The examination of elementary preservice teachers' reflective diaries and epistemological beliefs in science laboratory

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This article was downloaded by: [134.117.10.200]On: 29 November 2014, At: 12:11Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKTeaching in Higher EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cthe20The examination of elementarypreservice teachers' reflective diariesand epistemological beliefs in sciencelaboratoryGkhan Gvena, Yusuf Slna & Aylin amaa Department of Elementary Science Education, Faculty ofEducation, Mula Stk Koman University, 48000 Mula, TurkeyPublished online: 07 Jul 2014.To cite this article: Gkhan Gven, Yusuf Sln & Aylin am (2014) The examination of elementarypreservice teachers' reflective diaries and epistemological beliefs in science laboratory, Teaching inHigher Education, 19:8, 895-907, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2014.934350To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2014.934350PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cthe20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/13562517.2014.934350http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2014.934350http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThe examination of elementary preservice teachers reflective diariesand epistemological beliefs in science laboratoryGkhan Gven, Yusuf Sln and Aylin am*Department of Elementary Science Education, Faculty of Education, Mula Stk KomanUniversity, 48000 Mula, Turkey(Received 21 August 2013; accepted 4 June 2014)The study investigated the reflective dairies and epistemological beliefs of sophomoreelementary preservice teachers (PTs) who were taking a science laboratory course.Twenty volunteers were participated in the study. The data were collected through thereflective dairies and open-ended questions about their epistemological beliefs.The data obtained from the reflective diaries were evaluated using descriptiveanalysis. The participant answered the open-ended questions twice, before and afterthe intervention. Chi-square analysis was used to find out whether there was aninteraction between the reflective diaries and the epistemological beliefs of the PTs.The study has shown that the scores given for the reflective diary improved everyweek. The study also found that epistemological beliefs developed in all dimensionsexcept for the certain knowledge dimension. In addition, the results of this study maysuggest that there is a positive interaction between the participants reflective diariesand the dimensions of their epistemological beliefs.Keywords: science laboratory; reflective diaries; epistemological beliefs; elementarypreservice teachersIntroductionThis research examined the reflective diaries and epistemological beliefs of elementarypreservice teachers (EPTs) taking a science laboratory course. The study tried todetermine the EPTs understanding of the scientific phenomena, and how they used theirskills in the scientific process and related the subjects to everyday life. The present studyalso examined whether writing reflective diaries affected the EPTs epistemologicalbeliefs. The diaries played a significant role in the development of inquiry skills amongthe preservice teachers (PTs), as well as enhancing both communication between theteachers and self-awareness about their learning (Towndrow, Ling, and Venthan 2008),helping them create continuous records of their experiences and ideas, reinforcing theirlearning and assisting with their professional development (Griffith and Frieden 2000).The students belief systems also have an important role in the development of thesecharacteristics. Several studies that have examined the epistemological beliefs of bothstudents and PTs (Brownlee et al. 2011; Dart et al. 1998) have found that students andteachers who have sophisticated epistemological beliefs are very successful in the field of*Corresponding author. Email: aylincam@gmail.comTeaching in Higher Education, 2014Vol. 19, No. 8, 895907, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2014.934350 2014 Taylor & FrancisDownloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 mailto:aylincam@gmail.comhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2014.934350education. For this reason, it is important to investigate the reflective diaries andepistemological beliefs of the EPTs.Epistemological beliefs and reflective diariesAll the different and interrelated beliefs that individuals hold form a system of beliefs.Belief systems that affect thinking and behavior processes can be characterized aspersonal differences. Piaget (1972) proposed that people have different beliefs about thenature of knowledge and