Unravelling the interplay of primary school teachers’ topic-specific epistemic beliefs and their conceptions of inquiry-based learning in history and science

Main Article Content

Athina Koutsianou
Anastassios Emvalotis

Abstract

Inquiry-based learning remains both an important goal and challenge for primary school teachers within and across different subjects, such as history and science. By addressing primary school teachers, for the first time, as both learners who deal with controversial topics and teachers who have significant teaching experience, this study aims to unravel the interplay between teachers’ topic-specific epistemic beliefs and their conceptions of inquiry-based learning in history and science. Fifteen primary school teachers from Greece participated in this exploratory study through scenario-based semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed through a qualitative content analysis by applying both deductive and inductive approaches. The results of this study revealed the complex nature of teachers’ epistemic beliefs and the necessity of using a nuanced approach to elicit their epistemic belief patterns in the context of working on a task. Further, this study revealed an overview of teachers’ conceptions of inquiry-based learning in both history and science, by giving voice to teachers’ thoughts and reasoning. But most importantly, the interplay between the two constructs was unravelled, indicating a complex connection between teachers’ epistemic belief patterns and their conceptions of inquiry-based learning. Overall, it could be argued that the more availing the teachers’ epistemic beliefs, the more thoroughly they conceive inquiry-based learning. Similarities and differences between history and science were also detected. Theoretical, empirical, and educational implications are discussed in an attempt to support primary school teachers involve themselves, and then their students, in an active process of knowing by applying helpful epistemic criteria.

Article Details

How to Cite
Koutsianou, A., & Emvalotis, A. (2021). Unravelling the interplay of primary school teachers’ topic-specific epistemic beliefs and their conceptions of inquiry-based learning in history and science. Frontline Learning Research, 9(4), 35 - 75. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v9i4.777
Section
Articles

References

Avraamidou, L. (2017). A well-started beginning elementary teacher’s beliefs and practices in relation to reform recommendations about inquiry-based science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 12(2), 331-353. doi: 10.1007/s11422-015-9700-x

Bartos, S. A., & Lederman, N. G. (2014). Teachers' knowledge structures for nature of science and scientific inquiry: Conceptions and classroom practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(9), 1150-1184. doi: 10.1002/tea.21168

Barzilai, S., & Weinstock, M. (2015). Measuring epistemic thinking within and across topics: A scenario-based approach. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 42, 141-158. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2015.06.006

Bendixen, L., Winsor, D. Frazier, R. (2017). Exploring Bloom’s taxonomy as a bridge to evaluativism: Conceptual clarity and implications for learning, teaching, and assessing. In G. Schraw, J. Lunn Brownlee, L. Olafson and M. Vanderveldt (Eds.), Teachers’ personal epistemologies: Evolving models for informing practice (pp. 191-211). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Buehl, M. M., & Beck, J. S. (2015). The relationship between teachers' beliefs and teachers' practices. In H. Fives & M. G. Gill (Eds.), International handbook of research on teachers’ beliefs (pp. 66-84). New York, NY: Routledge.

Buehl, M. M., & Fives, H. (2009). Exploring teachers' beliefs about teaching knowledge: Where does it come from? Does it change? The Journal of Experimental Education, 77(4), 367-408. doi: 10.3200/JEXE.77.4.367-408

Buehl, M. M., & Fives, H. (2016). The role of epistemic cognition in teacher learning and praxis. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 247-264). New York, NY: Routledge.

Chan, K.-W. (2011). Preservice teacher education students’ epistemological beliefs and conceptions about learning. Instructional Science, 39(1), 87-108. doi: 10.1007/s11251-009-9101-1

Cheng, M. M. H., Chan, K.-W., Tang, S. Y. F., & Cheng, A. Y. N. (2009). Pre-service teacher education students' epistemological beliefs and their conceptions of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(2), 319-327. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2008.09.018

Chi, M. T. H. (1997). Quantifying qualitative analyses of verbal data: A practical guide. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(3), 271-315. doi: 10.1207/s15327809jls0603_1

Chinn, C. A., Buckland, L. A., & Samarapungavan, A. L. A. (2011). Expanding the dimensions of epistemic cognition: Arguments from philosophy and psychology. Educational Psychologist, 46(3), 141-167. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2011.587722

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education (6th ed.). USA: Routledge.

