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CEU Article

A Scale to Measure Teachers


Self-Efficacy in Deaf-Blindness
Education
Elizabeth Hartmann
Structured abstract: Introduction: The Teacher Efficacy in Deafblindness Education Scale (TEDE) was developed to expand the construct of self-efficacy to
teach children with deaf-blindness. Methods: Eighty-seven special educators in
the United States were asked to rate their confidence to perform a variety of tasks
that are associated with teaching children who are deaf-blind on 36 Likert-type
items and to respond to open-ended questions on teaching children who are
deaf-blind. Results: Analyses based on item response modeling indicated strong
internal consistency and split-half reliability coefficients. Construct modeling
indicated good respondent and item fit. Discussion: The study provides evidence
of the validity of a construct of teacher self-efficacy to teach children with
deaf-blindness. Suggestions for future iterations of the TEDE were offered in
addition to suggestions for future research on self-efficacy in teaching children
with deaf-blindness. Implications for practitioners: The development of the
TEDE and the analysis of its scores can help educators to understand selfefficacy and its importance in supporting students with deaf-blindness. Practitioners
who provide technical service to teachers of students with deaf-blindness may find
value in the construct of self-efficacy and the TEDE as a tool to measure it.

Teachers who support students with


deaf-blindness face many challenges in
their work to educate this diverse and
unique group of students. Given the
low incidence of students with deafblindness (Killoran, 2007) and the diminishing number of teacher education
programs with an emphasis on deafEARN CEUS ONLINE
by answering questions on this article. For more information,
visit: http://jvib.org/CEUs.

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blindness, the majority of teachers are


not well prepared to meet the complex
and multiple support needs of these students (Corn & Ferrell, 2000; McLetchie
& MacFarland, 1995). Research has
found that teachers beliefs about their
capabilities to overcome limitations like
these can lead to improved student outcomes and to persistence in adverse
teaching circumstances (Ashton &
Webb, 1986; Bandura, 1997; Guskey &
Passaro, 1994). Also referred to as selfefficacy, this psychological construct
has been explored in the context of supporting students who are perceived to

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be challenging to educate (Chu, 2011),
but not in the context of educating students with deaf-blindness. The purpose
of this article is to propose a construct
of self-efficacy for educating students
with deaf-blindness and to test the validity of a measure of this construct.

Teacher self-efficacy
Teacher self-efficacy is a topic of research
that has received much attention (Bandura, 1997; Henson, 2002; TschannenMoran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998).
The conceptualization of teacher selfefficacy emerged primarily from Banduras (1977) work on perceived selfefficacy and is defined as peoples beliefs
about their capabilities to perform certain
tasks in a given situation (Bandura,
1994). It is important to note that selfefficacy is a judgment of peoples capabilities to perform a task or accomplish a
goal and is not about the actual skills or
knowledge that people have. People may
have the skills or knowledge needed to
perform a task well, but self-doubt, low
motivation, weak commitment, and other
negative thoughts can hinder them. To
accomplish a task, people need selfefficacy, that is, they need the beliefs to
use their skills and knowledge (Bandura,
1997). People with a strong sense of selfefficacy approach difficult tasks with high
assurance that they can succeed and with
the mindset that challenges can be overcome and tasks can be mastered (Bandura, 1994).
Self-efficacy is considered to be an
important construct when considering
learning environments. Teachers sense
of efficacy, or their beliefs about their
capabilities to create learning environments and foster students development,
2012 AFB, All Rights Reserved

