Teacher's beliefs n intentions concerning teaching in higher education
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  • 1. Teachers’ beliefs and intentions concerning teaching in higher education LIN NORTON1 , JOHN T.E. RICHARDSON2 , JAMES HARTLEY3 , STEPHEN NEWSTEAD4 & JENNY MAYES1 1 Liverpool Hope University College, Hope Park, Liverpool L16 9JD, UK; 2 The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK; 3 University of Keele, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, United Kingdom; 4 University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, UK Abstract. A questionnaire measuring nine different aspects of teachers’ beliefs and intentions concerning teaching in higher education was distributed to teachers at four institutions in the United Kingdom, yielding 638 complete sets of responses. There was a high degree of overlap between the participants’ scores on the subscales measuring beliefs and intentions, and analyses of both sets of scores yielded two factors reflecting an ori- entation towards learning facilitation and an orientation towards knowledge transmis- sion. However, teachers’ intentions were more orientated towards knowledge transmission than were their beliefs, and problem solving was associated with beliefs based on learning facilitation but with intentions based on knowledge transmission. Differences in teachers’ intentions across different disciplines and between men and women seemed to result from different conceptions of teaching, whereas differences in teachers’ intentions across different institutions and between teachers with different levels of teaching expe- rience seemed to result from contextual factors. Teaching intentions thus reflect a com- promise between teachers’ conceptions of teaching and their academic and social contexts. Keywords: approaches to teaching, beliefs about teaching, conceptions of teaching, teaching context, teaching intentions. Introduction Even when they are teaching similar courses, different teachers teach in different ways, and this may affect their students’ satisfaction, motiva- tion and attainment (Dunkin 1986; Murray 1991). The aim of our study was to investigate these variations in teaching and their possible basis in different teachers’ beliefs about teaching in higher education. Approaches to teaching in higher education Trigwell and Prosser (1993) carried out an interview-based investigation of 24 staff who were teaching first-year courses in chemistry and physics. Higher Education (2005) 50: 537–571 Ó Springer 2005 DOI 10.1007/s10734-004-6363-z
  • 2. They described five different approaches to teaching that were differ- entiated in terms of their intentions and teaching strategies. Some ap- proaches were teacher-focused and aimed at the transmission of information to the students, but other approaches were student-focused and aimed at bringing about conceptual change in the students (see also Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 153–154; Trigwell et al. 1994). Prosser and Trigwell (1993) developed a quantitative instrument, the Approaches to Teaching Inventory (ATI), to measure approaches to teaching in larger numbers of teachers. This questionnaire contained 16 items measuring teachers’ intentions and strategies concerning two fundamental approaches to teaching: a conceptual-change or student- focused approach and an information–transmission or teacher-focused approach (see also Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 154–157, 176–179; Trigwell and Prosser 1996a). Using this instrument, Coffey and Gibbs (2002) found that teachers who adopted a student-focused approach reported using a wider repertoire of teaching methods than did teachers who adopted a teacher-focused approach. In addition, Trigwell et al. (1999) demonstrated that students whose teachers adopted a student-focused approach according to their scores on the ATI were more likely to show a deep approach to learning and were less likely to show a surface approach to learning than students whose teachers adopted a teacher-focused approach (see also Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 158–159). Moreover, Coffey and Gibbs (in press) found that students whose teachers adopted a student-focused approach according to the ATI tended to rate their courses more favourably in a feedback questionnaire than did students whose teachers adopted a teacher-focused approach. Sander et al. (2000) found that first-year students expected to be taught mainly through formal lectures but preferred more interactive and group-based activities. Similarly, Hativa and Birenbaum (2000) found that students favoured a student-centred approach to teaching rather than a teacher-centred approach. However, the approach that was the most preferred in their study consisted of the presentation of material in a clear, well-structured and interesting way. Moreover, the extent to which different students favoured one approach to teaching rather than another varied with their reported motivation and learning strategies, so that individual students seemed to define ‘good teaching’ in terms of practices that best served their own approaches to learning. Analogous results were obtained from interviews with students by Kember (2001) and in investigations of student teachers by Entwistle et al. (2000) and Oosterheert et al. (2002). LIN NORTON ET AL.538
  • 3. Contextual variables might explain why different teachers adopt different approaches to teaching. Prosser and Trigwell (1997) devised an additional instrument, the Perceptions of the Teaching Environment Inventory, to measure various aspects of the perceived teaching context. They found that there were strong associations between teachers’ scores on this instrument and their scores on the ATI. In particular, teachers who adopted a student-focused approach were more likely than those who adopted a teacher-focused approach to report that their depart- ment valued teaching, that the class sizes were not too large and that they had control over what was taught and how it was taught (see also Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 151–152, 156–157). More recently, Prosser et al. (2003) found that the link between scores on the ATI and perceptions of the teaching context was apparent in established aca- demic staff but not in more junior tutors or demonstrators. This sug- gests that the influence of contextual factors on approaches to teaching becomes more important with experience. Even so, these studies do not explain why different teachers adopt different approaches to teaching in similar contexts. Some researchers have ascribed this to constitutional attributes of teachers themselves: to different styles of lecturing (Behr 1988; Brown and Bakhtar 1988), styles of thinking (Zhang and Sternberg 2002) or personality characteristics (McKeachie 1997). This is not wholly satisfactory, because it leaves it unclear why approaches to teaching should develop as the result of training (Gibbs and Coffey 2001) or experience (Kugel 1993). Others have maintained that different approaches to teaching reflect different underlying conceptions of teaching and that approaches to teaching will be enhanced through the acquisition of more sophisticated conceptions (Biggs 1989; Entwistle and Walker 2000; Sherman et al. 1987). Conceptions of teaching in higher education Interview-based investigations have identified a number of different conceptions of teaching among teachers in higher education (e.g., Dall’Alba 1991; Dunkin 1990, 1992; Dunkin and Precians 1992; Gow and Kember 1993; Kember and Kwan 2000; Kember et al. 2001; Martin and Balla 1991; Martin and Ramsden 1993; Murray and Macdonald 1997; Pratt 1992; Prosser et al. 1994; Samuelowicz and Bain 1992, 2001; van Driel et al. 1997; Willcoxson 1998). Gow and Kember (1993) used the analytic categories derived from their own interviews to construct a questionnaire on conceptions of teaching. This contained 46 items TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 539
