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-servi