Creswell, J. W. (2015). Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Dobber, M., Zwart, R., Tanis, M., & van Oers, B. (2017). Literature review: The role of the teacher in inquiry-based education. Educational Research Review, 22, 194-214. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2017.09.002

European Commission. (2015). Science education for responsible citizenship. Brussels: Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, Science with and for Society. http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_science_education/KI-NA-26-893-EN-N.pdf

Feucht, F. C. (2011). The epistemic underpinnings of Mrs. M's reading lesson on drawing conclusions: A classroom-based research study. In J. Brownlee, G. Schraw, & D. Berthelsen (Eds.), Personal epistemology and teacher education (pp. 227-245). New York: Routledge.

Feucht, F. C. (2017). The epistemic climate of Mrs. M’s science lesson about the woodlands as an ecosystem: A classroom-based research study. In G. Schraw, J. Lunn Brownlee, L. Olafson and M. Vanderveldt (Eds.), Teachers’ personal epistemologies: Evolving models for informing practice (pp. 55-84). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Feucht, F. C., Lunn Brownlee, J., & Schraw, G. (2017). Moving beyond reflection: Reflexivity and epistemic cognition in teaching and teacher education. Educational Psychologist, 52(4), 234-241. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2017.1350180

Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2012). Spring cleaning for the "messy" construct of teachers' beliefs: Whay are they? Which have been examined? What can they tell us? In K. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, C. McCormick, G. M. Sinatra, & J. Sweller (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol 2: Individual differences and cultural and contextual factors (pp. 471-499). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2016). Teachers’ beliefs, in the context of policy reform. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 114-121. doi: 10.1177/2372732215623554

Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2017). The functions of beliefs: Teachers’ personal epistemology on the pinning block. In G. Schraw, J. Lunn Brownlee, L. Olafson and M. Vanderveldt (Eds.), Teachers’ personal epistemologies: Evolving models for informing practice (pp. 25-54). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Fives, H., Lacatena, N., & Gerard, L. (2015). Teachers’ beliefs about teaching (and learning). In H. Fives & M. G. Gill (Eds.), International handbook of research on teachers’ beliefs (pp. 249-265). New York, NY: Routledge.

Forbes, C. T., Biggers, M., & Zangori, L. (2013). Investigating essential characteristics of scientific practices in elementary science learning environments: The Practices of Science Observation Protocol (P-SOP). School Science and Mathematics, 113(4), 180-190. doi: 10.1111/ssm.12014

Gillies, R. M., & Nichols, K. (2015). How to support primary teachers’ implementation of inquiry: teachers’ reflections on teaching cooperative inquiry-based science. Research in Science Education, 45(2), 171-191. doi: 10.1007/s11165-014-9418-x

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016a). An introduction to epistemic cognition. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 1-16). New York, NY: Routledge.

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016b). Handbook of epistemic cognition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016c). Reflections and future directions. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 495-510). New York, NY: Routledge.

Greene, J. A., & Yu, S. B. (2014). Modeling and measuring epistemic cognition: A qualitative re-investigation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39(1), 12-28. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.10.002

Greene, J. A., & Yu, S. B. (2016). Educating critical thinkers: The role of epistemic cognition. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 45-53. doi: 10.1177/2372732215622223

Greene, J. A., Yu, S. B., & Copeland, D. Z. (2014). Measuring critical components of digital literacy and their relationships with learning. Computers & Education, 76, 55–69. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.03.008

Guilfoyle, L., McCormack, O., & Erduran, S. (2020). The "tipping point" for educational research: The role of pre-service science teachers’ epistemic beliefs in evaluating the professional utility of educational research. Teaching and Teacher Education, 90, 103033. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2020.103033

Hagani, S. M. & Barzilai, S. (2018). Reflecting on epistemic ideals and processes: Designing opportunities for teachers’ epistemic growth. In J. Kay, & R. Luckin (Eds.) Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age: Making the Learning Sciences Count, 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2018, Vol. 2. London, UK: International Society of the Learning Sciences. Retrieved from https://doi.dx.org/10.22318/cscl2018.1129

Hammer, D., & Elby, A. (2002). On the form of a personal epistemology. In B. K. Hofer & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing (pp. 169-190). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Hofer, B. K. (2000). Dimensionality and disciplinary differences in personal epistemology. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(4), 378-405. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1026

Hofer, B. K. (2001). Personal epistemology research: Implications for learning and teaching. Educational Psychology Review, 13(4), 353-383. doi: 10.1023/a:1011965830686