  • 4. measuring nine subscales that were subsumed under two broad ‘orien- tations’ to teaching: Gow and Kember obtained responses to this inventory from 170 staff at two institutions in Hong Kong, and they measured their students’ approaches to learning using Biggs’s (1987) Study Process Question- naire. In those departments where the predominant teaching orientation was towards knowledge transmission, the students’ use of a deep ap- proach to learning tended to decline during their programme of study. In contrast, in departments where the predominant teaching orientation was towards learning facilitation, the students were throughout much less likely to report the use of a surface approach to learning (see also Kember and Gow 1994). Subsequently, Kember (1997) reviewed the accumulating interview- based research on this topic. He noted that there were some variations in terminology, but he suggested that most studies converged on five conceptions of teaching which could be located on a continuum from a totally teacher-centred, content-orientated conception of teaching to a totally student-centred and learning-orientated conception of teaching, as follows (see also Kember 1998): • Teaching as imparting information • Teaching as transmitting structured knowledge • Teaching as an interaction between the teacher and the student • Teaching as facilitating understanding on the part of the student • Teaching as bringing about conceptual change and intellectual development in the student. Beliefs versus intentions in teaching There is, nevertheless, a fundamental ambiguity in the notion of ‘ap- proaches to teaching’. On the one hand, a teacher’s ‘approach to teaching’ might reflect the teaching behaviour that, other things being equal, the teacher finds the most congenial, in which case it is likely to be Learning facilitation Knowledge transmission Problem solving Training for specific jobs More interactive teaching Greater use of media Facilitative teaching Imparting information Pastoral interest Knowledge of subject Motivator of students LIN NORTON ET AL.540
  • 5. closely aligned with the teacher’s conception of teaching (see Kember and Kwan 2000). On the other hand, an ‘approach to teaching’ might reflect behaviour that the teacher is constrained to adopt by the curric- ulum, the institution or the students themselves. In this case, it is likely to be more closely aligned with the teacher’s perceptions of the teaching environment than with their own conception of teaching: it represents a specific response to a defined teaching situation that will be directly manifested in the teacher’s classroom behaviour (Martin et al. 2000). This ambiguity is apparent in Trigwell and Prosser’s (1993) analysis of approaches to teaching in terms of intentions and strategies and its subsequent implementation in the ATI. Their account of teachers’ intentions and the items in the ATI that are intended to measure teachers’ intentions are concerned mainly with beliefs about teaching (for instance, ‘I feel that assessment in this subject should be an opportunity for students to reveal their changed conceptual under- standing of the subject’). In contrast, Trigwell and Prosser’s account of teachers’ strategies and the items in the ATI that are intended to mea- sure teachers’ strategies are concerned mainly with teaching intentions (for instance, ‘In lectures for this subject, I use difficult or undefined examples to provoke debate’: Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 176–179). Pratt (1992) proposed that there was an internal consistency between different teachers’ actions, intentions and beliefs and the specific contexts within which they were operating. Fox (1983) used the phrase ‘personal theories of teaching’ to subsume variations both in beliefs and in inten- tions. Sherman et al. (1987) argued that different ‘schemata of teaching’ integrated the conceptual, attitudinal and behavioural differences amongst individual teachers, and Dunkin (1990) used the term ‘orien- tations to teaching’ in a similar manner. Although Gow and Kember (1993) used the latter term simply to refer to broad categories of con- ceptions (see also Kember and Gow 1994; Kember 1997; Samuelowicz and Bain 2001), their questionnaire contained items that might refer to teaching intentions rather than to beliefs about teaching (for instance, ‘I guide students in learning rather than force things down their throats’). Nonetheless, despite these assumptions of a fundamental consistency between teachers’ beliefs and intentions, Samuelowicz and Bain (1992) detected suggestions from their interviews that teachers might have both ‘ideal’ conceptions and ‘working’ conceptions of teaching: It seems, from the limited data available, that the aims of teaching expressed by academic teachers coincide with the ‘ideal’ conception of teaching whereas their teaching practices, including assessment, reflect TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 541
  • 6. their ‘working’ conception of teaching. If this is the case research might profitably be directed towards the factors (teacher, student, institution-related) which prevent academic teachers from acting according to their ideal conception of teaching and thus contribute to solving one of the mysteries of higher education – the disjunction between the stated aims (promotion of critical thinking) and educa- tional practice (unimaginative coverage of content and testing of factual recall) so often referred to in the literature. . . (p. 110). Trigwell and Prosser (1996b) compared the findings from their re- search on approaches to teaching (Trigwell et al. 1994) and conceptions of teaching (Prosser et al. 1994) in 24 staff who were teaching first-year courses in chemistry and physics. They found that teachers who held a particular conception of teaching tended to adopt a commensurate approach to teaching and to ascribe an analogous conception of learning to their own students (cf. Bruce and Gerber 1995). However, fewer than half the teachers in the sample were consistent in their conceptions of teaching and their approaches to teaching. The remainder described approaches to teaching that were less learner-fo- cused and more teacher-focused than would have been expected from their reported conceptions of teaching (see also Prosser and Trigwell 1999, pp. 150–155). Murray and Macdonald (1997) similarly identified inconsistencies between teachers’ conceptions of teaching and their reported teaching practices. This ‘disjunction’ seemed to be more common in teachers whose conceptions of learning involved supporting students or their learning. Murray and Macdonald suggested three possible explanations for this phenomenon: teachers might be frustrated in their true aims by contextual constraints; teachers’ true beliefs about teaching might be more accurately reflected in their actual practices rather than in their espoused conceptions (cf. Argyris and Scho¨ n 1974); and teachers might not have undergone sufficient training or staff development to enable them to operationalise their conceptions of teaching in appropriate teaching strategies. The aim of the present investigation was to investigate teachers’ beliefs and intentions at four institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom using a formal questionnaire based on the inventory devised by Gow and Kember (1993). This amended questionnaire was devised to measure differences in teachers’ beliefs and intentions along the two primary dimensions that were identified by Gow and Kember (that is, knowledge transmission and learning facilitation). We were LIN NORTON ET AL.542
  • 7. particularly interested in investigating whether teachers’ beliefs and intentions were influenced by their institution, their academic discipline, their amount of teaching experience and their exposure to formal training in teaching in higher education. Methods Material Roughly half of the items in each of the nine subscales of Gow and Kember’s (1993) inventory were rephrased in order to refer to the respondent’s personal intentions rather than teaching in general. Six items were removed because they were felt to be similar in meaning to other items, and 20 of the remaining items were reworded either for clarification or to avoid bias towards a specific response. This resulted in an instrument containing 20 ‘belief ’ items and 20 ‘intention’ items that were interleaved with one another to disguise the purpose of the ques- tionnaire. This was piloted with 25 lecturers in 14 different departments from one higher education institution in the United Kingdom. An analysis of the responses indicated that six further items should be re- moved, and the 34 items that remained in the final questionnaire are shown in the Appendix 1. Procedure The questionnaire was distributed in a postal survey to all 1469 mem- bers of teaching staff at four institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom. They were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with each item along a five-point scale from 1 (‘defi- nitely disagree’) to 5 (‘definitely agree’). They were also asked to indicate their academic subject or faculty and for how long they had been teaching in higher education. After the survey had been distributed at two institutions, it was noted that gender might be another predictor of teachers’ beliefs and intentions (see below), and so staff at the two remaining institutions were asked to indicate their gender. Finally, staff at one institution were asked to say whether or not they had taken that institution’s course on teaching and learning in higher education. The responses to the questionnaire were anonymous, and the par- ticipants were assured that no attempt would be made to identify any TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 543