has been linked to a variety of student


outcomes and innovative educational
practices (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998).
For example, there is evidence that teachers who have a high sense of efficacy
believe that difficult students are teachable (Bandura, 1997) and that they can
motivate and foster the cognitive development of students (Bandura, 1994). In
contrast, teachers who have a low sense
of efficacy feel that they will not persist in
the face of challenges and that there is
little influence they can have on students
who are unmotivated or have unsupportive home environments (Bandura, 1994).
All together, the research on teacher efficacy suggests that teachers with high levels of self-efficacy can take on difficult
challenges in their work.
Soto and Goetz (1998) found that research on teacher efficacy in special education has yielded similar findings; special educators with a high sense of
efficacy are willing to take on challenges,
and their self-efficacy may be a critical
element that affects their work (Capara,
Barbaranelli, Borgogni, & Steca, 2003).
For example, Jennett, Harris, and Meisbov (2003) found that teachers of students
with autism spectrum disorder had higher
levels of efficacy, had a stronger commitment to a theoretical orientation that
guided their practice, and experienced
lower levels of burnout. In addition,
teachers with higher levels of efficacy
were found to be more open to practices
that include students with special needs in
integrated or nonsegregated classrooms
(Brownell & Pajares, 1999; Meijer &
Foster, 1988; Soodak, Podell, & Leman,
1998). All in all, research on teacher selfefficacy in special education, although
sparse, has found that special education

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CEU Article
teachers who are efficacious engage in the
kinds of practices that can support childrens learning and their own professional development.
Although the research on teacher selfefficacy has found that teachers with a
high sense of efficacy persevere when in
challenging circumstances or when supporting students who are perceived to
be difficult to educate (Bandura, 1997;
Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998), the research has yet to explore beliefs about
educating students with deaf-blindness.
Teachers of students with deaf-blindness,
especially those who do not have specific experience or education in deafblindness, must be able to face challenges
in their everyday work and to feel that
they are capable of teaching students who
are perceived to be difficult. In other
words, self-efficacy may be an important
aspect of teachers beliefs about supporting students with deaf-blindness.

The study
The purpose of the study presented here
was to define a construct of teacher selfefficacy to support students with deafblindness, create an instrument that was
specifically designed to measure this construct, and test its psychometric properties. The primary research question
addressed was this: What are the psychometric properties of the Teacher Efficacy
in Deafblindness Education Scale
(TEDE)? The research on teacher efficacy
has been challenged by nebulous conceptualizations of self-efficacy and psychometrically weak results of existing instruments (Henson, 2002; Tschannen-Moran
& Woolfolk Hoy, 2001). In response to
the issue of conceptualizations of constructs, careful attention was paid to Ban-

730

duras (2006) suggestion that the context


of self-efficacy scales be specific and focused. Thus, the TEDE was designed to
be specific to teaching children with deafblindness and focused on the kinds of
skills that are necessary to teach these
children. In response to the issue of psychometrically weak instruments, the development of the TEDE was based on
validated measures, and its analysis was
guided by item response modeling.

METHODS
Participants
A total of 87 teachers participated in the
study. Of these 87 teachers, 13 (14.9 %)
participated in follow-up interviews. I,
the researcher, used a convenience sample of teachers who were recruited
through e-mail messages sent directly to
special educators, administrators of special education schools, and a federally
funded organization that serves children
with deaf-blindness. The targeted participants for this pilot study included inservice teachers of students with visual
impairments, teachers of students who are
deaf or hard of hearing, and teachers of
students with moderate to severe disabilities. Although the teachers were not randomly selected, the sample included
teachers with a broad and diverse range of
experience and education (see Table 1).
The TEDE was available in English
and hosted by online intelligent survey
software. Online administration of the
TEDE was chosen instead of a paper
administration to elicit reliable responses in a convenient manner (Luce
et al., 2007). This study was approved
by the Institutional Review Board at the
University of California, Berkeley, and

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CEU Article
informed consent was obtained from all
the participants.

Table 1
Demographic variables.
Variable

Teacher certifications held


Teacher of students who are visually
impaired
Teacher of students who are deaf or
hard of hearing
Teacher of children with moderate or
severe disabilities
Teacher of children with mild or
moderate disabilities
Years of teaching experience
Less than 1 year
15 years
610 years
1115 years
1620 years
20 or more
Years of experience teaching children with
deaf-blindness
Never been a teacher of children with
deaf-blindness
Less than 1 year
15 years
610 years
1115 years
1620 years
20 or more years
Number of children with deaf-blindness
taught
Never taught a child with deaf-blindness
15 children
610 children
1120 children
2140 children
4160 children
61100 children
100 or more children
Graduated from a teacher education
program in deaf-blindness
Yes
Experience with deaf-blindness during a
preservice teaching program
None
Someat least one student
A lotmost or all the students were
deaf-blind
Attended at least one lecture on deafblindness
Yes
Attended at least one teacher training
program on deaf-blindness
Yes

