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Title:Investigating Preservice and Practicing Teachers' Epistemological Beliefs: An Exploration of Relationships Between Beliefs and Communities
Author(s):Matthews, Daniel Byron
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pearson, P. David; Clift, Renée T.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sociology of
Education, Teacher Training
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of preservice and practicing teachers' epistemological beliefs (i.e., beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning) and to look for relationships between those beliefs and membership in various professional and family subcultures.
This study addresses two questions: (a) Do two epistemological factors, Knowledge Acquisition and Authority, which underlie common models of instruction, fit the structure of preservice and practicing teachers' epistemological beliefs, and if not, what factors better fit the structure of preservice and practicing teachers' epistemological beliefs? and (b) What are these beliefs related to?
Four-hundred-seventy-eight (478) preservice and practicing teachers, from two universities and two school districts in Central Illinois, participated. Data were collected using a Likert-type survey of teachers' beliefs toward knowledge and instruction. These data were then subjected to exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses.
Participants' epistemological beliefs were best explained by a three factor model that suggested three views of students: students as Relativists, students as Discoverers, and students as Vessels to be filled. Regression analyses (n = 350) found significant relationships between beliefs and grade level taught, university type (research university and teaching university) and family background. In addition, although no main effect was found for professional development stage (early preservice, late preservice, and experienced), a significant university type by professional development interaction suggests that a relationship between beliefs and professional development stage does exist, but that this relationship depends on university type.
This study makes several contributions. First, it points out often overlooked distinctions between explicit and non-explicit constructivist models of teaching. Second, it developed a conceptually and statistically defensible instrument for investigating educators' epistemological beliefs. Third, this study provides insights into the nature of the belief systems of practicing and preservice teachers. Fourth, this study offers preliminary evidence of relationships between educators' beliefs and university type, grade level taught, professional development stage (as it interacts with university type), and family background. These findings suggest that teachers' beliefs are related to distinctions among the communities of teaching and teacher education.
Issue Date:1993
Description:137 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9411710
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1993

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