Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:25 PM


PELCH, Michael A., Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695 and MCCONNELL, David, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695,

Understanding the pedagogical beliefs of geoscience instructors in higher education institutions is a key component of promoting long-term change in geoscience classrooms. An instructor’s pedagogical beliefs are one of the most influential factors in determining how they design their course and select teaching strategies. Modern educational reform aims to shift classroom instruction from a traditional behaviorist, instructor-centered perspective toward a reformed constructivist, student-centered view. Despite broad acceptance of the benefits of reform-based teaching practices, change in actual classrooms has been modest (the “change without difference” paradox). Classroom change arguably begins with changes in instructor beliefs. Professional development programs seeking to promote reformed teaching strategies must consider the pedagogical beliefs of the instructors they aim to instruct.

We examined the pedagogical beliefs of a group of geoscience instructors involved in the development of instructional materials in the context of societal issues as part of the InTeGrate project. Data was collected using the Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI) and the Beliefs About Reformed Science Teaching and Learning (BARSTL) survey. Most responses coded as student-centered or as transitional between instructor- and student-centered teaching approaches. However, prompts targeting course design and lesson flow were more likely to yield instructor-centered responses. A linear regression of the BARSTL and TBI scores was performed to determine the degree of correlation between an instructor’s conceptualization and description of their pedagogy. The regression yielded a significant positive correlation, but a low to moderate relationship between the two instruments. Congruence between the conceptualization of their pedagogy and how they describe it was found for 22 of the 25 teachers. Analysis of the TBI responses reveals several nested epistemologies. These epistemologies support the importance of understanding a teacher’s pedagogical beliefs in order to facilitate change in geoscience classrooms. The results described in this research can aid in the design of future professional development programs by providing insight into certain pedagogical beliefs that need to be addressed.