Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy; a review


Teacher efficacy is a much-sought-after quality in teachers anticipated by the global education system. It has gained immense popularity in the recent teacher education research circles, amid claims on the deterioration in education quality and growing teacher attrition. The study reviews the literature published between 2000 and 2019 on preservice teacher education and its relationship with teacher efficacy across various contexts, followed by analysis using the constant comparative method. The findings reveal that there is a positive relation in most of the contexts and as such, their practices could provide visions and strategies for the contexts where preservice teacher education is incongruent to teacher efficacy development. The findings have implications for teacher education programmes and future research.

Keywords: preservice teacher; teacher education; teacher efficacy


Education plays a pivotal role in the pursuit of socio-economic, cultural, environmental, and political development of every country in the world. It is teachers who helm the education system and no education system works without them. As such, “teacher education program, being an integral part of the education system, has greatly expanded and will expand further for catering to the fast-emerging needs of the country” (Rahman, Jumani, Akhter, Chisthi & Ajmal, 2011, p. 150). Rahman et al. (2011) further argue the excellence of the population in every country largely depends on the quality of its teachers. While teacher education refers to various programmes encompassing a range of training and workshops for both in-service and preservice teachers, it is preservice teachers that entail greater care and attention. After all, it is the earliest phase for high school or university graduates after they get into the teaching profession. The experience they gain during this formative phase contributes to the formation of their identity and beliefs as individuals and professionals. Some research even questions if it should be recruitment or the proper preservice teacher education that creates a good teacher, sound in content and adequately thorough in every aspect of a teaching role. 

Teacher efficacy is based on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2006) and it is conceptualised as individual teachers’ beliefs in their own ability to “plan, organise, and carry out activities that are required to attain given educational goals” (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2009, p. 1059). Guskey and Passaro (1994) further defined teacher efficacy as “teachers’ belief or conviction that they can influence how well students learn, even those who may be difficult or unmotivated” (p. 4). Interestingly, it is found to influence many educational outcomes such as teachers’ persistence, passion, commitment and instructional behaviour and these ultimately determine the student outcomes such as student achievement and motivation (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Midgley, Feldlaufer & Eccles, 1989; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001). During the last two decades, the research literature also shows a growing interest in teacher efficacy. Teacher efficacy has always been a topic of interest not in the education research realms alone but also in the society at large (Kleinsser, 2014; Soodak & Podell, 1996). According to Arizona State University (2004), teacher training programmes affect the following outcome areas: teacher knowledge; teacher attitudes and beliefs; teaching practice; school-level practice, and student achievement. Preservice teacher education, in particular, is seen as the most appropriate stage where teacher education institutes and universities can implement the appropriate reforms and interventions that the governments and policymakers propose for them (Orchard & Winch, 2015; Rahman et al., 2011; ). Woodcock (2011) demonstrates that “teacher efficacy could be the key to determining the success or failure of the teacher” (p. 23). 

On the contrary, researchers are posed with a lack of agreement in the field on the measurement of teacher efficacy as it is conceptualised and measured differently by different people (Berg & Smith, 2018; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010). Although this inconsistency prompted different researchers to use different measurement tools like ‘Teachers Sense of Efficacy Scale’ developed by Tschannen-Moran, Hoy and Hoy (1998), ‘Norwegian Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale’ designed by Skaalvik and Skaalvik (2007), and with others simply developing their own adaptations, they are too specific that they risk validity and opportunities for useful applications in different contexts (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001). Therefore, in this case, low teacher turnover, student achievement, teacher commitment and satisfaction, and teacher confidence are seen as an apt indication of teacher efficacy. Owing to its inconsistent nature, Tschannen-Moran and Hoy (2001) consider ‘teacher efficacy’ as an elusive construct. Besides, the major issue lies in the relationship between preservice teacher education programmes and teacher efficacy; it is important to find out if preservice teacher education programmes contributed towards building a sense of teacher efficacy in them. 