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38
16
34
10
2
23
22
6
8
23

38
9
18
7
4
8
8

19
44
6
4
3
3
2
4

43
34
5

56

43

Measure and procedure


Item design and response format. Items
for the TEDE were developed after an
extensive literature review on research
and measurement of teacher self-efficacy.
The item-design process was informed
by Banduras (2006) article on the development of self-efficacy measures and
Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoys
(2001) Teachers Sense of Efficacy Scale
(TSES). The items on the 24-item TSES
were used as a starting point for developing the items. From these TSES, items
that reflected activities that were important to the teaching of children with deafblindness were chosen for the TEDE.
Newly generated items that reflected
competencies that are important when
teaching children with deaf-blindness
(see McLetchie & Riggio, 1997: Riggio
& McLetchie, 2008) were added to the
TEDE.
Likert-type items on a 5-point scale
were chosen because they have been successfully used in extant instruments measuring self-efficacy (Tschannen-Moran &
Woolfolk Hoy, 2001; Weng, 2004). The
labels for the anchors on the 5-point scale
were very low, low, about 50/50, high,
and very high. The TEDE items were put
through two paneling processes, one by
practitioners in the field of deaf-blindness
and one by doctoral students who were
studying the development of surveys. The
final instrument included 36 Likert-style
items measuring teacher self-efficacy in
deaf-blindness education (12 items related to instructional strategies, 9 items
related to classroom management, and 15
items related to students engagement).

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CEU Article
There were 22 multiple-choice or open response demographic questions, 4 multiplechoice questions, and 7 short-answer questions.
Procedures for collecting pilot data
Recruitment e-mail messages were sent to
potential participants and included a short
description of the study and a hyperlink
that connected the individuals to the beginning of the TEDE on an online survey
hosting website. The participants were reminded of the federal definition of deafblindness, to clarify the type of teaching
tasks that the TEDE described. Thirty-five
teachers provided their e-mail addresses
and were contacted directly by me to participate in follow-up interviews. Thirteen
teachers responded and participated in the
follow-up interviews, either by telephone or
in person. All the interviews were recorded
digitally and then transcribed for the qualitative analysis.

Results
The majority of participants were certified teachers of students with visual impairments (n 38, 43.7%), in contrast
to teachers of students who are deaf or
hard of hearing (n 16, 18.4%) and
teachers of children with moderate or
severe disabilities (n 34, 39.1%). The
teachers also varied in how much experience they had specifically teaching
children who are deaf-blind. Given the
low-incidence of students with deafblindness, it is not surprising that almost half the teachers (n 38; 43.7%)
had never been teachers of children
with deaf-blindness. The majority of
those who had taught students with
deaf-blindness had taught these children for one to five years (n 18,

732

20.7%). Only 9% of the teachers (n


8) were graduates of programs that specifically focused on teaching children
with deaf-blindness, although 44 teachers (50.6%) reported that they had at
least some education in how to teach
children with deaf-blindness during
their preservice teaching program (see
Table 1).

MEASUREMENT MODEL
The data were analyzed using Construct
Map (CM; once named GradeMap), a
software package based on item response
theory that uses item response modeling
(IRM; Wilson, Kennedy, Draney, Tutanciyan, & Vorp, 2006). IRM was chosen
because it can provide an in-depth evaluation of the psychometric properties of
self-efficacy scales (Masse, Heesch, Eason, & Wilson, 2004). CM uses marginal
maximum likelihood techniques to calculate item parameters. Monte Carlo methods were used to approximate integrals,
and graphical Wright maps were produced to align person and item estimates
and to generate item characteristics and
cumulative probability curves.
PARTICIPANT FIT
CM has a feature, called the Wright map,
which allows for the interpretation of
items and participants at the same time.
An analysis of the Wright map allowed
for a better understanding of how individual participants fit the construct model.
The Wright map indicated that most
teachers assessed themselves as having
moderately low to moderately high
efficacy to teach children with deafblindness, with two small clusters of participants at the extreme top and extreme
bottom ends of the scale. The Wright map

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Table 2
Proficiency estimates for the partial credit
model: Respondents with low misfitting
response patterns.
Teacher
7
15
19
27
29
46
48
56
58
62
67
68
69
82
86

Table 3
Proficiency estimates for the partial credit
model: Respondents with high misfitting
response patterns.

