31 SES 05 A, Researching Teacher Beliefs on Multilingualism: Novel Findings and Innovation in Research Methodology
This paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study on pre-service teachers‘ beliefs (Pajares 1992, Borg 2001) about multilingualism in school and multilingual classroom settings. The results of a quantitative study (n=296) show that the participating pre-service teachers hold very welcoming beliefs (Schroedler & Fischer 2020). At the same time, the participants score rather low when tested for their professional knowledge about dealing with multilingualism in classroom settings (Schroedler & Grommes 2019). To better understand this discrepancy and other aspects of the quantitative results, a qualitative content analysis was conducted on discussion fora, in which the participating teacher students were asked to debate the role of multilingualism in schools and teaching. The qualitative analysis reveals how beliefs are often articulated in a positive manner, yet lack professional depth or expose a certain lack of reflection of the individual. By integrating the results (following principles of Greene et al. 1989), it can be demonstrated that a welcoming view or the mere appreciation of multilingualism is oftentimes neither a sign of beneficial affective-motivational dispositions nor of cognitive competence. We then postulate a need for methodological advancements when studying teachers’ beliefs for two main reasons. First of all, we hypothesise that simple survey employing statement items and asking respondents for agreement (using Likert scale type response formats) may lead to misleading results when high levels of perceived social acceptability are in play. Secondly, when measuring both beliefs and professional knowledge (and trying to differentiate precisely between the two) and become confronted with positive beliefs and low professional knowledge of the very same participants, it is difficult to reach meaningful conclusions. On a final note, we argue that novel ways of employing mixed-methods research can help to overcome these challenges by referring back to the study results introduced above.
Borg, M. (2001). Key concepts in ELT. Teachers’ beliefs. ELT Journal, 55(2), 186-188. Greene, J. C., Caracelli, V. J., & Graham, W. F. (1989). Toward a Conceptual Framework for Mixed-method Evaluation Designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 11(3), 255-274. Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307-332. Schroedler, T. & Grommes, P. (2019). Learning about language: Preparing pre-service subject teachers for multilingual classroom realities. Language Learning in Higher Education, 9(1), 223-240. Schroedler, T. & Fischer, N. (2020) The Role of Beliefs in Teacher Professionalisation for Multilingual Classroom Settings. European Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8(1), 49-72.
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