of knowing because each person is different from everyone else.This explains the concept of personal epistemology. According to a number of researchers(Perry 1970; Belenky et al. 1986; Baxter-Magolda 1992; Kuhn, Cheney, and Weinstock2000), epistemological beliefs involve a longitudinal and simple to complex thinkingprocess and have only one dimension. However, Schommer (1990) has proposed thatepistemological beliefs consist of more than one independent dimension. These includecertain knowledge, simple knowledge, quick learning, source of knowledge, and innateability. According to Schommer, epistemological beliefs can have a direct and an indirecteffect on learning, and epistemological beliefs can be changed through teaching methodsand over time.Reflective diaries are one of the factors that affect epistemological beliefs during thelearning and teaching process. Wilson and Jan (1993) define this type of writing as diariesthat reflect students own words or sentences, their scope of learning and personalresponses to the learning process, their doubts, feelings and ideas, and their knowledge.Reflective diaries are tools students can use to write about their actions, observations,questions, answers, and impressions in their science classes (Erduran-Avci 2008). Thesediaries are also useful for recording problems to be solved, guidelines to follow,observations, results, and impressions (Ruiz-Primo et al. 2004). In particular, diaries helpstudents to reflect on their experiences during labs and to put up bridges mutuallybetween teachers and students. As a result of these diaries, students are better ableidentify the situations or manners they fear or even try to avoid.Literature review about epistemological beliefs and reflective diariesMost of the studies that have been conducted on epistemological beliefs have aimed atdefining the students or teachers epistemological beliefs and identifying other factorsthat are related to the beliefs they hold. However, researchers have now become interestedin how epistemological beliefs can be improved as well (Brownlee et al. 2011; Brownlee,Purdie, and Boulton-Lewis 2001; May and Etkina 2002). Improving epistemologicalbeliefs is important because students and teachers with sophisticated epistemologicalbeliefs have been found to be more successful in the field of education, to use skills thatare more scientific and inquiry thinking and to have higher motivation (Neber andSchommer-Aikins 2002). Therefore, teachers with sophisticated epistemological beliefsapply teaching methods that best suit the need of their classes, have more confidence, andfeel that they have enough knowledge to teach both theoretical- and laboratory-basedlessons. In addition, it has been shown that teachers who have sophisticated epistemo-logical beliefs use different teaching strategies more effectively and are more sensitiveand open to the different points of view of their students. By contrast, teachers with naiveepistemological beliefs consider students views as wrong or insufficient and simplystate the correct answer immediately (Hashweh 1996). In order to help students and896 G. Gven et al.Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 teachers improve their epistemological beliefs, some teaching methods and techniqueshave been developed, such as constructivist ones (Chang 2005), group discussion (Kinget al. 2000), inquiry laboratory techniques (Deniz 2011), and reflective diaries (Brownleeet al. 2011; Dart et al. 1998).The focus of studies that examine reflective diaries is considerably different fromthose that look at epistemological beliefs. Brownlee, Purdie, and Boulton-Lewis (2001)and Towndrow, Ling and Venthan (2008), for example, used diaries as an educational toolwithin their classes. These diaries have also been used as a technique for improvingreflective thinking (Nckles et al. 2004), an alternative assessment for better recognitionamong students within the learning process (Korkmaz 2004), a developmental assessmentfor students conceptual and factual learning (Erduran-Avci 2008), and an educationaltechnique in laboratory applications (Burke, Greenbowe, and Hand 2006).The current studyIn this study, reflective diaries were used as an educational technique in laboratoryapplications to help students in a science course learn about the nature of science,acquiring knowledge, and also understanding how this knowledge is related to facts andhow new evidence could change that knowledge. The students were involved in boththeoretical and hands-on science in the laboratory applications. By doing experiments,students can support theories at the same time as transforming abstract concepts intoconcrete ones and being able to learn by working in groups. Some research