31 SES 05 A, Researching Teacher Beliefs on Multilingualism: Novel Findings and Innovation in Research Methodology
Teacher beliefs are only objectively right or wrong. It is part of the conceptual core of teacher beliefs that they are perceived and felt to be true by the individual teacher holding them (Pajares, 1992). Hence opposing objectively true categories onto research participants’ subjectively held beliefs is problematic. Especially studies in which participants respond to prefabricated, statements on a Likert-type scale have only limited possibilities in explaining what teachers believe (Borg, 2019). Such standardized instruments are usually based on the assumption that “items carry similar connotations for the teacher and the researcher” (Skott, 2014, p. 20). To counteract this difficulty and the potential imposition of researchers’ set of beliefs onto participants, belief research has moved from standardized instruments to more qualitative approaches. Outlining Q methodology in this paper does not suggest a clean break from the traditionally employed methodologies in the field, it should rather be seen as a theoretical and methodological alternative. Proclaimed as “the best-developed paradigm for the investigation of human subjectivity” (Dryzek & Holmes, 2002, p. 20), emergent Q methodology offers a flexible and systematic approach in educational research (Lundberg et al., 2020). By revisiting data from a Q study about teachers’ beliefs about multilingualism in German-speaking Switzerland (Lundberg, 2019), this paper showcases how Q methodology can be used to investigate teacher beliefs within the concept of teacher competence in a sophisticate way. Sixty-seven primary teachers rank-ordered two sets of statements regarding a) their conceptual understanding of and b) their pedagogical actions with regard to multilingualism and multilingual students. The holistic Q method results uncover a strong consensus about the nature and benefits of multilingualism and a variety of at times less welcoming pedagogical language management actions. The study therefore presents interesting insights into the often contradictory relationship between teachers’ beliefs and their prospective pedagogical actions.
Borg, S. (2019). Language Teacher Cognition: Perspectives and Debates. In G. Xuesong (Ed.), Second Handbook of English Language Teaching (pp. 1-23). Springer. Dryzek, J. S., & Holmes, L. (2002). Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries. Cambridge University Press. Lundberg, A. (2019). Teachers’ viewpoints about an educational reform concerning multilingualism in German-speaking Switzerland. Learning and Instruction, 64. Lundberg, A., de Leeuw, R. R., & Aliani, R. (2020). Using Q Methodology: Sorting out Subjectivity in Educational Research. Educational Research Review, 31, 100361. Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers' Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307-332. Skott, J. (2014). The promises, problems, and prospects of research on teachers' beliefs. In H. Fives & M. G. Gill (Eds.), International Handbook of Research on Teachers' Beliefs (pp. 13-30). Routledge.
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