Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, No. 4, November 2012, 401–419
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study investigated the perceived development of student teachers’ attitude towards research and the development of their research knowledge and skills, after participating in an introductory course in teacher research.
The participants were 81 second-year student teachers at the primary teacher education institute participated in the introductory course.
A student questionnaire was developed in order to measure the students’ attitude, how they perceived the development of their attitude, knowledge and skills.
The findings reveal that the students perceived a positive development in their attitude towards research, especially in their opinions of the importance of research and their own capability of conducting and using research.
This study showed a significant difference, as students described teacher research as more important in comparison to the extent to which they were planning on carrying our research or using it in practice.
The students also stated that teacher research is important, but that they did not equally enjoy it or use it as a (prospective) teacher.
They also experienced a certain development of their research knowledge and skills. They perceived that they developed their knowledge and skills more in science-oriented topics and less in research methods and research designs.
The knowledge and skills of the science-oriented scale are strongly related to aspects of a positive attitude towards research.
There also appeared to be differences between the elements of the introductory course in terms of their contribution to the perceived development of the students.
‘Working together in pairs and groups’ on ‘realistic tasks’ derived from and supported by ‘research examples from primary teaching practice’ were rated as the most useful elements in the course for developing a positive attitude towards research and research knowledge and skills.
The (lack of) connection to the overall curriculum was the least useful element of the introductory course.
It is possible that students do not yet have the overview to understand the value of this element.
The elements of the course which are perceived to be the most important were rated even more highly by the students who developed most over the course.
Besides ‘realistic tasks’, the ‘more developed’ group of student teachers gained more from ‘working together’ with ‘examples from practice’.
The development of a positive attitude towards carrying out and using research is an important prerequisite for students to actually use research results and conduct research activities themselves as teachers.
In this study, the authors have presented the characteristics of an introductory course that simultaneously focussed on the development of research knowledge and skills and the development of a positive attitude towards research.
The operationalisation of the students’ attitude into four aspects may contribute to the existing body of knowledge about teachers’ attitudes.
The results of this study may be used to enhance the quality of research in the curriculum of teacher education.