works haveshown the importance of laboratory applications for achieving the objectives of sciencecourses (Gecer 2005).It is, therefore, important for EPTs to understand the content and objectives of thescience laboratory course. However, in order to do this, they need to be qualified toperform analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Only then they can reach the target and thepoint of the activities (McRobbie and Fraser 1993; Singer, Hilton, and Schweingruber2005). In order to teach their own students, these skills and how to write reflectivediaries, EPTs need to learn laboratory applications and feel comfortable with their ownlevels of knowledge. However, EPTs have not been found to be good in sciencelaboratory applications, in terms of both understanding and assessing their students(Yung 2001).The science laboratory course is the first one in which EPTs are introduced to sciencelaboratories. It is important to find out about the epistemological beliefs of the EPTsduring their initial experiences of the science laboratory in order to examine thedevelopment of their epistemological beliefs. In this study, the EPTs learned aboutElectricity in our Lives. The reason for choosing this topic is that EPTs often havedifficulty understanding it (Yilmaz and Cavas 2006) and are not capable of doingexperiments on the topic. In addition, they have had problems holding the studentsattention while doing the experiments and connecting the topic to daily life. The EPTshad a chance to experience electricity experiments, to use the materials and to learn howthe experiments are performed. As a result, they were able to connect the topic ofelectricity to daily life and to see real-life applications for it.Through this laboratory course, the EPTs reflective diaries might also have a positiveeffect on their epistemological beliefs. Therefore, EPTs who participated in this study wereasked to write reflective diaries after each experiment and activity. The study investigatedwhether there was any change in the EPTs epistemological beliefs and any interactionTeaching in Higher Education 897Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 between their reflective diaries and their epistemological beliefs. The purpose of the studywas to examine how EPTs learning experiences affect their epistemological beliefs.The research questions were as follows:(1) How effectively do EPTs use reflective diaries in the science laboratory course?(2) How do EPTs epistemological beliefs change when they take the sciencelaboratory course?(3) How do the reflective diary writing and epistemological beliefs of the EPTs whotook the science laboratory course relate to each other?MethodParticipantsThe study included 20 sophomore EPTs (11 males and 9 females), who participatedvoluntarily. The mean age of the participants was 21 years. The study was conductedthrough the science laboratory course, which all of the participants were taking. Thecourse covers laboratory applications, activities, and experiments related to chemistry,biology, and physics courses. Once the EPTs have graduated from the program, theyshould be able to apply these activities easily when teaching elementary students.MaterialsFor this study, the EPTs were required to write reflective diaries each week and wereasked to answer open-ended questions about their epistemological beliefs at thebeginning and at the end of the intervention.Reflective diariesThe EPTs were required to write reflective diaries so that the study could determine theirunderstanding of the course objectives, their use of scientific knowledge and language,their skills in the scientific process, their understanding of scientific concepts andphenomena, and the links they made between their subject and daily life. The diariesmight also reveal how EPTs sequence their ideas, support their views with knowledge andlogic, provide evidence to support their results, and use efficient models, diagrams,graphics, and drawings (Towndrow, Ling, and Venthan 2008). The EPTs were asked toinclude the following questions when they wrote their reflective diaries: what are myquestions on todays lesson, what did I learn in todays lesson, and what were thechallenging issues in todays class. These questions had been used previously in a studyconducted by Towndrow, Ling, and Venthan (2008).The diaries of the EPTs were evaluated by a rubric that was developed by researchers.To develop this rubric, the researchers examined studies done by Erduran-Avci (2008)and Brookhart (1999). The rubric clearly describes the meaning and characteristics ofeach score given. The content, construct, and criterion-related validity of the rubric wereconfirmed. In order to evaluate the reliability of the instrument, three different researchersused this rubric to examine the 20 reflective diaries. Their answers were analyzed throughone-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and the result showed no difference betweentheir answers (F = 0.589; p > 0.05). This shows that the result obtained by eachresearcher is consistent with those of the others.898 G. Gven et al.Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 Open-ended questions about epistemological beliefsThese questions were developed by researchers who examined studies conducted bySchommer (1990) and Topcu (2011) while developing them. Each question in theprepared open-ended epistemological beliefs measures all the dimensions that Schommer(1990) proposed. These dimensions include certain knowledge, simple knowledge, quicklearning, source of knowledge, and innate ability. Experts examined the open-endedquestions in terms of the EPTs levels, coverage, content, and language in order tovalidate this instrument. The questions were then administered as a pilot study to 10 EPTsto ensure that the questions were both accurate and readily understood. Once this wascompleted, the open-ended questions about their epistemological beliefs were adminis-tered to all EPTs.To develop a rubric to evaluate the EPTs responses to these questions about theirepistemological beliefs, the researchers examined studies by Brownlee, Purdie, andBoulton-Lewis (2001) and Pulmones (2010). The rubric was then studied by experts inthe area of epistemological beliefs. Three researchers evaluated the reliability of theinstrument. Their answers were analyzed through one-way ANOVA, and the resultshowed no significant difference between their answers (F = 0.382; p > 0.05). This showsthat the result obtained by each researcher is consistent with those of the others. TheEPTs responses to the questions about their open-ended epistemological beliefs weregrouped as naive, moderate, and advanced. For example, in the dimension of certainknowledge, when EPTs stated that knowledge does not change in time, and knowledge isabsolute and certain, they were considered to have naive epistemological beliefs, if theystated that some knowledge is certain and does not change, and some knowledgechanges in time, they were considered to have moderate epistemological beliefs, andwhen they stated that knowledge changes in time and it is not certain, theirepistemological beliefs were considered to be sophisticated.ProceduresThis study took 7 weeks. The EPTs learned activities related to Electricity in our Livesand examined the related literature while they were developing these activities. Theexperts then evaluated these activities, which included objectives, materials, and the stepsinvolved in them. Five activities were implemented in a 2-hour laboratory session. TheEPTs used experimentation, demonstration, group work, analogy, brain storming, anddiscussion while preparing these activities, so they were truly student centered.One of the activities conducted in the laboratory concerned the question, Does allmatter conduct electricity? Before starting the lessons, the EPTs were asked questionsrelating to their understanding of conductivity, insulator, and semi-conductor. Theydiscussed these topics as a class, and then divided up into groups and prepared experimentsfor learning about the conductivity of some of the materials presented in the activity. Thecourse instructor wrote each groups responses to the questions about conductor, insulator,and semi-conductor materials on the board, and the groups were then asked to come to aconsensus about each category. The groups had to provide the reason for their responses foreach of the categories. Some EPTs tried additional experiments in order to convince theothers. After all of the groups had arrived at a consensus for each category, they were askedabout why insulator materials do not conduct electricity, and why conductor materialsconduct electricity, and they discussed these issues. At the end of the lesson, the EPTssummarized the activity and then wrote their reflective diaries for that lesson.Teaching in Higher Education 899Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 The EPTs were expected to write reflective diaries at the end of the each lesson, andthe diaries were collected each time. On the following week, the diaries were given backto the EPTs with feedback that included suggestions for their subsequent diary entries.Open-ended questions about the EPTs epistemological beliefs were administered at thebeginning and at the end of the intervention.FindingsHow effectively do EPTs use reflective diaries in the science laboratory course?Reflective diaries were scored as 1 (poor), 2 (moderate), 3 (good), and 4 (very good). Inthis