Teachers' sense of efficacy and African American student engagement: A case study of classes in a selected Kentucky middle school
U.S. citizens have faith in education's power to transform society, yet their beliefs about education are both strong and contradictory (Lee & Smith, 2001). Although denied education for centuries, African Americans have faith in education as a means to transform their reality. In spite years of education reform, a persistent achievement gap continues to exist between European American and African American students (Williams, 1996; Haycock, 1998, 2001). Recent research suggests that some teachers do not believe they cannot effectively teach African American students (Pang & Sablan, 1998). This lack of belief in being able to affect learning is of particular concern because teachers' self-efficacy, or teachers' beliefs in whether they can affect learning, relates consistently to teaching and learning (Bandura, 1997; Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990).
This qualitative research investigated teachers and their instruction-based interactions with African American students in a selected Kentucky middle school that was struggling to close the state accountability-defined achievement gap. Kentucky is a state undergoing sustained education reform and federal mandates of No Child Left Behind legislation. This exploratory descriptive study sought connections and patterns among constructs of teacher self-efficacy and African American student engagement.
Teacher self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) and Critical Race Theory (Ladson-Billings, 2003) were the conceptual lens through which the researcher-participant framed analyses of data from teacher interviews, classroom observations, focus groups of African American students, and school document reviews.
Findings suggest a need to recognize race as a little understood, yet critical phenomenon of schooling, and a need to include racial and diversity issues in pre-service teacher education and practitioner action research. The goal for racial awareness is personal transformation and meaningful learning that recognizes, rather than silences, racial effects and addresses social justice with culturally responsive teaching.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0530: Teacher education
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0325: African Americans
0533: Secondary education