Theses Doctoral

Influence of Preservice Science Teachers’ Beliefs and Goals in the Cognitive Demand of the Learning Tasks they Design: A Multiple Case Study

Rojas-Perilla, Diego Fernando

Novice science teachers struggle to incorporate reform-based perspectives of teaching and learning into their planning and instruction. Some argue that this is due to a mismatch between teachers’ beliefs and the goals of reform. However, it is widely recognized that the relationship between teachers’ beliefs and science teaching is tenuous at best. Previous attempts to understand the mismatch between preservice teachers’ espoused beliefs and their classroom practices draw upon models of teacher cognition that consider beliefs and knowledge as the main drivers of their actions. In this study I use a goal-driven model of science teacher cognition as my theoretical framework. This model posits that classroom practices are an attempt to achieve particular goals. Based on this model, I conducted a cross-case analysis using qualitative methods to examine the relationship between teachers’ beliefs, knowledge, and goals and the types of learning opportunities they design. Data were collected through participant interviews and document analysis. Findings are consistent with the theoretical premises of this model, suggesting that the goals teachers pursue are influenced by their beliefs about teaching and learning science, together with the contextual characteristics of their placement. Findings suggest that the design and enactment of high cognitive demand learning tasks is facilitated by several factors. First, preservice teachers need to operationalize their beliefs into learning goals for their students, including explicit epistemic goals that seek to engage students in the use of science practices to make sense of disciplinary ideas. Second, in order to achieve their goals, preservice science teachers need to learn how to design scaffolds that bridge students’ classroom practices with the practices of the discipline to make sense of scientific ideas. Finally, the goals of the teacher education program, the school, and the personal goals that preservice teachers aim to pursue may conflict; whether and how they solve these conflicts influence the cognitive demand of the tasks they design. This study suggests that helping student teachers develop and pursuing goals that characterize high cognitive demand tasks have the potential to improve their teaching practices.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Science Education
Thesis Advisors
Mensah, Felica
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 5, 2018