  • 8. individual respondent. They were also assured that particular depart- ments, faculties and institutions would not be identified in any pub- lished account of the results. We therefore cannot provide any information about the nature of the institutions (such as their history, their subject mix or the number of staff teaching at each institution), as this might well assist in the identification of the institutions themselves; they will simply be referred to as Institutions A–D. Completed ques- tionnaires were returned to a designated person at each institution in sealed envelopes, and these were then forwarded unopened to a research assistant who collated the responses into an anonymous database for statistical analysis. Results and discussion Completed questionnaires were returned by 696 respondents. This represents a response rate of 47.4%, which is considered adequate for a postal survey (Babbie 1973, p. 165; Kidder 1981, pp. 150–151). The response rates for the four institutions were: A, 61.4%; B, 48.9%; C, 42.7%; and D, 43.9%. However, 58 participants had failed to respond to one or more of the items in the questionnaire, and so our analysis is based upon the 638 respondents who provided complete data. They were assigned scores on each of the 18 subscales by taking the mean response across the relevant items. Consequently, their scores varied from 1 (low) to 5 (high) on each subscale. On the basis of the information that they had provided about their academic subject or faculty, it was possible to classify 556 of the respondents as belonging to three broad academic disciplines: arts, science and social science. Similarly, it was possible to classify 584 of the 638 respondents on the basis of their teaching experience as being ‘new’ (1–3 years), ‘experienced’ (4–20 years) or ‘established’ (21–45 years). Finally, 330 of the respondents from Institutions C and D had indicated their gender when completing the survey. Table 1 shows the distribu- tions of academic discipline, teaching experience and gender across the four institutions. Relationships between beliefs and intentions A multivariate analysis of variance demonstrated that the scores on the subscales measuring teaching beliefs and the scores on the subscales LIN NORTON ET AL.544
  • 9. measuring teaching intentions had 94% of their variance in common (Wilks’s k ¼ 0.06), F(81, 4016) ¼ 27.49, p < 0.001. The correlation coefficients between the scores on subscales representing corresponding beliefs and intentions were as follows: problem solving, þ0.31; inter- active teaching, þ0.41; facilitative teaching, þ0.57; pastoral interest, þ0.70; motivating students, þ0.56; training for jobs, þ0.42; use of media, þ0.51; imparting information, þ0.51; and knowledge of subject, þ0.60 (p < 0.001 in each case). There was thus an overall consistency between the teachers’ beliefs and intentions that was strongest in the case of pastoral interest and weakest in the case of problem solving. A canonical correlation analysis was carried out to investigate fur- ther the relationships between the scores on the nine subscales mea- suring teaching beliefs and the scores on the nine subscales measuring teaching intentions. This involves the specification of linear combina- tions of the two sets of variables (canonical variates) that are maximally and significantly related to one another (Tabachnik and Fidell 1996, chapter 6). Eight pairs of canonical variates were highly significant (p < 0.001 in each case), but the ninth pair was not (p > 0.20). Accordingly, eight pairs of canonical variates were extracted and sub- mitted to varimax rotation. The correlations between the subscales and the rotated variates are shown in Table 2. Correlations greater than 0.30 in absolute magnitude were regarded as being salient for the purposes of interpretation. Table 1. Percentage frequency distributions by discipline, experience and gender Institution A Institution B Institution C Institution D Overall Academic discipline Arts 59 37 24 15 31 Science 23 38 65 47 44 Social science 19 24 11 38 25 Teaching experience New 25 18 12 11 15 Experienced 60 54 70 65 62 Established 15 28 18 24 23 Gender Male n/a n/a 70 63 65 Female n/a n/a 30 37 35 Note: n/a = not available. TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 545
  • 10. Each pair of canonical variates showed very high correlations with a pair of subscales representing corresponding beliefs and intentions. This provides further evidence for the idea of an underlying consistency between beliefs and intentions in eight of the nine domains tapped by Gow and Kember’s (1993) questionnaire, but there was no such evi- dence for problem solving. Instead, problem solving beliefs showed modest correlations with the variates representing motivating students, imparting information and interactive teaching; problem solving intentions showed modest correlations with the variates representing Table 2. Correlations between subscale scores and eight pairs of canonical variates Subscale Canonical variates 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 0.41 0.39 0.24 0.24 À0.09 À0.05 À0.02 0.33 Interactive teaching 0.11 À0.09 0.15 0.06 0.14 0.13 0.09 0.88 Facilitative teaching 0.17 À0.02 0.94 0.03 0.15 0.15 0.10 0.13 Pastoral interest 0.16 0.10 0.16 0.17 0.10 0.93 0.03 0.11 Motivating students 0.92 0.06 0.18 0.11 0.14 0.18 0.16 0.10 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 0.11 0.10 0.03 0.96 0.09 0.16 0.10 0.05 Use of media 0.11 0.02 0.13 0.09 0.97 0.09 0.04 0.10 Imparting information 0.06 0.92 À0.03 0.11 0.02 0.11 0.22 À0.09 Knowledge of subject 0.14 0.20 0.10 0.10 0.04 0.03 0.94 0.07 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 0.56 À0.08 0.47 0.05 À0.06 0.05 0.15 0.15 Interactive teaching 0.18 À0.09 0.20 0.03 0.08 0.19 0.11 0.93 Facilitative teaching 0.11 À0.05 0.92 0.04 0.14 0.16 0.09 0.20 Pastoral interest 0.13 0.05 0.15 0.08 0.10 0.95 0.09 0.18 Motivating students 0.88 0.06 0.09 0.04 0.17 0.16 0.09 0.19 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 0.03 0.16 0.04 0.98 0.11 0.07 0.04 0.03 Use of media 0.11 0.01 0.11 0.12 0.95 0.10 0.06 0.07 Imparting information 0.03 0.97 À0.05 0.17 0.01 0.05 0.14 À0.08 Knowledge of subject 0.09 0.14 0.09 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.97 0.10 Note: N = 638. Correlations greater than 0.30 in absolute magnitude are shown in italics. LIN NORTON ET AL.546
  • 11. motivating students and facilitative teaching. Thus, even the modest apparent consistency between beliefs and intentions in problem solving was essentially an artefact of the relationship between motivating stu- dents and problem solving and the genuine consistency between beliefs and intentions in motivating students. Factor analyses of beliefs and intentions Separate factor analyses were carried out on the participants’ scores on the subscales measuring beliefs and intentions. In both cases, there were two factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.00, and these explained 47.6% and 47.1% of the total variance, respectively. The notion that two factors should be extracted was confirmed by Cattell’s (1966) scree test and by Montanelli and Humphreys’ (1976) criterion, which com- pares the obtained eigenvalues with those of a random correlation matrix. Accordingly, two factors were extracted and submitted to varimax rotation. Table 3 shows the factor loadings in each of the ro- tated solutions. Loadings greater than 0.30 in absolute magnitude were regarded as being salient for the purposes of interpretation. Table 3. Factor solutions for beliefs and intentions Subscale Beliefs Intentions Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 1 Factor 2 Learning facilitation Problem solving 0.51 0.05 0.25 0.42 Interactive teaching 0.69 À0.03 0.52 0.02 Facilitative teaching 0.67 0.00 0.66 0.12 Pastoral interest 0.54 0.19 0.45 0.33 Motivating students 0.59 0.16 0.57 0.42 Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 0.16 0.37 0.26 0.42 Use of media 0.37 0.16 0.45 0.11 Imparting information À0.15 0.95 À0.07 0.61 Knowledge of subject 0.33 0.30 0.15 0.54 Note: N = 638. Factor loadings greater than 0.30 in absolute magnitude are shown in italics. TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 547
