Assessing in-service teachers' instructional beliefs about student-centered education: A Turkish perspective

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    esenventory was designed to measure teachers student-centered educationalpons ag aliefsvelcts

    ditionschootructioe Minitionared cuomponactors

    centered practices. Teachers prior knowledge and beliefs should becritically examined before expecting any changes in teacherpractices (Hasweh, 2003).

    Given this, it is important to understand teachers beliefs aboutstudent-centered education before expecting them to change theircurrent practices. This study is an attempt to understand K-8teachers beliefs about student-centered education and to

    and non-constructivist teacher perspectives. In particular, teacherbeliefs related to the relationship between learner and content,knowledge construction, comprehension and curriculum aredifferent in constructivist and non-constructivist learning envi-ronments. In constructivist classrooms, teachers rst deal withknowledge and experiences that students bring with them to thelearning task. After that the school curriculum is formed so thatstudents can expand and develop this knowledge and experience byconnecting them with new learning. Additionally, teachers and

    Contents lists availab



    Teaching and Teacher Education 25 (2009) 350356* Corresponding author. Tel.: 90 258 296 1115; fax: 90 258 296 1200.student-centered education will be used in their classrooms.Changing teachers curriculum orientation depends heavily onchanges in teachers beliefs (Beck, Czerniak, & Lumpe, 2000; Minor,Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, & James, 2002; Prawat, 1992). Researchstudies have shown that teachers instructional practices are closelyinuenced by their curricular or pedagogical beliefs (Minor et al.,2002; Pajares, 1992). Teachers with traditional beliefs are morelikely to employ didactic instructional practices, while teacherswith constructivist beliefs are more likely to employ student-

    Constructivism is a theory about knowledge and learningderived mainly from the work of Piaget and Vygotsky (Richardson,2003). The main notion of constructivism is that human learning isconstructed, that learners build new knowledge upon the founda-tion of previous learning. Prawat (1992, 1996) argues that asa learning theory constructivism varies as radical constructivism,social constructivism and sociocultural constructivism, which alsoleads to various applications on instruction and actual teacherpractices due to diverse interpretations of the theory. On the otherhand, he implies that there is a dichotomy between constructivist1. Introduction

    There is a huge shift from trastudent-centered education in K-12recent shifts to student-centered insthe Turkish public school system. Thtion is attempting to change the trada more contemporary student-centeHowever, teachers are the critical cchange as they are the deciding fE-mail address: (N. Isikoglu)

    0742-051X/$ see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd.doi:10.1016/j.tate.2008.08.004al teacher-centered tols (Cuban, 1993). Thesen have also inuencedistry of National Educa-l national curriculum torriculum (MEB, 2005a).ents of the curriculumas to whether or not

    contribute to literature fromadifferent socio-cultural context. Usingthe Turkish context, the purpose of this research study is to identifyK-8 teachers beliefs about student-centered education. This studyspecically investigates student-centered beliefs of teachers in fourcurriculum components including educational objectives, content,teaching strategies and instructional assessment.

    1.1. Theoretical underpinnings: Constructivism and behavioralismTeacher beliefsElementary school

    2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Assessing in-service teachers instructioeducation: A Turkish perspective

    Nesrin Isikoglu*, Ramazan Basturk, Feyyaz KaracaDepartment of Elementary Education, Pamukkale University, Kinikli, Denizli 20020, Tur

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 4 May 2007Received in revised form22 July 2008Accepted 13 August 2008

    Keywords:ConstructivismStudent-centered education

    a b s t r a c t

    The main purpose of this rcentered education. The ibeliefs based on four comcontent, teaching strategiein-service teachers workinteachers held positive beteachers such as school lestatistically signicant effe

    Teaching and T

    journal homepage: www.

