Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Education

Abstract

The purpose of this investigation was to examine the self-efficacy for religious education (RE) of teachers in Australian Catholic high schools, and to build a model incorporating predictors of self-efficacy for teaching RE. The study drew on data from 42 randomly selected Catholic high schools and 309 Catholic RE teachers from across Australia.

A theoretical framework was developed by positing relationships between self-efficacy for teaching RE and significant constructs associated with the psychology of religion and social cognitive theory. The first of these was collective efficacy for teaching RE, which was hypothesised to relate to self-efficacy for teaching RE, as collective efficacy has been related to self-efficacy in many domains. The second construct was the intrinsic spirituality of the RE teachers, which was hypothesised to predict self-efficacy for teaching RE, as intrinsic spirituality has been found to be a source of motivation and would likely motivate RE teachers. The third construct was concerned with the implicit theories or schemas that RE teachers hold about whether the ability of their students is fixed or malleable. This was hypothesised to be related to self-efficacy for teaching RE, as teachers with a growth theory about student ability are likely to persist in behaviours that lead to experiencing mastery. A social scientific approach was applied to the investigation. A questionnaire was developed and administered via the Internet to 309 RE teachers in 42 Catholic high schools across Australia. The questionnaire comprised demographic questions, and items designed to measure self-efficacy for teaching RE, and the three related constructs. Principal components analysis identified three components of self-efficacy for teaching RE: self-efficacy for sacramentality, self-efficacy for doctrine, and self-efficacy for praxis. Multilevel regression analysis was employed to build a model of self-efficacy for teaching RE. In addition, an open-ended free response provided further insights of self-efficacy for teaching RE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.