This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Teacher-efficacy as a complex web: Lessons from a qualitative case study on the transition of military faculty to emergency remote teaching during COVID-19




Clark, Dwayne

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Although scholars have well-established the benefits of higher teacher-efficacy, the lack of literature regarding the sources and influences of these self-beliefs has led to an overly-reductionistic view of the construct. A teacher’s sense of efficacy is a multifaceted entity which involves the interplay of various factors individuals leverage to formulate their judgement of their abilities. These influencers include a combination of internal elements such as an individual’s previous experiences or social interactions, and external elements such as the environmental context or surroundings. The aim of this study was to explore the intricacies of the teacher-efficacy development process as situated during a crisis event. Crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are ominous in that they tend to be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). With the crisis in mind, this study involved an ecological examination of the teacher efficacy construct concerning a group of professional military education personnel during the transition to emergency remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this study was to illuminate patterns and themes from within the data by comparing (1) the design context, principles, and design team choices to promote efficacy development during the pandemic with (2) how the course graduates perceived their efficacy. The exploratory nature of this single case qualitative study involved a constant comparative analysis of semi-structured interview protocols with seven participants, archived documents of curriculum artifacts and course materials, and analytic memos. The participants consisted of three course design team members, who planned and implemented the professional development (PD) course, and four military faculty course graduates, who completed the PD and taught their first virtual teaching session. The result of using an inductive analytical approach revealed three interconnected themes that facilitated the efficacy-building process. The consistency in the data exposed that the degree to which the participants perceived authenticity in the curriculum, their ability to harness collaborative engagement among colleagues and faculty, and their opportunity to source prior exposures to handling disruptions and change intertwined to influence the developmental effort. The implications of this study counter the dominant narrative in the literature that teacher-efficacy is a linear, simplistic process. Instead, scholars and practitioners might approach efficacy-building using a collection of biological, psychological, and social influencers.