American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, 2(12), 1218-1224
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-12-14
Open AccessArticle

Beyond Knowledge and Pedagogy: Academic Optimism of Teachers in High Need Schools

Sheila R. Vaidya1,

1School of Education, Drexel University, Korman Center 222, Philadelphia, Pa 19104

Pub. Date: December 18, 2014

Cite this paper:
Sheila R. Vaidya. Beyond Knowledge and Pedagogy: Academic Optimism of Teachers in High Need Schools. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(12):1218-1224. doi: 10.12691/education-2-12-14


The question that drives the research presented in this paper is –why are some teachers in a cohort more effective than others, despite the fact that the academic preparation is the same for all? We find the answers in the teacher academic optimism- teacher beliefs and attitudes of efficacy about the students and themselves. Next, we visit their classrooms, review their journals, question them about how they use mentors. Based on this data, we present five case studies, characterize teacher beliefs and philosophy while observing how their academic optimism plays out in their classroom behavior.

knowledge pedagogy high need schools

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Anderson, C. 1982. The search for school climate: a review of the research. Review of Educational Research 52: 368-420.
[2]  Bandura, A. 1977. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavior change. Psychological Review 84: 191-215.
[3]  Bandura, A. 1982. Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist 37, no. 2, 122-147.
[4]  Beard, K. S., Hoy, W. K., &Hoy, A. W. 2010. Academic optimism of individual teachers: Confirming a new construct. Teaching and Teacher Education 26, no. 5: 1136-1147.
[5]  Berger, J.G. 2002. Exploring the connection between teacher education practice and adult development theory. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation.
[6]  Brookover, W., Beady, C., Flood, P., Schweitzer, J. & Wisenbaker, J. 1977. Schools can makea difference. Washington, DC: National Institute of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No ED 145 034)
[7]  Brophy, J. E., & Good, T. L. (1970). Teachers' communication of differential expectations for children's classroom performance: Some behavioral data. Journal of Educational Psychology 61, 365-374.
[8]  Bruner, J. 1996. The culture of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[9]  Cohen, J. 2001. Social and emotional education: Core principles and practices. In J. Cohen (Ed.), Caring classrooms/intelligent schools: The social emotional education of young children. New York: Teachers College Press.
[10]  Cohen, J. 2006. Social, emotional, ethical and academic education: Creating a climate for learning, participation in democracy and well-being. Harvard Educational Review 76, no. 2: 201-237.
[11]  Carr, A. 2004. Positive Psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths. New York: Routledge.
[12]  Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1997. Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. New York: Harper-Collins.
[13]  Darling-Hammond, L. and Bransford,J. 2005. (Eds.), Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. Jossey-Bass Wiley: San Francisco.
[14]  Davis, H.A. 2003. Conceptualizing the role and influence of student-teacher relationships on children’s social and cognitive development. Educational Psychologist 38, no. 4: 207-234.
[15]  Dembo,M.H; & Gibson,S. 1985. Teacher’s sense of Efficacy: An important factor in school improvement. The Elementary School Journal 86, no. 2: 173-184.
[16]  Edmonds, R. 1979. Effective Schools for the Urban Poor. Educational Leadership, 37, no. 1: 15-23.
[17]  Fairbanks,C.M; Duffy,G.G; Faircloth, B.S; He,Ye; Levin,B; Rohr, J; & Stein, C. 2010. Beyond Knowledge: Exploring Why Some Teachers are More Thoughtfully Adaptive Than Others. Journal of Teacher Education 61, no. 1-2: 161-171.
[18]  Gibson, S., & Dembo, M. 1984. Teacher efficacy: A construct validation. Journal of Educational Psychology 76, 569-582.
[19]  Greenwald, R., Hedges, L., & Laine, R. 1996. The effect of school resources on student achievement. Review of Educational Research, 66, no. 3: 361-396.
[20]  Haycock, K.P. 2002. Toward a Fair Distribution of Teacher Talent. Educational Leadership, 60, no. 4: 11-15.
[21]  Haycock, K.P. 2008. t’s Up to Us: Going the Distance to Close Gaps and Raise Achievement for All. Opening Plenary Session, Educational Trust National Conference.
[22]  Haycock, K.P. 2009 Secrets of High Achieving Schools in High Poverty Areas. School Leadership Briefing.
[23]  Hoy, W. K., Tarter, C. J., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. 2006. Academic optimism of schools: A force for student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 43 no. 3 425-446.
[24]  Kurz, N. M. 2006. The relationship between teachers' sense of academic optimism and commitment to the profession. The Ohio State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 154 p. Retrieved from
[25]  Nietfeld, J. L., & Enders, C. K. (2003, March 17). An examination of student teacher beliefs: Interrelationships between hope, self-efficacy, goal-orientations, and beliefs about learning. Current Issues in Education [On-line], 6 (5). Available:
[26]  Nieto, S. 2003. What Keeps Teachers Going? New York: Teachers College Press.
[27]  Peterson, C. (2000) The Future of Optimism. American Psychologist 55: no. 1: 44-55.
[28]  Rice, J.K. 2003. Teacher Quality: Understanding the Effectiveness of Teacher Attributes. Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC.
[29]  Richardson, V. (1996).The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach. In J. Sikula (Ed.), Handbook of research on teacher education (2nd ed., pp. 102-119). New York: Macmillan.
[30]  Seligman,M. 1998. Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life. New York: Pocket Books.
[31]  Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. 2000. Positive Psychology: An Introduction. American Psychologist 55, no. 1: 5-14.
[32]  Seligman, M. 2002. Positive psychology, positive prevention, and positive therapy. In C. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds). Handbook of positive psychology. New York: Oxford.
[33]  Seligman,M. 2006. Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life. New York: Pocket Books.
[34]  Woolfolk, A., & Hoy, W.K. 1990 Prospective teachers’ sense of efficacy and beliefs about control. Journal of Educational Psychology 82, 81-91.
[35]  Woolfolk-Hoy 2000. Changes in Teacher Efficacy during the early years of teaching. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.
[36]  Woolfolk Hoy, A., Hoy, W. K., Kurz, N. (2008). Teacher's academic optimism: the development and test of a new construct. Teaching and Teacher Education 24, 821-834.