10 SES 07 D, Research on Values, Beliefs & Understandings in Teacher Education
Across the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom there has been a shift in educational policy towards evidence-based decision-making within schools (Mandinach, 2012; Schildkamp, Karbautzki, & Vanhoof, 2014; Scottish Government, 2017). This shift is marked by increasing political pressure on national education systems to account for perceived deficiencies in educational outcomes for pupils. This has resulted in increased calls for teachers to engage in data-driven decision-making (DDDM). However, research suggests that some teachers feel threatened by the concept and under prepared to engage in DDDM (Dunn, Airola, Lo, and Garrison, 2013a). Also, there is emerging evidence that many teachers do not systematically use data within their reflective practice or if they do, they only trust the data that confirms their intuition rather than using data to shape their professional judgements (Dunn, Airold & Garrison, 2013b). These findings suggest that in-service teachers may lack the skills, motivation or positive attitude towards the objective use of data to support their professional judgements. However, what is less well understood is how pre-service teachers are best prepared to utilise the variety of data available to them and what factors affect their use of data within their reflective practice. Therefore, this research aims to explore final year Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students’ attitude towards the use of data within their professional reflection.
Teachers’ attitudes and beliefs towards the use of data is complex. It is widely accepted that teachers’ attitudes and beliefs influence their action in the classroom. Therefore, information about teachers’ reasoning (both conscious and unconscious) is required. Research suggests that ‘belief’ describes the ideas that influence teachers’ decision-making regarding pedagogy, classroom behaviour and the way they organise lessons (Beck and Lumpe, 1996). Whereas Pajares (1992) suggests, “when clusters of beliefs are organised around an object or situation and predisposition to action, this holistic organisation becomes an attitude” (p.314). We argue that attitude is a psychological tendency to evaluate an object (in this case the use of data by teachers) in terms of favourable or unfavourable, and attributes dimensions such as good/bad or positive/negative (Ajzen, 2001). It is the evaluative element of this definition which plays a central role in distinguishing attitude from the concept of belief, which we suggest is more related to faith in or confidence that a principle can be accepted as true, often without proof; or opinions, which are a personal belief or judgement which may or may not be formed through recourse to evidence. Once formed, attitudes become stable, can be difficult to change, and are highly context dependent. Ajzen (2001) suggests that attitude is a complex construct composed of multiple dimensions or sub-components which require to be evaluated separately, since these contribute to varying degrees towards the overall object of attitude. If we are to better understand the object of student teachers’ attitude towards the use of data then we need to understand the dimensions or sub-components that reflect that attitude.
Drawing upon Bandura’s social learning theory to characterise the dimensions of student teachers’ attitude towards the use of data within their professional reflections, this research explores the dimensions relating to the domains of cognitive belief (Perceived Relevance and Perceived Difficulty), the affective state (Anxiety, Enjoyment) and perceived control (Self-Efficacy, Context Dependency).
This research reports some preliminary findings from the quantitative phase of an exploratory, sequential, mixed methods investigation into how final ITE students use multiple forms of evidence as part of their developing reflective practice. The final year ITE students from three teacher education programmes – Professional Graduate Diploma Education (Secondary) [PGDE (S) n=71], Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary) [PGDE (P) n=110] and the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Primary Education [BA4 n=49] - within one university school of education were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to probe the student teachers’ attitude towards the use of data within teaching practice. The questionnaire contained two sections, one asking demographic questions relating to gender, age, previous undergraduate degree (only from PGDE (S) and (P) students), and the local authority where their last teaching placement school was situated. The other contained 51 randomly distributed items from 10 subscales. Students’ placed their responses along a five-point Likert scale - Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (5) dependent on their opinion where extremes of the scale were the only named categories. Each of the 10 subscales related to the dimensions of attitude towards the use of data within teaching practice. Six subscales relating to three domains of attitude towards the use of data within teaching practice were – (1) The Cognitive Belief domain (Perceived Relevance, Perceived Difficulty); (2) The Affective State (Anxiety, Enjoyment) and (3) The Perceived Control domain (Self-Efficacy, Context Dependency). Two subscales related to Effectiveness for Pedagogy and Intentions towards Using Data and two subscales related to Reflective Scepticism and a Critical Openness originating from the Critical Thinking Disposition Scale (Sosu, 2013). The questionnaire (a paper and pencil survey) was issued to the students. Upon completion, each group’s questionnaires were checked for completion, verified by checking for pattern or spoiled papers and processed by hand using a double entry system using an Excel spreadsheet. The data were then sorted into programme groups and then from the random order that each item was presented, into groups of items relating to each subscale. The data was then transferred to SPSS for downstream descriptive and inferential analysis from the PDGE Secondary, Primary and BA4 groups. Multiple regression analysis was used to compare attitudinal subscale within participant groups and Chi-Square with Kendal’s Tau-beta and Friedman ANOVA was used to compare differences between participants groups.
