Elementary teachers' self-efficacy beliefs related to teaching students displaying externalizing and internalizing behaviors
The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if there is a relationship between teacher-reported self-efficacy beliefs when working with students displaying externalizing and internalizing behaviors and the teacher variables of teaching experience, past number of students taught with externalizing and internalizing disorders, and past training in mental illness. The study also examined the extent to which the teachers’ knowledge and attitudes about mental illness are correlated with their self-efficacy beliefs in working with students displaying externalizing and internalizing behaviors. The participants included 145 elementary school teachers in a school district in Texas. The results of the study showed there to be statistically significant relationships between the teachers ‘knowledge of mental illness in children and the elementary teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs in the classroom management and instructional strategies domains when working with students displaying externalizing and internalizing behaviors. With respect to the relationship between elementary teachers’ attitudes about mental illness in children, and the self-efficacy belief domains, all relationships were small and highly significant except for the instructional strategies domain (correlation was not statistically significant) when working with students displaying externalizing behaviors. The amount of training the participants received in mental illness in children yielded correlations that were small and statistically significant for teachers working with internalizing students in the classroom management and instructional strategies domains. The correlation between teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs when working with students displaying externalizing behaviors and the number of students they had taught with externalizing disorders was small but statistically significant. The correlation of years of experience for participants working with students displaying externalizing behaviors was small, negative, but statistically significant. The same was true for the domain of student engagement, except the correlation was small, negative, and highly significant. These findings suggest the need for ongoing training in classroom management and student engagement techniques for teachers when working with students who display externalizing behaviors, especially for teachers in the later stages of their careers.