Beginning Teachers: Beliefs and Classroom Actions

Patricia E. Simmons, Allen Emory, Tim Carter, Teresa Coker, Brian Finnegan, Denise Crockett, Lon Richardson, Robert Yager, John Craven, John Tillotson, Herbert Brunkhorst, Mark Twiest, Kazi Hossain, James Gallagher, Don Duggan-Haas, Joyce Parker, Fernando Cajas, Qasim Alshannag, Sheryl McGlamery, Jerry KrockoverPaul Adams, Barbara Spector, Tom Laporta, Bob James, Kristin Rearden, Kay Labuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Citations (Scopus)


The current national priority for systemic approaches to the reform of science and mathematics education has led to unprecedented interest in research on the efficacy of science and mathematics teacher preparation programs. In response to this priority, a focus on collaborative approaches to educational reform and to research on educational reform resulted in a national collaborative research consortium of insitutions of higher education. The consortium was formed to investigate the following question about secondary science teacher education: What are the perceptions, beliefs, and classroom performances of beginning secondary teachers as related to their philosophies of teaching and their content pedagogical skills? The research design and instrumentation yielded detailed descriptions that elicited knowledge and beliefs held by beginning teachers about science, the nature of teaching and learning, and their philosophy of teaching. An analysis of video portfolios of beginning teachers provided classroom-based evidence of their performance in both subject matter and pedagogical dimensions of teaching. Among the findings from this 3-year exploratory study were that teachers graduated from their teacher preparation programs with a range of knowledge and beliefs about: how teachers should interact with subject content and processes, what teachers should be doing in the classroom, what students should be doing in the classroom, philosophies of teaching, and how they perceived themselves as classroom teachers. Beginning teachers described their practices as very student-centered. Observations of these teaching practices contrasted starkly with teacher beliefs: While teachers professed student-centered beliefs, they behaved in teacher-centered ways. Undertaking intensive, collaborative studies such as the one described in this article, is the beginning of efforts through which the science and mathematics education communities can strive to address the needs of students, teachers, teacher educators, and other stakeholders working to establish a common vision for excellent instruction and systemic, long-lasting reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-954
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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