Teachers' priorities and beliefs : a venture into beliefs, methodologies, and insights
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This study focuses on Norwegian preschool- and schoolteachers’ priorities, beliefs and their subjective opinions about discipline and behavior management, group/classroom practices, beliefs about children, and teachers’ instructional and disciplinary self-efficacy beliefs. The theoretical foundation of this study is on general and developmental systems theory and social cognitive theories with a major focus on beliefs, developmentally appropriate practices, and also the background and context in which teachers in daycare and school work in Norway. Several methods are combined to study teachers’ beliefs, but the main emphasis is on Q-methodology. R-methodology was chosen to seek knowledge of teachers’ views of self-efficacy among 254 respondents. Qmethodology was used to gain an understanding of teachers’ subjective feelings and beliefs about the other themes mentioned above. Analyses of Qdata were conducted on two subgroups of teachers (20 from daycare and 20 from school in each group) drawn among the 254 participants. In addition follow-up interviews were conducted with six participants from the cohort. Research has established that beliefs play an important part in the life of individuals and groups. Teachers are expected to adhere to regulations and expectations stipulated by laws, policies and curricula, and to participate actively in relationships with children, parents, colleagues, and others. How this is done is strongly influenced by personal and formal knowledge, beliefs, understandings, and values that guide our choices. In addition teachers with a high sense of efficacy about their teaching capabilities can motivate children and enhance their cognitive development. Results from both subgroups in this study point to strongly shared beliefs in an authoritative teaching style when dealing with discipline and behavior management. One almost identical operant factor emerged in both subgroups pointing to a caring, accepting and child-centered view on beliefs about children. Results here may represent teachers’ existential beliefs independent of children’s age. The results concerning group/classroom practices are more varied with two factors (A and B) in Subgroup 1, and three (C, D and E) in Subgroup 2, but with some similarities between subgroups. Factors A and C represent a relational learning orientation, factor B an academic learning orientation, factor D a structured learning orientation, and factor E a model and community learning orientation. Results concerning self-efficacy show no reports of low instructional self-efficacy. In the whole group of teachers (254) 65.8% of them report to have a medium degree of instructional self-efficacy, while 34.4% use high values to indicate their own efficacy. There were statistically significant differences between teachers in daycare and teachers in school at the p< .05 level in favor of teachers working in daycare. There were no statistical significant differences between groups concerning disciplinary self-efficacy. Teachers working in school had a higher mean score (M = 7.26) than teachers in daycare (M = 7.13), but there were more teachers in daycare (66.3%) that reported to have a high degree of disciplinary self-efficacy than teachers in school (62.7%). There is a statistical significant correlation (r = .63**) between instructional self-efficacy and disciplinary self-efficacy, indicating those teachers who report to have high instructional self-efficacy will also report to have high disciplinary self-efficacy. Comments from the interviewees help substantiate and shed light on results from Q themes and self-efficacy. Becoming aware of personal subjectivity and how beliefs, knowledge and action interrelate in our contact and communication with others, can give a deeper personal insight and understanding of relationships between teachers and children and the intentions teachers have for teaching and children’s learning. In combination with being a critically reflective practitioner, this can lead to a higher degree of openness and motivation to review and revise current beliefs and practices and lead to positive changes for both children and teachers. The possibility for such change has relevance for teacher education, in-service teachers’ continuous growth, and for implementation of new curricula. One efficient means of tapping into operant subjectivity is by use of Q-methodology.
PublisherUniversity of Stavanger, Norway
SeriesPhD thesis UiS