  • 12. For the analysis of the subscales measuring beliefs, Factor 1 showed salient loadings on all of the subscales measuring learning facilitation, although it also showed salient loadings on the subscales measuring use of media and knowledge of subject. Factor 2 was dominated by the subscale measuring imparting information, but it also showed salient loadings on the subscales measuring training for jobs and knowledge of subject. For the analysis of the subscales measuring intentions, Factor 1 showed salient loadings on four of the five subscales measuring learning facilitation, plus the subscale measuring use of media. Factor 2 showed salient loadings on three of the subscales measuring knowledge trans- mission, plus the subscales measuring problem solving, pastoral interest and motivating students. In broad terms, the first factor solution supports the distinction made by Gow and Kember (1993) between learning facilitation and knowl- edge transmission as conceptions of teaching, and the second factor solution supports the distinction made by Trigwell and Prosser (1996a) between student-centred and teacher-centred approaches to teaching. In broad terms, too, the factor solutions were similar to each other in the pattern and magnitude of the loadings: the correlation coefficients be- tween the loadings on the corresponding subscales were þ0.88 for Factor 1 and þ0.73 for Factor 2. However, there were also certain discrepancies with the results obtained by Gow and Kember and be- tween the two factor solutions shown in Table 3. First, knowledge of subject made a minor contribution to beliefs in learning facilitation (as well as to beliefs in knowledge transmission), but it made little contribution to intentions in learning facilitation. This suggests that most teachers value a knowledge of the subject but that in practice it matters only to those who have an orientation towards knowledge transmission. Second, pastoral interest and motivating students contributed to intentions in knowledge transmission (as well as to intentions in learning facilitation), but they made little contribution to beliefs in knowledge transmission. This suggests that most teachers are concerned with the well-being and motivation of their students, but that these concerns form part of an underlying conception of teaching only in teachers who have an orientation towards learning facilitation. Third, problem solving contributed to beliefs in learning facilitation, but not to intentions; conversely, it contributed to intentions in knowledge transmission, but not to beliefs. On the one hand, teachers with an orientation towards learning facilitation claim to value problem solving but do not make more use of it in their teaching. On the other LIN NORTON ET AL.548
  • 13. hand, teachers with an orientation towards knowledge transmission do not claim to value problem solving but do use it in teaching, presumably to check whether the relevant knowledge has been acquired. Perhaps of most interest are the findings with regard to the subscale measuring the use of media. In their final questionnaire, Gow and Kember (1993) subsumed this subscale within an orientation towards knowledge transmission, and they interpreted this to mean that media were being predominantly used to support the clear and accurate pre- sentation of subject matter. Nevertheless, in their pilot study using an earlier version of the questionnaire, this subscale had been intimately related to problem solving, facilitative teaching and interactive teaching. In the results of the present study, the subscale measuring use of media has been located (albeit only weakly in teachers’ beliefs, but more strongly in their intentions) within an orientation towards learning facilitation. Contrary to Gow and Kember’s suggestion, this implies that teachers with the latter orientation are entirely capable of making a principled use of media in their teaching. Differences between beliefs and intentions The results of the interview-based research carried out by Murray and Macdonald (1997), by Samuelowicz and Bain (1992) and by Trigwell and Prosser (1996b) imply that there should be a difference (or ‘disjunction’) between teachers’ conceptions of teaching and their teaching intentions. To be more specific, the findings that were obtained by Murray and Macdonald and by Trigwell and Prosser suggest that teachers’ intentions should be less orientated towards learning facilitation and more orien- tated towards knowledge transmission than their beliefs. Table 4 shows the mean scores obtained by the 638 participants on the 18 subscales. A multivariate analysis of variance using a doubly multivariate design showed that, as predicted, there was a highly sig- nificant difference between the participants’ scores on the nine subscales measuring teaching beliefs and their scores on the nine subscales mea- suring teaching intentions, F(9, 629) ¼ 229.56, p < 0.001. Univariate analyses identified significant differences in the case of seven out of the nine pairs of subscales: problem solving, interactive teaching, motivat- ing students, training for jobs, use of media, imparting information and knowledge of subject. Interpretation of these results is not a straightforward matter because four of the nine pairs of subscales (problem solving, pastoral interest, TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 549
  • 14. motivating students and knowledge of subject) had a somewhat ambiguous status in the factor solutions described in the previous sec- tion. The participants obtained higher scores on intentions than on beliefs in the case of problem solving and knowledge of subject, but they obtained higher scores on beliefs than on intentions in the case of motivating students. Nevertheless, these trends cannot be interpreted as evidence for a systematic shift either towards or away from knowledge transmission. Three of the remaining subscales (interactive teaching, facilitative teaching and use of media) contributed to an orientation towards learning facilitation in the factor solutions of both beliefs and inten- tions. The participants obtained higher scores on intentions than on beliefs in the case of interactive teaching, they obtained higher scores on beliefs than on intentions in the case of use of media, and there was no significant difference in the case of facilitative teaching. There was therefore no clear evidence for a systematic shift away from learning facilitation. Finally, two of the subscales (training for jobs and imparting infor- mation) contributed to an orientation towards knowledge transmission in the factor solutions of both beliefs and intentions. Indeed, in both solutions imparting information essentially defined this orientation. The Table 4. Mean (and SD) subscale scores for beliefs and intentions Subscale Beliefs Intentions Mean SD Mean SD Learning facilitation Problem solving* 4.40 0.63 4.60 0.56 Interactive teaching* 4.57 0.65 3.60 0.76 Facilitative teaching 4.31 0.78 4.36 0.86 Pastoral interest 4.05 0.84 4.06 0.83 Motivating students* 4.65 0.58 4.55 0.57 Knowledge transmission Training for jobs* 3.35 0.94 4.04 0.74 Use of media* 3.38 0.93 4.09 0.95 Imparting information* 2.94 1.06 3.75 0.99 Knowledge of subject* 3.99 0.84 4.43 0.71 Note: N = 638. * Significant univariate effects (p < 0.05). LIN NORTON ET AL.550
  • 15. participants obtained higher scores on intentions than on beliefs in the case of both of these subscales. These results therefore provide evidence for a systematic shift towards knowledge transmission. In short, teachers’ intentions are more orientated towards knowledge transmis- sion than their beliefs, but at the same time they are not less orientated towards learning facilitation. Institutional differences As mentioned earlier, the interest of our study lay in examining whether teachers’ beliefs and intentions were influenced by contextual variables or personal characteristics of the teachers themselves. We investigated in turn whether the participants’ scores on the 18 subscales of our ques- tionnaire varied with their institution, their academic discipline, their teaching experience and their gender. We examined the effect of each of these variables both in isolation and when the effects of the other variables were taken into account in an additive multifactorial model. Pratt (1992) and Samuelowicz and Bain (1992) suggested that con- ceptions of teaching varied with the academic context, though the evi- dence for this was largely anecdotal. Trigwell et al. (1999) argued instead that approaches to teaching were influenced jointly by the teachers’ conceptions of teaching and by their perceptions of their teaching environment. This suggests that contextual variables will have a more pronounced effect on teachers’ intentions than on their beliefs. One contextual variable is the teacher’s institution. However, although several studies have included participants from two or more institutions (Brown and Bakhtar 1988; Gow and Kember 1993; Prosser and Trig- well 1997; Prosser et al. 1994; Samuelowicz and Bain 1992, 2001; Trigwell et al. 1994), none reported comparisons among the relevant institutions. Table 5 shows the means and standard deviations of the subscale scores obtained by the participants at each of the four institutions in the present investigation. A multivariate analysis of variance showed that they differed significantly from one another in their patterns of scores, F(54, 1839) ¼ 1.73, p < 0.001. Univariate analyses identified significant differences on one of the beliefs subscales, interactive teaching, and on four intentions subscales: interactive teaching, facilitative teaching, motivating students and training for jobs. These results are consistent with the view that contextual variables have a greater effect on inten- tions than on beliefs. Indeed, the results in Table 5 suggest that staff at TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 551
