Beliefs refer to propositions that are considered to be true. Teachers’ beliefs refer largely to the beliefs teachers hold that are relevant to their teaching practice. Teachers hold beliefs about a myriad of things, as do all humans. However, specific beliefs about teaching, learning, and students seem to play a particular role in teachers’ practices and willingness to engage in professional learning opportunities. Teachers’ beliefs are relevant for issues in teacher education such as motivation for teaching, instructional practices, classroom management, and assessment activities. Beliefs that preservice and practicing teachers bring to professional learning experiences influence how and what is learned in those experiences and ultimately what is put into practice. To understand what is meant by the construct of teachers’ beliefs, one must consider the variation in definitions and the need for construct clarification. Any investigation into teachers’ beliefs must account for two fundamental aspects of this construct: the nature of belief as a construct and the content of belief under construction. By nature of belief, we refer to how the construct of belief is defined and understood, in particular the stance that researchers take with regard to the relationship between knowledge and beliefs. Belief content refers to what the belief is specifically about, such as general beliefs about teaching, learning, students, or more specific beliefs about an instructional practice (e.g., cooperative learning), classroom assessment, and diverse student groups. Without a clear conceptual understanding of the beliefs investigated, understanding empirical findings and drawing implications for practice may be misguided. Four themes frame the scholarship on teachers’ beliefs: (1) conceptualizing teachers’ beliefs, (2) teachers’ beliefs and teachers’ practice, (3) development of teachers’ beliefs, and (4) changing teachers’ beliefs. Teacher educators should consider the importance of teacher beliefs on teacher learning when designing and implementing learning experiences for preservice and in-service teachers. Specifically, teacher educators need to provide opportunities for teachers to reveal their beliefs, attend to identity and emotion with beliefs, and support belief enactment. A key finding across the field is the need to consider the whole teacher when examining teachers’ beliefs and facilitating change or development in them; that is, teachers’ emotions, identity, career stage, life stages, and the myriad of beliefs they hold about a variety of topics all influence how beliefs are aligned and enacted (or not) in practice.
Helenrose Fives, Nicole Barnes, Candice Chiavola, Kit SaizdeLaMora, Erika Oliveros, and Sirine Mabrouk-Hattab
A. Lin Goodwin
The question of what teachers should know and be able to do endures, given the central role teachers play in the development of young people into wise and contributing citizens for world societies. Research has demonstrated the relationship between teacher preparation and competence, and that quality teachers achieve better academic outcomes for learners. Moreover, the issue of quality teachers has become even more salient in the 21st century as forces of globalization blur boundaries, heightening both competition and cooperation among nations. These forces include: (a) massive global migration as a result of war and other political disruptions, such that countries around the world are receiving newcomers, many of whom are school-aged and bring with them new cultures and languages; (b) increased attention to human rights, with a focus on inclusion, equity, poverty reduction, and social uplift for all children, regardless of their circumstance or backgrounds, through universal education; and (c) international benchmarking assessments such as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that are driving international conversations about quality education and educators. The demands on teachers have increased, and definitions of quality emphasize the ability to capably teach children who represent multiple diversities (race, language, national origin, gender identities) and multiple vulnerabilities (poverty, dis/ability, immigrant status). Preparing teachers for diverse students has long been relevant to the U.S. given its history as a country of immigrants, juxtaposed against a devastating legacy of enslavement, genocide, and imperialism. But the 1970s was when educators began to more seriously attend to educating diverse children who had been uniformly ignored because of racism, discrimination, and segregation. This was on the heels of civil rights legislature, activism on the part of people of color, people with disabilities, and indigenous people for better schools for their children, and large waves of immigration from Latin America and Asia, versus primarily European countries as in the past. As the proportion of non-white students increased in U.S. schools, preparing teachers for diversity became imperative, especially since the majority of teachers were white, and the achievement gap between mainstream children and diverse children remained stubbornly wide. Researchers also documented the inequities diverse learners faced in schools—poorly funded schools, less qualified teachers, limited access to academic curriculum, excessive disciplinary practices, and so on—as well as the teaching practices that made a positive difference in the educational experiences and achievements of diverse children. These included Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP), meaningful learning that honors diverse students’ culture and communities, high academic standards supported by excellent teachers, and multiple access points into the curriculum. The solution to inequitable education requires that all teachers instruct and advocate for every student as if she or he mattered, that all students receive the same care and attention as the richest, most advantaged. This solution is deceptively simple because it requires teachers to examine and revise their own biases and misconceptions, and actively resist the persistent messages that depict diverse children as deficient, so as to see them as worthwhile, full of capacity, and on the brink of greatness.
Khaliza Saidin, Aizan Yaacob, and Nurul Shahidah Ahmad Nasir
Efficacy is a person’s degree of beliefs and confidence to implement a task and produce a positive change. Efficacy can be divided into two aspects, namely self-efficacy and collective efficacy. In the context of education, the focus of research on efficacy is on teacher self-efficacy and collective teacher efficacy. Teacher self-efficacy is teachers’ belief in their own ability to carry out a task in order to bring positive changes, while collective teacher efficacy is the shared belief of teachers from different backgrounds and competencies in their ability to achieve the same goal. Collective efficacy depends on teacher self-efficacy to create collective beliefs in ensuring the achievement of the school’s vision and mission. Studies on collective teacher efficacy have brought positive effects on student performance and achievement and become an indicator of student performance. However, the research trend has shifted to focus on the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and teacher leadership. It was found that collective teacher efficacy not only influenced student performance and achievement but also affected teacher leadership. In the Malaysian context, studies on collective teacher efficacy are still scarce and they mostly focused on demographic levels, factors affecting teacher collective efficacy, level of collective teacher efficacy and the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and student achievement. As teacher quality is an important factor in educational improvement, it is proposed that future studies in the Malaysian context emphasize the relationship between teacher collective efficacy and issues regarding teacher leadership as they eventually bring positive effects on students’ academic achievement. Therefore, more research is needed to address the role of teacher collective efficacy on teacher leadership in promoting quality of teaching and learning. A large scale radical improvement in the educational field is highly needed.
Maria Teresa Tatto
Beliefs defined as the cognitive basis for the articulation of values and behaviors that mediate teaching practice can serve as powerful indicators of teacher education influence on current and prospective teachers’ thinking. Notwithstanding the importance of this construct, the field seems to lack across the board agreement concerning the kinds of beliefs that are essential for effective teaching, and whether and how opportunities to learn and other experiences have the potential to influence beliefs and knowledge in ways that may equip teachers to interpret, frame and guide action, and to fruitfully engage all pupils with powerful learning experiences. Large-scale international comparative studies provide the opportunity to develop shared definitions that facilitate the exploration of these questions within and across nations.