Abstract: Schools as Learning Organizations: Organizational Culture and Teachers' Self-Efficacy (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

13314 Schools as Learning Organizations: Organizational Culture and Teachers' Self-Efficacy

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 4:00 PM
Pacific Concourse O (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Gary L. Bowen, PhD , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan Distinguished Professor, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: Teachers play a critical role in the success of students. Kurz and Knight (2004) found that teachers' beliefs in their ability to make a difference in the lives of students were significantly correlated to the actual performance of the students. When teachers believe they can make a difference, they are more likely to do so. In the literature, this belief about making a difference is called self-efficacy (Bandura, 2000).

Unfortunately, we know relatively little about what influences the self-efficacy of teachers. Informed by a social capital perspective, we examine the relationship between the functioning of schools as learning organizations—one aspect of their organizational culture—and teachers' perceptions of their ability to make a positive difference in the ability of the school to meets its performance objectives for students. Hiatt-Michael (2001) described schools as learning communities when member assume responsibility for growing and maintaining the organization and all members have the job of forming new ideas. Schools that operate as learning organizations may promote teachers' beliefs about their ability to influence the performance of the school for students.

Methods: Data included the population of teachers (N = 1,842) in a nonprobability sample of 59 middle and high schools in New York, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. Nearly 2 in 3 of the teachers worked in middle schools; more than 8 in 10 had been employed at their school for one year or more. Hierarchical linear regression was used to examine the relationship between action and sentiment domains of learning organizations identified in earlier research (Bowen et al., 2007) and a measure a teachers' self-efficacy. Each learning organization measure (actions and sentiments) included 18 items across six dimensions, which had been empirically supported in earlier research (Bowen et al., 2007). Tests for the assumption of linearity between each learning organization component and self-efficacy were supported. Teachers' years at the school and school level (middle, high) were entered as controls.

Results: The model accounted for a significant yet relatively modest amount of variance (.08) in teachers' reports of self-efficacy. As expected, both the action component (Beta = .12) and the sentiment component (Beta = .18) were significantly related to increases in reported self-efficacy. Tolerance and VIF values were acceptable, although the zero-order correlation between the action and sentiment components was .66. The interaction term between the two components was not significant in the model. Neither years at the school nor school level explained a significant level of variance in the self-efficacy of teachers.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that both the action and sentiment components of schools as learning organizations are potential leverage points for increasing teachers' self-efficacy. Interventions for promoting the operation of schools of schools as learning organizations will be discussed, including working with teachers to formulate learning questions to stimulate the engagement process. Implications for intervention research will be highlighted, including the need for randomized control group designs.