  • 16. different institutions have similar beliefs about teaching that are biased towards learning facilitation rather than knowledge transmission, but that their institutions vary in how much they constrain their staff when putting those beliefs into practice. With regard to the beliefs subscale measuring interactive teaching, post-hoc tests found that respondents at Institution A produced sig- nificantly higher scores than those at Institutions B and D, with those at Institution C producing intermediate scores. Similarly, post-hoc tests on Table 5. Mean (and SD) subscale scores across four institutions Subscale Institution A Institution B Institution C Institution D Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD n 103 199 122 214 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.47 0.60 4.32 0.66 4.43 0.64 4.42 0.60 Interactive teaching* 4.76 0.40 4.51 0.76 4.61 0.61 4.53 0.64 Facilitative teaching 4.30 0.76 4.23 0.85 4.42 0.76 4.32 0.73 Pastoral interest 4.16 0.79 4.05 0.82 4.09 0.81 3.99 0.90 Motivating students 4.76 0.47 4.57 0.68 4.69 0.58 4.64 0.51 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 3.25 0.97 3.26 0.93 3.47 0.88 3.40 0.96 Use of media 3.42 0.92 3.30 0.88 3.52 0.93 3.34 0.98 Imparting information 2.85 1.14 2.92 1.02 2.97 1.04 2.99 1.07 Knowledge of subject 4.08 0.81 3.91 0.87 3.93 0.86 4.05 0.80 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.65 0.48 4.63 0.54 4.61 0.60 4.54 0.59 Interactive teaching* 3.90 0.70 3.50 0.80 3.57 0.73 3.57 0.75 Facilitative teaching* 4.56 0.70 4.26 0.93 4.50 0.81 4.28 0.88 Pastoral interest 4.14 0.76 4.04 0.82 4.15 0.74 3.98 0.91 Motivating students* 4.76 0.36 4.50 0.59 4.54 0.60 4.51 0.60 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs* 4.10 0.69 4.01 0.74 4.21 0.65 3.95 0.79 Use of media 4.19 0.93 4.02 1.02 4.17 0.88 4.05 0.92 Imparting information 3.96 0.94 3.67 0.98 3.69 1.03 3.75 0.99 Knowledge of subject 4.50 0.64 4.42 0.75 4.38 0.76 4.43 0.69 * Significant univariate effects (p < 0.05). LIN NORTON ET AL.552
  • 17. the intentions subscales that measured interactive teaching, facilitative teaching and motivating students found a consistent pattern for the respondents at Institution A to produce higher scores than those at other institutions. However, when the effects of academic discipline and teaching experience were taken into account, only the subscale mea- suring interactive teaching intentions showed a significant variation among the four institutions. The latter was no longer significant when the additional effect of gender was taken into account, though this comparison was based solely on the two institutions (C and D) where gender had been recorded. Even so, these results suggest that the trend for teachers at Institution A to be orientated towards learning facilita- tion was largely a consequence of the mix of subjects and their teaching experience. (Table 1 shows that the latter sample contained the highest proportions of arts teachers and of new teachers.) With regard to the intentions subscale measuring training for jobs, post-hoc tests found that respondents at Institution C produced sig- nificantly higher scores than those at Institutions B and D, with those at Institution A producing intermediate scores. Moreover, this difference remained significant when the effects of academic discipline, teaching experience and gender were taken into account. In other words, the only difference that could be directly ascribed to the institutional context was a trend for some teachers to be rather more likely than others to adopt teaching intentions that focused on the vocational implications of their courses, and this presumably reflects the particular learning outcomes valued by the different institutions. Academic discipline Teachers in higher education use teaching methods that reflect the epistemological assumptions of their different disciplines (Neumann et al. 2002). Even when using the same teaching method (e.g., lecturing), teachers in different disciplines seem to adopt different approaches to teaching (Behr 1988; Brown and Bakhtar 1988). Staff in different dis- ciplines have undergone a different process of socialisation as teachers and as a result may have acquired different conceptions of teaching (Samuelowicz and Bain 2001). However, different disciplines are taught in different departments, and hence variations in teaching might result from variations in the departmental context (Knight 2002; Knight and Trowler 2000). Of course, in research studies that are based upon teachers at a single institution, differences among academic disciplines TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 553
  • 18. are completely confounded with differences among the departments that are responsible for teaching those disciplines. Kember and Gow (1994) found little variation in conceptions of teaching in the staff at 15 departments at two institutions, and they commented that the departmental differences ‘did not show any obvious relationships to fields of study’ (p. 70). However, surveys of teachers at institutions of higher education in the United States have found that beliefs about teaching vary markedly across different disciplines; these variations are related to the teachers’ beliefs about the nature of the discipline that they were teaching and in turn have a direct influence on their teaching intentions. The local context appears to play an addi- tional but far less important role in this process (Braxton and Hargens 1996; Stark et al. 1988, 1990; see also Stark 2000). As mentioned earlier, it was possible to classify 556 of the respon- dents as belonging to three broad academic disciplines: arts, science and social science. Table 6 shows the means and standard deviations of the subscale scores obtained by the participants in arts, science and social science. A multivariate analysis of variance showed that they differed significantly from one another in their patterns of scores, F(36, 1072) ¼ 3.24, p < 0.001. Univariate analyses identified significant dif- ferences on three of the beliefs subscales, interactive teaching, training for jobs and use of media, and on two of the intentions subscales, interactive teaching and training for jobs. These results are consistent with the view that differences in teaching intentions across different academic disciplines are largely the result of differences in the teachers’ conceptions of teaching. With regard to the beliefs subscales, post-hoc tests found that science teachers produced significantly lower scores than arts teachers or social science teachers on interactive teaching, but significantly higher scores than arts teachers or social science teachers on training for jobs. These differences remained significant when the effects of institution, teaching experience and gender were taken into account, and so they appear to represent genuine differences in teaching conceptions across different disciplines. Science teachers produced significantly higher scores than arts teachers on use of media, with social science teachers producing intermediate scores. Nevertheless, this difference was no longer signifi- cant when the effects of institution, teaching experience and gender were taken into account, which indicates that it was largely the result of con- founded differences in contextual variables and personal characteristics. With regard to the intentions subscales, post-hoc tests found that both arts teachers and science teachers produced significantly higher LIN NORTON ET AL.554
  • 19. scores than social science teachers on training for jobs, and this re- mained significant when the effects of institution, teaching experience and gender were taken into account. In the case of science and social science teachers, it reflected a corresponding difference in their con- ceptions of teaching; however, arts teachers attached more importance to vocational outcomes in their teaching intentions than one might anticipate on the basis of their conceptions of teaching. Arts teachers also produced significantly higher scores than science teachers or social science teachers on interactive teaching, but this difference was no Table 6. Mean (and SD) subscale scores across three broad academic disciplines Subscale Arts Science Social Science Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD n 170 246 140 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.45 0.55 4.42 0.66 4.42 0.56 Interactive teaching* 4.70 0.49 4.38 0.78 4.68 0.52 Facilitative teaching 4.33 0.73 4.24 0.86 4.37 0.72 Pastoral interest 4.16 0.86 4.01 0.83 3.94 0.88 Motivating students 4.63 0.56 4.62 0.66 4.67 0.49 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs* 3.21 0.96 3.53 0.94 3.25 0.88 Use of media* 3.21 0.96 3.46 0.97 3.38 0.81 Imparting information 2.96 1.02 3.07 1.06 2.91 1.03 Knowledge of subject 3.98 0.81 3.91 0.90 3.98 0.82 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.57 0.57 4.61 0.61 4.65 0.49 Interactive teaching* 3.71 0.77 3.41 0.78 3.54 0.67 Facilitative teaching 4.42 0.68 4.26 0.99 4.44 0.78 Pastoral interest 4.10 0.79 4.06 0.83 3.97 0.83 Motivating students 4.59 0.47 4.52 0.63 4.51 0.65 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs* 4.03 0.70 4.10 0.70 3.80 0.78 Use of media 4.06 0.87 3.96 1.03 4.13 0.98 Imparting information 3.88 0.94 3.66 0.98 3.71 0.99 Knowledge of subject 4.44 0.65 4.38 0.81 4.42 0.71 * Significant univariate effects (p < 0.05). TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 555
