10 SES 02 C, Exploring Teachers' Beliefs
Teachers’ beliefs about ability as fixed or dynamic is an important subject to study because these beliefs influence students’ motivation, strategies to learn, expectations of their own performance, self-concept and achievement (Dweck, 1999; Boaler, 2016; Jonsson, Beach, Korp & Erlandson, 2012). For instance teachers with a preference for ability as something genetic and unchangeable (entity theories of intelligence/fixed mindset) do not promote the pupils inner motivational resources (Leroy, Bressoux, Sarrazin, & Trouilloud, 2007), have stronger tendencies of creating a competitive climate in class (Trouilloud, Sarrazin, Bressoux & Bois, 2006) and prefer to diagnose a pupils ability from their initial achievement (Butler, 2000).
Implicit theories of intelligence (ITI) differentiates between entity theories of intelligence, ability as fixed, and incremental theories of intelligence, ability is dependent on effort and therefore possible to change. Implicit theories of intelligence drive student’s goals, motivation, the challenges they are willing to tackle, the effort they will extend and persistence in the face of difficulties (Blackwell, Rodriguez & Guerra-Carrillo, 2015). Teachers with fixed beliefs about ability provide unsolicited help, pity following failure and assign easier work to students. Students that were given this form of feedback perceived their teachers to have lower expectations of and investment in their achievement and these students showed lower motivation and expectations for their own performance (Rattan, Good & Dweck, 2012). Research has demonstrated the importance to establish the norm that ’everyone can learn to the highest level’ in classrooms (Boaler, 2016). This norm relates strongly to the beliefs that ability is changeable and something anyone can grow (Blackwell et a., 2007). The aim of this study is to explore how implicit theories of intelligence relates to other beliefs about ‘the learner’ among pre-service teachers and if gender influence beliefs about ability.
Competence and an interest for the learner are key concepts in present days policy discourses and policy initiatives dominated by ideas of neo-liberalism and performativity (Ball, 2012; Meyer & Benavot, 2013; Rizvi & Lindgard, 2010). Within such context the study explore pre-service teachers approach to “the learner” where a specific interest is taken in OECD project reporting the 21 century competences (Dumont et al. 2000) focusing on the adaptive, self-regulative learner, a more traditional view with focus on knowledge within disciplines, and also approaches to sustainability and performativity. The question is if these beliefs relate in any systematic way to beliefs about ability as something fixed and genetic or dynamic and changeable?
In the Swedish context, boys’ growing underperformance relative to girls in school has become a major concern. It has been argued that boys base their more laidback attitude and approach towards learning on a combination of beliefs about intelligence as fixed and effort as a proof of one’s dumbness, which is linked to ideas of masculinity and femininity (Holm & Öhrn, 2014). Boys in particular have been observed to avoid schoolwork that requires effort and persistence (e g Nyström, 2012). When effort and persistence in learning is interpreted as low-status behavior because academic effort is equated with low ability there is a serious problem. In this matter it is of interest if there also seems to be gender differences within ITI. Dweck and Legget, (1988) showed that girls preferred a fixed entity theory of intelligence compared to boys which also Rattan et al. (2012) confirmed however. The results are contradictive and needs further research.
How does beliefs about ‘the learners’ ability relate to 21 century competences, sustainability and performativity among pre-service teachers?
Are there gender differences in beliefs about ability as fixed or changeable among pre-service teachers?
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