Hofer, B. K. (2016). Epistemic cognition as a psychological construct: Advancements and challenges. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 19-38). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hofer, B. K., & Bendixen, L. D. (2012). Personal epistemology: Theory, research, and future directions. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues (Vol. 1, pp. 227-256). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The development of epistemological theories: Beliefs about knowledge and knowing and their relation to learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88-140. doi: 10.3102/00346543067001088

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Holland, R. A., & Helm, B. (2013). A strong magnetic pulse affects the precision of departure direction of naturally migrating adult but not juvenile birds. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 10(81). doi: 10.1098/rsif.2012.1047

Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288. doi: 10.1177/1049732305276687

Ireland, J. E., Watters, J. J., Brownlee, J., & Lupton, M. (2012). Elementary teacher’s conceptions of inquiry teaching: Messages for teacher development. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(2), 159-175. doi: 10.1007/s10972-011-9251-2

Kang, N.-H. (2008). Learning to teach science: Personal epistemologies, teaching goals, and practices of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 478-498. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2007.01.002

Kang, N.-H., Orgill, M., & Crippen, K. J. (2008). Understanding teachers’ conceptions of classroom inquiry with a teaching scenario survey instrument. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19(4), 337-354. doi: 10.1007/s10972-008-9097-4

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Kremmydas, V. (2015). Η διακυβέρνηση Καποδίστρια: Κοινωνία, πολιτική, ιδεολογία. [The governance of Kapodistrias: Society, policy, ideology.] In G. Georgis (ed.) Ο Κυβερνήτης Ιωάννης Καποδίστριας: Κριτικές προσεγγίσεις και επιβεβαιώσεις [The Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias: Critical approaches and confirmations] (pp. 46-53). Athens: Kastaniotis. [in Greek]

Kuhn, D. (1999). A developmental model of critical thinking. Educational researcher, 28(2), 16-46. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/1177186

Kuhn, D., Cheney, R., & Weinstock, M. (2000). The development of epistemological understanding. Cognitive Development, 15(3), 309-328. doi: 10.1016/S0885-2014(00)00030-7

Kuhn, D., Iordanou, K., Pease, M., & Wirkala, C. (2008). Beyond control of variables: What needs to develop to achieve skilled scientific thinking? Cognitive Development, 23(4), 435-451. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2008.09.006

Kuhn, D., & Weinstock, M. (2002). What is epistemological thinking and why does it matter? In B. K. Hofer & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing (pp. 121-144). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Lakin, J. M., & Wallace, C. S. (2015). Assessing dimensions of inquiry practice by middle school science teachers engaged in a professional development program. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 26(2), 139-162. doi: 10.1007/s10972-014-9412-1

Lee, M-H., Tsai, C.-C. (2011). Teachers’ scientific epistemological views, conceptions of teaching science, and their approaches to teaching science: An exploratory study of in-service science teachers in Taiwan. In J. Brownlee, G. Schraw, & D. Berthelsen (Eds.), Personal epistemology and teacher education (pp. 246-262). New York: Routledge.

Levy, B. L. M., Thomas, E. E., Drago, K., & Rex, L. A. (2013). Examining studies of inquiry-based learning in three fields of education: sparking generative conversation. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 387-408. doi: 10.1177/0022487113496430

Lunn Brownlee, J., Ferguson, L. E., & Ryan, M. (2017). Changing teachers' epistemic cognition: a new conceptual framework for epistemic reflexivity. Educational Psychologist, 52(4), 242-252. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2017.1333430

Maggioni, L., VanSledright, B., & Alexander, P. A. (2009). Walking on the borders: A measure of epistemic cognition in history. The Journal of Experimental Education, 77(3), 187-214. doi: 10.3200/JEXE.77.3.187-214

Martell, C. C. (2020). Barriers to inquiry-based instruction: A longitudinal study of history teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 71(3), 279-291. doi: 10.1177/0022487119841880

Mason, L. (2016). Psychological perspectives on measuring epistemic cognition. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 375-392). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mayring, P. (2000). Qualitative content analysis. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2). doi: 10.17169/fqs-1.2.1089

Merk, S., Rosman, T., Muis, K. R., Kelava, A., & Bohl, T. (2018). Topic specific epistemic beliefs: Extending the Theory of Integrated Domains in Personal Epistemology. Learning and Instruction, 56, 84-97. doi: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2018.04.008