  • 20. longer significant when the effects of institution, teaching experience and gender were taken into account. Indeed, it was mainly due to a gender difference in interactive teaching intentions. Teaching experience Many researchers have assumed that teachers’ conceptions of teaching change with experience, usually from being more teacher-centred and content-orientated to being more student-centred and learning-orien- tated, and that this will have benign consequences for the teachers’ behaviour (Dall’Alba 1981; Fox 1983; Kember 1997, 1998; Kugel 1993; Sherman et al. 1987). However, there is very little evidence to support this assumption. Entwistle and Walker (2000) described this develop- mental trend in the retrospective reports of a single teacher, but Brown and Bakhtar (1988) found that teachers’ intentions did not vary sig- nificantly with their teaching experience. Dunkin (1990, 1991) found that new teachers tended to report a single conception of teaching, whereas Dunkin and Precians (1992) found that teachers who had been given awards for excellence in teaching had more complex and flexible conceptions. Dunkin and Precians interpreted this in terms of a contrast between experts and novices, but this was confounded with the contrast between good and average teachers. Hence, this study provides no evidence that concep- tions of teaching develop with increasing experience. Indeed, Entwistle et al. (2000) found that the conceptions of ‘good teaching’ held by student teachers depended more on the nature of their prior experience of the educational system as students and parents. As mentioned earlier, it was possible to classify 584 of the 638 respondents on the basis of their experience as being ‘new’ (1–3 years), ‘experienced’ (4–20 years) or ‘established’ (21–45 years). Table 7 shows the means and standard deviations of the subscale scores obtained by the three groups of participants. A multivariate analysis of variance showed that they differed significantly from one another in their pat- terns of scores, F(36, 1128) ¼ 1.66, p < 0.005. However, univariate analyses identified significant differences only on two intentions sub- scales, problem solving and interactive teaching. Clearly, these results provide no support at all for the idea that teachers’ conceptions of teaching develop with increasing teaching experience. Of course, the design of this study with regard to teaching experience was cross-sectional rather than longitudinal, so that the LIN NORTON ET AL.556
  • 21. teaching experience of the different participants was confounded with when they had begun teaching in higher education. An alternative interpretation of these same results, therefore, is that there has been little or no change in the beliefs or conceptions held by teachers who have begun teaching in higher education over the last 40 years. In contrast, Prosser et al. (2003) found evidence for genuine development in teachers’ approaches to teaching, such that with increasing experience these became more aligned with the teachers’ perceptions of the aca- Table 7. Mean (and SD) subscale scores across three levels of teaching experience Subscale New Experienced Established Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD n 87 361 136 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.33 0.63 4.40 0.66 4.42 0.56 Interactive teaching 4.56 0.60 4.58 0.68 4.50 0.66 Facilitative teaching 4.30 0.78 4.35 0.77 4.19 0.85 Pastoral interest 4.06 0.81 4.01 0.85 4.13 0.85 Motivating students 4.59 0.64 4.64 0.61 4.68 0.47 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 3.34 0.90 3.36 0.96 3.29 0.94 Use of media 3.46 0.90 3.37 0.92 3.31 0.97 Imparting information 2.97 1.08 2.88 1.06 3.13 1.01 Knowledge of subject 3.92 0.84 3.96 0.86 4.08 0.77 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving* 4.48 0.57 4.58 0.61 4.69 0.46 Interactive teaching* 3.66 0.75 3.63 0.77 3.37 0.74 Facilitative teaching 4.43 0.79 4.37 0.89 4.23 0.89 Pastoral interest 4.07 0.83 4.04 0.83 4.07 0.85 Motivating students 4.51 0.58 4.53 0.61 4.57 0.52 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 4.09 0.80 4.06 0.73 3.94 0.73 Use of media 4.18 0.99 4.08 0.94 3.96 0.92 Imparting information 3.79 0.97 3.67 1.00 3.89 0.94 Knowledge of subject 4.52 0.58 4.42 0.76 4.42 0.68 * Significant univariate effects (p < 0.05). TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 557
  • 22. demic context. The present study has similarly found evidence for apparent changes with experience in teachers’ intentions. With regard to problem solving intentions, post-hoc tests found that established teachers produced significantly higher scores than new teachers, with experienced teachers producing intermediate scores. This trend remained significant when the effects of institution, academic discipline and gender were taken into account. Again, it could mean either that teachers make greater use of problem solving with increased experience of teaching or that those who began teaching many years ago make greater use of problem solving than those who began teaching more recently. With regard to interactive teaching intentions, post-hoc tests found that both new and experienced teachers obtained higher scores than established teachers. This trend was no longer significant when the effects of institution, academic discipline and gender were taken into account, which suggests that it was due to confounded var- iation in background variables. Gender differences Differences between men and women in terms of their beliefs and their intentions with regard to teaching are inherently of interest because of the ‘gendered’ nature of the arts and sciences in higher education (Thomas 1988). Nevertheless, results from men and women separately were not presented in most of the research studies that were reviewed earlier; indeed, many authors even failed to report whether their par- ticipants were men or women. One survey in the United States suggested that gender and other demographic characteristics of teachers were unrelated to their beliefs and intentions (Stark 2000). As mentioned earlier, 330 respondents at Institutions C and D indicated their gender when completing the survey. Table 8 shows the means and standard deviations of the subscale scores obtained by the men and the women. A multivariate analysis of variance showed that they differed significantly in terms of their patterns of scores, F(18, 311) ¼ 2.87, p < 0.001. Univariate analyses identified significant gender differences on four beliefs subscales (problem solving, interactive teaching, facilitative teaching and imparting information) and on four intentions subscales (interactive teaching, motivating stu- dents, use of media and training for jobs). In addition, each of these trends remained significant when the effects of institution, academic discipline and teaching experience was taken into account, which indi- LIN NORTON ET AL.558
  • 23. cates that they were not the result of confounded differences in con- textual variables and personal characteristics. With regard to the beliefs subscales, women obtained higher scores than men on problem solving, interactive teaching and facilitative teaching, but men obtained higher scores than women on imparting information. Broadly speaking, then, women were more likely to hold a conception of teaching as learning facilitation, whereas men were more likely to hold a conception of teaching as knowledge transmission. With regard to the intentions subscales, women obtained higher scores than Table 8. Mean (and SD) subscale scores for men and women Subscale Men Women Mean SD Mean SD n 216 114 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving* 4.35 0.60 4.56 0.62 Interactive teaching* 4.47 0.64 4.71 0.59 Facilitative teaching* 4.28 0.75 4.48 0.73 Pastoral interest 4.02 0.88 4.03 0.81 Motivating students 4.63 0.55 4.69 0.52 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 3.42 0.95 3.42 0.91 Use of media 3.37 1.01 3.49 0.87 Imparting information* 3.12 1.06 2.70 0.98 Knowledge of subject 4.06 0.78 3.91 0.85 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.55 0.56 4.59 0.66 Interactive teaching* 3.45 0.74 3.81 0.70 Facilitative teaching 4.30 0.90 4.48 0.79 Pastoral interest 4.01 0.89 4.07 0.79 Motivating students* 4.45 0.62 4.65 0.55 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs* 3.98 0.75 4.16 0.74 Use of media* 3.98 0.97 4.29 0.75 Imparting information 3.79 0.95 3.59 1.08 Knowledge of subject 4.42 0.73 4.40 0.66 * Significant univariate effects (p < 0.05). TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 559
