A study of early childhood preservice teachers' locus of control and self concept as compared to their approach to discipline
Lorenz, Julia Raymond
University of Wisconsin--Stout
Branscombe, N. Amanda
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The purpose of this study was to examine the locus of control and self concept of preservice teachers as it relates to the approach to guidance they might use in a particular situation. Preservice teachers have been studied at length, giving both teachers and researchers a rich source of information. According to Berliner (1987), the efforts have attempted to clarify the nature of teaching expertise and to identify teacher education practices that facilitate its development. Thus, many studies have focused on the development of intending teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about good teaching during the course of training (Hollingsworth, 1988; Lin, Taylor, and Gorrell, 1999; Wilson and Cameron, 1996). Veenman (1984) states that research consistently indicates beginning teachers perceive discipline to be their most serious problem. Locus of control generally refers to the extent to which an individual believes his or her behavior determines specific life events (Rotter, 1966; Rotter, Chance, and Phares, 1972; Lefcourt, 1981). People with an “internal” locus of control tend to believe they are in control of their destinies and are able to cause certain events. People with an “external” locus of control tend to believe that events are caused by factors beyond their control: fate, luck, or powerful others. There is little research documenting preservice teachers’ locus of control, and none correlating preservice teachers’ locus of control with guidance practices. Internal locus of control has been correlated to a “less custodial attitude” in teachers (Henderson, 1982), but research correlating locus of control to specific approaches to guidance strategies in preservice teachers does not exist. In very general terms, self concept is defined as “the image we hold of ourselves” (Hoge and Renzulli, 1993, p. 440). To go further, self concept can be defined as attitudes, feelings, and knowledge that individuals have about their skills, abilities, appearance, and social acceptability (Byrne, 1984). Like locus of control, self concept of preservice teachers has been studied over several decades, but no studies have specifically correlated self concept to their approach to a particular guidance situation. The researcher combined three survey instruments in order to measure locus of control, self concept and preferred approach to guidance: the Tennessee Self Concept Test, the Locus of Control for Teachers survey, and a guidance scenario from the Early Childhood Teacher Beliefs About Discipline Survey. A group of UW-Stout preservice teachers consisting of 35 Developmentally Appropriate Practice laboratory students and 11 student teachers participated in the study by completing a paper-and-pencil instrument. The data collected was analyzed at the University of Wisconsin-Stout Academic Computing Center. Frequency counts and percentages were computed on all items of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale. Mean scores were determined on the responses of the Locus of Control Scale for Teachers. Total response scores were entered and converted to percentages for the guidance scenario portion of the survey. The data was analyzed using a Pearson Correlation Coefficient Matrix on all combinations of data. T-tests were also computed on selected variables. Results of the data analysis determined that there is a statistically significant correlation between external locus of control and custodial or mandating guidance strategy in preservice teachers. The data analysis suggests that external locus of control is a significant predictor of custodial or mandating guidance strategies.