Romy Lawson

  • The impact of a teaching in higher education scheme on new lecturers personal epistemologies and approaches to teaching.

    Romy Lawson, University of Wales, Bangor, UK

    John Fazey, University of Wales, Bangor, UK

    David Clancy, University of Wales, Bangor, UK

    Session 1g, Monday 15.45

    Research paper

    Themes addressed:

    • Teaching methods
    • Implementing and managing change and innovation

    Gibbs et al (2004) have conducted research showing that students with teachers who have undergone a systematic scheme of training into effective teaching and learning report better learning experiences and outcomes than those who are taught by non-trained teachers. Williams & Burden (1997) said “Teachers’ beliefs about what learning is will affect everything they do in the classroom, whether these beliefs are implicit or explicit” (p56). Kember (1997) and Trigwell et al (1999) have found that the way teachers approach their teaching influences the learning outcomes of the students, with the approach adopted by the teacher being dependent on their beliefs and presumptions (Bain, 2000; Quinlan, 1999). These epistemological beliefs also exert a strong influence on teachers’ chosen method of teaching (Breen, 1999), and the values and emphasis placed on curriculum and assessment issues (Braxton, 1995; Smart & Ethington, 1995). Therefore in order to change how people teach we have to change the way they conceive teaching and learning (Trigwell, 1995; Trigwell & Prosser, 1996).

    University of Wales, Bangor (UWB) runs a scheme that aims to introduce participants to theories and models of learning and effective teaching methods, whilst examining how this knowledge is transferred to a teaching context. It is delivered using discussions of personal beliefs in conjunction with current understanding of teaching and learning in HE. This research questions what is changing in both the attitudes and practices of the teachers who attend the UWB scheme and the impact it has on the students.

    This study used the Discipline Focus Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire (adapted for teachers in HE) (Hoffer) and the Approaches to Teaching Inventory (Trigwell & Prosser) to gain a baseline view of initial beliefs and attitudes at the commencement of the scheme. These questionnaires were then re-administered at the end of the induction course. The data was analysed to look for relationships between beliefs and approaches to teaching as well as changes over time.

    Students were also traced in a series of modules, testing them at the beginning and end for their beliefs about the module – Discipline Focus Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire, and their Approach to Study – RASI (Entwistle & Ramsden). This data was analysed to examine the relationship and effect of the teachers’ beliefs and approach to teaching on the students’ approaches to study.

    Initial findings show changes in teachers’ beliefs as a consequence of attending the scheme. There were also relationships between beliefs and practices (approach to teaching). These different practices have been shown to have a significant effect on the students’ approaches to learning. Further results for this study are in the process of being analysed for discussion in the full paper.

    References

    • Bain, J.D. (2000). Celebrating good teaching in higher education: Putting beliefs into practice, in Bowie , C. (Ed.), Improving the Quality of Teaching for Learning. Proceedings of the 1998 Conference of the Queensland Branch of HERDSA, Brisbane.
    • Braxton, J.M., Vesper, N. and Hossler, D. (1995). Expectations for college and student persistence, R esearch in Higher Education , Vol 36, 5, pp. 595-611.
    • Breen, R. (1999). Student motivation and conceptions of disciplinary knowledge. Paper presented at the HERDSA Annual International Conference, Melbourne , 12-15 July.
    • Entwistle, N.J. & Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding student learning. London: Croom Helm.
    • Entwistle, N.J. & Tait, H. (1994). The Revised Approaches to Study Inventory. Edinburgh: Centre for Learning and Instruction, University of Edinburgh.
    • Gibbs, G. & Coffey, M. (2004). The Impact Of Training Of University Teachers on their Teaching Skills, their Approach to Teaching and the Approach to Learning of their Students. Active Learning in Higher Education , Vol. 5, No. 1, 87-100
    • Hofer, B.K. (2001). Personal Epistemology Research: Implications for Learning and Teaching. Educational Psychology Review , Vol 13, 4, 353 – 383.
    • Kember, D. (1997). ‘A reconceptualisation of the research into university academics' conceptions of teaching’, Learning and Instruction, Vol 7, 3, pp. 255-275(21).
    • Quinlan, K.M. (1999). ‘Commonalities and controversy in context: a study of academic historians’ educational beliefs’, Teaching and Teacher Education 15, pp. 447-463.
    • Smart, J.C. and Ethington , C.A. (1995). ‘Disciplinary and Institutional Differences in Undergraduate Education Goals’, New Directions for Teaching and Learning 66, pp. 49-57
    • Trigwell, K. (1995). Increasing Faculty Understanding of Teaching. In W.A. Wright (Ed.) Successful Faculty Development Strategies. Anker Publishing Co, 76-100.
    • Trigwell, K. and Prosser, M. (1996). ‘Changing approaches to teaching: A relational perspective, Studies in Higher Education, Vol 21, 3. pp. 275-284.
    • Trigwell, K., Prosser, M. and Ginns, P. (2005). Phenomenographic pedagogy and a revised approaches to teaching inverntory, Higher Education Research and Development, Vol 24, 4, pp. 349-360.
    • Trigwell, K., Prosser, M. and Waterhouse, F. (1999). ‘ Relations between teachers' approaches to teaching and students' approaches to learning’, Higher Education,Vol 37, 1, pp. 57-70.
    • Williams, M. and Burden, R.L. (1997). Psychology for Language Teachers. The Reading Matrix, Vol 21, 2. New York : Cambridge University Press