The Role of Self-Efficacy When Preparing Teachers in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Research has begun to look at self-efficacy effects during teacher training. Recently, we added autism specific self-efficacy measures to our training evaluation protocol.
Our program is an intensive training based on structured teaching principles. The 5-day, interactive training provides opportunities to receive in-vivo supervision and feedback from experienced trainers. Through hands-on construction of visual supports, participants create a classroom, work with children with ASD and teach the autism curriculum.
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-competence to teach the autism curriculum
(ii) the relationship of teachers initial self-efficacy to outcome
(iii) the relationship of teachers self-efficacy to skills gained during training and professional experiences prior to training.
Participating teachers (n= 46) completed two questionnaires pre and post training:
(i) The ‘structured teaching competence’ questionnaire contains three sections: concrete level (early learner); intermediate level; abstract level (advanced learner.) Participants answered questions regarding their ability to provide interventions for that child. The final questionnaire had 15 questions; maximum score 90.
(ii) The Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers (ASSET; Ruble et al., 2013) is a 30-item self-report measure designed to assess ASD specific knowledge and skills. Each question is rated on a 1-100 scale.
Teachers provided information on their educational qualifications and experience with ASD.
(i) T-test revealed that there was a significant ( p<.01) increase in competence scores pre and post training at each level of development (concrete, intermediate, abstract).
(ii) Baseline ASSET scores were divided by the mean to create high and low self-efficacy groups. To compare group performance on the structured teaching measure, scores were entered into a repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance, with time (pre, post) as the within subjects repeated measure and group (high, low SE) as the between factor. There was no significant group by time interaction effects at any level of development.
(iii) Final ASSET scores were divided by the mean score to create high and low self-efficacy groups. To determine the relationship of prior experience and competence gained 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, years teaching and final competence score as covariates. Both total score (OR= 1.2, p<.05) and educational level (OR = 9.6, p<.05) significantly predicted self-efficacy group membership.
These results provide support for the effectiveness of our 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 on both measures over the training period. Results indicate that experiences prior to training do not significantly impact outcome. Therefore even experienced teachers can increase their autism intervention self-efficacy by attending an intensive training. Further research will explore if educational level or self-efficacy predicts implementation of specific strategies in the classroom following training.