Can We Increase Teachers Self-Efficacy to Teach the Autism Curriculum?

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
K. Johnsen, C. Flint and J. Salt, HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL

As teacher self-efficacy has been related to many positive benefits in the classroom, research has begun to look at self-efficacy effects during teacher training. General self-efficacy measures appear to make little contribution.  Autism specific self-efficacy measures are currently being developed and validated.  The Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET; Ruble et al., 2013) holds promise and integrates well with our training model.

Our training program is a state-wide, intensive training based on structured teaching principles.  The week long, interactive training provides an opportunity to receive in-vivo supervision and feedback from experienced trainers.  Through lectures and hands-on construction of visual supports and materials, participants create a classroom, work with children with ASD and teach the autism curriculum.

To further study the effects of our training model, we added the ASSET measure to our evaluation protocol. 


This study investigated the effectiveness of the training model to increase teachers competence in delivering the autism curriculum.  The study addressed:

(i) teacher change in self-efficacy pre and post training.

(ii) the relationship of teachers self-efficacy to professional experience prior to training.


Participating teachers (n= 46) who attended the hands on 5 day training workshop, completed the ASSET questionnaire pre and post training.  ASSET is a 30-item self-report measure designed to assess ASD specific knowledge and skills. Each question is rated on a 1-100 scale.

To determine if individual variables affect self-efficacy, teachers also provided information related to their educational qualifications, number of years teaching, and experience with students with ASD.


i) T-test revealed that for the whole group, there was a significant (p<.001) increase in ASSET scores pre and post training.

ii) Baseline ASSET scores were divided by the mean score to create high and low self-efficacy groups.  To determine the effect of prior experience on teacher self-efficacy, data was entered in a logistic regression model with group membership (high and low self-efficacy) as the dependent variable, and lifetime number of ASD students, educational level, and years teaching as covariates.  There were no significant effects of professional experience predicting self-efficacy group membership.


These results indicate the effectiveness of our training program.  By attending the training, teachers increased their confidence in their ability to teach the autism curriculum, at any level of ability, to individuals with ASD.  Teachers in both the low and high self-efficacy groups increased their scores over the training period.  Furthermore, teacher’s self-efficacy for autism strategies appeared to have little relationship to their prior professional experience, experience with autism or their educational level.  This has important implications for training teachers.  Even teachers who have many years teaching experience, or who have taught many students with ASD, can increase their autism teaching self-efficacy by attending an intensive training.  Our follow-up study will determine if self-efficacy predicts implementation of specific strategies in the classroom following training.

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