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Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

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Teaching and Teacher Education


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/tate

School experience inuences on pre-service teachers evolving beliefs about


effective teaching
Wan Ng*, Howard Nicholas 1, Alan Williams 2
Faculty of Education, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 9 October 2007
Received in revised form
13 December 2008
Accepted 17 March 2009

This study systematically tracked a group of 37 pre-service teachers evolving beliefs about and
perceptions of themselves and their experiences from the initial data collection prior to any experiential
base in schools through the varied phases of their professional placements involving steadily increasing
levels of professional responsibility. The results indicated that the pre-service teachers beliefs about
good teaching evolved from a belief in being in control through expertise to a belief in being in control
through charisma and building relationship with their students. The rst teaching practicum experience
dramatically challenged the beliefs of these students where the beliefs indicated immediately after the
experience to be more focussed on self rather than students. Subsequent belief structures differed in
character from both those after the rst teaching experience and from those held prior to the rst
teaching responsibility. The study also reports on the pre-service students self-efcacy beliefs in good
teaching. Gender differences are also discussed.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Pre-service teachers
Evolving beliefs
School placements experiences
Good teaching

1. Introduction

2. Teacher beliefs

With increasing diversity in the backgrounds and previous


experiences of students enrolled in teacher education courses
in universities and colleges, research into the changing beliefs of
pre-service teachers is important in order to help them develop as
self-regulated, critically reective professionals. This article reports
on a research study that systematically tracks the beliefs of 37
pre-service teachers in relation to their course-related experiences in
schools. The students in this study were undertaking a one-year long
postgraduate level Secondary Diploma in Education course at
a university in Victoria, Australia. Students entering this program
had completed at least a three-year undergraduate degree with
a minimum of two minor (two year) sequences in each of two
discipline areas (their methods of teaching in the pre-service
teacher qualication). Both the institution and the students were
changing, but the course was one that sought to build its teaching in
response to the experiences of its students. Here we focus on the
impact of experiences in schools on the students evolving beliefs.
Understanding how beliefs change in response to experience will
assist teacher educators in supporting their students in their learning.

Understanding the beliefs of pre-service teachers is important in


any teacher education program as we cannot effect change in
teachers behaviours without also effecting change in their personal
beliefs (Kagan, 1992, p. 77). Teacher beliefs are the ideas that
inuence how they conceptualize teaching. These ideas encompass
what it takes to be an effective teacher and how students ought to
behave (Pajares, 1992, p. 322). Pajares (1992) also states that beliefs
function as a lter through which new phenomena are interpreted.
Schommer (1990, 1994) argues that beliefs are multidimensional.
She suggests that epistemological beliefs evolve with experience,
reecting experiences of both education and home-life and that
there is scope for change.
Engaging with teacher beliefs about knowing and learning
(epistemological beliefs) can provide insights into how the teaching
and learning of pre-service teachers can be improved (Hofer &
Pintrich, 1997; Schommer, 1993). To develop epistemological
beliefs, Brownlee (2004, p. 4) suggested that there needs to be
connected teaching in teacher education courses and citing Baxter
Magolda (1993) has indicated that

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 61 03 9479 2782; fax: 61 03 9479 3070.


E-mail addresses: w.ng@latrobe.edu.au (W. Ng), h.nicholas@latrobe.edu.au
(H. Nicholas), a.williams@latrobe.edu.au (A. Williams).
1
Tel.: 61 03 94 792 744.
2
Tel.: 61 03 94 792 783.

When students experience connected teaching they are supported in using both relational (own experiences) and impersonal (experts) ways of knowing. This interrelationship between
self and theory is characteristic of the more sophisticated ways of
knowing.