Raw
score

Ability
estimate

Infit

t
value

54
30
43
60
64
40
44
50
44
46
53
41
43
50
25

1.27
2.09
0.31
2.14
2.73
0.74
0.17
0.69
0.17
0.11
1.13
0.60
0.31
0.69
2.70

0.47
0.44
0.25
0.48
0.30
0.37
0.35
0.43
0.21
0.23
0.47
0.33
0.44
0.43
0.50

2.06
2.23
3.26
2.03
3.05
2.46
2.60
2.25
3.57
3.42
2.09
2.68
2.05
2.21
2.05

indicated that these two groups of teachers assessed themselves as having extremely low or extremely high efficacy to
teach children who are deaf-blind. Overall, the participant fit of the TEDE, as
analyzed by visual inspection of the
Wright map, showed there was a good
distribution of participants across the majority of the items, especially in the middle range of the construct.
An additional analysis of participant fit
was calculated by examining the ability estimates for each teacher. A mean square fit
statistic between .75 and 1.33, paired with a
significant t value (values between -2 and
2), was used to indicate a good participant
fit, in other words, responses that were consistent with the expectations of the measurement model (Wilson, 2005). In the final
calibration for this pilot study, 22 of the 87
participants were considered to have misfitting response patterns. Fifteen of these
teachers had a low fit index (see Table 2)
and responded to the items in a more rigid
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Teacher
2
25
37
52
53
59
74

Raw
score

Ability
estimate

Infit

t
value

63
40
82
45
39
40
68

2.58
0.74
5.77
0.02
0.89
0.74
3.33

1.95
2.15
2.61
2.13
3.35
2.60
2.27

2.48
2.75
3.59
2.74
4.63
3.53
3.17

order than expected. Their poor-fitting response patterns only flag a pattern and do
not indicate anything causal. They may be
due to random fluctuations, which are expected in a probalistic model, and may indicate that there was less variation than the
model predicted (Wilson, 2005). Likewise,
7 teachers had a high fit index (see Table 3)
and were responding in a more random
order than expected. After a review of
the 7 teachers scores and diagnostic
maps, it was apparent that, for the most
part, these teachers had variations in
their responses that were not troublesome but, rather, showed that their confidence varies, depending on the type of
teaching tasks (such as items about curriculum planning, assessment, difficult
behavior, and students engagement).

ITEM FIT
The Wright map was used to analyze the
fit of the items on the TEDE. The item
threshold distribution ranged from approximately 6 logits to 5 logits, almost
the entire scale. There were no items at
either extremes of the logit scale, which
indicates that there were no items that
tapped into the confidence of people who
are extremely efficacious or not efficacious

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CEU Article
Table 4
Final subset: Items included in the pilot study of the TEDE.
SItem

OItem

1
2
3

3
5
6

4
5

7
8

6
7

9
10

11

15

10
11
12

16
17
18

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21

19
20
21
22
25
26
28
30
35

22

36

Improve the understanding of a deaf-blind student who is not achieving or learning


Respond effectively to difficult behaviors from your students with deaf-blindness
Respond appropriately and effectively to students with deaf-blindness who are
defiant
Provide appropriate challenges for very capable students with deaf-blindness
Provide an alternative explanation or activity when students with deaf-blindness are
confused
Motivate students with deaf-blindness who show low interest in school
Make your expectations clear about students behavior to children with deafblindness
Keep a few challenging behaviors from ruining lessons when teaching a child with
deaf-blindness
Implement a behavioral management plan for one student with deaf-blindness that
does not disrupt other students
Help your students who are deaf-blind enjoy communicating and interacting
Get through to the most challenging students who are deaf-blind
Get students with deaf-blindness to work collaboratively with other students or peers
in their school
Get students with deaf-blindness to believe they can do well in school
Get children with deaf-blindness to behave safely in school
Foster independence and self-determination in children who are deaf-blind
Express views freely on important matters about children with deaf-blindness
Establish a trusting relationship with students with deaf-blindness
Encourage students who are deaf-blind to expand their communication skills
Control disruptive behavior in the classroom caused by children with deaf-blindness
Calm a student with deaf-blindness who is disruptive
Adapt to adverse medical conditions that affect the learning of students who are
deaf-blind
Accommodate or adapt lessons to students with deaf-blindness

Note: OItem: Original TEDE item number. SItem: Subset TEDE item number, to be used in future
administrations.

in teaching children who are deaf-blind.


