Insights into pre-service teachers’ belief systems about learning and teaching

Year: 2018

Author: Vosniadou, Stella, Lawson, Mike

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The research investigated pre-service teachers’ beliefs in the value of self-regulated learning (SRL) in the context of their more general system of beliefs about learning and teaching. An instrument was developed to measure pre-service teachers’ beliefs about learning and teaching and about the value of SRL. The participants were 429 pre-service teachers. Confirmatory factor analysis validated the hypothesized measurement model which consisted of five correlated factors – constructive learning, constructive teaching, traditional learning, traditional teaching and SRL positive impact.  A structural model based on the hypothesized causal relations between the latent factors showed a good fit to the data. The model showed highly significant direct and indirect effects from constructive learning and teaching to SRL.
Although the participants expressed high agreement with the items indicating constructive beliefs about learning and teaching they also agree with many of the items assessing traditional beliefs especially about teaching, indicating that that pre-service teachers have conflicting beliefs about learning and teaching which might be affecting their SRL practices. One possibility that warrants further investigation is that pre-service teachers believe that both teaching for subject matter knowledge and for SRL are important, but that teaching for subject matter knowledge is much more important than the explicit promotion of SRL. This interpretation is consistent with the findings of research which shows that although teachers generally agree that students’ SRL ability impacts their academic progress, only teach SRL skills to their students. The most common reason stated to explain this disparity between teachers’ valuing of SRL activity and their facilitation of this activity in their lessons is that there is not enough time to teach the content of the curriculum as well as learning skills. It appears that for these teachers teaching the content of the curriculum is the most important activity for teachers and until this is finished they need not teach students strategies for learning. The co-existence of powerful yet potentially incompatible beliefs suggests possible directions for explaining why SRL strategies are not more widely used in classrooms.
The research contributes to the development of a model of pre-service teacher competence and highlights areas that need to be addressed in teacher education programs in order to improve SRL practices in pre-service teachers.