Vietnamese EFL teacher self-efficacy in practice
Research has shown the importance of understanding self-efficacy and teacher self-efficacy. In general, self-efficacy influences humans’ actions in various ways. Efficacy expectations control the degree of effort and persistence that people expend in dealing with obstacles and unexpected situations. These expectations also impact people’s thought patterns and emotional reactions. These influences make self-efficacy a strong determinant of the level of accomplishment that individuals finally attain. For teachers, self-efficacy influences not only their general perception about teaching but also their specific instructional activities. This research aimed to provide insights into Vietnamese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher self-efficacy at the tertiary level in Vietnam. Firstly, this study collected data in the form of teacher self-efficacy profiles using an adapted version of the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (Tschannen-Moran and Hoy, 2001) and demographic information. Then, it investigated the sources of Vietnamese EFL tertiary teacher self-efficacy and the interaction among these sources. In addition, this study examined the personal, classroom, institutional, and cultural influences on teacher self-efficacy. The research also investigated the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and the teachers’ teaching practices. As teacher self-efficacy closely relates to teacher well-being, teacher burn out, persistence, commitment, and teaching practice and has a close relationship with student outcomes and student motivation, a better understanding of self-efficacy has the potential to improve the teaching and learning English in the research university in Vietnam. A sequential exploratory mixed methods design was selected for this study. The data were collected in two phases. In the quantitative phase, I adapted a validated questionnaire to gather quantitative information about 52 teachers’ self-efficacy profiles across three aspects: managing the classroom, engaging students, and using instructional strategies. In the following qualitative phase, I purposively selected eight teachers with a range of total self-efficacy scores. These teachers came from three groups. They were grouped according to lower, medium and higher total self-efficacy scores from the questionnaire. I interviewed each of these teachers prior to observing their teaching in their class. Then, the teachers were interviewed again about particular incidents in their class with a focus on recalling what influenced their actual teaching. Data from both interviews were collated and analyzed thematically across each group to address the research questions. This study has provided a view of the self-efficacy of EFL teachers, a distinctive subject at the tertiary level in Vietnam. The research found that the results from Tschannen-Moran and Hoy’s (2001) scale measuring teacher self-efficacy were not linked to how each group of teachers performed in their classes. Individual elements such as teachers’ personal characteristics and knowledge, classroom and institutional issues like class size and availability of classroom equipment influenced the teachers’ self-efficacy in their classroom practices. Self-efficacy was also influenced by institutional policies about professional and personal collegiality, the autonomy of the teachers to make decisions about matters such as assessment, and student and staff feedback about teaching. Self-efficacy was also impacted by Vietnamese cultural elements such as teachers’ roles outside of their profession and how the teachers evaluated feedback about their teaching from students, colleagues and administrators. This study highlights the dynamic interaction among the sources of teacher self-efficacy. The findings have implications for enhancing teacher self-efficacy, by improving teacher knowledge, providing relevant professional development, and increasing support from administrators. There are recommendations for future research.