    All rights reserved.ents of the educational curriculum comprising of educational objectives,nd instructional assessment. Data for the study were collected from 307t K-8 schools. A quantitative research analysis showed that in-serviceabout student-centered education. In addition, the characteristics of

    , teaching experience, teaching subject and educational background hadon their beliefs about student-centered education.l beliefs about student-centered

    arch is to examine in-service teachers instructional beliefs about student-

    le at ScienceDirect

    cher Education

    lsevier .com/locate/ tatestudents engage in the in-depth exploration of important ideas from

  • eachdifferent subject-matter domains (Prawat, 1992). Alternatively, theproponents of thenon-constructivistor behavioral approachsuggestrst deciding what knowledge or skills students should gain andthen forming curriculum that will contribute to their development.In these classrooms, the instructional environment is designed toteach students directly and systematically those prerequisite skills indifferent subject-matter domains believed necessary to secure theiracademic achievement. The teacher is responsible for deliveringa predetermined instructional program by using direct instructionand reinforcement techniques (Stipek, 2004). In behaviorist class-rooms, students are the recipients of knowledge, not participants intheir own learning (Brooks & Brooks, 1993).

    On the other hand, recent trends in education value construc-tivism and student-centered instruction and that force a paradigmshift in education. The student-centered education is a broadperspective that contains several techniques to develop teachingand learning methods including replacing lectures with activelearning experiences, assigning open-ended problems and prob-lems requiring critical or creative thinking, involving students insimulations and role-play, assigning a variety of unconventionalwriting exercises, and using self-paced and/or cooperative (team-based) learning (Felder & Brent, 1996). In such classrooms, theteacher provides students with experiences that allow them tohypothesize, predict, manipulate objects, pose questions, research,investigate, imagine, and invent. The primary role of the teacher isto facilitate this process. Recently, educational literature has iden-tied many varieties of student-centered educational methods andoffered several demonstrations that have properly implementedstudent-centered education. These demonstrations lead toincreased motivation to learn, greater retention of knowledge,deeper understanding, and more positive attitudes toward thesubject being taught (Bonwell & Eisen, 1991; Johnson, Johnson, &Smith 1991; McKeachie, 1986; Meyers & Jones, 1993). Additionally,student-centered education is linked with optimal and holisticlearning and positive student outcomes (Cornelius-White, 2007).

    In implementing student-centered education, teachers are theimportant agents of change and play a key role in changing schoolsand classrooms. According to Prawat (1992) most of the problemsassociated with implementing a student-centered approach toteaching could be overcome if teachers were willing to rethink andreexamine their existing beliefs. Beliefs are among the mostimportant indicators of the decisions people make throughout theirlives (Bandura, 1986) and are an essential way of facilitatinginstructional change. Teachers beliefs guide their thinking, deci-sion making and behavior in the classroom (Fang, 1996; Pajares,1992; Richardson, 1996).

    Correspondence betweenmeasures of teachers beliefs and theirinstructional practice has been found about Literacy and Reading(Cummins, Cheek, & Lidsey, 2004; Fang,1996), Mathematic (Kupari,2003; Stipek, Givvin, Salmon, & MacGyvers, 2001) and Science(Deboer, 2002). On the other hand, some studies have reporteda considerable lack of correspondence between teachers beliefsand practices (Charlesworth et al., 1993; Wilcox-Herzog, 2002).Fang (1996) explains that some of these discrepancies are the resultof the difculties in measuring teachers thought process. Speci-cally, using self-report procedures, repertory grid techniques orprocess tracing techniques for capturing data does not adequatelyportray the complex process of beliefs and practices.

    Moreover, current research literature has shown the importanceof constructivism and student-centered education in many subjectareas (Richardson, 1996). Rawitz and Snow (1998) surveyed 2200teachers about their pedagogical beliefs and concluded thatelementary teachers were more constructivist than secondaryschool teachers. They found that teachers beliefs about construc-

    N. Isikoglu et al. / Teaching and Ttivism varied in terms of their teaching subjects. Their research alsorevealed that teachers academic background was strongly relatedto their constructivist beliefs. In a recent study, Snider and Roehl(2007) demonstrated that elementary teachers were moreconvinced than high school teachers that learning style should bean important factor in deciding how and what to teach.

