Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Changes in Beliefs regarding Good Teachers and the Characteristics of Child Development of Primary Education Students

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Changes in Beliefs regarding Good Teachers and the Characteristics of Child Development of Primary Education Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the past ten years, researchers have been paying particular attention to the question of how to design a high-quality study process, which will enable the (future) teachers the acquisition of competencies to effectively stimulate development and pedagogical work in the classroom (Hermans, van Braak, & Van Keer, 2008; Minor, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, & James, 2002). In this aspiration, it is of key importance to answer two basic questions: 1) What are the key qualities of a good teacher? and 2) How can we help students to become good teachers? (Korthagen, 2004).

While responding to a question about the key qualities of good teachers, we can rely on the theoretical pedagogical concepts (cultural pedagogy, reform pedagogy and socially-critical pedagogy) (Protner, 2000), which emphasise different opportunities of teacher influence on child development in educational practice - a deductive approach. We can also proceed from the empirical findings of quality pedagogical work of the teacher, which identify the characteristics of a 'good' teacher with different research methods - an inductive approach (e.g. Doolittle et al., 1993; Sanders, 2002). In this article, we will use the latter.

Regarding the beliefs about a good teacher and his/her work, we consider the individual's personal, subjective, implicit constructs or understanding and assumptions on the performance of the teaching profession, which are formed on the basis of experience and knowledge of a certain phenomenon (Herman et al., 2008; Valenčič Zuljan, 2012). Personal beliefs lead students to the fact that they filter which content and experiences during the study will be integrated into their knowledge and which will be rejected as unacceptable (Lofstrom & Poom-Valickis, 2013; Pajares, 1992). Individuals form their beliefs about the teacher and the pupils on the basis of early experience, which they gained as pupils in the class. Previous experiences of students entering higher education can be even more crucial for the formation of beliefs, which they maintain in their work as teachers (Korthagen, 2004). One important factor for the creation of teachers' beliefs is the direct experience acquired by the student in contact with the pupils in the class, for example, practice during university education (Valenčič Zuljan, 2012). Despite beliefs being unlikely to change (Doolittle, Dodds, & Placek, 1993), they can at least to some extent be changed by the deliberate and systematic construction of new meanings of individual experience or new skills acquired during the education for teachers (e.g. Korthagen, 2004).

Beliefs about the characteristics of a 'good teacher'

The measurement of beliefs about the characteristics of a good teacher is complex, and it is largely based on the self-reporting of (future) teachers. In the research on beliefs about 'good teachers, qualitative-quantitative analyses are often combined (e.g. Minor et al., 2002). The most commonly used methods are questionnaires and interviews (e.g. Hermans et al., 2008; Minor et al., 2002), descriptors with the characteristics of teachers (e.g. Sanders, 2002), diary studies with personal descriptions of the teacher's performance (e.g. Doolittle et al., 1993) and metaphors (e.g. Löfström & Poom-Valickis, 2013; Mishima, Horimoto, & Mori, 2010; Thomas & Beauchamp, 2011).

Although many of us have our own ideas about what makes something 'good, and how 'good' ranks on a scale of poor to excellent, we can accept the definition that 'good work is work that is excellent in quality, work that is ethical in terms of considering the impact of the work on others, and work that is engaging, or personally meaningful, for the individual worker' (Guidebook, 2010, p. 19). However, the fundamental concepts and organisational frameworks of the theory of the three 'E's of Good Work can be thought of, individually, in a number of ways; and that the ways in which the elements are integrated or, alternatively, dissociated from one another is far from self-evident (Gardner, 2010, p. …

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