Something made me doubt myself : a descriptive case study of the effects of teaching online during the Covid-19 pandemic on teacher self-efficacy.


In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused policymakers to mandate school closures. Teachers left the familiar in-person classroom environment and began teaching in an unfamiliar virtual setting with little to no training. This sudden switch caused them to downshift in their pedagogical practices, and they experienced a decrease in self-efficacy due to a lack of mastery experiences. A reduction in self-efficacy made them far less impactful in the virtual setting than in the physical classroom.

This descriptive case study explored in-service teachers’ feelings of self-efficacy regarding the shift between in-person and virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 school closures. The literature in this study focused on the tenets of self-efficacy to shed light on how the transactional distance between teacher and student heavily impacted teachers’ methods and caused them to downshift. The study included open-ended, one-on-one, semi-structured interviews and a photolanguaging focus group with five participants from a suburban middle school in Southeast Texas. The combination of interviews and a photolanguaging focus group provided detailed descriptions and deep discussion, revealing the impact of the participants’ lived experiences and their decrease in self-efficacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A sudden change with little to no training and lack of experience impacts self-efficacy. The implications of this study suggest that teachers felt feelings of isolation, fear, desperation, and anxiety as they navigated through the ups and downs of virtual instruction. The findings of the study revealed the following themes. Teachers felt isolated from their colleagues and students during school closures. They experienced fear of failure and were desperate to find resources and be trained. Teachers ultimately doubted their ability to teach successfully in a virtual environment. The study benefits teachers by providing a case for the need for training and experiential learning in virtual instruction. The study also closes gaps in the literature that emerged after the pandemic. Teachers experienced hardships during this time with little support. Still, they desire to receive more training and support in the future as a means of preparation for possible future events of this proportion.