Breaking news: Implementing technologies effectively in the classroom really comes down to teacher beliefs. It starts with you!
Teachers’ pedagogical beliefs are observed to be strong predictors of their uses of technology, especially in regards to what kinds of pedagogical beliefs teachers have. Ie teacher-centred beliefs or student-centred beliefs. Understanding the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and technology use in education: a systematic review of qualitative evidence
Teacher-centered beliefs are typically associated with behaviorism, discipline, subject matter. The teacher acts as an authority, supervising the process of learning acquisition and serving as the expert in a highly structured learning environment.
Student-centered beliefs tend to emphasize individual student needs and interests, student-centered approaches, active participation in knowledge that is authentic, disciplinary, relevant problematic, using real tools of the discipline practices associated with constructivism and/or social constructivism.
In this study (in terms of using technologies in teaching and learning) they have shown that the chasm between beliefs and practice –is a bi-directional process. Ie: a) Technology is perceived as an enabler for change and b) teacher beliefs as perceived enabler for technology integration. For example, "Technology can be seen as a way to motivate teachers to experiment, implement, and refine new approaches to teaching and learning while those who hold constructivist beliefs tend to use the technology to support the development of 21st century skills." (p24).
Those teachers with student-centred beliefs are more likely to see technology as an enabler rather than a barrier to teaching and learning. “According to Ananiadou and Claro (2009), teachers with constructivist beliefs use technology to support students’ capacity to “apply knowledge and skills in key subject areas and to analyze, reason, and communicate effectively as they raise, solve, and interpret problems in a variety of situations” (p 7)
Those teacher beliefs more akin teacher-centred practices see technology as a barrier. For example,
In the studies, “most teachers’ personal learning experiences were predominately through direct instruction, they believed that technology was not essential to teaching and learning and that a whiteboard served their educational purposes equally well.” (p17)
To be fair, there are other identified barriers in this research that also affect beliefs and practice (lack of time, perceived lack of control) and those teachers with student-centred beliefs do use technologies but the students may not realize the same benefits in learning. For example,
“Teachers whose pedagogy was characterized by teacher-centered beliefs frequently used technology in ways that emphasized skills acquisition (e.g., Martin, 2008), whereas those with constructivist orientations also tended to use technology for the attainment of more open ended (higher-order) learning objectives. In the study by Lim and Chan (2007), teachers with constructivist orientations used technology as a problem-solving tool.” (P18).
Transforming teaching and learning: Example of student-centred teacher beliefs in practice
The solution may lie in a multidimensional approach. Ie “A better understanding of the role of pedagogical beliefs is needed for teachers to benefit from professional development aimed at increasing educational technology uses.” (p19)
The article goes on to offer some ‘gold’ in terms of considerations for teacher professional learning and development, but what would be your recommendations?
Do you have one top tip to challenge teacher beliefs with the goal to shift teacher practice? We’d love to hear your ideas.