Katja Maass, from Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg in Germany has written an interesting article about “How can teachers’ beliefs affect their professional development?” The article was recently published online in ZDM. In her article, Maass presents results from a sub-project in the international LEMA project. The qualitative study described in this article included interviews of six teachers who participated in a professional development course. The data were coded based on principles from Grounded Theory, and the author provides a nice description of the different stages in the coding process. The results are also presented in a nice and illustrative way, and her theoretical foundation includes a nice overview of research on beliefs. As part of her concluding discussion, Maass argues that the beliefs influence the implementation, and she also points to previous research which argues that beliefs are resistant to change. In other words, the challenge remains.
Here is the abstract of the article:
This paper describes a qualitative study that examines in more detail the question of how teachers’ beliefs may influence the intention to implement change as suggested by a professional development initiative. Several teachers in Germany took part in a professional development initiative for modelling. The course comprised five workshops spread over 2008. A part of our evaluation of the course involved interviewing six teachers after they had taken part. Teachers were interviewed about the impact the course had had on them, the opportunities and any related impediments they saw for modelling, and the way in which they typically taught. The interviews were evaluated using codes. Although the sample is very small, the cases allow for interesting insights, and for the hypotheses that teachers’ beliefs about effective teaching seem to have a major impact on whether or not they intend to change their classroom practice, as suggested by the professional development initiative, and on whether or not teachers perceive the context in which they are teaching (school head, parents, students, etc.) as supportive.