  • 24. men on interactive teaching, motivating students, training for jobs and use of media. Bearing in mind that the last subscale appeared to con- tribute to an orientation towards learning facilitation (see Table 3), these results suggest that women were more likely than men to adopt this orientation in their teaching intentions, but that they were at the same time more concerned with vocational outcomes. Exposure to formal training It is generally assumed that teachers in higher education will benefit from their participation in formal training programmes (see, e.g., Brown and Bakhtar 1988; Sherman et al. 1987). Murray and Macdonald (1997) suggested, in particular, that training enabled teachers to operationalise their conceptions of teaching in appropriate teaching strategies. There is, however, little or no evidence that training has any effect on teaching behaviour (Dunkin 1990; Levinson-Rose and Menges 1981; Weimer and Lenze 1991). A recent study of training programmes in 20 different institutions produced data suggesting that teachers’ participation in training programmes led to significant changes in their scores on the ATI towards a student-focused approach to teaching, a significant de- crease in the extent to which their students used a surface approach to learning, and significant improvements in the students’ ratings of their teaching (Coffey and Gibbs 2000; Gibbs and Coffey 2001). Nevertheless, this study suffered from severe attrition of participants, and it is possible that all these effects were simply artefacts resulting from sampling bias. As was mentioned earlier, teachers at one of the four institutions involved in the present study were asked to report whether they had taken the institution’s programme on teaching and learning in higher education. Table 9 shows the means and standard deviations of the subscale scores obtained by the respondents who had taken this pro- gramme and by those who had not. A multivariate analysis of variance found no difference between these two groups in their patterns of scores, F(18, 103) ¼ 0.82, p > 0.6. Univariate tests confirmed that there was no significant difference between the two groups on any of the subscales, and this remained the case when the effects of academic discipline, teaching experience and gender were taken into account. Thus, it was not just the case that an effect of training was masked by an effect of lack of experience. These results do not support Gibbs and Coffey’s (2001) conclusion that participation in conventional training programmes leads to LIN NORTON ET AL.560
  • 25. improvements in approaches to teaching. However, they are consistent with the position of many recent researchers that genuine development will come about only by addressing teachers’ underlying conceptions of teaching and learning (e.g., Entwistle and Walker 2000; Kember and Kwan 2000; Prosser et al. 1994; Trigwell and Prosser 1996a). Ho (2000) devised a teaching development programme that was specifically aimed at bringing about conceptual change, and this produced encouraging preliminary results in terms of its impact upon the teachers’ conceptions Table 9. Mean (and SD) subscale scores for trained and untrained teachers Subscale Trained Untrained Mean SD Mean SD n 50 72 Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.38 0.73 4.47 0.56 Interactive teaching 4.53 0.69 4.66 0.55 Facilitative teaching 4.36 0.78 4.46 0.75 Pastoral interest 4.00 0.89 4.15 0.75 Motivating students 4.65 0.74 4.72 0.43 Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 3.61 0.86 3.37 0.88 Use of media 3.53 0.97 3.51 0.92 Imparting information 2.98 1.05 2.97 1.04 Knowledge of subject 3.91 0.92 3.94 0.82 Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 4.55 0.66 4.65 0.56 Interactive teaching 3.63 0.65 3.53 0.77 Facilitative teaching 4.54 0.76 4.47 0.84 Pastoral interest 4.13 0.70 4.17 0.77 Motivating students 4.46 0.77 4.59 0.45 Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 4.18 0.69 4.24 0.62 Use of media 4.22 0.94 4.14 0.83 Imparting information 3.64 1.10 3.73 0.98 Knowledge of subject 4.37 0.75 4.39 0.76 Note: No univariate effects were significant (p < 0.05). TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 561
  • 26. of teaching, upon their teaching intentions and upon the approaches to learning adopted by the teachers’ students (Ho et al. 2001). Conclusions In common with most previous research on teachers’ beliefs and intentions, our study has been based upon teachers’ self-reports rather than upon their actual teaching practices. Some researchers have simply assumed that the latter can be inferred from the former. For instance, Pratt (1992) explicitly regarded teachers’ descriptions of their teaching ‘as surrogate evidence of their actions’ (p. 206), while Samuelowicz and Bain (1992) claimed that teaching practices directly reflected the teachers’ own working conceptions of teaching. Even so, in compulsory education, Goodlad (1977), Goodlad et al. (1979) maintained that what teachers thought they were teaching (the ‘perceived curriculum’) might be at variance with what they actually were teaching (the ‘operational curriculum’). In higher education, Brown and Bakhtar (1988) warned in a similar way that teachers’ self-reports might not match other people’s observations of their teaching behaviour, and Kane et al. (2002) con- cluded that the presumed link between teachers’ accounts and their teaching practices had yet to be confirmed by direct observational re- search. The questionnaire that we have described needs further development if it is to function effectively as a research tool in future investigations. It contains only one or two items in each scale, and the relatively high overall mean scores suggest that it might be vulnerable to a bias to respond in a socially desirable manner, a bias to respond in a way that fulfils researchers’ own expectations (cf. Murray and Macdonald 1997) or simply a bias to agree with all of the items. However, an instrument of this nature could be used to help both new and experienced teachers to articulate their beliefs about teaching and to reconcile those beliefs with the demands and the constraints of the academic context in which they are required to teach (cf. Prosser and Trigwell 1999). It could thus be a useful pedagogical device for staff development programmes aimed at bringing about changes in teachers’ beliefs about teaching as well as their teaching intentions. A separate issue is that our questionnaire requires the respondents to give an overall or aggregated account of their beliefs and intentions, whereas the latter might in principle depend on the situation in which the respondents are required to teach or the students whom they are LIN NORTON ET AL.562
  • 27. required to teach. For instance, the same teacher might adopt an information–transmission approach when teaching first-year under- graduate students but a learning-facilitation approach when teaching postgraduate students (Trigwell and Prosser 1993). Examples of this sort could be interpreted simply as further illustration of the influence of contextual factors upon teaching intentions, and they are therefore not at all problematic for our theoretical framework. Nevertheless, Samuelowicz and Bain (1992) identified two partici- pants who reported different conceptions of teaching when teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students (cf. Trigwell and Prosser 1996a). Stark (2000) found that most teachers had similar conceptions of introductory and advanced teaching, but that some actually viewed their disciplines differently at an advanced level. These results imply that teachers’ conceptions of teaching are themselves context-dependent and that an individual teacher may hold two or more conceptions of teaching simultaneously. As mentioned earlier, Dunkin (1990, 1991) found that new teachers tended to report a single conception of teach- ing, but Dunkin and Precians (1992) found that teachers who had been given awards for excellence in teaching had more complex and flexible conceptions. Our study has confirmed the hypothesis of an underlying consistency between teachers’ beliefs and intentions in higher education (e.g., Dun- kin 1990; Fox 1983; Pratt 1992; Sherman et al. 1987). This consistency has been demonstrated both quantitatively and qualitatively. The evi- dence for a quantitative consistency lies in the high degree of overlap between participants’ scores on subscales measuring beliefs and inten- tions and in the significant correlations between their scores on corre- sponding pairs of subscales. The evidence for a qualitative consistency lies in the convergence of factor analyses relating to beliefs and intentions upon solutions reflecting an orientation towards learning facilitation and an orientation towards knowledge transmission. However, this investigation has also confirmed the hypothesis of a disjunction between teachers’ beliefs and intentions (Murray and Macdonald 1997; Samuelowicz and Bain 1992), and this, too, has been demonstrated both quantitatively and qualitatively. The evidence for a quantitative disjunction lies in the significant differences between the participants’ scores on subscales measuring their beliefs and intentions. In particular, teacher’s intentions were more orientated towards knowledge transmission than their beliefs (cf. Trigwell and Prosser 1996b). The evidence for a qualitative disjunction lies in the discrep- ancies between the results of the factor analyses of beliefs and inten- TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 563
