Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 34, No. 1, February 2011, 99–125.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationships between moral reasoning and epistemological beliefs in the context of educational research.
Specifically, the researcher focused on two research questions:
1. What types of epistemological beliefs (omniscient authority, simple knowledge, certain knowledge, innate ability, or quick learning) do elementary student teachers (ESTs) exhibit?
2. What are the relationships between ESTs’ epistemological beliefs and their moral reasoning?
Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to explore ESTs’ epistemological beliefs and moral reasoning. As a type of mixed-methods research, quantitative-dominant mixed-methods research (Sullivan 2009) guided the present study.
The sample consisted of 96 elementary student teachers (ESTs) in Turkey: 27 females and 69 males. All participants were elementary education student teachers who would teach first grade through fifth grade students. All participants were in their final year of the course.
The findings of this study demonstrated that epistemological beliefs did not make a unique contribution to moral reasoning. Based on this finding, therefore, it can be claimed that epistemological beliefs and moral reasoning represent separate dimensions of cognitive development.
The results of this study also showed that while student teachers develop more sophisticated beliefs in some epistemological dimensions (e.g., quick learning), they develop less sophisticated beliefs in other epistemological dimensions (e.g.,simple knowledge). It can be concluded that ESTs have different epistemological beliefs in different degrees.
These epistemological beliefs are crucial for teaching and learning because they influence students’ and teachers’ learning and teaching practices.
Teachers should understand their own beliefs and the relationships of these beliefs with their classroom practices (Schraw and Olafson 2002). Teacher educators should help students be aware of and improve their beliefs.
At this point, teacher education programmes may provide an ideal context for ESTs to improve their epistemological beliefs. Courses (i.e., philosophy and history of science, field experiences, and educational methods) including epistemic reflections or argumentation may help ESTs develop their epistemological beliefs.
It is necessary to focus more the practicum course. This course can provide a context for ESTs to see how their epistemological beliefs are connected with their educational practices. ESTs in practicum experience try to learn how they link theory and practice in classroom settings.
Furthermore, linking theoretical concepts to their practical application is one of the most important aims of teacher education programmes. This linking could be achieved by continuing the discussion of epistemological beliefs and their implications for practice in the practicum experience (Schraw and Olafson 2002). It can be suggested that elementary school and university cooperation need to be fostered to provide ESTs with an opportunity to develop not only their epistemological beliefs but also their epistemological practices.
Schraw, G., and L. Olafson. 2002. Teachers’ epistemological world views and educational practices. Issues in Education 8, no. 2: 99–149.
Sullivan, L.E 2009. The Sage glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. New York: Sage.