31 SES 05 A, Researching Teacher Beliefs on Multilingualism: Novel Findings and Innovation in Research Methodology
Investigations on teachers’ beliefs towards the role multilingualism in the teaching profession and multilingual learners has become a prominent area of research (see Mary & Young 2020; Gorter & Arocena 2020 for overviews). Educational scholars and indeed education policy stakeholders are constantly looking into ways of how to improve mainstream schooling with regard to integrating learners whose language use does not comply with language use at school, focusing especially on immigrant pupils and pupils from families with low socio-economic status. Teachers’ beliefs as well as aspects such as teacher noticing towards multilingualism and multilingual learners are likely to affect teaching practice in this context. Analysing related beliefs patterns or related facets of motivational-affective competence of teachers is therefore important in the process of aiming to create good practice in teaching, and eventually to create equal chances for all learners regardless of their linguistic background.
While it has long been established that teacher beliefs (Pajares 1992) and their cognitive competence (Kaiser & König 2019) are intertwined (Borg 2003, Pajares 1992), studies that aim to better understand the interconnection between beliefs and competence often face a range of challenges including questions on the dimensionality and positioning of beliefs (Borg, 2019, Fischer & Ehmke 2019), the fact that beliefs are not directly observable (Rokeach 1968) or simply the challenge that teachers may be unaware of their own beliefs (Kagan 1992). Another underlying complexity when researching teachers’ beliefs is that the exact interconnection between beliefs and competence remains unknown.
In order to respond to the aforementioned challenges, this symposium brings together three contributions from three national contexts, which not only present novel empirical findings, but that also present and discuss innovative methodological avenues on how to elicit, measure, and analyse teacher beliefs. All three contributions argue that research on the complexity of teacher beliefs benefits from using multimethodological approaches (such as Q methodology or different kinds of mixed-methods designs).
Paper 1 presents a mixed-methods study using quantitative analyses of survey data as well as qualitative content analysis of pre-service teachers’ beliefs articulated in coursework.
Paper 2 has a two-folded purpose. On the one hand, it revisits data from a study about teachers’ beliefs about multilingualism in Switzerland with regard to the theoretical concept of teacher competence. On the other hand, it showcases the potential of Q methodology to overcome perennial challenges of teacher belief research.
Paper 3 presents a mixed-methods study from Austria using the construct of teacher noticing and its potential for a more context-sensitive and therefore more performance-orientated teacher beliefs research.
By examining not only the results of the three investigations, but also by evaluating the research methods employed here, we aim to identify new ways to better understand (pre-service and in-service) teachers’ beliefs about multilingualism.
Hanne Brandt will serve as the discussant for this symposium. Her expertise both in eliciting teacher beliefs about multilingualism as well as on various aspects of educational research methodology will be highly beneficial for the symposium, and will help to create an informed and fruitful discussion.
Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81–109. Gorter, D. & Arocena, E. (2020). Teachers’ Beliefs about Multilingualism in a Course on Translanguaging. System 92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2020.102272. Kagan, D.M. (1992). Implication of Research on Teacher Belief. Educational Psychologist 27 (1), https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep2701_6. Kaiser, G. & König, J. (2019). Competence Measurement in (Mathematics) Teacher Education and Beyond: Implications for Policy. Higher Education Policy, 32, 597-615. Mary, L. & Young, A. (2020). Teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards home languages maintenance and their effects. In Schalley, A.C. & Eisenchlas, S.A. Handbook of Home Language Maintenance and Development, pp. 444-463. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307-332. Rokeach, M. (1968). Beliefs, attitudes, and values: A theory of organization and change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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