Understanding this relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy will demonstrate certain areas of preservice teacher education that need reforms, revision, and revamping to comply with the demands of modern times. It will inform the various stakeholders of the prevailing trends in the system and possible solutions to resolve the existing issues, and that will ultimately ensure higher quality in teaching and learning, and the education system altogether. 

This paper is divided into three main sections: methodology, analysis and discussion. The first section describes the methodological considerations of the study. In the next section, findings are delineated in three themes corresponding to the three research questions. The last section discusses the preservice teacher education practices that lead to the development of teacher efficacy in most of the contexts as opposed to some contexts in need of better visions and practice.


Research questions

This study has undergone many levels of modifications. Earlier, the purpose of this study was to explore the mismatch between preservice teacher training programmes and effective teaching. However, the reading of selected literature in this area prompted me to shift the focus of the study to understand the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy. The terms like ‘teacher training programmes’ are less common in the recent literature although it was quite rampant in the older ones. The most common term that replaces ‘teacher training programmes’ in the recent literature is ‘teacher education’. This study establishes its main focus on preservice teacher education and its relationship with teacher efficacy in mainstream schools across various contexts, and it does not cover other aspects of teacher education outside this focus like in-service teacher education. Three questions were asked: (1) How does teacher efficacy affect the quality of teaching and learning?; (2) What is the significance of preservice teacher education for teachers?; and (3) What is the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy?


Data was primarily collected from the Asian Pacific Journal of Education Information, Education Research Complete (EBSCOhost), ProQuest Central, Google Scholar using the following search words: “teacher education”, “teacher efficacy”, “preservice teacher education”, “teacher performance”, and “teacher beliefs”. Besides, secondary keywords such as “relationship between teacher education and efficacy”, “preservice teacher beliefs”, and “preservice teachers and efficacy” to further narrow down the search. Also, Google Chrome, Ask, and Safari search engines were also used. Publications only in the English language were obtained with most of them being primary research-based peer-reviewed academic journal articles. A total of 35 articles were retrieved from the database altogether, with virtually half of them in Asian countries and the other half in non-Asian countries. It included 2 conference papers, 1 university lecture slide, and 2 books. Over 75% of the articles retrieved were published between 2000 and 2019, with a few as early as 1986. It is worth mentioning that the data collection did not focus on the preservice teacher education and its relationship with teacher efficacy in a single geographical context alone, but had its focus on the international landscape specifically in the mainstream school context. 

Data collection, in essence, was done keeping my interest in the loop: to learn more about the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy. Initially, I was not sure if I wanted to delve deeper into this topic but when I read a magazine article on the same topic by Rapheal (2019), it not only sparked more interest in me but also helped concretise the idea of pursuing the same for the review, although the initial concept was to explore the discrepancies alone in the preservice teacher education and its failure to cater for the teacher needs in the field.  

Analytical procedures

Constant comparative method (Glaser, 1965) was used to analyse the data. Through an iterative process between research questions and data, the selected articles were coded in a reverse chronological order followed by reading them several times to locate the thematic categories and relationship between them. Open coding of the articles led to five broad categories:

1. review of preservice teacher education and its relationship with teacher efficacy in Asian and non-Asian contexts; 

2. studies of preservice teacher education practices;

3. studies of teacher efficacy and its relation to education quality; 

4. evaluation of the effects of preservice teacher education on teacher efficacy development; and

5. discussion of visions to improve preservice teacher education. 

Depending on a frequency count of recurring themes and patterns in the articles, these broad groupings were reduced to three categories according to research questions through axial coding: influence of teacher efficacy on quality of education (categories 3, 4), the significance of preservice teacher education for teachers (categories 2), and the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy (categories 1, 5). And in the selective coding, the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy came out as a focal point.


This section reports on the findings of the three research questions, namely: (1) How does teacher efficacy affect the quality of teaching and learning?; (2) What is the significance of preservice teacher education for teachers?; and (3) What is the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy? 

