Student Teachers’ Beliefs about Learning and Teaching and their Participation in Career-Long Learning Activities

Sep. 01, 2014

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 40, No. 4, 344–358, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aims to investigate the relationship between beliefs about learning and teaching and participation in learning activities among student teachers.

The participants were 110 student teachers , in a school-based teacher education setting for secondary education in the Netherlands, who completed an online beliefs and learning survey.


The authors found that student teachers student teachers appear to hold equally strong subject matter-oriented and pupil-oriented beliefs, but they also appear to vary in their beliefs. In this study, they found a relationship between beliefs about learning and teaching and reported participation in learning activities by student teachers: the more pupil-oriented student teachers are, the more they participate in learning activities. No significant relationship exists between subject matter orientation and learning.

In addition, student teachers who are positively oriented towards the learning and development of their pupils also seem positively oriented towards their own learning and development, but the level of subject matter orientation seems rather neutral in relation to their participation in learning activities. Furthermore, student teachers exhibit two combined profiles with different strengths: a pupil-dominant profile and a subject-dominant profile. Student teachers with a pupil-dominant profile represent 39% of the whole sample, and they participate significantly more often in all three types of learning activities.


In accordance with research into ways to stimulate student teachers’ pupil orientation in teacher education programmes, the authors propose the following four key principles for the promotion of pupil orientation in school-based initial teacher education:

(1) Student teachers should acknowledge that good knowledge of the subject matter is important but that pupil orientation is crucial. They should become acquainted with theories and research findings in the field and explicitly engage in reflection on their own pre-conceptions through different strategies and techniques.
(2) Student teachers should be taught explicitly how to learn meaningful lessons through practice, by linking their own beliefs, practices and theory, and how to learn from both challenges and successes.
(3) Teacher educators should model the pupil-oriented thinking they aim to encourage.
(4) The work context at practice schools should model best practices in pupil orientation.

Updated: Aug. 08, 2016