Teacher Efficacy in Geography: A Mixed Methods Study of Formal and Informal Teacher Education
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Geography teacher preparation is a critical issue within the field of geography and social studies education. Recent studies conclude that many geography teachers have little to no coursework in geography and many are not prepared to teach geography in the K-12 classrooms. Attending geography-related professional development, and encouraging more geography coursework during preservice and inservice teacher education, have been traditional methods to alleviate this problem. However, a shortage of qualified geography teachers remains an issue. This research examined factors that influence geography teacher efficacy in order to identify ways in which preservice and inservice education might better prepare, motivate and retain geography teachers. High teacher self-efficacy is correlated with higher levels of student achievement and motivation, increased teacher retention and willingness to implement new innovations, and lower levels of teacher stress and negative affect toward teaching. A mixed methods approach was used to explore and measure geography teacher efficacy and its relationship to education experiences. Data were gathered using focus groups, extensive surveys, and interviews with geography teachers in central Texas. Significant results were found between content knowledge preparation, curricular and instructional knowledge preparation, informal education and interest (primarily travel), and teaching efficacy in geography. Learning ways to improve geography teacher efficacy is beneficial for both teachers and students in K-12 geography, and should be an important consideration for preservice and inservice education programs.