0742-051X/$ see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.03.010

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

According to constructivist theory and reecting Pajares stance,


pre-service teachers bring with them to teacher education courses
a set of well-established beliefs that are rm and resistant to
change (Joram & Gabriele, 1998; Murphy, Delli, & Edwards, 2004;
Wubbels, 1992; Zeichner & Gore, 1990). Zeichner and Tabachnick
(1981) asserted that pre-service teachers beliefs are shaped by the
many hours they experienced as students and that these beliefs
remain hidden while they are undergoing teacher education
courses, but surface when they start teaching and have classes of
their own. Thus, while they view beliefs as capable of evolving with
experience, they see them as relatively stable within the period of
the teacher education program. As a result, these beliefs would then
play a major role in the teachers teaching, but it would be difcult
to engage with them during the training course. Adopting a similar
perspective, Kennedy (1997) argued that pre-service teachers bring
with them robust beliefs about what it takes to make a good
teacher. When their beliefs are challenged by other teachings, they
dismiss the challenges as too theoretical and non-practical.
In contrast, and more consistent with the views of Schommer
(1994) about the multidimensional and exible nature of (some)
beliefs, Brownlee (2004) argued that teachers are knowledge
workers who need to be self-regulated, life-long learners able to
critically reect on their actions and teaching. Similarly, Klatter,
Lodewijks, and Aarnoutse (2001) discussed the need for teachers to
attend to the process of learning (the how) as well as to the
content to be learnt (the what). In bringing together the discussions of the researchers mentioned above, teacher beliefs are
important factors that need to be considered and addressed in
teacher education courses (Fang, 1996; Richardson, Anders, Tidwell,
& Lloyd, 1991). Key issues are whether they can be elicited (made
explicit) and whether they are susceptible to change in the
relatively short period of a one-year (effectively nine months)
pre-service program and, if so, in what ways they might change.
Only if they can be, can they be effectively engaged within preservice programs.
2.1. Pre-service teachers beliefs about being a good teacher
Studies have shown that beliefs about good teaching include
perceptions of the characteristics that make teachers effective in
inuencing student performance. In many studies, pre-service
teachers have been described as having a tendency to emphasise
the academic dimension (content knowledge) of teaching much
less than the personal, social, and affective characteristics of
teaching in dening what a good teacher is (Artiles & Trent, 1990;
Collins, Selinger, & Pratt, 2003; Holt-Reynolds, 1992; Weinstein,
1990; Witcher & Onwuegbuzie, 1999). Examples of the affective/
social characteristics include being kind, supportive, caring,
approachable, entertaining, and friendly. The literature presents
a view that these beliefs vary slightly depending on, for example,
the gender of the pre-service teachers and the discipline the
teaching is associated with. Male students are described as tending
to place more emphasis on classroom management and prefer
characteristics such as fairness and good communication while
females are described as tending towards student-centeredness,
preferring characteristics such as being supportive and being well
organised (Ogden, Chapman, & Doak, 1994; Witcher & Onwuegbuzie, 1999).

279

broadly conceptualised efcacy as personal teaching efcacy and


teaching efcacy while Anderson, Greene, and Loewen (1988) and
Hoy and Woolfolk (1990) have called these personal teaching
efcacy and general teaching efcacy. Personal teaching efcacy is
associated with the beliefs teachers have in themselves as effective
teachers while general teaching efcacy deals with outcome
expectancy (Ashton, 1984) and the belief in the power of teaching
to overcome external student factors such as home environment
and the emotional and cognitive needs of the student. School
context variables can impact on teacher efcacy in that teachers
efcacy can increase in schools where students are performing well
academically and teacher collegiality is high (Parkay, Greenwood,
Olejnik, & Proller, 1988; Smylie, 1980). In addition, Ghaith and
Shaaban (1999) have shown that teachers who have high personal
efcacy and who believe in their own ability to teach effectively are
less concerned about their survival as teachers or about the
demands of teacher tasks. These teachers are more willing to adopt
a greater variety of innovative approaches to support diverse
educational needs (Ghaith & Yaghi, 1997; Wertheim & Leyser,
2002). As a result, they are able to bring about more effective
learning and able to motivate and meet the learning needs of their
students while being less likely to blame themselves for poor
student learning outcomes.
It is, therefore, important for teacher educators to elicit and
understand the epistemological beliefs that pre-service teachers
bring to their learning in teacher education courses in order to
assist them to develop as critically reective professionals. The oneyear professional preparation program in this study is an intensive
progress from orientation to the what of teaching through an
increasing awareness of various dimensions of the how. As such, it
attempts to engage with pre-service teachers beliefs and proceeds
from a view that beliefs can be modied in response to experience.
In order to develop the connected teaching stated above, this
research study aimed to systematically document the beliefs and
experiences of the Secondary Diploma in Education pre-service
teachers at four different times. The rst of these was prior to any
course-related experience in schools and the remaining three
immediately after each of three eldwork placements during their
one-year course. The rst eldwork experience did not involve
direct responsibility for teaching whereas the second and third
placements involved (supervised) responsibility for whole classes.
The purpose of using these four times was to identify the inuence
of school experiences on their personal efcacy beliefs and beliefs
about what good teaching is. These beliefs were elicited through
the lens of the students perceptions of good teaching and their
strengths and weaknesses as teachers at the different stages of their
course. We attempt to see how these evolving statements of belief
reect changes in beliefs about what makes a good teacher.
The research questions for the study are:
1. How do school placement experiences inuence participating
pre-service teachers evolving beliefs about what a good
teacher is? Does gender or age group affect these beliefs?
2. How do school placement experiences inuence participating
pre-service teachers self-efcacy beliefs in terms of strengths,
needs and weaknesses in relation to being a teacher?
3. Method of study