    Other research related to constructivism also focused onteachers beliefs about constructivism and how teachers back-ground characteristics are related to their belief systems. Minoret al. (2002) investigated pre-service teachers educational beliefsabout student-centered education and found that pre-serviceteachers endorsed student-centered education but there were nosignicant differences between female and male pre-serviceteachers. On the other hand, Beck et al. (2000) and Cornelius-White(2007) found a signicant relationship between teachers genderand their constructivist beliefs in favor of female teachers. Theirresearch also revealed that grade level and number of years taughthad effects on teachers beliefs regarding the implementation ofconstructivism.

    1.2. Student-centered education in Turkey

    The Turkish Nation is going through a fast and dynamic processof social change parallel with scientic, technological develop-ments, socio-cultural and economical circumstances. In order to bea developed country and receive full membership of the EuropeanUnion, Turkey has implemented series of reforms in educationsince the 1970s. These reforms are primarily initiated by theMinistry of National Education, which controls the entire publicand private schools at all levels of education including earlychildhood, elementary, secondary and higher education (Basaran,1982; Vars, 1996). One of the major reforms was to implementcompulsory eight-year non-stop education for all citizens acrossthe country in 1997. Former primary schools and elementaryschools were integrated to construct an eight-year elementaryschool program. Another major reform was to implementa compulsory curriculum change in all the schools. Traditionally,the Turkish public school curriculum was derived from behavioristpedagogies and teacher-centered practices were dominant in theseschools. In 2000, elementary school curriculums were constructedto initiate the process of transformation from behaviorist basedteaching approach to constructivist based teaching approach (MEB,2005b). Elementary, Early Childhood, Social Studies, Turkish, Mathand Science curriculum were renewed based on student-centerededucational perspectives. After pretesting this new program in 120Elementary schools in nine provinces in the 20042005 academicyear, the program became effective in all elementary schools duringthe 20052006 academic year across the country (MEB, 2005b).The success of such curriculum reform, whatever the intention is,depends mostly on the teacher, who is the key person in enacting it(Cakiroglu & Cakiroglu, 2003).

    Based on previous work related to teacher beliefs, the presentstudy aims to identify K-8 teachers beliefs about student-centerededucation to contribute to literature from a different socio-culturalcontext. Considering the current Turkish education, we used themain framework of instruction to operationalize teachers student-centered education. The main framework of instruction involvesselecting educational objectives, organizing the course content,delivering appropriate teaching strategies and assessing instruction(Demirel, 2002). Teachers tend to organize their instruction basedon this framework whether or not they use student-centerededucation. This study also aimed to understand the followingquestions:

    1. What are teachers beliefs about student-centered education?2. Is there a difference between teachers student-centered beliefs

    er Education 25 (2009) 350356 351and variables such as their gender, school level, educationalbackground, teaching subject and teaching experience.

  • in the city of Denizli. A random sample of 400 teachers was selected

    wording of some of the items was also adjusted.

    educational curriculumwere signicantly different from each otherfor gender and school level.

    Teachers in this research had three different educational back-grounds: Two-year teacher certicate program (N 193), three-year teacher certicate program (N 51) and four-year Bachelor ofEducation degree, (BA) (N 57). We used one-way ANOVA to verifythe means for the three groups that were signicantly differentfrom each other.

    The teachers in this research taught a variety of subjects in theschools. To facilitate the use of ANOVA, we divided the teachersample into six groups: Elementary (N 188), Early Childhood

    eachIn the third step, the inventory was sent to a convenient sampleof 40 teachers in three different K-8 schools. Using the SPSSprogram, the reliability of teacher responses to individual items andto the four scales was examined on the basis of item-total corre-lations and coefcient alphas, respectively. Based on the analyzeddata, 12 out of 33 items were not appropriate so they were deletedfrom the inventory. For each scale, a minimum of ve anda maximum of six with a total of 21 items including the largestvalues of item-total correlation were selected to generate the nalversion of the inventory. The nal survey also obtained responsesfrom teachers regarding gender, school level, educationalbackground, teaching subject and teaching experience.

