Explaining effective teaching: self-efficacy and thought control of action


  • Colin Gibbs


Teaching is complex and demanding. Teachers require not only qualities such as passion and enthusiasm, but capacities for resilience, survival and innovation. To enable this, teachers need to cope with the demands of their external world – stresses that arise from curriculum and assessment changes, and other mandated educational reorganisations, most of which are beyond their immediate control. But teachers also need to develop the capacity to exercise control over their internal world, including such influences as their emotions, thoughts and beliefs, and how these relate to them as teachers and to their teaching. In this paper I explain and discuss the influence of teachers’ self-efficacy on teaching, specifically regarding their need to exercise thought control in teaching. I suggest that teachers’ personal sense of control, and their beliefs in their capability to exercise control of their thinking during teaching, impacts on how they think, feel and teach. These findings have significant implications for how we consider and deliver preservice and in-service teacher education programmes. Therefore, a central focus of teacher education should be less on knowledge and skills (though these are important), and more on developing teachers’ self-efficacy and thought control over their actions.