2.2. Teaching efcacy

3.1. Participants

One of the inuencing factors in the development of beliefs


about being a good teacher is personal teaching efcacy. Efcacy is
the capacity to produce a desired or intended effect (TschannenMoran & Hoy, 2007). In teaching, Ashton and Webb (1986) have

The pre-service teachers participating in this research were


students who had completed (at least) their discipline-focussed
undergraduate degrees and were undertaking a year-long graduate
entry teacher education program. The academic year covered

280

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

18 weeks of university-based instruction and 12 weeks of associated professional practice made up of three weeks of observational
eldwork and nine weeks of teaching practicum, the latter in two
blocks of four and ve weeks respectively.
The 140 secondary pre-service teachers from the whole year
group were invited to participate in the research. Ethics approval
was obtained prior to baseline collection at time 1 (see Table 1). A
cover sheet attached to the rst questionnaire included information about the research, ethics approval number and contact details
of personnel to lodge complaints should these arise. We stated that
the research was voluntary and that lling in and submitting the
questionnaire indicated consent. There was a space for the students
to ll their names and contact details if they wanted a copy of the
summary of the research. The information in the rst questionnaire
was repeated in all three subsequent questionnaires. The questionnaires were administered in an Issues in Education unit lecture
at the start of their course and immediately after (the rst day) they
come back to the university upon completion of their school
placements. The Issues in Education unit is a compulsory unit for all
these secondary pre-service teachers.
Table 1
Demographics of whole group (N 115) and matched participants (N 37) across
T1 to T4.
(a) Gender
Respondents at T1 (N 115)a

Matched respondents at T4 (N 37)

Gender

Frequency

Gender

Frequency

Male
Female
Total

43
71
114

37
62
99

Male
Female
Total

12
25
37

32
68
100

(b) Age
Respondents at T1 (N 115)a

Matched respondents at T4 (N 37)a

Age

Frequency

Age

Frequency

2030
3140
> 41
Total

76
27
9
114

66
23
8
97

2030
3140
4150
Total

23
9
4
36

62
24
11
97

(c) Age by gender


Matched respondents at T4 (N 37)a
Age

Male

Female

Total

2030
3140
> 41
Total

5
4
2
11

18
5
2
25

23
9
4
36

(d) Teaching methods (I & II)


Respondents at T1 (N 115)

Matched respondents at T 4 (N 37)

Teaching method

Frequency

Teaching method

Frequency

English
Maths
Gen. Sci.
Physics
Biology
Chemistry
Drama
SOSEb
TESLc
LOTEd
IT
VET/Teche
Othersf

35
14
12
5
16
10
14
35
33
22
5
13
14

16
6
5
2
7
4
6
16
14
10
2
6
6

English
Maths
Gen. Sci.
Physics
Biology
Chemistry
Drama
SOSE
TESL
LOTE
IT
VET/Tech
Others

15
3
2
2
3
0
6
15
13
8
0
3
4

20
4
3
3
4
0
8
20
17
11
0
4
6

a
b
c
d
e
f

One missing data.


