The Influence of Personal School Experience in Biology Classes on the Beliefs of Students in University Teacher Education

Christoph Schneider, Ursula Pakzad, Kirsten Schlüter


Teachers’ pedagogical beliefs are thought to play a prominent role in determining teacher behavior. In contrast to other professions, pedagogical beliefs of teachers and students in teacher education are widely influenced by personal experiences gained in school, which has been referred to as “apprenticeship of observation” (Lortie, 1975, p. 61).It can be assumed that student teachers already enter teacher education with a relatively firm set of beliefs about teaching. In our study, N = 280 student teachers in biology were asked to recall their own biology classes in school, employing a frame of reference provided by national standards for biology education in Germany. First, a factor analysis was conducted on students’ responses. This analysis yielded four aspects (factors) according to which students’ recall of their own biology classes in school is structured. Next, students were clustered into four biography types by means of their parameter values on the four factors. Students’ beliefs about how biology should be taught are influenced by their biography. Our findings thus provide evidence for the influence of school biography on pedagogical beliefs in the field of biology education; however, this influence does not point in a uniform direction. When comparing university freshmen to more advanced student teachers, only one out of the four belief aspects was affected by students’ progress in their university studies. A practical implication is that teacher educators are well-advised to incorporate their students’ past experiences into the contents of their courses.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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