Pre-Service Reading Teachers as Tutors: An Examination of Efficacy and Content Knowledge

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This research examined pre-service teachers' efficacy and content knowledge in the domain of reading. The Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) was adapted to create a domain specific reading TSES (RTSES). This scale was used to investigate whether the opportunity to engage in a one-on-one tutoring experience or the opportunity to observe children being taught reading related skills would result in differences in changes in efficacy beliefs of pre-service teachers enrolled in a required reading course. In addition, this research investigated whether observation or tutoring experiences in reading were related to changes in growth of pedagogical knowledge in reading. Analyses of pre-test and post-test data showed that both the tutoring and observation groups rated themselves higher in the area of reading teacher efficacy and grew in their reading content knowledge from the beginning of the course to the end. However, there was only a marginally significant difference in the amount of change between the tutors and observers in their total RTSES and RTSES reading motivation scores, and there was not a difference between group in RTSES reading assessment efficacy or reading content knowledge scores. Both of the marginal differences, total RTSES and the RTSES reading motivation efficacy subscale, showed that the observers rated themselves higher in efficacy beliefs than the tutors after participation in this study. Additional analyses showed that reading efficacy and content knowledge were not correlated in either group, and that tutors with high pre-test efficacy scores did not use significantly more instructional practices while tutoring than those with low pre-test efficacy scores. However, 100% of tutors felt that the field experience should be implemented in future classes opposed to 57% of the observers. While the tutors had a hands-on experience that they found valuable, the observers who did not have a hands-on experience reported higher post-test efficacy scores. However, one may question on what these efficacy scores were based. This question suggests that there is a need for more research to further investigate whether this field experience is a benefit to pre-service teachers..