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Muis, K. R. (2004). Personal epistemology and mathematics: A critical review and synthesis of research. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 317–377. doi: 10.3102/00346543074003317

Muis, K. R., Bendixen, L. D., & Haerle, F. C. (2006). Domain-generality and domain-specificity in personal epistemology research: Philosophical and empirical reflections in the development of a theoretical framework. Educational Psychology Review, 18(1), 3-54. doi: 10.1007/s10648-006-9003-6

Muis, K. R., & Foy, M. J. (2010). The effects of teachers’ beliefs on elementary students’ beliefs, motivation, and achievement in mathematics. In L. D. Bendixen & F. C. Feucht (Eds.), Personal epistemology in the classroom: Theory, research and implications for practice. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). (2010). National curriculum standards for social studies: A framework for teaching, learning, and assessment (Silver Spring, MD). Retrieved from http://www.socialstudies.org/standards

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). (2018). National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.socialstudies.org/standards/national-standards-preparation-social-studies-teachers

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Olafson, L., & Schraw, G. (2010). Beyond epistemology: assessing teachers’ epistemological and ontological worldviews. In L. D. Bendixen & F. C. Feucht (Eds.), Personal epistemology in the classroom: Theory, research and implications for practice (pp. 516-551). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., de Jong, T., van Riesen, S. A. N., Kamp, E. T., . . . Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycle. Educational Research Review, 14, 47-61. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2015.02.003

Ploumidis, S. G. (2015). Το όραμα του Ιωάννη Καποδίστρια για το ελληνικό έθνος και την κοινωνία. [The vision of Ioannis Kapodistrias for the Greek nation and society.] In G. Georgis (ed.) Ο Κυβερνήτης Ιωάννης Καποδίστριας: Κριτικές προσεγγίσεις και επιβεβαιώσεις [The Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias: Critical approaches and confirmations] (pp. 68-87). Athens: Kastaniotis. [in Greek]

Sandoval, W. A. (2005). Understanding students' practical epistemologies and their influence on learning through inquiry. Science Education, 89(4), 634-656. doi: 10.1002/sce.20065

Schraw, G., Lunn Brownlee, J., Olafson, L., & Vanderveldt, M. (2017). Teachers' personal epistemologies: Evolving models for informing practice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Seung, E., Park, S., & Jung, J. (2014). Exploring preservice elementary teachers’ understanding of the essential features of inquiry-based science teaching using evidence-based reflection. Research in Science Education, 44(4), 507-529. doi: 10.1007/s11165-013-9390-x

Sinatra, G. M. (2016). Thoughts on knowledge about thinking about knowledge. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 479-491). New York, NY: Routledge.

Sinatra, G. M., & Hofer, B. K. (2016). Public understanding of science. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(2), 245-253. doi: 10.1177/2372732216656870

Tsai, C.-C. (2002). Nested epistemologies: Science teachers' beliefs of teaching, learning and science. International Journal of Science Education, 24(8), 771-783. doi: 10.1080/09500690110049132

Tsai, C.-C. (2007). Teachers' scientific epistemological views: The coherence with instruction and students' views. Science Education, 91(2), 222-243. doi: 10.1002/sce.20175

van Uum, M. S. J., Verhoeff, R. P., & Peeters, M. (2016). Inquiry-based science education: towards a pedagogical framework for primary school teachers. International Journal of Science Education, 38(3), 450-469. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2016.1147660

VanSledright, B., & Maggioni, L. (2016). Epistemic cognition in History. In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds.), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 128-146). New York, NY: Routledge.

Voet, M., & De Wever, B. (2016). History teachers' conceptions of inquiry-based learning, beliefs about the nature of history, and their relation to the classroom context. Teaching and Teacher Education, 55, 57-67. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2015.12.008

Wiltschko, R., Gehring, D., Denzau, S., Nießner, C., & Wiltschko, W. (2014). Magnetoreception in birds: II. Behavioural experiments concerning the cryptochrome cycle. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 217(23), 4225–4228. doi: 10.1242/jeb.110981

Windschitl, M. (2002). Framing constructivism in practice as the negotiation of dilemmas: An analysis of the conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political challenges facing teachers. Review of Educational Research, 72(2), 131-175. doi: 10.3102/00346543072002131

Windschitl, M. (2004). Folk theories of “inquiry:” How preservice teachers reproduce the discourse and practices of an atheoretical scientific method. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 481-512. doi: 10.1002/tea.20010