Influence of teacher efficacy on quality of education 

The quality of education continues to spark debates and attract a lot of interest around the world irrespective of the educational contexts. Generally, the quality of education is largely considered synonymous with student achievement with little or no concern for student motivation. Cheng (1995) establishes that “education quality is the character of the set of elements in the input, process, and output of the education system that provides services that completely satisfy both internal and external strategic constituencies by meeting their explicit and implicit expectations” (p. 2). Education quality depends on quality teaching and it is only efficacious teachers who can deliver quality teaching. The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development Initiative aspires to create a world where every child is not deprived of the opportunity to receive quality education (Strode, 2013). 

Zakeri, Rahmany and Labone (2015) assert that “the importance of teacher efficacy lies in its strong link to quality practices” (p. 158). Similarly, Rahman et al. (2011) present factors responsible for quality teaching that include well-defined theories and practices of teaching and learning, socio-economic ideological needs, and the existing structure of the education system. Most importantly, education quality depends on the “ability, hard work and dedication of the teacher” (Rahman et al., 2011, p. 149) which is otherwise termed as teacher efficacy. Colson et al. (2017) support this argument: “teacher is a key player in the success of the individual student in the classroom” (p. 66). Cheung (2006) also notes that “education plays the significant role of providing quality education in teaching basic knowledge and skills to students and training them to become independent and lifelong learners to be able to handle problems in this fast-changing society” (p. 438). Having recognised its importance, the Hongkong government has tried to restructure the education system to achieve its goals, while teachers in Hong Kong grapple with the challenges of adapting to ever-changing reforms in education (Cheung, 2006).

Significance of preservice teacher education for teachers

Preservice teacher education is of paramount importance for teachers as it helps them discover their niche in the teaching profession. On the flip side, if it falls short to equip and empower the preservice teachers as required, the consequences can be disastrous. Rahman et al. (2011) define preservice teacher education as: 

It is the training provided before the employment of teachers and is generally a prerequisite for it. It is aimed at the professional growth of the teacher and is planned and provided in such a way that it leads to the development in him a positive attitude towards education and towards improving his own performance in terms of better student learning (p. 151). 

The teaching profession is a call that many do not feel obliged to answer given a lot of stereotyping that surrounds it. It is interesting when some fresh high school graduates, undergraduates or postgraduate students take up teaching, but it is difficult to ascertain how genuine they are in their pursuit of becoming teachers. Duckworth, Quinn and Seligman (2009) reported in their narrative that an individual’s three positive traits which comprise grit, life satisfaction, and optimistic explanatory style contribute towards the indication that they are likely to perform better as teachers. Therefore, Duckworth et al. (2009) suggest that when recruiting and selecting teachers in the preservice teacher education institutes, positive traits such as grit, life satisfaction, and optimism must be considered to a great extent. 

The popular terms ‘teacher by chance’ and ‘teacher by choice’ are thus born with the former most likely to quit sooner or later. Worse, teacher attrition has always been a perennial issue worldwide and it poses a great risk on the retention and sustainability of teachers (Colson, Sparks, Berridge, Frimming & Willis, 2017, p. 66). In Australia, it is reported that almost half of the new teachers leave within the first five years of teaching, with more than 50% of individuals who hold a teaching degree never teach at all (Heath, 2018). While teacher attrition is caused by many factors like remuneration, workload, and job satisfaction, the least acknowledged cause is the lack of aptitude and commitment to overcome challenges posed by the teaching profession. The nature of the teaching profession is stressful and it often culminates into teacher burnout (Prilleltensky, Neff & Bessell, 2016). However,   The responsibility to provide the necessary qualification to them falls to preservice teacher education. 