study, the scores of all the EPTs improved gradually from 1 week to the next. This isshown in Figure 1.The mean score for the EPTs reflective diaries from the first to the fifth week were1.95, 2.25, 2.70, 3.30, and 3.45, respectively. Table 1 shows the distributions of theparticipants scores.According to this table, the EPTs generally wrote at the 2 (moderate) level in the firstand second weeks, at the 2 (moderate) and 3 (good) levels in the third week, and at the3 (good) and 4 (very good) levels in the fourth and fifth weeks. Therefore, in this studythe EPTs scores for reflective diaries generally improved from moderate to very good.The following samples of some of the EPTs reflective diaries demonstrate levels1 (poor), 2 (moderate), 3 (good), and 4 (very good):I. Diary00.511.522.533.54Mean scoresII. Diary III. Diary IV. Diary V. DiaryFigure 1. The weekly development of the mean scores in the diaries of all EPTs.Table 1. Participants reflective dairy score distributions (frequency and percentage).1 (Poor) 2 (Moderate) 3 (Good) 4 (Very good) TotalN % N % N % N % N %I. Reflective dairy 5 25 11 55 4 20 0 0 20 100II. Reflective dairy 2 10 11 55 7 35 0 0 20 100III. Reflective dairy 0 0 9 45 8 40 3 15 20 100IV. Reflective dairy 0 0 2 10 10 50 8 40 20 100V. Reflective dairy 0 0 0 0 11 55 9 45 20 100900 G. Gven et al.Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 EPT 7 (II. Reflective diary): resistance is a substances strength against electrical current andis measured with a voltmeter. Current is the system that can work a light bulb throughelectricity coming from voltage; voltage is the power source for forming electrical currents.(Level 1 Poor)EPT 17 (I. Reflective diary): In the Volta battery experiment, the reason for lighting LEDbulbs with vinegar is that electrons interact with each other and an electron is released. Thus,we can light LED bulbs with every kind of liquid, as long as this liquid has its own electrodewhich interacts with the liquid. (Level 2 Moderate)EPT 1 (II. Reflective diary): In order to examine the effect of the conductor length on thebrightness of the bulb, we lit the bulb with a short conductor and then a tall conductor when we examined each type of conductor, the current in zinc was 14.2 ohm, and in copperit was 23.1 ohm. According to this result, when the type of conductor changed, the currentand brightness of bulb also changed. (Level 3 Good)EPT 15 (IV. Reflective diary): Salt water, iron, acid, and bases are conductive materials;however, wood, plastic, and sugar water are insulator materials. Superconductor materialsare active at lower temperatures, and in high-speed rail superconductor materials are usedwith artificial condenser. (Level 4 Very good)The EPTs reflective diaries were evaluated using a rubric that was developed byresearchers. For example, EPT 7 (II. Reflective diary) provided only definitions forcurrent, resistance, and voltage. However, EPT 17 (I. Reflective diary) included theresults of the experiment, and which could show that he or she had developed skills in thescientific process, and he or she therefore had moderate level reflective diary writing.Because EPT 1 (II. Reflective diary) made inferences and assessments using thequantitative results of the experiment, he or she categorized as having a good level ofreflective diary writing. Finally, EPT 15 (IV. Reflective diary) connected laboratoryapplications with daily life and therefore achieved a very good level of reflective diarywriting.How do EPTs epistemological beliefs change when they take thescience laboratory course?Every one of the open-ended questions measures each dimension of the epistemologicalbeliefs, and the EPTs responses were scored according to the rubric as naive, moderate, andsophisticated. In general, most of the EPTs had sophisticated beliefs for the certainknowledge dimension (80%), moderate beliefs for innate ability (55%), and naive beliefsfor source of knowledge (50%), quick learning (45%), and simple knowledge (45%).At the beginning of the intervention, the EPTs generally had sophisticatedepistemological beliefs for certain knowledge. EPTs with sophisticated epistemologicalbeliefs stated that scientific knowledge could change over time, while those with naiveepistemological beliefs said that scientific knowledge did not change. The EPTs also hadmoderate epistemological beliefs concerning innate ability when they started theintervention. Those with moderate epistemological beliefs for this dimension stated thatboth innate ability and hard work are important for being successful, but the EPTs whohad naive epistemological beliefs said that only innate ability is important for success.The EPTs who had sophisticated epistemological beliefs in this dimension