    2.3. Reliability and validity of instrument

    The Cronbach Alpha coefcients for the overall and four scales:Educational objectives, Content, Teaching Strategies, andInstructional Assessment were calculated and tabulated. As seen inusing a list provided by the Denizli Department of Education (DDE).DDE reported that the city of Denizli had 1851 K-8 teachers. The DDElist included school names, teachers and addresses. The list wasdownloaded into a spreadsheet. Each name was assigned a number.The researchers entered these numbers into a computer programthat, in turn, generated a list of random numbers to match the pre-assigned numbers; thereby yielding a random sample of 400, whichwas the target population of this study. To nd out an appropriatesample size to represent the population,weused the table generatedby Krejcie andMorgan (1970). From the selected eleven K-8 schools,a total of 307 teachers completed and returned their inventories.

    2.2. Development of instrument

    In this study, we created an inventory to measure teachersbeliefs about student-centered education based on four compo-nents (called scales) of the educational curriculum: Scale 1,Educational objectives, Scale 2, Content, Scale 3, Teaching strategies,and Scale 4, Instructional assessment. We conducted an extensiveliterature review to study student-centered education and the fourcomponents of the educational curriculum. In the rst step, 33items were constructed for the rst version of the inventory so thatstatistical analyses could be used to select a minimum of ve itemsfor each scale. This reduced number was desirable in order todevelop optimal items that were economical in time for teachers torespond. All items were both negatively and positively phrased andwere written in Turkish. Each item was on a ve-point rating scale(1 strongly disagree and 5 strongly agree). The inventory tookapproximately 10 minutes for teachers to complete.

    In the second step, three curriculum specialists and authorsdiscussed and evaluated the content validity for the items. Theyused a four-point scale (1Weakly Represents to 4 StronglyRepresents) to evaluate the content representativeness of theitems. A minimum value of 2.0 was used as the decision forselecting acceptable items. It was found that the means of the 33items ranged from 2.6 to 4.0. Therefore, all items retained wererandomly distributed in the rst version of the inventory. Accord-ing to the recommendations of the curriculum specialist, the2. Methodology

    2.1. Population and sample

    The population in this study included all K-8 classroom teachers

    N. Isikoglu et al. / Teaching and T352Table 1, coefcient alphas varied from 0.74 to 0.83, for the fourscales. However, the overall inventory reliability had the highestCronbach Alpha of 0.91, which is understandable because thelength of test is known to impact the reliability.

    In order to establish construct validity of the instrument, weused an exploratory factor analysis to determine the number offactors underlying the 21 questions (Stevens, 1996). In addition,exploratory factor analysis offers the researcher a more viablemethod for evaluating construct validity (Gorsuch, 1983). Speci-cally, maximum likelihood (ML) was used in factor analysis witha varimax rotation in this study. This technique is the mostfrequently used method of common factor analysis (Lawley &Maxwell, 1971). We implemented the eigenvalue-greater than onerule, also known as K1 (Kaiser, 1958), to ascertain an appropriatenumber of factors to retain. This technique resulted in four factors.The scree test (Zwick & Velicer, 1986) also suggested that fourfactors be retained.

    The ML factor analysis revealed a four-factor solution, whichexplained 60.51% of the total variance. Loadings of items on eachfactor are presented in Table 2. With a cutoff correlation of 0.3 (i.e.factor loading criterion) as an acceptable minimum loading valuewas used (Lambert & Durand, 1975). This analysis revealed that therst factor, Educational Objectives, explained 20.14% of the totalvariance; the second factor, Content, accounted for 14.65% of thevariance; the third factor, Teaching Strategies, explained for 13.15%of the variance and last factor, Instructional Assessment, explained12.57% of the total variance. This four-combined factor explained60.51% of the overall variance.

    2.4. Procedures

    We used independent samples t-tests and analysis of variance(ANOVA) to examine the effects of teachers gender, school level,educational background, teaching subject and teaching experience oneach scales of the educational curriculum and on overall scale. IfANOVA procedures indicated that there were statistically signi-cant effects, then follow-up tests for ANOVA on each scale scoreswere conducted.