Studies of society and environment.
Teaching English as a second language.
Languages other than English.
Vocational education and training/technology (materials, systems and design).
Includes music, media studies, student welfare, psychology.

The pre-service teachers who were sampled were from all


discipline areas and had come from a variety of different
countries and educational systems to undertake their general
pre-service preparation in Australia. For most of them English
was their dominant home and educational language, though
this does not imply an Anglo cultural background. The 37
participants who are reported on here are a sub-set of those
from whom we received responses, selected because we had
data from them on each of the four occasions on which we
administered the questionnaires.
Table 1 shows the demographics of the whole cohort and the
matched group of 37 pre-service teachers in the questionnaires of
T1 toT4. The similarities in the percentages of gender make-up, age
groups and teaching methods between the two groups indicate
that the group we report on have similar characteristics to the
larger cohort completing the Secondary Diploma in Education at
the university.
3.2. Tracking evolving beliefs
The growth from novice to qualied teachers over the course
of the Secondary Diploma in Education course was investigated
by tracking the pre-service teachers beliefs about what a good
teacher is, and their beliefs about their own strengths as a teacher
as well as the needs they had at various times during their course.
A series of questionnaires was administered to the students at
four times (T1 to T4) during the year as shown in Table 2. This
timing was chosen so that the factor most inuencing their beliefs
in lling in the questionnaires would be the impact of the
placement experience they had just had. The only exception to
this was the baseline of T1, which was conducted before the
students had had any course-related placement experiences in
schools. Questionnaires at T2, T3 and T4 were administered on
the rst day the students arrived back at the university after
completing their placement rounds. We do not disregard the
impact of course-related learning experiences prior to the placement experiences but consider them as embedded into and
interpreted through the lens of their practical experiences. The
difference between T2 and the later times (T3, T4) was that the
eldwork preceding T2 did not involve the students in whole
direct class teaching, although it frequently involved work with
individuals or small groups of students.
3.2.1. Eliciting beliefs about characteristics of good teachers
The questionnaire statements and questions were designed to
align with the professional requirements of the major employing
body for the graduates and were consequently based on the then
Victorian Department of Educations (now Department of Education and Early Childhood Development) Principles of Learning and
Teaching (PoLT, available online at http://www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/
blueprint/fs1/polt/default.htm). To track the evolving beliefs of
the pre-service teachers about the nature of being a good teacher,
all four questionnaires contained the same set of 22 Likert-scale
closed statements on what good teachers are. In addition, personal
beliefs about the characteristics of good teachers were elicited in
the questionnaire at T1 with an open question on What makes

Table 2
Total number of respondents to the questionnaires at T1 to T4.
Time

Questionnaire no.

Placement

No. respondents

T1
T2
T3
T4

Questionnaire
Questionnaire
Questionnaire
Questionnaire

Start of course
After eldwork (observations)
After teaching practicum I (4 weeks)
After teaching practicum II (5 weeks)

115
87
85
52

1
2
3
4

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

a good teacher? Please list what are for you the most important
characteristics of a good teacher