Preliminary findings suggest that the reliability of the items within the questionnaire was good with a Cronbach’s Alpha for each participant group being > 0.75 with PGDE (S), PGDE (P) and BA4 having a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.904, 0.84 and 0.85 respectively. Multiple regression analysis indicate that there are significant correlations between PGDE (P) and BA4 participants levels of Anxiety v Self Efficacy (PGDE (P), F= 7.724, p=0.006; BA4, F= 5.067, p=0.029) but there was no significant correlation in PGDE (S) participants (F= 0.635, p=428). However, there was highly significant correlations for Self Efficacy v Context Dependency within the three groups (PGDE (P), F= 25.262, p<0.0001; PGDE (S), F= 65.647, p<0.0001 and BA4, F= 12.971 p= 0.001). Interestingly, there was no significant correlation between Anxiety v Enjoyment with PGDE (S) (F= 1.304, p=0.257) and BA4 (F= 1.009, p=0.320) participants but there was a significant correlation with PGDE (P) participants (F= 16.634, p<0.0001). Correlational analysis shows that there are differences between the PGDE (S), PGDE (P) and BA4 participants in terms of the percentage distribution of participants in terms of their Affective State, Perceived Control Affective Control. For example in the Affective Control category, there are clear differences in distribution between groups for those participants with Low Perceived Anxiety but High Perceived Self Efficacy [PGDE (S) 51.1%, PGDE (P) 36%, BA4 40%]; and with High Anxiety but High Self Efficacy [PGDE (S) 33.3%, PGDE (P) 27.5%, BA4 57%]. Interestingly, Perceived Self Efficacy is strongly positively correlated with context dependency with 51.7% PGDE (S), 45.0% PGDE (P) and 91.9% BA4 associating with High Context dependency and High Self Efficacy. Context dependency is emerging as a significant determinant of attitude towards the use of data in final year teacher education students.
Ajzen, I. (2001). Nature and operation of attitudes. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 27–58. Beck, J. A. and Lumpe, A. T. (1996) Teachers’ Beliefs and the implementation of personal relevance in the classroom, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science, Seattle. Dunn, K. E., Airola, D. T., Lo, W. J., & Garrison, M. (2013a). Becoming data driven: The influence of teachers’ sense of efficacy on concerns related to data-driven decision making. The Journal of Experimental Education, 81 (2), 222-241. Dunn, K. E., Airola, D. T., & Garrison, M. (2013b). Concerns, knowledge, and efficacy: An application of the teacher change model to data driven decision-making professional development. Creative Education, 4 (10), 673. Mandinach, E. B (2012). A Perfect Time for Data Use: Using Data-Driven Decision Making to Inform Practice, Educational Psychologist, 47 (2), 71-85. Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307–332 Schildkamp, K., & Ehren, M. (2013). From “Intuition”-to “Data”-based Decision Making in Dutch Secondary Schools? In Data-based decision making in Education (pp. 49-67). Springer, Dordrecht. Schildkamp, K., Karbautzki, L., & Vanhoof, J. (2014). Exploring data use practices around Europe: Identifying enablers and barriers. Studies in educational evaluation, 42, 15-24. Scottish Government (2017) National Improvement Framework and improvement plan for Scottish education. (Available online) https://www.gov.scot/publications/2017-national-improvement-framework-improvement-plan/ [Last Accessed 26th Jan 2019] Sosu, E. M. (2013). The development and psychometric validation of a Critical Thinking Disposition Scale. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 9, 107-119.
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