    To nd out the gender and school level differences on overall andthe four scale of the educational curriculum, we divided theteachers into two groups for gender: Male (N 161) and Female(N 144) and two groups for school level: Elementary (N 208)and Secondary (N 93). We applied independent samples t-tests toevaluate whether the means on the overall and four scales of the

    Table 1Scale level mean, standard deviation and reliability on the instrument

    Scale Na Mean SD Reliability

    Educational objectives 302 4.50 0.68 (a 0.83)Content 304 4.18 0.78 (a 0.78)Teaching strategies 304 3.97 0.81 (a 0.74)Instructional assessment 301 4.19 0.70 (a 0.76)Total 303 4.21 0.72 (a 0.91)

    a Subjects with missing responses were excluded on variable-by-variable bases.

    er Education 25 (2009) 350356Education (N 20), Social Studies (N 20), Turkish (N 27),Mathematics (N 19), and Science (N 20). We applied one-way

  • eachTable 2Summary of questions and factor loadings frommaximum likelihood varimax factoranalysis: Four-factor solutions

    Scale/item Factor loadings

    1 2 3 4

    Educational objectives1 Students individual differences and interests should

    be considered while deciding instructional purposes.0.84

    3. Lesson plans should be exible. 0.814. Teachers main goal is to prepare students for real

    life situations.0.89

    13. Supporting students creativity is an importantpart of the instruction.


    14. Encouraging students critical thinking skills isnecessary.


    Content5. The content of the curriculum reects students

    interest and needs.0.85

    N. Isikoglu et al. / Teaching and TANOVA to determine whether the overall and four scales means forthe six groups of teachers were signicantly different from eachother.

    Teachers in the sample had teaching experience that rangedfrom 1 to 33 years, with a mean of 20 years, and we divided theminto four groups: 18 years (N 27), 916 years (N 45), 1724years (N 124), and more than 24 years (N 105). Again, One-wayANOVA was employed to evaluate whether the means on theoverall and four scales varied across all the groups.

    3. Results and discussion

    3.1. Descriptive statistics

    Specic data for gender, school level, educational background,teaching subject and teaching experience are presented in Table 3.

    It was observed that male teachers constituted 53% of therespondents. Two of 307 participants did not give any informationabout their gender. Sixty eight percent of the respondents were K-5

    07. Students should have opportunities to pose questions,discover and construct concepts for themselves.


    15. Learning and instruction should not be limited to theclass time


    17. Students should construct their own meaning 0.7722. Content subjects should give students hands on

    learning opportunities0.75

    Teaching strategies9. Meaningful activities and projects are important

    elements of the instruction.0.57

    11. Students and teacher share responsibilities 0.5818. Teachers main responsibility is to transmit

    knowledge and skills. (R)0.54

    21. Using reward and punishments is a better way tomotivate students. (R)


    23. Cooperating with parents is necessary forstudents learning.


    24. It is very helpful to involve students in smallgroup discussions and cooperative learning


    Instructional assessment12. Group projects should be used for individual

    student assessment0.71

    16. Assessment of student learning is interwovenwith teaching.


    25. Teachers should not only depend on tests forassessing student learning.


    26. For assessment, students individual progressshould be accounted.


    27. Portfolios, rubrics and exhibitions should beused for assessment.


    % of variance explained (overall, 60.51) 20.14 14.65 13.15 12.57

    Note. Only loadings with large effect sizes are displayed.teachers and 64% of the respondents were rst grade to fth gradeteachers. Secondary school teachers who teach from sixth to eighthgrades contained 32% of the participants. In terms of the teachingexperiences, 41% (less than half) respondents identied themselvesas having between 17 and 24 years teaching experiences. Eventhough the sample of this research consisted of 307 school teachers,some of the responders did not give any information about somespecic variables. Since some of the items were not completed,

    Table 3Gender, school level, educational background, teaching subject and teaching expe-rience of the participants

    Variable Category n %

    GenderMale 161 53Female 144 47

    School levelElementary school (K-5) 208 68Secondary (68) 93 32

    Educational backgroundTwo-year teacher certicate 193 63Three-year teacher certicate 51 17Bachelor degree of Art (BA) 57 19

    Teaching subjectElementary (15 grades) 188 64Early childhood 20 07Social studies 20 07Turkish 27 09Math 19 06Sciences 20 07

    Teaching experiences18 27 09916 45 151724 124 41More than 24 105 35

    er Education 25 (2009) 350356 353there could be minor discrepancies among the numbers in theanalysis.

