Degree of Alignment between Beginning Teachers' Practices and Beliefs about Effective Classroom Practices

Jul. 10, 2009

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 44, Issue 3 (July 2009) , pages 164 - 187
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of the current study was to explore the alignment of beginning teachers' beliefs and practices, in comparison to an experienced, exemplary teacher. To further explore relationships between teachers' beliefs and practices, the authors also explored aspects that might help beginning teachers become more effective.


Participants included six beginning primary school teachers (completing their first or second year as full-time teachers) and one experienced teacher (completing her thirteenth year of teaching). Beginning teachers had participated in the mentoring study previously described (Roehrig et al., 2008), thus at the end of their yearlong mentoring experience they were known to vary in their implementation levels of exemplary teaching practices (i.e., practices identified by Pressley and his colleagues; Pressley et al., 2003).
The experienced teacher had been previously identified as exemplary (in Bogner et al., 2002). She also served as a mentor in the Roehrig et al. (2008) mentoring study; as the most effective teacher observed in that previous study, she was selected for the current study as the model to which the beginning teachers were compared.

Each teacher taught at a different parochial school located in a small Midwestern city. Two taught kindergarten, three taught first grade, and two taught second grade. All participating teachers were female Caucasians, reflective of U.S. demographics indicating teachers are primarily female and Caucasian (Taylor & Sobel, 2001).

Each teacher's classroom varied in the number of students and range of students' SES levels (i.e., percent of students at the school eligible for free/reduced-price lunch; Indiana Department of Education, 2003).

Data Collection

Data were collected during and after teachers participated in year-long teacher-induction mentoring programs; beginning teachers were mentees, and the experienced teacher served as a mentor for one of these beginning teachers. Primary data sources included interviews with teachers and classroom observations.

Teacher beliefs, classroom practices, and student engagement data were coded from theory-driven and data-driven perspectives. The strongest teachers demonstrated alignment between promotive/positive practices, beliefs, and students' engagement. The weakest teachers, whose students were less consistently engaged, demonstrated alignment between undermining practices and beliefs. For beginning teachers, with misaligned practices and beliefs, there may be potential for improving practices with experience. A testable model emerged depicting a metacognitive feedback loop for teachers who are aware of their shortcomings and place responsibility for students' behaviors and learning on themselves.

Bogner, K., Raphael, L. M. and Pressley, M. (2002) How grade 1 teachers motivate literate activity by their students. Scientific Studies of Reading 6 , pp. 135-165. [informaworld]

Indiana Department of Education (2003) Indiana accountability system for academic progress.

Pressley, M., Roehrig, A. D., Raphael, L. M., Dolezal, S. E., Bohn, C. Mohan, L. et al. Reynolds, W. M. and Miller, G. E. (eds) (2003) Teaching processes in elementary and secondary education. Handbook of psychology, Vol. 7: Educational psychology pp. 153-175. Wiley , New York.

Roehrig, A. D., Bohn, C. M., Turner, J. E. and Pressley, M. (2008) Mentoring beginning primary teachers for exemplary teaching practices. Teaching and Teacher Education 24 , pp. 684-702. [ERA - General Abstracts].

Taylor, S. V. and Sobel, D. (2001) Addressing the discontinuity of students' and teachers' diversity: A preliminary study of preservice teachers' beliefs and perceived skills. Teaching and Teacher Education 17 , pp. 487-503. [ crossref ]


Updated: Jul. 21, 2009