Urban Fourth and Fifth Grade Teachers' Reading Attitudes and Efficacy Beliefs: Relationships to Reading Instruction and to Students' Attitudes and Efficacy Beliefs

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2004-04-30

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Research on children's attitudes toward reading and reader self-efficacy indicates that they both are aspects of reading motivation and relate to achievement in reading. Additional research suggests that teachers' attitudes and beliefs connect to classroom practice, student motivation, and student achievement. Grounded in these conceptual underpinnings, this study focused on relationships between urban elementary teachers' and students' attitudes and efficacy beliefs in reading. Participants included 77 teachers and 183 students from one large urban school district.

Overall, teachers and students reported positive attitudes toward reading. Teachers' also expressed confidence in their ability to provide quality reading instruction and impact student achievement. However, students, were less efficacious in their reading skills and abilities. Results also demonstrated significant relationships between teachers' and students' reading attitudes and efficacy beliefs.

Furthermore, teachers' beliefs varied according to their years of experience, class size, and educational training in reading, and reading habits. Relationships existed between teachers' attitudes and beliefs and the amount of instructional time spent on various aspects of reading instruction, including comprehension development and reading strategy instruction. Teachers' use of instructional materials, alternative assessment practices, and grouping structures for reading also related to their attitudes and sense of efficacy.

In particular, teachers' efficacy beliefs in reading related to more instructional factors than teachers' attitudes. Teachers believed that they could use reading instruction to make a difference in students' lives and achievement regardless of poor student motivation and other challenges. Teachers in this study maintained a high sense of efficacy with regard to teaching reading. Believing that they could impact student learning, teachers' adopted new instructional practices, sought additional training and education, and worked with parents.

Findings from this study support efforts to provide teachers with positive reading experiences and quality professional development in reading. Given the many challenges urban teachers face on a regular basis, it is necessary to help them feel confident in teaching reading and able to express enjoyment of reading to their students. Helping teachers to develop more positive attitudes and beliefs in reading may have a powerful influence on their instructional decisions and ultimately, on their students' motivation and achievement.

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