Time in Field Experience Predicts Efficacy to Teach Health

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Mariane M. Fahlman, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI and Heather L. Hall, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL

Background/Purpose Disease related behaviors begin early in life, thus elementary school teachers can play a large role in their prevention. The level of teacher preparation impacts teachers' efficacy to deliver quality health education and efficacy is related to teacher effectiveness.

Purpose To determine which of several variables tested, either alone or together serves best to predict efficacy in pre-service elementary teachers.

Method University students (n = 1014) completed a valid and reliable instrument designed to determine efficacy and outcome expectancy. Demographic questions addressed the number of health and methods courses taken, hours completed in a school intern experience and student teaching, and grade point average.

Analysis/Results Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis was conducted. Self-efficacy was entered as the dependent variable and all of the other variables were entered as independent variables. Three variables made a significant contribution to the variance: number of methods courses taken r2 = .44, p = 0.012; hours completed in a school intern experience r2 = .40, p = 0.001; and hours completed of student teaching r2 = .60, p = 0.000. These three variables combined to account for 61% of the variance in teaching self-efficacy in pre-service teachers.

Conclusions The significance of the school experience for pre-service teachers, whether as a methods class, internship or student teaching experience coupled with the importance of health education in the fight against chronic disease, implies that teacher preparation curricular must include practical experience. For those colleges and universities not currently providing that experience curricular revision is imperative.