By Ken To, Centre for University and School Partnership, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Teachers’ efficacy is regarded as essential for the delivery of high-quality education. A recent research study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly examined how kindergarten teachers’ self-efficacy can affect children’s social skills through classroom environment, especially teacher-child interaction.
A total of 5,628 children and their teachers from 180 kindergarten classrooms participated in the study. The class sizes varied from 7 to 58 children per class. Teachers were surveyed about their teacher self-efficacy. Children’s social skills were assessed by their parents using the Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales. From the videos covering the major routines of the kindergartens, five randomly selected, 20-minute observation cycles were extracted for trained observers to assess the teacher-child interaction quality with the CLASS observational tool. The analysis showed that:
- Classroom organization, instead of emotional support and instructional support, significantly mediated teachers’ self-efficacy for classroom management and children’s social skills.
- Classroom organization significantly negatively mediated teacher self-efficacy for student engagement and children’s social skills.
The authors suggested that while the negative mediation in the case of teachers with high efficacy for student engagement might reflect the collectivism of Chinese culture, the positive mediation of classroom organization did indicate the important role of a well-organized classroom to children’s social skills development.