Applications of Dweck's Model of Implicit Theories to Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Emotional Experiences

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The current study explored Dweck's (1999; Dweck & Leggett, 1988) model of implicit theories in the context of teaching in order to establish its usefulness for describing teachers' beliefs about students' ability and social behavior. Further it sought to explain the connections between teachers' implicit beliefs and their efficacy for instruction and classroom management, and their positive and negative emotional experiences. The factor structure of survey data for teachers in mid-Atlantic school districts was examined to test for classes reflecting implicit and entity beliefs, or beliefs that student attributes are malleable or fixed and unchangeable. Given that previous work in other populations has reflected important connections between individuals' implicit theories, their cognitive and emotional functioning, and their interactions with others, the current study explored whether implicit theories have similar implications for teaching.

The categorical distinction between entity and incremental theories was not supported in the analyses. Further analyses were conducted using structural equation models for implicit theories, efficacy, and emotional outcomes, including symptoms of burnout. Implicit theories were associated with efficacy such that tendencies toward incremental beliefs correlated with higher efficacy in well-fitting models. Although implicit theories predicted emotional outcomes in some models such that incremental beliefs were associated with positive emotional outcomes, the effect of the implicit theory variable was not significant in models that included the efficacy variable. In these models, only efficacy was a significant predictor of emotions such that higher efficacy was associated with positive outcomes. Finally, the interaction between implicit theory and efficacy was not significant. These findings fail to support the theoretical connections between the two variables in the implicit theory framework, where low efficacy is expected to predict negative emotional outcomes in the presence of entity but not incremental theories. Instead, with respect to emotional outcomes, teaching self-efficacy appeared to be a more salient predictor than student-directed implicit theories of teachers' emotional experiences overall.

Keywords: teachers, teaching motivation, implicit theories, teaching self-efficacy, emotions, affect, burnout.