In such unfavourable nature of teaching as a profession, the aspirant teachers are vulnerable to this negative influence early on. Preservice teacher education has a vital role to play towards creating a sound teaching workforce as they are better placed than schools particularly in the promotion of the three kinds of theoretical engagement necessary to good teaching (Colson et al., 2017; Winch, 2015; & Rahman et al., 2011). Orchard and Winch (2015) add that this argument is based on two contentions: First, universities and preservice teacher education institutes employ a greater number of staff experts in this task including mentoring benefits (Lai, 2005); and second, the environment of a university and preservice teacher education institutes is more conducive to the theoretical learning needed by new student teachers, away from the immediate pressure of the workplace. 

One of the best things that happen to preservice teachers at this stage is their practicum experience wherein they get the opportunity to test their theoretical knowledge on real-life teaching situations (Berg & Smith, 2018). In this case, Bandura’s (1997) four sources of self-efficacy belief are considered as they relate to the practicum experience: mastery experiences, verbal persuasion, vicarious experiences, and physiological arousal. Berg and Smith (2018) assert that practicum allows preservice teachers to learn from both their peers and practising teachers. Rahman et al. (2011) also conclude that “teacher training was positively related to effective teaching. This relationship was statistically significant and positive for overall student achievement” (p. 155). In conclusion, “efficacious teachers are more likely to stay in teaching, put more time into teaching and show greater effort in classroom planning and organization and greater enthusiasm for teaching” (Cheung, 2006, p. 436). The implication of attrition is the loss of quality graduates, which can, in turn, impact the development of a robust teaching workforce of higher quality.

Relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy

Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) note that efficacy beliefs of preservice teachers are associated with stress and commitment to teaching including the satisfaction with support and preparation. Those with a higher sense of efficacy showed a greater inclination to find greater overall satisfaction in teaching and experienced less stress. Conversely, the reverse is also true. The relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy differs from one context to another. In this study, the relationship between them is considered both positive and incongruent to each other. 

Positive relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy

Rahman et al. (2011) report that teacher education bears a positive relationship with teacher efficacy in terms of student achievement, in particular. Utley, Moseley and Bryant (2005) corroborate this claim with their research findings where the progress in elementary preservice teacher education showed significant improvement in the teaching of science and mathematics. Although the success of good preservice teacher education depends on a range of factors, the good preservice teacher education is likely to produce efficacious teachers. However, teacher educators often face the challenges of selecting curriculum content to teach preservice teachers, choosing methods in preparing them, motivating them to learn, assess their learning, and dealing with individual differences among them (Rahman et al., 2011). To this end, Berg and Smith (2018) suggest the following based on their works in New Zealand: 

 “to ensure that a capstone practicum experience enhances preservice teachers’ teacher self-efficacy beliefs, teacher educators should make certain that students are well supported to experience mastery success, receive appropriate verbal persuasion, have role models who offer affirming vicarious persuasion, have role models who offer affirming vicarious experience, and are guided to make sense of their physiological and affective states” (p. 538). 

Furthermore, Berg and Smith (2014) observed that “concerns are often addressed directly in teacher education programs as preservice teachers are presented with strategies and asked to reflect on their practice” (p. 34) but helping them develop robust teacher efficacy beliefs could better address the concerns. As much as quality preservice teacher education brings about greater teacher efficacy, Tschannen-Moran, Hoy and Hoy (1998) contends, “Undergraduates with a low sense of teacher efficacy tended to have an orientation toward control; they took a pessimistic view of students' motivation and relied on strict classroom regulations, extrinsic rewards, and punishments to make students study” (p. 235). 

