Pre-service teacher self-efficacy of arts education across Australia

Engaging in arts education (N.Lemon, 2013)
Engaging in arts education (N.Lemon, 2013)

Arts education is part of the new National Curriculum for Australia and with its scheduled for implementation for 2014 there is a clear message being sent that generalist primary school teachers need to be capable and confident to teach all of the arts areas. There is however several issues sounding this vision, not at least pre-service teacher and teacher self-efficacy in arts (dance, drama, media, music and visual arts) and their perceived attitude towards whose role it is to teach these areas.

Beliefs about the teaching of arts education inform a teacher’s capability to teach the arts. If beliefs are positive, the teacher is more likely to engage with arts experiences in their classroom (Garvis & Pendergast, 2010). If beliefs are negative, they will either limit the exposure of arts education in their classroom or ignore it all together (Garvis and Pendergast, 2010). It is for this reason the exploration of teacher beliefs about arts education is important.

In 2013, a survey on teacher self-efficacy and perceptions towards the arts was administered to pre-service teachers studying primary education degrees. A survey was administered to pre-service teachers at a Victorian university (group 1, N = 85) and a Queensland university (group 2, N=121). Pre-service teachers were chosen for this study because they will be future teachers. Pre-service teacher education is an important part of teacher development that either confirms or challenges beliefs about education. According to Bandura (2006), once beliefs are formed in the beginning phase of teaching they are resistant to change.

Summary of findings includes:

  • A considerable high number of pre-service teachers do not engage in arts in their personal life and do not see connections to teaching requirement;
  • Valuing what an arts educator has to do revealed some tension points in relation to roles of the arts in primary schools, timetabling of the arts in primary school, and devotion of time to arts; The critical reflection and making of connections to practicum are not yet present in the beliefs of many of the pre-service teachers surveyed;
  • The pre-service teachers surveyed did not see the importance of visiting art museums and galleries;
  • The pre-service teachers responses raised appreciation around the lack of awareness of the wealth of knowledge and skills artists can contribute in the educational setting;
  • The ability to integrate although seen as processing a capacity by some of the pre- service teachers of this study, the finding reiterated the need to also address what this actually looks like in meaningful application within primary school learning environments; and
  • More research is clearly needed into the teaching of arts education in the primary school landscape within Australia and the training of pre-service teachers in teacher education programs.

You can read more at:

Lemon, Narelle and Garvis, Susanne (2013) “What is the Role of the Arts in a Primary School?: An Investigation of Perceptions of Pre-Service Teachers in Australia,” Australian Journal of Teacher Education: Vol. 38: Iss 9, Article 1.

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