The item thresholds were distributed well,
especially in the middle range of the
scale, an indication that the instrument
worked well in differentiating teachers
who had high to low levels of selfefficacy in deaf-blindness education.
The majority of items had weighted
mean square values fitting inside the reasonable bounds (mean square fit statistic
between .75 and 1.33) and significant t
values between 2 and 2. There were six
misfitting items that were removed to create a tighter subset of items for the final

734

calibration of the TEDE. Table 4 lists the


22 items in the final calibration and analyses of the pilot study.

EVIDENCE OF RELIABILITY
Evidence of reliability was collected in
two ways, Cronbachs alpha and split-half
reliability. A Cronbachs alpha of .98 of
the TEDE scores indicated strong internal construct reliability. The SpearmanBrown formula was used to predict splithalf reliability by splitting the instrument
into two different, nonintersecting, but similar parts. The two sets were correlated to

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produce a coefficient of .99, which indicates
strong internal construct reliability.

Table 5
Correlations of TEDE scores to reliability
or external structure questions.

EVIDENCE OF VALIDITY
Evidence based on internal structure. Evidence based on internal structure or on content validity was gathered
through a review of the extant research on
the measurement of teacher self-efficacy,
which was used to develop the instruments content. This information was
used to develop a construct map that informed the item design, and the response
format was informed by previous researchers of teacher self-efficacy. In addition, experts in deaf-blindness and measurement helped to refine the instrument.
Evidence of response process was collected by interviewing selected participants after they completed the survey. All
the participants were asked about their
overall experience with the survey. The
majority of these responses were positive and did not provide any specific
suggestions.
Evidence based on external variables. Four multiple-choice questions
were included in the demographic section to measure evidence based on external variables. These four questions
were formulated to measure general
teacher efficacy to teach children who
are deaf-blind, and it was hypothesized
that the responses to these questions
would correlate with the TEDE scores.
The teachers TEDE scores were significantly correlated at the .01 level (two
tailed) with their responses to all four
questions (see Table 5).

Questions

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

.623**

.518**
.813**

.328**
.415**
.408**

.388**
.436**
.447**
.302**

QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS
To investigate teachers conceptualization of self-efficacy, I conducted qualita2012 AFB, All Rights Reserved

TEDE
Satisfaction
Preparation
Impact
Support

**
Correlation is significant at the .01 level (twotailed test).

tive analyses of the data from the


follow-up interviews (n 13) (see Hartmann, 2010). Teachers responses on the
TEDE were organized from the lowest to
the highest scores to see if themes would
emerge. Data from the follow-up interviews were coded for factors that have
either supported or challenged the teachers judgments about their capabilities to
teach children with deaf-blindness. A
cross-case display matrix was created to
organize the data and allow for making
contrasts, comparisons, and clustering
and for identifying similar patterns or
themes (Miles & Huberman, 1994;
Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

Discussion
Even when teachers have the knowledge
and skills that are needed to accomplish a
goal, such as teaching a child with deafblindness, they may not necessarily be
able to do so. In addition to having the
necessary knowledge and skills to teach
children with deaf-blindness, teachers
need self-efficacy, or the belief that they
can accomplish desired outcomes in a variety of circumstances (Bandura, 1997).
Although research has found that teachers
with high levels self-efficacy engage in
practices that many would think are critical
for educating students with deaf-blindness,