stated that, inTeaching in Higher Education 901Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 order to be successful, innate ability, hard work, and experience are all important. At thebeginning of the intervention, the EPTs had naive epistemological beliefs regardingsource of knowledge, stating that when they have problems they generally ask theirinstructor or search in books or on the Internet. EPTs with sophisticated epistemologicalbeliefs, on the other hand, said that they generally try to solve problems on their own andalso pointed out that they were able to solve these problems using their intellect. TheEPTs who had moderate epistemological beliefs in this dimension said that when theyfaced a problem they sometimes ask someone else and at other times they try to solve theproblem by themselves. At the start of the intervention, the EPTs generally had naiveepistemological beliefs for quick learning and declared that knowledge developsquickly. However, the EPTs with sophisticated epistemological beliefs in this dimensionclaimed that knowledge develops gradually, and those with moderate epistemologicalbeliefs stated that knowledge sometimes develops quickly and sometimes gradually. TheEPTs started the interventions with naive epistemological beliefs about the simpleknowledge, claiming that there is just one correct answer for each problem. Those withsophisticated epistemological beliefs stated there is more than one correct answer for eachproblem, while the EPTs with moderate epistemological beliefs said there could be one ormore than one answer for each problem, depending on the nature of the problem.When the open-ended questions about epistemological beliefs were administered tothe EPTs at the end of the interventions, their responses showed differences in all of thedimensions. In the certain knowledge dimension, 80% of the EPTs had sophisticatedbeliefs at the beginning, whereas 85% of them had sophisticated beliefs at the end. Forthe innate ability dimension, 55% started off with moderate epistemological beliefs and40% with sophisticated ones, whereas 35% had moderate epistemological beliefsand 65% had sophisticated ones at the end. In the source of knowledge dimension,50% had naive epistemological beliefs at the beginning and 30% had sophisticated ones,while by the end 20% had naive epistemological beliefs and 60% had sophisticated ones.In the quick learning dimension, 45% started with naive epistemological beliefs and25% with sophisticated ones, but only 5% had naive epistemological beliefs and 60% hadsophisticated ones at the end. In terms of simple knowledge, at the beginning of theintervention 45% had naive epistemological beliefs and 25% had sophisticated ones,whereas 25% of them had naive epistemological beliefs and 60% had sophisticated onesat the end of the intervention.Therefore, the EPTs beliefs concerning certain knowledge did not change, for theinnate ability dimension they developed from moderate to sophisticated, and forthe dimensions for source of knowledge, quick learning, and simple knowledge theepistemological beliefs developed from naive to sophisticated.How do the reflective diary writing and epistemological beliefs of theEPTs who took the science laboratory course relate to each other?According to the results of the study, both the EPTs scores in their reflective diaries andin their epistemological beliefs improved. In order to determine the interaction betweenthe reflective diaries and the epistemological beliefs, the mean scores of 5-week reflectivediaries were compared to the epistemological beliefs.According to the results of the Chi-square statistics, as shown in Table 2, all of theEPTs who had moderate epistemological beliefs for the certain knowledge dimensionwrote reflective diaries that were considered to be good, and the EPTs with sophisticated902 G. Gven et al.Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 epistemological beliefs on that dimension wrote reflective diaries that were moderate(47.1%) and good (52.9%). This shows that there was an interaction between the certainknowledge dimension and the reflective diaries 2 (SD = 1, n = 20) = 7.356, p < 0.05.Similarly, an interaction exists between the reflective diary scores and the certainknowledge 2 (SD = 1, n = 20) = 4.105, p < 0.05; the source of knowledge 2 (SD = 1,n = 20) = 6.869, the quick learning 2 (SD = 1, n = 20) = 7.472, p < 0.05, and the simpleknowledge 2 (SD = 1, n = 20) = 8.497, p < 0.05. Thus, a positive interaction wasobserved between reflective diaries and all of the dimensions for the epistemologicalbeliefs.Table 2. Chi-square test results.Reflective dairyEpistemological beliefs dimensions Moderate Good Total 2 SD pCertain knowledgeNative N 0 0 0 7.356 1 