Pre-service Science Teachers' Development of Epistemological Beliefs

Heike Brauer, Matthias Wilde

Abstract


Epistemological beliefs, which are defined as beliefs regarding knowledge construction, are thought to be closely connected to different pedagogical approaches and teaching goals. They are also important to the learning process because they function as a lens to a learner’s view on content. In a cross-sectional study, we analysed the epistemological beliefs of pre-service science teachers in higher level secondary schools in Germany (n = 163). We used a closed, 26-item questionnaire that tapped the dimensions source, justification, development and certainty in the domain of science. Our findings suggest that pre-service teachers begin their professionalization with less sophisticated beliefs. Although we hypothesized that beliefs would differ across curricula, we found no differences. In addition we compared the beliefs of first, third and fifth semester students and also found no evidence of belief development as the students advanced through their semesters of professional training. Our findings suggest that pre-service teachers face a difficult start to their university education, most likely because of a predisposition to traditional teaching. Further the results may indicate that experience and knowledge alone do not strongly motivate change in the belief structure of pre-service science teachers. Our recommendation is that there should be a stronger emphasis on changing their epistemological beliefs during their academic training in an effort to improve science teaching.

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

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