  • 28. tions. In particular, problem solving was associated with a conception based on learning facilitation but with intentions based on knowledge transmission. Additional evidence for both a consistency and a disjunction between teachers’ beliefs and intentions comes from the examination of personal characteristics and contextual variables. Teachers in different disciplines seemed to vary in broadly analogous ways in their beliefs and their intentions, in particular in terms of an orientation towards interactive teaching. There were also broadly analogous gender differences in be- liefs and intentions, such that women were more orientated towards learning facilitation then men. These results are consistent with the notion that different teaching intentions result from different underlying conceptions of teaching (Biggs 1989; Entwistle and Walker 2000; Kember and Gow 1994; Sherman et al. 1987). Nevertheless, teachers at four different institutions seemed to have relatively similar beliefs about teaching, but they differed in their teaching intentions on a number of dimensions including interactive teaching, motivating students and training for jobs. The latter differ- ences were largely due to the differences in their teaching experience and the particular subject mix of their institutions rather than to specific institutional constraints on their teaching intentions. Again, teachers with different levels of experience had very similar beliefs about teach- ing, but they differed in their teaching intentions, particularly in their use of problem solving. These results are consistent with the notion that different teaching intentions result from contextual factors rather than different underlying conceptions of teaching (Prosser and Trigwell 1997). In other words, teachers’ intentions represent a compromise between their conceptions of teaching and their academic and social context (cf. Stark 2000; Trigwell et al. 1999). Acknowledgements This research was carried out with financial support from Liverpool Hope University College. Appendix 1 The 34 items in the final questionnaire are listed below and identified by a number indicating the order in which they were presented. LIN NORTON ET AL.564
  • 29. Beliefs: Learning facilitation Problem solving 3. Higher education should convert students from secondary-school type learning (e.g. memorisation) into tertiary type (e.g. problem solving). 17. The most important skill graduates can develop is the ability to carry on learning when they leave higher education. Interactive teaching 24. A good lecturer should incorporate student discussion as part of his/her teaching. 28. Lecturers should encourage participation from their students. Facilitative teaching 22. Teaching is about providing an environment in which students are encouraged to do the learning themselves. Pastoral interest 12. A good lecturer is one who recognises the personal needs of his/her students. 21. Good lecturers should have a genuine interest in their students’ well-being. Motivating students 25. It is really important that a lecturer is able to enthuse his/her students. 27. A good lecturer is one who can motivate students to learn. Beliefs: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 10. The main aim of higher education should be to prepare students for their future careers. 30. An important function of higher education is to produce graduates for certain professions within the community. TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 565
  • 30. Use of media 31. Lecturers present information more effectively if audio-visual materials are used. 33. New technology is going to revolutionise teaching. Imparting information 13. A good lecturer is one whose main role is to impart information to his/her students. 20. Teaching is about the transmission of knowledge. Knowledge of subject 26. It is fundamental that lecturers know the latest advances in knowledge related to their subject area. 32. A good lecturer has to be an expert in their subject matter. Intentions: Learning facilitation Problem solving 9. I try to teach my students how to use logical and rational thinking. 23. I try to teach my students how to analyse information critically. Interactive teaching 1. In my lectures, I spend more time directing discussion than standing up and giving information. 4. I try to get students to participate as much as possible in my tutorials/seminars. Facilitative teaching 5. As a lecturer one of my principal aims is to provide an environment in which students are helped to ‘learn for themselves’ rather than be taught. Pastoral interest 6. I try to put into practice my belief that an important part of teaching is keeping in touch with students’ problems. 14. I try to show that I am concerned with my students’ well-being. LIN NORTON ET AL.566
  • 31. Motivating students 7. I try to help my students develop into self-motivated individuals. 18. I spend much of my time trying to present subject material in a way which will stimulate the interests of the students. Intentions: Knowledge transmission Training for jobs 11. I try to ensure that by the end of their course my students will be well qualified in their particular subject. 19. I try to prepare students for the roles they will have when they leave the insti- tution. Use of media 2. I try to use audio-visual materials in my teaching. 34. I actively encourage my students to word-process their coursework. Imparting information 8. I try to pass on what information I know to the students. 16. I try to give as much information as possible to my students. Knowledge of subject 15. I spend a lot of time ensuring that I have a thorough knowledge of my subject. 29. I try to keep abreast of my field of knowledge all the time. References Argyris, C. and Scho¨ n, D.A. (1974). Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effec- tiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Babbie, E.R. (1973). Survey Research Methods. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Behr, A.L. (1988). ‘Exploring the lecture method: An empirical study’, Studies in Higher Education 13, 189–200. Biggs, J.B. (1987). Student Approaches to Learning and Studying. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 567
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  • 35. Trigwell, K. and Prosser, M. (1996a). ‘Congruence between intention and strategy in university science teachers’ approaches to teaching’, Higher Education 32, 77–87. Trigwell, K. and Prosser, M. (1996b). ‘Changing approaches to teaching: A relational perspective’, Studies in Higher Education 21, 275–284. Trigwell, K., Prosser, M. and Taylor, P. (1994). ‘Qualitative differences in approaches to teaching first year university science’, Higher Education 27, 75–84. Trigwell, K., Prosser, M. and Waterhouse, F. (1999). ‘Relations between teachers’ ap- proaches to teaching and students’ approaches to learning’, Higher Education 37, 57–70. Van Driel, J.H., Verloop, N., van Werven, H.I. and Dekkers, H. (1997). ‘Teachers’ craft knowledge and curriculum innovation in higher engineering education’, Higher Education 34, 105–122. Weimer, M. and Lenze, L.F. (1991). ‘Instructional interventions: A review of the lit- erature on efforts to improve instruction’, in Smart, J.C. (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Vol. VII. New York: Agathon Press, pp. 294– 333. Willcoxson, L. (1998). ‘The impact of academics’ learning and teaching preferences on their teaching practices: A pilot study’, Studies in Higher Education 23, 1, 59–70. Zhang, L. and Sternberg, R. (2002). ‘Thinking styles and teachers’ characteristics’, International Journal of Psychology 37, 3–12. Address for correspondence: Lin Norton, Liverpool Hope University College, Hope Park, Liverpool L16 9JD, UK Phone: þ44-151-291-3643; Fax: þ44-151-291-3773; E-mail: nortonl@hope.ac.uk TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS 571