One’s beliefs influenceworking and learning, and teachers’ beliefs about learning and teachinginfluence their instructional decisions and practices. Most of the studies thathave been conducted agreed that in general education studies, teaching is acognitive activity and that teachers’ beliefs greatly impact theirinstructional decisions in the classroom (Shavelson, & Stern, 1981;Tillema, 2000). Many studies have explicatedaspects of teaching practice which affecting the classroom learningeffectiveness and student achievements.
Borg (2003) suggests, “teachersare active, thinking decision-makers who make instructional choices by drawingon complex practically-oriented, personalized, and context-sensitive networksof knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs”. But the challenge is are teacherscapable in making effective professional instructional decisions and practices. According to Johnson (1994)educational research on teachers’ beliefs shares three basic assumptions: (1)Teachers’ beliefs influence perception and judgment. (2) Teachers’ beliefs playa role in how information on teaching is translated into classroom practices.(3) Understanding teachers’ beliefs is essential to improving teachingpractices and teacher education programs. 2.
1 Teachers’ Beliefs Different researchers gavedifferent definitions for beliefs. For example, Pajares (1992) reviewed aliterature of beliefs and reported that beliefs were defined in most studies asa ‘conceptual tool’. He defined belief as an “individual”s judgment of thetruth or falsity of a proposition, a judgment that can only be inferred from acollective understanding of what human beings say, intend, and do”.
One of the factors that arebelieved to influence the implementation and establishment of new activities inthe classroom is teacher beliefs (Binghimlas & Hanrahan, 2010). Accordingto Pajares (1992), the investigation of teacher beliefs is a necessary way ofeducational inquiry for research and education. Being able to identify anddescribe the influence of teacher beliefs on instructional actions would deepenand enrich our understanding of the teaching process (Aguirre & Speer,2000).
Several studies have examinedthe relationship between teachers’ beliefs and their practices in theclassroom. According to Aguirre and Speer (2000), current definitions ofteacher beliefs found in the education literature focus on how teachers thinkabout the nature of teaching and learning. In this context, beliefs are definedas “conceptions” (Thompson, 1992), worldviews, and “mental models” that shapelearning and teaching practices (Ernest, 1989). Standen (2002) stated thatbeliefs can be classified in terms of personal assumptions about relationships,knowledge and society; professional beliefs about teaching and learning; andbeliefs about change and development.
Yero (2002) states, ifteachers believe a program they have been told to use is based on a solidfoundation, and if the program is based on beliefs similar to their own, theywill notice ways in which the program works. If they believe it is a waste of time,they will notice evidence supporting that belief. A study by Lacorte and Canabal(2005), concerns the relevance of the perceptions and attitudes that teachersbring with them into the classroom. Ernest (1989) argued that the autonomy ofthe teacher depended on three factors: 1. theteacher’s intellectual contents, particularly the systems of beliefs concerningthe nature of teaching and learning;2. thesocial context of the teaching situation, particularly the constraints andopportunities it provides; and 3.
theteacher’s level of thought processes and reflections. 2.2 Teaching Attitude Two important factors thataffect teacher factors in education, pedagogy and attitude, influence much ofwhat happens in science instruction and the resulting student learning (Shrigley, 1983; Tobin, Tippins, , 1994). Attitude means theindividual’s prevailing tendency to respond favorably or unfavorably to anobject (person or group of people, institutions or events). Attitudes can bepositive (values) or negative (prejudice). Attitudes determine what individualwill see, hear, think and do and they are rooted in experience and do notbecome automatic routine conduct (Souza-Barros & Elia, 1997).
2.3 Classroom Practices Teacher’s professionalknowledge and actual practice may diverge not only among countries but alsoteachers within a country. Johnson et.al (2007) in their study of teachereffectiveness and student achievement in science demonstrated that effectiveteachers positively impact student learning and found that effective teachingincreases student achievement and closes achievement gaps for all students.
On the other side, Judson(2006) states that there are some inconsistencies between teachers’ beliefsabout instructional practice and their actual teaching.