281

4. Results and discussion


4.1. Why pre-service teachers wanted to become teachers

3.2.2. Eliciting personal efcacy beliefs about being a teacher


This was achieved through the lens of the pre-service teachers
perceptions of (i) their own strengths as a teacher and (ii) things
they needed to know before the next school placement. All the four
questionnaires contained the following open question: as a teacher
what do you think are your strengths? Instead of asking what
their weaknesses were, the rst 3 questionnaires contained the
open question what do you most need to know before your next
placement in a school? Since there was no further school placement after T4, this question was replaced by as a teacher, what do
you think are your weaknesses? in the last questionnaire at T4.
3.3. Data analysis
3.3.1. Statistical analysis
Data from the Likert-scale, closed question responses from all
responding students were entered into SPSS 16.0 for quantitative
analysis. As the number of respondents per data set varied (see
Table 2), only matched participants data were used to track their
evolving beliefs over the four questionnaires. The number of
respondents varied due to (i) absences, particularly after the last
round of teaching practice when they were only required to come
back to the university for a nal week and (ii) personal choices to
drop out of the research. The number of matched participants for
the four data sets was 37. This constitutes 32% of the original set
(115) of participants. A reason for not being able to match all 52
participants at T4 (the lowest respondent number of T1T4) to the
other three times is because the other participants reported that
they had forgotten their self-selected codes required as a condition
of ethics approval. As indicated earlier, the data in Table 1 suggest
that the demographics for the matched group and the wider
population are not dissimilar
Descriptive statistics on the demographics of gender, age groups
and teaching methods and Likert-style responses on motivation to
be a teacher of the 37 participants were analysed using SPSS. In
addition, the independent samples t-test was used to analyse the
differences between gender and age groups for motivation to be
a teacher. To track evolving beliefs of the pre-service teachers over
the four times T1 to T4, the 22 Likert-scale statements for what is
a good teacher? were analysed and compared using repeated
measures of ANOVA for matched responses over the period T1 to
T4. The scale for all Likert-scale statements was: strongly agree 5;
agree 4; not sure 3, disagree 2 and strongly disagree 1.
Similar analysis was conducted to elicit differences between gender
and age group in relation to their beliefs about what a good teacher
is over the four questionnaires.
Factor analysis, using the principal components method, was
applied to all 22 statements assessing what is a good teacher for
each of the four time/questionnaire periods. The scree test was
used to determine the number of components to extract. Reliability
analysis was performed on each group of statements per extracted
component. Each component was considered as acceptable if
Cronbachs alpha > 0.60.
3.3.2. Qualitative analysis
Open responses to the questions of why do you want to be
a teacher?, what is a good teacher?, what are your strengths as
a teacher? (T1T4), what do you need most to know before your
next placement in a school? (T1T3) and what are your weaknesses
as a teacher? (T4) were qualitatively analysed by coding them and
placing them into categories according to both the themes identied
and the percentage of responses for each theme at T1 to T4.

Descriptive analysis of the rst 11 Likert-scale questionnaire


items in questionnaire 1, which focussed on why the students
wanted to become teachers is shown in Table 3. Ninety-seven
percent of the 37 students wanted to be teachers because they were
passionate about their teaching methods. Other lifestyle choices
such as needing a job, liking the holidays and teaching as a good
way to travel were prominent reasons for being teachers. Although
fewer than half the responses indicated that teaching was what
they had always wanted to do, most had not opted for teaching
because they could not nd work in areas they were trained in nor
because they were seeking permanent residence in Australia. The
latter reason is only applicable to overseas students, hence the high
percent not seeking permanent residence is consistent with this
group of students. A similar contextual explanation accounts for the
low level of selection of item 2 (not being able to gain other
employment), since this condition is unlikely to apply to the relatively young cohort of students, many of whom were pursuing their
rst professional qualication via the Diploma in Education course.
When the open responses for the question about reasons for
becoming a teacher were investigated, the coded responses, as
shown in Table 4, fell into three main categories that we have
labeled: personal benets, capacity to be a teacher, and social
benets. The personal benets category was further categorised
into intellectual satisfaction, stimulating work, job security, and
lifestyle. The percentages of responses indicated that the preservice teachers most frequently viewed intellectual satisfaction
and teaching as stimulating work as being reasons for wanting to
become a teacher. These reasons provided dimensions of perceptions not elicited in but not inconsistent with the closed, Likertscale statements that probed for more extrinsic and practical
motivations. Independent samples t-test analysis found that there
were no gender differences with the Likert-scale motivation items.
There were however a limited number of differences, as shown in
Table 5, associated with age group for items 5 and 6. The mean
value for the younger group (30 years old and below) was more
positive for item 5 (I need a job) while, unsurprisingly, that for the
older group (above 30 years old) was higher for item 6 (I have tried
other things and decided that teaching is what I really want to do).
These responses indicate high levels of personal motivation and
a general sense of active vocational commitment to the profession in
these participants. This commitment did not exclude consideration of
other perceived lifestyle benets of teaching, but did seem to indicate
a clear view of teaching as a rst choice career. Comparing the
responses for this sub-set of 37 with the responses from the larger
group of 115 in Tables 4 and 5 indicates that the response patterns
were similar. This suggests that there was no obvious relationship
between dropping out of the sample and the responses given.
4.2. How pre-service teachers characterise good teachers
Qualitative data analysis of the open responses to the question
what is a good teacher? in the rst questionnaire prior to any courserelated experiences in schools yielded ve perceived attributes
(see Table 6) as positive personal style, being able to communicate,
knowing their subject matter, having classroom management skills,
and being professionally skilled. Teachers persona (being caring,
patient, friendly, enthusiastic, approachable, and compassionate),
professional, and communication skills were cited more frequently
than knowledge of subject matter and classroom management at this
stage of the course, consistent with the claims of Ogden et al. (1994)
and Witcher and Onwuegbuzie (1999).

