Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Pamela Beck


This research examines the relationship of pre-service teachers’ perceptions of self-efficacy and functioning to their confidence in their teaching abilities before the student teaching experience. This phenomenological study with a sequential mixed-methods approach seeks to answer the following research question from a sample of pre-service teachers completing the final semester of coursework before student teaching: How do pre-service teachers describe their lived experiences of their relationships between self-perceptions of teaching efficacy and functioning to their confidence in their teaching abilities? Additionally, the study attempts to identify emerging gaps in the transition from coursework to fieldwork to assist Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) as they continue to make ongoing curricular changes in response to pre-service teacher needs and educational reforms. This dissertation contains three articles that examine the intersectionality of perceptions of self-efficacy and functioning with teaching confidence across the areas of (a) Student Engagement, (b) Instructional Strategies, and (c) Classroom Management. The first article presents key findings of the measures of self-efficacy and confidence levels, the second article discusses the measures of the quantitative survey with the interview data, and the third article highlights only the qualitative data and the perceptions of pre-service teachers in the transition from theory to practice. The data from the survey showed moderately low levels of self-efficacy across all three constructs and provided initial descriptive statistics prior to the interviews. The survey and interviews confirmed a relationship between perceptions of self-efficacy and confidence to the ability to successfully carry out knowledge, skills, and dispositions from theory to practice. Each interviewee identified supportive relationships from mentor teachers and university supervisors as central to feeling a sense of belonging and security as they began introductory field experiences. Additionally, all pre-service teachers expressed a sense of excitement in beginning to work in the field with “real” students. The disparity emerged when they noted that their perceptions of teaching did not align with the realities of the profession they experienced. This concern illustrates a correlation between task proficiency and experience. The research indicates the need for EPPs to continue to address the need for more transparency of the expectations and complexities of the teacher’s role in their curriculum in the bridging between coursework and field experiences. The audiences for these articles include EPP faculty, co-operating teachers, pre-service teachers, and other stakeholders. These articles connect current literature related to self-efficacy to the survey and interview responses, highlighting the impact of the findings on the responsiveness of Educator Preparation Programs.

Keywords: pre-service teacher, teacher candidate, educator preparation programs, self-efficacy, confidence, stress, anxiety, self-perception, psychological well-being, mental well-being, dispositions, standards.