School Psychologists’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs: Quality Professional Development, School-Based Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), and Job Satisfaction
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In school systems, a functional behavior assessment (FBA) is conducted to identify the function of the behavior. FBA includes indirect assessments (interviews, rating scales), direct observations, and identification of functional relations between behavioral and environmental factors. An FBA is needed to inform the development of individualized behavior intervention plans to meet the needs of students with behavior problems. In many school districts, school psychologists and Board Certified Behavior Analysts are the primary practitioners who complete school-based FBA. A review of the literature revealed few studies focused on the importance of professional development for school psychologists, particularly specific to self-efficacy for implementing applied behavior analysis (ABA). The study’s purpose was to investigate a model positing self-efficacy as a mediator between quality professional development in ABA principles related to school-based FBA and school psychologists’ job satisfaction while taking into consideration their job demands. This study examined the indirect and direct effects of self-efficacy and quality professional development on school psychologists’ job satisfaction outcomes. Finally, the strength of these associations was evaluated. In this structural equation model, job demands were used as a control variable for job satisfaction. The model did not fit the data well, likely due to several statistically nonsignificant paths. The model revealed that professional development and job demands were statistically significant predictors of job satisfaction. However, self-efficacy was not a statistically significant predictor of job satisfaction and therefore not a mediator. This result might be due to the use of a global job satisfaction measure, which did not account for the multifaceted roles of school psychologists. Limitations of the current study were small sample size (N = 186) and use of a voluntary survey. This study does offer estimates of efficacy for ABA, important information on quality professional development in ABA, and a general estimate of school psychologists’ job satisfaction. Moreover, it provides insight into the current duties of school psychologists, including job demands. Future research should focus on identifying a potential measurement instrument accounting for the specific variations in the daily duties of school psychologists.