness estimated by actual student outcomes. The second component is personal efficacy which embraces the professional’s scope of belief in the ability to influence students’ learning process. The system of attitudes of special education elementary teachers is essential for understanding and improving their practices and skills capable of influencing the students’ learning environment (Bandura, 1993). SCT developed by Bandura (1986) is relevant to this study due to the importance of teachers’ perception of their self-efficacy viewed from the perspective of their ability to deliver ABS instruction to students with ID.
The teachers involved in special education deal with children with disabilities daily. They undertake a series of decisions and assumptions about the possible ways to work with children who have special needs (Alfaro, Kupczynski, & Mundy, 2015). Therefore, not only teachers’ perception of the students with ID but also their predispositions and the evaluation of their professional potential might influence their vision of the instructions delivery opportunities (Greenfield, Mackey, & Nelson, 2016).
Such a perception of one’s capabilities is viewed by Bandura (1986) as self-efficacy. In other words, it is the system of teacher’s beliefs that his or her professional and personal skills are sufficient to foster successful educational performance in class. According to Bandura’s (1986) explanation, people are most comfortable with the task that they can choose based on their competence or positive experience. For the same purpose, teachers involved in the work in teaching students with ID, develop a system of beliefs that allow them to apply their skills and knowledge to the delivery of instructional actions.
Research has proven teacher self-efficacy to influence numerous positive outcomes in students’ academic achievements, overall engagement in the learning process, and success in academic procedures (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). The educational professionals with high efficacy levels showed better planning and organizational skills, succeeded in the work with difficult students, and increased their job satisfaction by facilitating instructions and a proactive approach in class. (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2007).
To contribute to the level of self-efficacy, it is recommended to exchange professional experience in the process of teachers’ communication which would be the most effectively carried out through the organization of professional development programs (Bandura, 1997).
The degree of teachers’ self-efficacy might have a strong influence on both the environment a teacher creates in the classroom with ID students, and the quality of instructional tasks the professionals have to carry out for the successful learning process (Sharma, Loreman, & Forlin, 2012). Thus, special education teachers have to develop a measure of control over their attitudes and perceptions to ensure the positive influence of their beliefs ABS instruction for students with ID.
The discussion of the applicability of special education elementary teachers’ self-efficacy to the topic of the study validates the utilization of SCT as the theoretical basis. The teachers’ perception of their skills and knowledge, as well as their potential to work with ID students, influences the overall ABC achievement (Morris, Usher, & Chen, 2016). SCT applies to the scope of the investigation and the research questions due to its validation of the belief system’s impact on the ABC instructions delivery to elementary students with ID.
Alfaro, V., Kupczynski, L., & Mundy, M. A. (2015). The relationship between teacher knowledge and skills and teacher attitude towards students with disabilities among elementary, middle and high school teachers in rural Texas schools. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 16, 1-8.
Ashton, P. T., & Webb, R. B. (1986). Making a difference: Teachers’ sense of efficacy and student achievement. New York, NY: Longman Publishing Group.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.
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Bandura, A. (1995). Self-efficacy in changing societies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Greenfield, R. A., Mackey, M., & Nelson, G. (2016). Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of students with learning disabilities: Using mixed methods to examine effectiveness of special education coursework. The Qualitative Report, 21(2), 330-351.
Morris, D. B., Usher, E. L., & Chen, J. A. (2016). Reconceptualizing the sources of teaching self-efficacy: A critical review of emerging literature. Educational Psychology Review, 1-39.
Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, A. W. (2007). The differential antecedents of self-efficacy beliefs of novice and experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 944-956.
Sharma, U., Loreman, T., & Forlin, C. (2012). Measuring teacher efficacy to implement inclusive practices. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12(1), 12-21.
Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2010). Teacher self-efficacy and teacher burnout: A study of relations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 1059-1069.