Pre-service Teachers’ Assumed and Own Epistemic Beliefs and Their Relation to the Propagated Teaching Philosophy in Vocational Schools and Colleges in Germany

Karin Rebmann, Tobias Schlömer, Florian Berding, Manuela Paechter

Abstract


The way teachers accomplish tasks and assignments in their work environment is also influenced by their epistemic beliefs and the beliefs they assume their learners have (e.g., Brownlee, 2004; Feucht, 2010). Despite the importance of knowing pre-service teachers’ epistemic beliefs for developmental purposes, little research thus far has focused on gaining further insights into these beliefs. To address this gap, 182 pre-service teachers enrolled in teacher training at the University of Oldenburg (Germany) took part in our survey research and completed a German version of the Epistemic Beliefs Questionnaire by Schraw, Bendixen, and Dunkle (2002) about their beliefs and those they assume of their learners. Latent Class Analyses identified a large heterogeneity of teachers’ assumed beliefs, differentiating between a group that presumes absolutist views of their learners and one that presumes less absolutist or even evaluativistic views. Even though the identified groups of teachers differ with respect to the assumed beliefs, these assumed beliefs largely coincide with their own beliefs. Only the group of teachers that presume their learners tend to hold absolutist beliefs (e.g. knowledge is simply structured and stable over time) differ in all dimensions regarding their own beliefs and those assumed of their learners; they hold less absolutist or evaluativistic own beliefs (e.g., knowledge is interrelated and changeable) than their learners. In contrast, the group that assumed that their learners hold less absolutist or even evaluativistic beliefs show similar beliefs themselves.

These results point to inconsistencies in teachers’ epistemic beliefs systems. Given the significant reforms within the German vocational education system and their implications on teachers’ roles, it seems important to actively work on teachers’ epistemic beliefs. An essential element of teacher education and especially initial teacher education should be to support pre-service teachers in understanding their own epistemic beliefs in order to develop both their own beliefs and to support the development of their learners’ epistemic beliefs to ensure they are aligned with the prerequisites of the reformed education system and to maximise the learning opportunities.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082