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Teacher Competence Support for Reading in Middle School
Guthrie, John T.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between student perceptions of teacher competence support, self-efficacy for reading, and reading achievement for African American and European American students. Previous studies of teacher support have emphasized emotional support and have found considerable evidence for positive effects on motivation and achievement (Wentzel, 2009). Over time, support for competence has increasingly emerged as a distinct dimension of teacher support (Beghetto, 2007; Wentzel et al., 2010) and there is a need for the extension of this empirical research on the association between teacher competence support, motivation, and achievement. This study seeks to narrow this focus to student perceptions of teacher competence support, student self-efficacy, and reading achievement in middle school. The study sample consisted of 366 seventh- grade students in an ethnically and economically diverse school district. Students completed measures of their perceptions of teacher competence support, which included encouragement and instrumental help in reading. Students also completed a reading self-efficacy questionnaire and an assessment of information text comprehension. While controlling for socioeconomic status, hierarchical multiple regressions and MANOVA were conducted. African American students perceived statistically significantly higher levels of teacher competence support for reading compared to their European American peers. European American students performed at a higher level on the reading achievement measure, and there was no significant difference between groups in self-efficacy. Teacher competence support was significantly associated with self-efficacy regardless of ethnicity, and was also significantly associated with reading achievement, but only for African American students. Self-efficacy was significantly correlated with reading achievement for both ethnic groups; however, this correlation was statistically significantly higher for European American students. Post hoc analyses revealed that the correlation between self-efficacy and reading achievement was significant for European American students regardless of perceived level of teacher competence support, and the self-efficacy and reading achievement relationship was significant for African American students only if they perceived high levels of teacher competence support.