Beginning Teachers Who Stay: Beliefs about Students

Apr. 15, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 39, p. 31-43, (April 2014).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this study was to explore teachers’ beliefs about students in the United States and if these beliefs evolve during the first five years of teaching.

This study was part of a larger project, the First Year Teacher Observation Project (FYTOP; Good et al., 2006). The participants were sixty-seven of the 133 successfully contacted teachers (50.4%) participated in the follow-up study.
Data were collected through a survey.


The findings reveal that beginning teachers possess adaptive beliefs about students (e.g., pride, effort).
Teachers develop more positive conceptualizations of students across time.
Furthermore, the content of teachers’ beliefs is important. Teachers perceived students as participating with others in their achievement and accomplishments; a belief that students also hold.
Finally, teachers’ more positive beliefs about learners during their first five years of teaching may serve to aid both the student and teacher in adaptive ways.
Results illustrate that teachers place a greater endorsement over time on beliefs about students that value peers, teacher, school, and small groups in the learning process, and expectations for success in working alone with the teacher, and with peers.


Findings from the present study indicate that teachers’ beliefs about students are positive and adaptive and become more cohesive and positive during the first five years of teaching, despite the challenges typically encountered by beginning teachers.

Three extensions of these findings are particularly notable.
First, these changes in beliefs appear to mirror teachers’ growth in student achievement outcomes early in their careers.
Second, although found earlier than expected in the career development process, these growing positive conceptualizations that link teachers to learners coincide with teacher identity development.
Hence, teachers build more confidence in their practices (Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996) and focus more on student understanding and achievement (Borko & Livingston, 1989) as they gain more experience in the classroom and develop expertise.
Third, this study also highlights the potential adaptive properties of having particular beliefs in the first five years of teaching on retention.
Teachers in the current study remained in the profession during the first 3-5years of teaching.
Hence, these beliefs illustrate the ways in which “stayers” modify their beliefs about learners across time, which may be an underlying factor in their career persistence.

Updated: Mar. 31, 2015