Friday, April 9, 2010

Teacher beliefs and their influence on learning (Michael Philips, ACEC 2010)

A teacher writing on a blackboard.Image via Wikipedia
Michael Philips started by looking at some of the barriers around teachers not adopting technology as part of their everyday practice (including being able to access computers during classtime). Philip's findings, while based on a small case study, offer some key indications as to how beliefs and planning are intricately connected. It may well offer some insights to those practitioners involved in teacher development.

He explored some the 1st and 2nd order barriers, in particular ones that challenge beliefs about teaching and learning. Second order barriers are less tangible and visible.

Examining teachers' beliefs is problematic as it involves inference. Philips asks why we should be looking at beliefs around the adoption of the use of technology. Belief systems have an onion-like structure with core beliefs being the most difficult to influence. There is also a difference between the espoused and enacted beliefs of teachers - with discrepancies occurring between the two, but with one having a strong influence on the other.

Philips looked at teacher planning to work out what the relationship is between beliefs, planning and practice. His assertion is that there has only been a small amount of research conducted where the focus is on lesson preparation which he argues has an important relationship with successful teaching practices. He went out to a private school in Melbourne to conduct the case study.  He had two females and two males in the study. He found that teacher's espoused beliefs about the sue of technology are not necessarily reflect in their enacted planning practice. There are many factors that may cause this discrepancy, including self-efficacy of ICT literacy.
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