Pre-service Teachers' Literacy Self-Efficacy and Literacy Competence


  • Louise Bostock James Cook University
  • Helen Boon James Cook University



pre-service teachers, literacy, competence, self-efficacy, graduate standards, teacher quality


The impetus for the study reported in this paper was Queensland's poor performance on 2008's NAPLAN testing, the Queensland Education Performance Review(Department of Education and Training, [DET]2009b) that followed and the subsequent adoption of pre-registration tests for aspiring Primary and Early Childhood teachers(Queensland College of Teachers,[QCT] 2010). In response to this policy focus on pre-service teachers' levels of competence, this study was designed to provide a measure of their levels of literacy competence and confidence. The study was conducted at one of Australia's largest regional universities, where many pre-service teachers train each year in preparation to take up positions in rural education throughout Queensland and Australia. The study examined teacher confidence for English literacy by assessing their self-efficacy for items in three areas: personal literacy, literacy content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge in literacy. These three areas were flagged by the QCT as areas of importance and those which will be tested in 2011's pre-registration tests (QCT, 2010). We also assessed pre-service teacher competence in a small subset of English literacy skills to confirm that their levels of self-efficacy for literacy were reflected by their skills and competence. The sample comprised 180 pre-service teachers from First to Final Year students. We hypothesized and expected that their confidence (self-efficacy) for various aspects of literacy would increase as they gained experience and training, increasing in line with their improved skill acquisition through their study of English language subjects over the four years of training for a Bachelor of Education (BEd). Quantitative methods were employed and a survey instrument was constructed to be used across all years of the BEd (Primary and ECE) degree. Participants, who were volunteers, answered questions pertaining to their confidence in personal literacy as well as the teaching and assessment of literacy. They also completed a competence exercise which allowed comparison of confidence to competence on an individual, year and cohort level. In order to gain the pre-service teachers' perspectives about their preparation for English literacy, we also sought their views in an extended response question about their actual literacy training over the BEd degree, in particular any areas they believed they needed further help with. Preliminary findings obtained by comparing year levels indicate that although students are confident from the outset, this confidence is not always matched by their actual competence. There were some significant differences between the year levels, but increased experience in the BEd degree did not always translate to increased competence. Respondents' comments to the final, open-response, question of the survey flagged several literacy areas for which participants noted they required more instruction, such as grammar. In addition a high level of anxiety amongst students about the competence based pre-registration literacy tests was highlighted. We conclude that there may be scope for the BEd degree to include more English language units than it currently offers at this university to support pre-service teachers' literacy needs.




How to Cite

Bostock, L., & Boon, H. (2012). Pre-service Teachers’ Literacy Self-Efficacy and Literacy Competence. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 22(1), 19–37.