    3.2. Analysis

    The initial analyses showed that the in-service teachers mainlyendorsed student-centered education (M 4.21, SD 0.72).However, when we examined the subscales, educational objectivesreceived the highest (M 4.50) and teaching strategies received thelowest (M 3.97) means. These ndings indicated that the currentsample believed that curriculum goals should be student-centered.On the other hand, teachers beliefs related to the teaching strate-gies remained low compared to the other subscales.

    In order to compare male and female teachers beliefs aboutoverall student-centered education, independent samples t-testswere performed. These analyses revealed no signicant differencebetween the two groups, t(301) 0.81; p> .05 for overall student-centered education. This result showed that male and femaleteacher beliefs on overall and four scales were not different.Several researchers found similar results (Cheung & Wong, 2002;Tan, 2001). On the other hand, some researchers found that femaleteachers implemented student-centered education more than theirmale counterparts (Beck et al., 2000).

    With regard to the school level, overall and the three subscalemeans of the student-centered education were statistically signif-icant for elementary and secondary school teachers. Independentsamples t-scores and sample means were displayed in Table 4,which showed that elementary school teachers scored signicantlyhigher on overall and its three components means of the student-centered education than secondary school teachers.

  • Table 4Comparisons of overall and four scale of educational curriculum by school level

    Scales School type

    Elementary Secondary

    N M SD n M SD t p

    Instructional objectives 207 22.27 2.58 92 21.53 2.80 2.21 .03*Content 206 20.67 3.27 92 19.84 2.99 2.09 .03*Teaching strategies 207 22.52 2.87 92 20.64 2.61 5.35 .00*Instructional assessment 207 20.03 3.29 92 20.03 2.95 1.62 .10

    92 82.04 9.23 3.22 .00*

    N. Isikoglu et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 25 (2009) 350356354Similar to previous researches (File & Gullo, 2002; Ravitz &Snow, 1998), we found that teachers who taught at early gradesfavored student-centered education. The reasons for this ndingcould be physical and mental structures of the Turkish schoolsystem. Mainly, the Elementary school teachers teach all-day inself-contained classes and they are responsible to teach the samestudents from the rst grade to the fth grade. This opportunityallows them to better understand children and incorporate child-rens initial learning experiences. On the other hand, Secondaryschool teachers are only responsible to teach their content area justfor 26 hours per week. This time limitation might decrease theirunderstanding of students instructional needs.

    Teaching subject was one of the independent variables weinvestigated to understand the differences among various teachingsubjects and student-centered beliefs. One-way ANOVAs wereconducted and the analyses demonstrated that only teachingstrategies scores were statistically signicant. Table 5 shows means,standard deviations, F statistics and signicant levels for allvariables.

    Post-hoc analyses of one-way ANOVA (Scheffe) for teachingstrategies found that the mean for Early Childhood Educationteachers was statistically different and higher than for Turkish,Math and Social Studies teachers. This result indicated that EarlyChildhood teachers beliefs about teaching strategies related to thestudent-centered education were more powerful than the others.This result was supported by several researches. According to theseresearches, teachers who majored in Early Childhood were repor-ted to have more student-centered educational beliefs than others(Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; McMullen, 1999; Smith, 1997). On theother hand, there were no statistically signicant differencesamong the other elementary and secondary teachers.

    Next, we investigated teachers educational background differ-ences with regard to student-centered education. The one-wayANOVAs analysis indicated that except for educational objectives,overall and the other three scales were signicant. The means,standard deviations and F statistics can be seen in Table 6.

