The Concept of Grit and Self-Efficacy in Teaching a Language

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Teaching a language is a profession that requires various skills from high proficiency level of language to the knowledge of second language acquisition (SLA) and teaching methodology. The concept of professionalism in the realm of teaching refers to effectiveness in teaching that comprises the skill of integrating foreign language and pedagogical competences in an interesting situation for students. Accordingly, teacher professionalism should be concentrated in every teacher education program. In this way, Smith (2005) mentioned that 'during teacher education, the seeds for professionalism in teaching are planted and nourished in order to develop independently after graduation from pre-service teacher education' .

It seems that non-cognitive factors can impact teacher professionalism. It was also pointed out that “non-cognitive factors (attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability) that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success”. Due to the lack of study regarding this topic, the present study is going to investigate the impacts of two non-cognitive skills (in other words Grit and self-efficacy) on the concept of professional development.

The concept of grit has been characterized and introduced by Duckworth, Peterson, and Matthews, and Kelly (2007) as: trait-level perseverance and interest for long-term goals. In fact, they were trying to find an answer to this question that “Why do some individuals accomplish more than others of equal intelligence?” and found a non-cognitive skill called grit. They reported that this skill can predict attainment and success in profession over and beyond measures of talent. Duckworth et al. characterized the construct of grit as “perseverance and passion for long term goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress” .

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In addition, the concept of self-efficacy is listed as a non-cognitive factor that has been found to impact teachers’ effectiveness. The study regarding to teacher efficacy started over three decades ago. Researchers have investigated teacher efficacy – teacher’s thoughts in their capability to influence student results – to be a fundamental aspect in student success. Teacher efficacy has been considered for nearly half of a century and this volume of study on teacher efficacy has point to that it is a significant perception in education and in the study of teacher effectiveness. Multiple definitions have come out from the large body of study on teacher self-efficacy.

Bandura (1993) also detailed that a teacher’s efficacy was a crucial component of the learning environment and attainment that students would experience in the classroom. Another definition was that “teachers believe that they are effective in teaching, that the children they teach can learn, and that there is a body of professional knowledge available to them when they need assistance”.

To date, to the best knowledge of the present study, impacts of non-cognitive factors on teacher professionalism in Iran has received no serious attention. Due to insufficient research on the concept of professionalism, the present study is going to investigate the impacts of two non-cognitive skills Grit and self-efficacy on the concept of professional development. Moreover, it is going to propose a new model of interrelationships among Iranian EFL teachers’ Grit level, self-efficacy, and professional development using AMOS software. Finally, gender differences in the concept of grit will be explored.

One of the main problem that previous researchers also pointed out is that in Iranian context the concept of professionalism is neglected. It was also reported that traditional teacher education programs may suggest a prescribed standards-based methodology, but teachers’ professional development in most of private language institutes is ignored.

Moreover, although the concept of teachers’ grit has been studies in the foreign countries, little is known about this concept in Iranian EFL context. It seems critical for ministry of education in Iran to conduct various investigations about the concept of grit in order to have better results in teaching English as a foreign language.

Another gap in the current literature can be referred to the lack of study about the impacts of non-cognitive skills on professional development. Although teacher grit has gained lots of attention in the literature, little is known about the influence of teacher grit and self-efficacy as non-cognitive on teachers’ professional development.

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