Discrepancy between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy

The preservice teacher education programmes across the globe have been called into question, on the premise new reforms have to be made and implemented for teachers to meet the demands of the ever-changing times (Orchard and Winch, 2015). The discrepancy between what preservice teachers expect would happen in their first year of real teaching and what actually happens is known as ‘reality shock’, and despite the best efforts in preservice teacher education, such occurrence gives way to high turnover and low retention of novice teachers (OECD, 2005). Whitney, Golez, Nagel, Nieto and Nieto (2002) have found that “the master teacher had a greater influence on student teachers’ future classroom behaviours than did university supervisors” (p. 69), and that summons some reforms in the preservice teacher education in general. A study conducted by Berg and Smith (2014) in Malaysia, New Zealand and England highlights that the cultural contexts matter as Malaysian preservice teachers were reported to have comparatively low teacher efficacy beliefs on the contrary to their counterparts in New Zealand and England. In Hong Kong, although preservice teachers were comfortable using new strategies to teach than in-service teachers with long teaching experience who were equally comfortable with their own way of teaching, it was still felt necessary for both of them to attain courses in this area frequently to boost their efficacy (Cheung, 2006). Nevertheless, Tschannen-Moran et al. (1998) and Woodcock 2011) caution that once the efficacy beliefs are formed, they tend to be somewhat resistant to change. Thus, there is an exigent need to form higher efficacy beliefs early on.


This study was designed to explore the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy in mainstream schools in a general context. It also looked at the success and ineffectiveness of preservice teacher education in building teacher efficacy. Similarly, while they shared a positive relationship in most cases, incongruencies were also evident in some cases particularly in non-western countries like Malaysia (Berg & Smith, 2014). Berg and Smith (2014) noticed “a notable absence of multiple country comparative studies” (p. 22) implying a direction for future researchers. The findings presented here are somewhat consistent with the literature on preservice teacher education and its relationship with teacher efficacy except for some gaps caused by contextual differences. 

The findings also raised some considerations for future research. The future researcher could question the relationship of preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy in inclusive and diverse classroom situations given the student population is becoming increasingly diverse everywhere (Whitney et al., 2002). In so doing, they could also explore teacher concerns studied by those responsible for preservice teacher education,

as this is important in the development of new teachers (Dunn & Rakes, 2010). Berg and Smith (2014) felt “no research was found that examined whether similar concerns are evident cross-culturally” (p. 22). A similar concern was also raised by Cheung (2002) as he noticed some decent work done around in-service teachers’ efficacy, but the preservice teachers’ efficacy beliefs were the least explored. 

Notwithstanding these limitations, a vision for preservice teacher education in relation to teacher efficacy development can be drawn particularly for the contexts where the preservice teacher education is not deemed vital for teacher efficacy building. It ought to be seen that the most notable influences on the growth of teachers’ sense of efficacy are experiences during their preservice education years (Mulholland and Wallace, 2001). Firstly, efforts could be made to make teaching an attractive profession bereft of the prevailing stereotypes. Orchard and Winch (2015) emphasise on “the need to offer effective support in the critical years immediately after initial qualification, so more new teachers choose to stay on in the profession” (p. 30). In addition, they must be exposed to a well-balanced curriculum that contains content mastery, sound technical know-how and adequate practicum experience in the field, and most importantly, providing mentoring throughout this initial journey into becoming a teacher. In short, future research should include larger data collection for a context in focus in order to avoid bias and generalisation.


Through a review of the research works surrounding preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy, this study contributes to research on how preservice teacher education is related to teacher efficacy in mainstream schools with no specific focus on one particular context. The analysis revealed that the relationship between preservice teacher education and teacher efficacy is positive mostly in the non-Asian countries like the US, UK, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway (Duckworth et al., 2009; Rahma et al., 2011; Berg & Smith, 2018; Cheung, 2006; and Mulholland and Wallace, 2001)while on the other hand, some discrepancies were noticed in Asian countries, particularly Malaysia (Berg and Smith, 2014). However, other Asian countries like Singapore, Pakistan, and Iran did not have any significant disparity between teacher education in the preservice and teacher efficacy. As a matter of fact, it is worthwhile to test various teacher efficacy measurement tools not merely to assess their suitability but to form suitable conclusions according to the given contexts. 


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PS: One of my major assignments for the Capstone unit at the university. 

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