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.


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