Do teachers differ by certification route? novice teachers' sense of self-efficacy, commitment to teaching, and preparedness to teach



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Texas A&M University


Alternative teacher certification (ATC) programs are one method created to help alleviate teacher shortages (Cox, Matthews, & Assoc, 2001; Hallinan & Khmelkov, 2001). While much debate has arisen over ATC programs, very few have empirically examined their impact on the teaching pool (Darling-Hammond, Berry, & Thoreson, 2001; Darling-Hammond, Chung, & Frelow, 2002; Goldhaber, 2000; Ingersoll, 1999; Shen, 1997, 1999). The present study was designed to explore differences by certification type and program characteristics based on novice teachers' demographics, educational attainment, sense of self-efficacy, and sense of preparedness to enter the classroom. Results from the present study suggest ATC programs are somewhat diversifying the teaching population by bringing in more minorities and science majors, but do not appear to be bringing in more experienced scientists and mathematicians nor do they appear to be alleviating the teacher shortage. In this sample, traditionally certified teachers felt better prepared than ATC teachers with the biggest differences on Promoting Student Learning. Regardless of certification route, prior classroom experience was a strong predictor of Overall Preparedness and a teacher's perception of his or her ability to be an effective teacher. For ATC teachers, a positive mentoring experience was a strong predictor of Overall Preparedness. The discussion of whether or not ATC programs should exist should now be replaced with a discussion of how to ensure that these programs produce better teachers and improve student learning. The underlying theme from the present study was that, in order to feel prepared and have high self-efficacy, novice teachers needed instruction in the majority of the components identified by research and by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (1996), including positive mentoring experiences, field based experiences, and curriculum based on child development, learning theory, cognition, motivation, and subject matter pedagogy. Results from the present study support the assertion that teacher preparation programs, program components, mentoring experiences, and field-based experiences do impact teacher effectiveness in the classroom.