    Post-hoc analyses of one-way ANOVA (Scheffe) indicated thatthere was a signicant difference among the teachers educational

    Overall 207 86.03 10.16

    Note: *p< .05.levels. Especially, the mean for teachers with two-year teachingcerticate was statistically different and higher than teachers whohad Bachelors degree on content scale. For teaching strategies and

    Table 5Differences between inventory subscale means by teaching subject

    Subscale Teaching subject


    Educational objectives 22.19 23.05 20.95 21.63 21.68 21.85 1.53 .18Content 20.63 21.03 19.79 19.78 19.95 19.65 0.98 .43Teaching strategies 22.45 23.21 20.74 20.67 20.32 21.10 5.38 .00*Instructional

    assessment20.79 19.58 19.68 20.67 19.63 19.95 1.27 .28

    Overall 85.95 86.89 81.16 82.74 81.58 82.55 1.98 .08

    Note: *p< .05.instructional assessment scales, teachers with two-year certicatesreported higher student-centered scores than teachers who hadthree-year teaching certicates and BA degrees. Finally, there wasa statistically signicant difference in overall scores of teachersstudent-centered beliefs in favor of teachers with two-yearteaching certicate. To summarize, the teachers with two-yearteaching certicate demonstrated more student-centered beliefswhen compared to the other teachers.

    In contrast to our expectations, teachers with two-year teachingcerticates were strongly oriented toward student-centered beliefs.One of the basic explanations for these results is that 95% of theElementary school teachers had a two-year teaching certicate inour sample. As explained previously, Elementary school teacherstend to have more student-centered beliefs. Therefore, it was notsurprising to nd that Elementary school teachers displayed morestudent-centered beliefs. Similar studies (Beck et al., 2000; Ravitz,Becker, & Wong, 2000) found that teacher academic backgroundwas strongly related to constructivism.

    Lastly, we examined the relationships between teaching expe-riences and student-centered beliefs. Teachers in the sample hadteaching experiences that ranged from 1 to 33 years, with amean of20 years, and we divided them into four groups: 18 years (N 27),916 years (N 45), 1724 years (N 124), and more than 24 years(N 105). One-way ANOVAwas employed to evaluate whether themeans on overall and the four scales varied across all the groups.The results demonstrated that content and instructional assessmentscale scores were different for each group (see Table 7).

    The four groups of teachers were compared using one-wayANOVAs and Scheffe post-hoc tests on the subscale and overallscores. Differences emerged for teachers beliefs about content andinstructional assessment. Teachers with more than 24 yearteaching experiences placed more emphasis on student-centeredcontent and instructional assessment than teachers who had lessteaching experiences. These results showed that experiencedteachers hold more student-centered orientation than teacherswho had less experience. It is important to note that our samplecontained more experienced teachers than inexperienced teachersin early childhood and elementary teaching areas. It is also possible

    to argue that due to the lack of teaching experience, beginner

    Table 6Differences between overall and four scale means by educational background

    Scales Educational background

    Two-years(N 192)

    Three-years(N 50)

    Four-years(N 57)

    F Sig.


    22.17 22.00 21.77 0.51 .60

    Content 20.75 20.24 19.49 3.55 .03*Teaching strategies 22.41 20.94 21.32 6.96 .00**Instructional

    assessment20.80 20.48 19.60 3.15 .04*

    Overall 86.03 83.66 82.18 3.75 .02*

    Note: *p< .05; **p< .01.

  • academic year. Therefore, these teachers may consider that having

    centered education as well as the effects of teaching experience on

    Therefore, the results of this study may be relevant to understand

    eachlearning outcomes clearly dened in advance, transmitting contentknowledge in a certain way and assessing students through stan-dardized tests are the preeminent approaches to teach theirteachers may taken on an active role and lean on more teacher-centered beliefs and behaviors in the classroom.

    4. Summary and conclusion

    This study tried to examine in-service teachers beliefs aboutstudent-centered education, as well as to investigate factors, whichmay have inuenced their instructional beliefs. A quantitativeresearch analysis revealed several important factors. First, student-centered education beliefs held by in-service teachers presentedvariations in the four components of the educational curriculumdened as educational objectives, content, teaching strategies, andinstructional assessment. While in-service teachers believed thatcurriculum goals should be student-centered, they scored lower onconsidering useful student-centered teaching strategies. However,in-service teachers may recognize the importance of havingstudent-centered instructional goals but they are unaware ofappropriate student-centered teaching strategies. In a similar studyBeck et al. (2000) suggested staff development and planning ofconstructivist class time needed for teachers in order for them tobelieve to implement constructivism in their classrooms. Therefore,the implementation of staff training programs is necessary forin-service teachers in areas of content, teaching strategies andinstructional assessment.