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the construct and measurement of selfefficacy to teach these students has not
been researched. Thus, this article explored the development and validity of
the TEDE, a measure of teacher selfefficacy focused on teaching children
with deaf-blindness.
The results from the pilot study suggest
that the TEDE could be further developed
into a psychometrically sound instrument.
The scores from the TEDE demonstrated
strong internal consistency and reliability,
as measured by Cronbachs alpha, a splithalf reliability coefficient, and external
evidence. Future research with the TEDE
should include its administration to special educators using the 22-item version.
The qualitative analysis yielded information that began to discriminate teachers
with different TEDE scores (see Hartmann, 2010). For example, the qualitative
analysis yielded contextual factors that
may be related to levels of self-efficacy,
such as education, employers support,
past teaching experiences, collaboration,
and attitudes toward deaf-blindness.
There were many limitations to the
study. First, this was a pilot study and, as
such, marks the first iteration of the
TEDE. Future validations and iterations
of the TEDE are imperative to its continued, sound psychometric development. In
particular, a future analysis of the TEDE
scores could use factor analysis to determine if teacher self-efficacy in deafblindness education is a multifactor construct. The TEDE was based on the TSES,
which has been found to have a threefactor or higher construct (Klassen et al.,
2009). It appears that one of the most
reoccurring issues was the variety of tasks
that the items represent (such as instructional strategies, students engagement,

736

and classroom management) and how


teachers efficacy may be affected by the
type of teaching task. In fact, the TEDE
may not be as domain specific as it should
be, given that self-efficacy is context specific. In other words, a teachers sense of
efficacy can differ by context or change,
depending on the content that the teacher is
teaching, the type of student taught, and
even the type of teaching task, all of which
has challenged researchers as they work to
develop reliable, valid, and useful efficacy
instruments (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998).
Instead of making sure that the TEDE
has items that reflect every area of competence in deaf-blindness education, the
TEDE may have yielded stronger psychometric results if I had chosen one specific
area of teaching to focus on (such as
direct instructional strategies, behavioral
management, or students engagement).
Perhaps the range of skills that this instrument has, although representative of
the tasks needed to teach children with
deaf-blindness, is too broad and lacks the
appropriate amount of contextualization.
Future researchers may want to consider
narrowing the instrument down to measure different types of efficacy. Doing so
may strengthen the instrument and lead to
more fruitful and powerful results.
The findings of the study were based
on a sample of convenience and, as
such, were likely to be biased and not
be representative of the population of
teachers who educate students with deafblindness. Furthermore, recruitment letters were sent via e-mail, leading to an
unknown response rate. These sampling
strategies undermined the ability to generalize the findings of the study to the
general population of teachers of students
with deaf-blindness. Future studies that

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use the TEDE should, if possible, use
more rigorous sampling techniques.
Overall, this study contributes to a
growing body of research that has measured teacher efficacy. The TEDE was a
solid first step toward measuring and
understanding teacher self-efficacy to
educate children with deaf-blindness.
This research provided further insights
into the strengths of self-efficacy measures that are informed by the TSES. In
addition, it was responsive of the need for
research on self-efficacy in a variety of
diverse contexts. Prior to this study, it was
unknown if the construct of self-efficacy
would apply to teachers of students with
deaf-blindness. This study has added to
the understanding of teachers beliefs to
support learning in challenging circumstances and showed that teacher efficacy
in deaf-blindness education exists.
The findings from the TEDE have implications for educational practice, particularly
professional training for in-service and preservice teachers. One of the most important
findings of the study is that the pilot test of
the TEDE proved to be a valid tool to measure teachers self-efficacy to support
children with deaf-blindness. This finding allows for future research to be conducted that will strengthen the development of the construct and its measure.
Furthermore, future studies and iterations of the TEDE could explore the
relationship between TEDE scores and
important outcomes for students with
deaf-blindness. Although it was not explored in this study, it is plausible that
future studies could explore the relationship between TEDE scores and supports for teachers, such as specific training or professional experiences in deafblindness education.
2012 AFB, All Rights Reserved

Last, the findings of this study may confirm


the findings of previous research that the majority of teachers of students with deafblindness have had limited formal and specific education on how to support these
students (Corn & Ferrell, 2000; McLetchie &
MacFarland, 1995). Despite this fact, the
teachers in this study had TEDE scores that
indicated a wide range of self-efficacy beliefs.
Future research should investigate how different variables, such as education and technical
support, may mediate teacher self-efficacy.

References
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Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman.
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