282

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

Table 3
Why pre-service teachers want to be teachers. N 37.
Why I want to be a teacher

Mean

SD

% respondents
SA/A

NS

D/SD

1. I have always wanted to be a teacher


2. Teaching is something that I can do since I cant work in the area for which I originally trained
3. Teaching is a good way for me to get permanent residence in Australia
4. I am passionate about [one or more of my teaching methods]
5. I need a job.
6. I have tried other things and decided that teaching is what I really want to do.
7. I like the idea of the holidays.
8. Its a good way to travel.
9. It ts in with other family or work commitments.
10. The pay is good.
11. People in my family have always been teachers.
12. I have always wanted to be a teacher
13. Teaching is something that I can do since I cant work in the area for which I originally trained
14. Teaching is a good way for me to get permanent residence in Australia
15. I am passionate about [one or more of my teaching methods]
16. I need a job.
17. I have tried other things and decided that teaching is what I really want to do.
18. I like the idea of the holidays.
19. Its a good way to travel.
20. It ts in with other family or work commitments.
21. The pay is good.
22. People in my family have always been teachers.
23. I have always wanted to be a teacher
24. Teaching is something that I can do since I cant work in the area for which I originally trained.
25. Teaching is a good way for me to get permanent residence in Australia.
26. I am passionate about [one or more of my teaching methods].
27. I need a job.
28. I have tried other things and decided that teaching is what I really want to do.
29. I like the idea of the holidays.
30. Its a good way to travel.
31. It ts in with other family or work commitments.
32. The pay is good.
33. People in my family have always been teachers.

3.11
2.05
1.71
4.57
4.00
3.49
3.68
3.78
3.43
3.03
2.54
3.11
2.05
1.71
4.57
4.00
3.49
3.68
3.78
3.43
3.03
2.54
3.11
2.05
1.71
4.57
4.00
3.49
3.68
3.78
3.43
3.03
2.54

1.07
1.15
1.38
0.55
1.04
1.04
0.91
0.98
0.99
0.87
1.41
1.07
1.15
1.38
0.55
1.04
1.04
0.91
0.98
0.99
0.87
1.41
1.07
1.15
1.38
0.55
1.04
1.04
0.91
0.98
0.99
0.87
1.41

43
16
17
97
78
60
70
68
57
30
35
43
16
17
97
78
60
70
68
57
30
35
43
16
17
97
78
60
70
68
57
30
35

19
11
3
3
11
19
14
29
27
51
8
19
11
3
3
11
19
14
29
27
51
8
19
11
3
3
11
19
14
29
27
51
8

38
73
80
0
11
21
16
13
16
19
57
38
73
80
0
11
21
16
13
16
19
57
38
73
80
0
11
21
16
13
16
19
57