    Second, this study revealed that in-service teachers who taughtin early grades such as Early Childhood and Elementary demon-strated more student-centered beliefs than those who taught inhigher grades. Moreover, similar results were found when in-service teachers beliefs were compared for teaching subjects. Earlychildhood teachers expressed more student-centered beliefs thanTurkish, Math and Social Studies teachers in the teaching strategiessubscale. These results reected traditional differences amongvarious teaching subjects (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; McMullen,1999; Smith,1997). These ndings are the result of the nature of thesubject matter, educational curriculum and age of students. Math,Science, Language and Social Studies teachers may have concen-trated on teaching details of the subject matter because of strict andintense curriculum content that they are required to teach in an

    Table 7Differences between inventory subscale means and teachers teaching experience

    Scale Teaching experience

    18 916 1724 >24 F Sig.

    Educational objectives 22.15 22.47 21.74 22.28 1.18. 32Content 19.85 20.62 19.89 21.15 3.35 .02*Teaching strategies 21.67 22.33 21.84 21.99 0.40 .75Instructional asses. 19.15 20.62 20.32 21.07 2.90 .03*Overall 82.81 86.04 83.79 86.29 1.78 .15

    Note: *p< .05.

    N. Isikoglu et al. / Teaching and Tcurriculum content. Future research should focus on providinga more detailed understanding of student-centered beliefs ofsecondary teachers and the motivations behind those beliefs.

    Third, the analysis indicated that educational backgrounds ofthe teachers had an impact on student-centered beliefs. Teacherswith two-year teaching certicates expressed beliefs more alignedwith student-centered education in the content, teaching strate-gies, instructional assessment subscales and overall scores than theother teachers. A possible explanation for this nding is thatteachers with a two-year teaching certicate were mainlyelementary teachers. It will be useful to examine the importance ofstudent-centered education in the current four-year-teacherpreparation programs and in-service training. Reexamining andteachers beliefs in various cultural contexts. Specically, recentschool reform initiatives are built on the student-centered educa-tion. Sharing the distinctive features of teachers student-centeredbeliefs can provide a valuable source for many schools and teacherswho try to initiate these types of curricular shifts. In this point,Elkind (2004) states that constructivist educational reform willsucceed only when three types of readiness are in place: teacher,curricular and societal. The future success of this reform maydepend on the readiness of teachers. These teachers need to havea better understanding of theoretical and practical underpinningsof student-centered education. When implementing such changesand reforms, the beliefs of teachers should be inuenced in a waythat teachers willingly employ these changes and are able totransform their current teaching practices. As mentioned above,both in-service and pre-service training, which aim to promote thebelief change in student-centered content, teaching strategies andinstructional assessment, is urgently needed to create successfulcurriculum reforms.

    Even though this research pointed out many important ndingsand implications, it has some limitations. Our study had a limitednumber of participants that did not allow us to generalize acrossteaching subjects. Future research needs to be conducted witha bigger sample. The sample used in this research was selectedamong the K-8 teachers and did not represent other teachers. Ifexpectations of teachers are to teach in a student-centered way,then, beliefs of teachers who teach at K-8 and even in highereducation should be investigated.


    This research is supported by The Scientic and TechnologicalResearch Council of Turkey (TUB_ITAK) funds.


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    Assessing in-service teachers instructional beliefs about student-centered education: A Turkish perspectiveIntroductionTheoretical underpinnings: Constructivism and behavioralismStudent-centered education in Turkey

    MethodologyPopulation and sampleDevelopment of instrumentReliability and validity of instrumentProcedures

    Results and discussionDescriptive statisticsAnalysis

    Summary and conclusionAcknowledgementReferences


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