0.035% 0 0 0Moderate N 0 3 3% 0 100 100Sophisticated N 9 8 17% 52.9 47.1 100Innate abilityNative N 0 0 0 4.105 1 0.043% 0 0 0Moderate N 6 1 7% 85.7 14.3 100Sophisticated N 3 10 13% 23.1 76.9 100Source of knowledgeNative N 3 1 4 6.869 2 0.032% 75 25 100Moderate N 2 2 4% 50 50 100Sophisticated N 4 8 12% 33.3 66.7 100Quick learningNative N 1 0 1 7.472 2 0.024% 100 100 100Moderate N 4 3 7% 57.1 42.9 100Sophisticated N 4 8 12% 33.3 66.7 100Simple knowledgeNative N 4 1 5 8.497 2 0.014% 80 20 100Moderate N 3 0 3% 100 0 100Sophisticated N 2 10 12% 16.7 83.3 100Teaching in Higher Education 903Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 Discussion and conclusionHow effectively do EPTs use reflective diaries in the science laboratory course?The results of this study have shown that EPTs wrote better reflective diaries at the end ofthe intervention than at the beginning. The scores they achieved for these diaries improvedfrom moderate to very high. This result could suggest that during the time of this study,the EPTs proficient at using scientific knowledge, scientific language, and scientificconcepts and phenomena, supporting their ideas with knowledge and logic, providingevidence for their results creating effective models, diagram, graphics, and drawings, andapplying the experiments and activities done in the class to their daily lives. This result canbe explained as follows: the instructors provided the EPTs with feedback on a weeklybasis, discussion occurred while they were doing the activities, abstract concepts weretransformed into concrete ones by doing experiments, and the EPTs had a chance to testscientific phenomena in the laboratory through their reflective writing.As in the present study, Erduran-Avci (2008) found that students reflective diariesimproved in matter of weeks. The findings of other researchers support our results aswell. For example, Erduran-Avci (2008) mentioned that reflective writings can assist withthe development of scientific language and in understanding apparently scientificphenomena and concepts. Langer (2002) also has stated that reflective diaries are helpfulfor the transfer of knowledge among students, and Towndrow, Ling, and Venthan (2008)said that reflective writings affect the number and quality of the questions students askabout the course content and that students understanding and knowledge of scientificphenomena and concepts improved through laboratory applications.EPTs who have had experience with reflective diaries are also likely to transfer theirexperiences to their future students. Because of their own experiences with reflectivediaries, they communicate more easily with their students, acquire information to help thestudents gain an understanding of concepts and scientific knowledge, and providefeedback to their students. EPTs should, then, complete reflective dairy writings in orderto assist their own students in learning about the structures of science, developing theirinquiry skills, realizing their own learning processes, and thinking skeptically andscientifically by relating the material covered in the course to real life.How do EPTs epistemological beliefs change when they take thescience laboratory course?The other important result of this study is that the EPTs epistemological beliefs improvedin all dimensions except for one: certain knowledge. Reflective diaries may well behelpful for promoting epistemological beliefs because EPTs can record their reflectionson scientific knowledge, skills in the scientific process, scientific phenomena, andconcepts, and applications to daily life. As a result, EPTs would be able to investigateproblems related to knowledge and become aware of the sources of knowledge, the natureof knowledge, and certainty of knowledge. May and Etkina (2002) have suggested thatwhen students grew aware of the views they hold about knowledge and learning, theirepistemological beliefs improved. Similarly, the reflective writings of students and PTs onlearning and teaching (Dart et al. 1998) and on their experiences in the field (Brownleeet al. 2011) can have a positive effect on their epistemological beliefs. In addition, thefeedback that was given on the reflective diary writing and the discussions that related toit could, according to King et al. (2000), affect students epistemological beliefs.904 G. Gven et al.Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 The present study found that the epistemological beliefs of the EPTs did not changefor the dimension of certain knowledge dimensions, and the reason for this result mightbe that the EPTs already had sophisticated epistemological beliefs for that dimension atthe beginning of the intervention. However, the study did reveal that EPTs epistemo-logical beliefs developed in relation to innate ability, source of knowledge, quicklearning, and simple knowledge dimensions. The EPTs discussions on scientificknowledge, hypothesis, laws, and phenomena and concepts could have contributed tothese developments. In addition, the indirect reflections of the EPTs on the simpleknowledge, source of knowledge, as well as the feedback on their reflective diaries, couldbe helpful in promoting the EPTs awareness about knowledge and learning. Some studyresults have demonstrated that epistemological beliefs also developed in simpleknowledge, quick learning, and certain knowledge (Chen and Chang 2008), simpleknowledge and quick learning (King et al. 2000), quick learning and certain knowledge(Brownlee, Purdie, and Boulton-Lewis 2001), source of knowledge and certainknowledge (Conley et al. 2004) and in all of the dimensions (Deniz 2011). These resultssuggest that the dimensions of epistemological beliefs can be developed and that each canbe developed with different teaching methods.Developing EPTs epistemological beliefs, then, is vital because this helps to increasethe quality of their classroom instruction in terms of their learningteaching processes.Teachers who have sophisticated epistemological beliefs will struggle to become moreactive learners, achieve more qualified learning, be more active in developing academicskills in a positive way, and have greater success in the different experiences theyencounter in their lives. In addition, these teachers integrate their epistemological beliefsinto each step of their teaching processes. Indeed, when the EPTs are given a chance toinvestigate the source and certainty of knowledge and to question the permanency ofknowledge and the knowledge itself, as well as to think critically, they will conclude thatthere is no certain or single source of knowledge. Furthermore, for the dimensions ofsimple knowledge and quick learning, topics can be taught gradually, from the basic tomore complicated steps. The innate ability dimension skills can be developed byspending considerably more time on them. Therefore, teachers who have sophisticatedepistemological beliefs help their students to search, discuss, and think critically.How do the reflective diary writing and epistemological beliefs of theEPTs who took the science laboratory course relate to each other?The present study found that both the EPTs scores for their reflective diaries and theirepistemological beliefs improved. According to the result of the study, there was apositive interaction between the EPTs reflective diary scores and their epistemologicalbeliefs for each dimension. The reason for this could be that reflective diaries help theEPTs to reconstruct their views and beliefs, organize how and what they learned, evaluatetheir learning, and become aware of new ideas and thinking. The EPTs developed bothacademically and personally. Their reflective diaries helped them in terms of learning andteaching and in organizing and reconstructing their knowledge and learning. Theserevised and reconstructed views and beliefs about knowledge and learning could affecttheir epistemological beliefs in a positive way.It is important to examine this interaction between the EPTs reflective diary scoresand their epistemological beliefs because teachers who are aware of the relationshipbetween them will rearrange their teaching processes in this direction. In particular,Teaching in Higher Education 905Downloaded by [134.117.10.200] at 12:11 29 November 2014 epistemological beliefs affect the focus of learning and teaching activities and of teachingmethods and techniques used in the class. Therefore, these beliefs will affect classroomapplications and help the EPTs to provide the most effective learning environments inwhich students can achieve better performance. In addition, teachers who havesophisticated beliefs will make much more effort to develop their students abilities interms of scientific knowledge, processes, and phenomena and understanding of conceptsby writing reflective diaries. These teachers will also have knowledge of the studentsideas and interests using these diaries and, as a result, be able to the best possiblemethods. To conclude, on the one hand, epistemological beliefs will affect the teachersclassroom applications of the teaching processes and, on the other, the reflective diarieswill affect the students learning.The study found that EPTs had different epistemological beliefs for the differentdimensions. Therefore, it is important to consider EPTs epistemological beliefs whendeveloping teaching programs and activities. Since this study is a qualitative study, theresults are not generalized. 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