Abstract: Self-Efficacy As a Mediator on the Association Between Environmental Chaos and Early Childhood Educators' Occupational Commitment (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

279 Self-Efficacy As a Mediator on the Association Between Environmental Chaos and Early Childhood Educators' Occupational Commitment

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Ashley A Grant, MS, PhD Student, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Lieny Jeon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Cynthia Kay Buettner, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Introduction: Teacher attrition is recognized as a significant problem, particularly in early childhood settings, because it produces more inexperienced teachers and higher turnover rates, which are detrimental to the stability needed for young children’s development (Hamre & Pianta, 2005). Stress from environmental factors, such as classroom chaos, can be a contributor to teachers’ turnover, and a detriment to early childhood teachers’ job commitment (Klassen et al., 2011) and occupational self-efficacy beliefs (Valiente et al., 2007). Despite the importance of environmental climate to professional commitment (Ladd, 2011), an investigation of the pathway from chaos in the childcare classroom to teachers’ commitment is lacking. In the current study, we examined the extent to which classroom chaos predicts teachers’ intention to stay in their job. We also investigated whether teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs mediate this association to discover how teachers can overcome classroom chaos to create a more stable environment.

Methods: We collected data from 1,129 pre-school teachers across the US. Teachers responded on items regarding environmental chaos, occupational self-efficacy (e.g., disciplinary efficacy), and professional commitment. We conducted structural equation modeling with Full Information Maximum Likelihood estimation in STATA 14.0 to test the direct and indirect associations between environmental chaos and teachers’ commitment through their occupational self-efficacy. We controlled for teachers’ demographics (age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, general health, salary, and household income), professional background (educational attainment, teaching license, experience years, lead teacher status, participation in professional development), program characteristics (size, non-profit, public pre-K, Head Start, national accreditation), and children’s behaviors.

Results: We found that childcare chaos was directly associated with a latent variable, teachers’ professional commitment (6 items, α = 82; β = -.21, p < .001). In addition, occupational self-efficacy variables mediated the associations between childcare chaos and professional commitment (indirect effect = -.02 - -.03, p < .05). This indicates that when teachers were in more chaotic environments, they reported lower levels of occupational self-efficacy, which in turn were associated with lower levels of professional commitment. The model fit was adequate, χ2 (111) = 401.33, p < .01, RMSEA = .05, CFI = .92.

Conclusion: The current study suggests the need to support teachers who are experiencing chaos to improve their commitment. Interventions aimed at improving not only management of chaos, but also sense of self-efficacy, would benefit teachers’ job satisfaction and support retention.