A Phenomenological Study of the Impact of the South Carolina U.S. History End of Course Exam on High School Teachers' Perceptions of Autonomy and Self-Efficacy

Debra Ann Whitmore

Document Type Article


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to describe the impact of the South Carolina U.S. History End of Course Exam (EOCE) on teachers’ perceptions of autonomy and self-efficacy for high school U.S. History teachers in the Midlands region of South Carolina. The theory guiding this study was Bandura’s (1994) theory of self-efficacy as it explained the relationship between self-efficacy and effectiveness. There were 12 participants in this study who shared the lived experience of the U.S. History EOCE and related policies. Data were collected through individual interviews, focus group interviews, and relevant documents. The data were analyzed through categorical aggregation and the coding of data into general themes and patterns. Themes were identified that demonstrated participants’ perceptions of the impact of the EOCE and related policies on their autonomy and self-efficacy. Eleven of the participants shared concerns about the incorporation of student test scores into the teacher evaluation process. An unanticipated theme was that of the additional burden of data teams. The most notable finding of the study was that participants realigned their understandings and perceptions of self-efficacy in order to feel efficacious in meeting objectives and goals set by the state and the district rather than themselves. Recommendations for future research include teachers’ changing understanding and application of self-efficacy and the actual effects of data teams on student learning and development.