In the next section, we present an analysis of the quantitative


data to track the evolving beliefs about characteristics of a good
teacher at the four data collection times of these pre-service
teachers one-year course. This will be followed by analysis of the
data for how the pre-service teachers viewed their own strengths
as a teacher at each of the four times over the year as well as what
they perceived as needs to be addressed in relation to their next
school placement at each of these times. The implications of these
ndings will be discussed.
4.3. Pre-service teachers evolving beliefs about what
makes a good teacher
Table 7 is a summary of the factor analysis carried out with
questionnaire items 1233 (see Appendix) documenting how the

pre-service teachers beliefs about what makes a good teacher


evolved over time immediately after school placement experiences.
For each time (T1 to T4), a three-component factor analysis of their
views and reliability analysis of each factor was carried out. Only
components that had items with a Cronbachs alpha larger than 0.6
were used for the analysis. These are components 1 and 2 at T1, T2
and T3 and components 1, 2 and 3 at T4.
Our analysis identied two main constructs that were present
across all times T1T4. In order to determine these constructs, we
identied items loading signicantly on the factors as well as
comparing across times to determine which items loaded on the
components on a minimum of three out of the four possible
occasions. We were looking for sustained constructs most capable
of characterizing the students. Using these criteria and interpreting
the nature of the items, we have labeled these constructs: (i) being

Table 4
Coded open responses: reasons for wanting to be a teacher (N 37 compared to whole cohort of N 115).
Categories

Personal Benets

Example of responses

Intellectual
Satisfaction
Stimulating Work
Job Security
Lifestyle

Capacity to be teacher
Social Benets
Others
a

Working with adolescents, shaping & inuencing young minds,


transfer knowledge, passionate about method
Exciting, challenging, interesting work, rewarding, learning about people
Pay, job security, demand in teaching.
Family commitments, holidays, travel overseas, transferability, good way to
get permanent residence
Have ability, emotionally capable, talent, good communication skills
Education is important, contribution to society
Use qualication obtained, family tradition, religious calling, nspired by other teachers

N 37 Total
responses 76a

N 115 Total
responses 194a

% of responses

% of responses

32

36

25
3
9

28
9
10

8
17
6

6
11
N/A

Total responses represent all responses given by students, with most students giving more than one reason for wanting to be a teacher. The responses are not ranked.

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

283

Table 5
Differences in motivations to become a teacher between the under and above 30 year old pre-service teachers.
Motivations to become a teacher

df

Mean Diff.

S.E.

5) I need a job
6) I have tried other things and decided that teaching is what I really want to do

2.93
3.26

33
34

0.006
0.003

0.80
0.95

0.34
0.29

95% C.I. of diff


Lower

Upper

0.30
1.54

1.66
0.36

A positive mean difference or t-value indicates students 30 yrs old and below have a higher mean response than those who are more than 30 years old.

in control (charismatic and/or with expertise) and (ii) student


achievement. Using the particular items that cluster for each of
them, the relationships between these constructs and over time is
interpreted as follows:

of whole class teaching in secondary schools (T3). The items that


contribute to this (items 22, 23, 27) all indicate concern about loss
of control. Items that indicate a positive sense of this, for example
item 20 (exibility) are not included in this construct.

4.3.1 Being in control


This construct is linked to good teachers maintaining a quiet
classroom (item 16; three of four occasions), where the control is
achieved either through the teachers charismatic persona are
loved by their students (item 22; three of four occasions) and have
obedient students (item 23; all four occasions) or through their
teaching expertise, for example are experts in what s/he is
teaching (item 18; three of four occasions), cant be tricked (item
26; all four occasions) and dont make mistakes (item 27; all four
occasions), and tell students when the students are wrong (item
30; three of four occasions). In this context being loved is taken to
mean an acknowledgement of a professional capacity to establish
a positive professional relationship between teachers and students.
We acknowledge the ambiguity in the use of emotional terms in
such relationships. Teaching expertise refers to both pedagogical
knowledge and classroom management in our context.
The pre-service teachers beliefs appear to evolve from expert
control at T1 to a combined expert and charismatic control at T2
(after eldwork that did not involve direct teaching) to a more
charismatic control at T4 (after both formal teaching placements
had been completed). At T3, which is after the rst teaching
practicum where direct classroom teaching was undertaken, the
beliefs related to control changed to appear slightly differently from
at T4. Hence being in control evolved from: valuing expert control
(T1) to valuing expert and charismatic control (T2) to fearing loss of
control (T3) to valuing charismatic control (T4).
The rst direct teaching experience at T3 leads to an apparent
domination of the recognition that good teachers are human
beings, that they make mistakes and are not always the same. This
makes the responses at this time noticeably different from the
responses both before and later.
At T1, T2 and T4, the control is linked to assisting students to
achieve as discussed below. It is notable that the exceptional
pattern in the kind of responses is elicited immediately on
completion of the students rst experience of direct responsibility

