teaching teachers: an investigation of beliefs in teacher education students
Post on 14-Jul-2016
Embed Size (px)
Teaching teachers: An investigation of beliefs in teachereducation students
Karee E. Dunn Glenda C. Rakes
Received: 15 October 2008 / Accepted: 20 March 2009 / Published online: 21 April 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract Influenced by work on learner-centred education, teacher efficacy and teachersconcerns, we conducted an investigation of the influence of 185 preservice teachers
teacher efficacy and concerns on their learner-centred beliefs. Learner-centred beliefs were
selected for the purposes of this study as the best indicator of future teaching actions
because these preservice teachers had not yet entered the classroom or engaged in teaching
practices. Preservice teacher efficacy and concerns, individually and collectively, signifi-
cantly influenced learner-centred beliefs. These findings indicate that teacher education can
facilitate the development of learner-centred beliefs by addressing these trainable char-
acteristics and demonstrate the need to further explore both teacher efficacy and concerns
as they relate to learner-centred education within teacher education programs.
Keywords Learner-centred Teacher concerns Teacher education Teacher efficacy
Currently, students in the USA have fallen and continue to fall behind their international
counterparts (Darling-Hammond 2001). As a result, a number of national teaching agencies
have called for learner-centred reform in USA schools for more than 10 years (e.g. Dar-
ling-Hammond 2001; INTASC 1992; McCombs and Whisler 1997; Weimer 2002).
Learner-centred education is based on the American Psychological Associations 14
learner-centred principles (see Table 1). Furthermore, learner-centred educational practices
K. E. Dunn (&)Educational Statistics and Research Methods, 248 Graduate Education Building,The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USAe-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
G. C. RakesEducational Studies, 205F Gooch Hall, The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN 38238,USAe-mail: email@example.com
Learning Environ Res (2011) 14:3958DOI 10.1007/s10984-011-9083-1
Table 1 American Psychological Associations (1997) learner-centred principles
Cognitive and metacognitive factors
Principle 1: Nature of the learning process
The learning of complex subject matter is most effective when it is an intentional process of constructingmeaning from information and experience.
Principle 2: Goals of the learning process
The successful learner, over time and with support and instructional guidance, can create meaningful,coherent representations of knowledge.
Principle 3: Construction of knowledge
The successful learner can link new information with existing knowledge in meaningful ways.
Principle 4: Strategic thinking
The successful learner can create and use a repertoire of thinking and reasoning strategies to achievecomplex learning goals.
Principle 5: Thinking about thinking
Higher-order strategies for selecting and monitoring mental operations facilitate creative and criticalthinking.
Principle 6: Context of learning
Learning is influenced by environmental factors, including culture, technology and instructional practices.
Motivational and affective factors
Principle 7: Motivational and emotional influences on learning
What and how much is learned is influenced by the learners motivation. Motivation to learn, in turn, isinfluenced by the individuals emotional states, beliefs, interests and goals, and habits of thinking.
Principle 8: Intrinsic motivation to learn
The learners creativity, higher order thinking, and natural curiosity all contribute to motivation to learn.Intrinsic motivation is stimulated by tasks of optimal novelty and difficulty, relevant to personalinterests, and providing for personal choice and control.
Principle 9: Effects of motivation on effort
Acquisition of complex knowledge and skills requires extended learner effort and guided practice.Without learners motivation to learn, the willingness to exert this effort is unlikely without coercion.
Developmental and social factors
Principle 10: Developmental influence on learning
As individuals develop, they encounter different opportunities and experience different constraints forlearning. Learning is most effective when differential development within and across physical,intellectual, emotional and social domains is taken into account.
Principle 11: Social influences on learning
Learning is influenced by social interactions, interpersonal relations and communication with others.
Individual differences factors
Principle 12: Individual differences in learning
Learners have different strategies, approaches and capabilities for learning that are a function of priorexperience and heredity.
Principle 13: Learning and diversity
Learning is most effective when differences in learners linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds aretaken into account.
Principle 14: Standards and assessment
Setting appropriately high and challenging standards and assessing the learner and learning progressincluding diagnostic, process and outcome assessmentare integral parts of the learning process.
40 Learning Environ Res (2011) 14:3958
have been recommended because of the positive impact that these practices have been
found to have on student motivation and achievement (McCombs and Quiat 1999).
Although the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) both
advocate that teacher education programs produce more learner-centred teachers (INTASC
1992; NCATE Unit Standards 2006), little learner-centred change has been seen over the
course of the last 10 years in USA classrooms (Cuban 2007). The question then becomes:
Why are USA classrooms not becoming more learner-centred?
Barr (1998) suggests that the lack of substantial learner-centred change in classrooms is
in part because of the resistance of preservice teachers to learner-centred pedagogy. This
resistance is partially a result of their beliefs based on past teacher-centred educational
experiences. For example, many preservice teachers hold the view that teaching is a
process of transmitting knowledge and of dispensing information (Pajares 1992), which is
in direct contradiction with learner-centred pedagogy. Because many teacher education
students enter higher education classrooms with a unique set of beliefs about teaching and
learning based on prior experience in more teacher-oriented classrooms, it can be a
daunting task to convince preservice teachers of the value of learner-centred practices
Voglers (2006) suggestion highlights the importance of investigating and addressing
preservice teachers beliefs. If preservice teachers leave their teacher education classrooms
and become inservice teachers without any change in these beliefs, little learner-centred
change will continue to be seen in the future. The importance of preservice teachers
beliefs is further rooted in both social cognitive theory and conceptual change theory,
which form the theoretical framework for this research.
In social cognitive theory, both cognitive and affective variables influence an individ-
uals likelihood of engaging in target behaviours (Bandura 1986, 1997). Accordingly, what
one believes and feels about learner-centred education affects the likelihood of engaging in
learner-centred action. Research supports that beliefs are the best predictor of future action
(Ajzen 1996, 2002). Thus, a better understanding of beliefs related to learner-centred
education can help to predict learner-centred action and inform the framework of teacher
Conceptual change theory is also a valuable resource in answering the question of why
there are so few learner-centred classrooms. Conceptual change theory emphasises that
learning involves more than cold absorption of facts and more than only addressing hot
cognition driven by personal interests (Pintrich et al. 1993). Instead, a warming trend must
be applied to training that addresses both cold facts and hot emotions (Sinatra 2005).
Proponents of this theory assert that what one believes can either interfere with or facilitate
learning and must be addressed to lead to change. This theory also highlights the impor-
tance of investigating the influence of various teacher beliefs on learner-centredness that
must be addressed during teacher education programs to lead to more learner-centred
In order to better understand preservice teachers learner-centredness, learner-centred
beliefs were examined. Because preservice teachers have not entered the classroom and
because beliefs are the best indicator of future action (Ajzen 2002; Bandura 1986), learner-
centred beliefs were examined as a proxy for preservice teachers learner-centredness. The
influence of preservice teacher efficacy and concerns on these learner-centred beliefs was
examined. By better understanding both cognitive and affective preservice teacher vari-
ables and their influence on preservice teachers learner-centredness, teacher educators can
be better equipped to move preservice teachers towards more learner-centred beliefs.
Learning Environ Res (2011) 14:3958 41
According to both social cognitive theory and conceptual change th