Pre-service and In-service Teachers’ Beliefs about Teaching and Learning Chemistry in Turkey

Oct. 01, 2013

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 36, No. 4, 464–479, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to investigate different aspects of teacher beliefs in Turkey in the case of chemistry education, including any differences existing between in-service and pre-service teachers.
The focal points of the research were to construct a picture of: pre-service and in-service teachers’ beliefs about how chemistry teaching in Turkey is taking place; the overall objectives of chemistry instruction; and classroom culture and activities.

A qualitative evaluation was employed to offer information on student-teachers’ beliefs about classroom organisation, their beliefs about teaching objectives, and their stance on epistemological beliefs.
Data were collected through two questionnaires and participants’ drawings of classroom situations.

The sample was comprised of two separate groups: 29 in-service teachers and 27 pre-service teachers from Turkey.
Most of the in-service teachers work as chemistry teachers in secondary schools.
A few of them also work as science and technology teachers in elementary schools.
The pre-service teachers were all last-year student-teachers in a Department of Chemistry Teaching.



The results showed that both pre-service and in-service teachers in Turkey hold very traditional views when it comes to the teaching and learning of chemistry.
These beliefs are characterised by high levels of teacher-centredness, a transmissionoriented understanding of learning, and a strong focus on pure subject-matter learning.
On the other hand, the part of the study examining the nature of good education showed that both groups of teachers value more modern ideas when it comes to teaching and learning in general.
One interpretation of the data is that teachers instinctively know that learning is more than rote memorisation of content matter and that learning represents a process.
However, such knowledge and understanding does not necessarily influence the teachers’ actions in the classroom.
A second observation is that both groups of teachers hold quite similar traditional beliefs.
One can assume that such beliefs in student-teachers are mainly a construct resulting from the learners’ previous experiences as schoolchildren – and quite possibly as university students.
In this sense, these observations present a picture of chemistry teaching practices in the Turkish school system demanding higher levels of self-reflection with the aid of modern educational theories.
Yet teacher education for both pre-service and in-service teachers does not seem to substantially change these beliefs.

In summary, this study indicates that the structure of chemistry teacher education in Turkey needs to be changed.
One possibility might be offering additional courses on modern educational theory and pedagogy in order to connect them more thoroughly with teachers’ personal teaching experiences.
Furthermore, reflection upon both the structure of educational seminars offered during initial teacher education and the practices incorporated into in-service education may prove valuable.
Teaching workshops should also include self-reflection.
Such workshops need to be optimised in order to more thoroughly present prospective teachers with concrete, learner-active methods in the classroom, more instructional tools, and increased levels of illustrative examples in the domain-specific learning environments they will later face.
But teachers also need tools and abilities that allow them to reflect upon teaching objectives in the sense of scientific literacy, including different approaches to constructivist learning.
The authors argue that one promising starting point is an initial reflection upon one’s a priori belief structure and any prevalent ideas about teaching and learning.
A period of self-reflection focusing on the question of teacher-centredness or student-centredness also helps to initiate change.
In the field of in-service education, research evidence suggests that effective change necessarily demands long-term cooperation, external support and structured connectedness, which takes into account the individual’s own experiences and reflections.

In conclusion, the strategy having the highest potential for promoting change includes handling all three action points in parallel: integrate in-depth reflection on prevalent beliefs into prospective teachers’ professional learning process within the university study programme; reorganise introductory seminars in the initial teacher education phase, so that a more thorough connection between modern educational theory and personal teaching experience exists; and establish long-term continuous professional development programmes firmly based on teacher collaboration, interactive workshops, and/or action research-based innovations (Mamlok-Naaman and Eilks 2012).

Mamlok-Naaman, R., and I. Eilks. 2012. “Action Research to Promote Chemistry Teachers’ Professional Development – Cases and Experiences from Israel And Germany.” International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 10 (3): 581–610.

Updated: Mar. 02, 2016