on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 10, Issue 1, Article 12
Teacher beliefs are receiving a great attention from the education community and have been discussed widely in the literature ranging from philosophical discussion to experimental studies (Calderhead, 1996; Fang, 1996; Kagan, 1992;Mansour, 2009; Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1996; Woolfolk-Hoy & Murphy, 2001). On the other hand, beliefs have a variety of definitions in the literature and have been used interchangeably with knowledge. The first part of the literature compares definitions of beliefs and knowledge and clarifies the distinction between these terms. Richardson distinguished knowledge from beliefs based on the notion of “truth condition.” In her definition, knowledge must satisfy “truth condition” or have some evidence but beliefs do not require a truth condition. According to Calderhead, beliefs generally refer to, “suppositions, commitments, and ideologies while knowledge refers to factual propositions and the understandings that inform skillful action” (p. 715).
The second part of the literature review focuses on studies related to teacher beliefs and classroom practice. In the literature the relationship between teacher beliefs and classroom practice has been widely discussed. While some studies (Beck et al., 2000; Haney et al., 1996; Haney & McArthur, 2002; Hashweh, 1996; Levitt, 2002; Roehrig, & Kruse, 2005) found that teacher beliefs have a significant relationship with classroom practice, others (Mellado, 1998; Simmons et al., 1999) did not find a clear relationship between teacher beliefs and practice. The relationship between teacher beliefs and practice is controversial; regardless, beliefs ultimately connect to teaching practice (Richardson, 1996; Roehrig & Luft, 2004). Although there has been more research related to student teachers and beginning teachers, research with in-service teachers in classroom settings seems to be relatively sparse. In addition, most of the research with in-service science teachers collected self-reported data through surveys regarding their classroom practice without classroom observations (Beck et al.; Hancock & Gallard; Haney et al.; Hashweh) or with few observations (Haney & MacArthur; Mellado;). As Fang (1996) indicated, self-reported data without classroom observation may reflect what should be done (preferred classroom practice) rather than what is actually done in practice (actual practice). In-depth research that combines survey information with a long period of classroom observations is needed to fill this gap in this area. Therefore, case studies and longitudinal studies with a small number of participants seem to be more valuable in order to understand the complex relationship among teacher beliefs, practice and school context.
Moreover, other factors including teacher education, teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge, school type and grade levels, school resources as well as teacher beliefs should be investigated. Therefore, researchers should design multiple studies in different school settings such as public versus private, primary school versus secondary school, and rural school versus urban school. These types of studies may help scholars to understand how school context could affect teacher classroom practice even if they have similar beliefs and backgrounds. In addition, more longitudinal studies with student teachers should be conducted from the beginning of their teacher education to their early experiences as beginning school teachers in order to understand how their beliefs change over a long period of time and how this change influences their actual practice.
Copyright (C) 2009 HKIEd APFSLT. Volume 10, Issue 1, Article 12 (Jun., 2009). All Rights Reserved.