4.3.2 Student achievement


A good teacher ensures student achievement. It is associated
with making students feel successful, (item 13; three of four
occasions), helping students succeed (item 14; three of four
occasions), assisting students to work independently (item 15;
three of four occasions), being exible (item 20; all four occasions),
and knowing how to teach well in all situations (item 21; three of
four occasions). Being exible (item 20) and items related to it, for
example set different goals for different students (item 25) and
use different approaches in different situations (item 29) are
mostly associated with student achievement. At T1, T2 and T4,
achievement is equated to assisting their students to work
independently and making students feel successful. These items
disappear at T3. At T3, the pre-service teachers beliefs appear to be
self-focussed and there was a temporary loss of focus on students.
The focus on students re-appeared again at T4 and seems stronger
than at T1 or T2.
In order to gain more insights into the evolving beliefs about the
attributes of a good teacher that signicantly changed between
the start of the course and the different placement times,
a repeated measures ANOVA was carried out for the statements of
what a good teacher is between T1 and T2, T2 and T3 and T3 and T4.
Table 8 shows the statements with signicant changes (p < 0.05)
and the mean differences.
4.3.2.1 Between T1 and T2. Between the start of the course and
reections after the rst placement (observation only), there was
a substantial decrease in agreement that good teachers maintain
quiet classrooms but more agreement that good teachers expect
lots from their students.
4.3.2.2 Between T2 and T3. Between reports after the initial observation and those after the rst teaching practicum experiences,
there were substantial changes in beliefs that good teachers know
their students, help students succeed, are consistent, and set rm

Table 6
Coded initial open responses: what is a good teacher (N 37 compared to whole cohort N 115).
Category

Example of response

N 37 Total
responses 111a

N 115 Total
responses 297a

% of responses

% of responses

Persona (positive
personality traits)
Communication
Subject matter
Classroom management
Professionally skilled

Patience, exible/adaptable, condent, humour, kind, enthusiastic, compassionate,


approachable, friendly, understanding, supportive, people skills
Good listener, good communicator, able to explain
Knowledgeable, know content matter, passion for subject
Classroom management, manage students, rm, consistent
Know/respect students, build rapport, know what and how to teach, skills to engage
and motivate, prepared/organised, role model, inspirational, create learning environment

51

44

14
9
4
22

16
15
5
20

a
Total responses represent all responses given by students, with most students giving more than one attribute of a good teacher. Only 2 participants did not respond to this
question. The responses were not ranked.

284

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

Table 7
Factor analysis of beliefs of what good teachers are from T1 to T4. (Factor Loadings with values below /0.400 are not displayed. Only components with Cronbachs alpha greater
than 0.6 are shown).
Good teachers.

T1

T2

T3

T4

Constructs

Constructs

Constructs

Constructs

1 achieve
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33

really know all their students.


make students feel successful.
help students succeed.
assist students to work independently.
maintain a quiet classroom.
maintain a busy classroom.
are experts in what s/he is teaching.
are consistent.
are exible.
know how to teach well in all situations
are loved by their students.
have obedient students
always challenges students to learn more.
set different goals for different students.
cant be tricked.
dont make mistakes.
set rm limits.
use different approaches in different situations
tell students when the students are wrong.
expect lots from students.
listen more than they tell.
are always the same.
Cronbachs alpha

2 control

1 control

0.54

2 achieve
0.58
0.68
0.79
0.61

0.57
0.53
0.47
0.60

1 control

2 achieve

1 achieve

2 control

3 control

0.71
0.78
0.55

0.48

0.74

0.75
0.55

0.70

0.68

0.71
0.52

0.70
0.67
0.55
0.53

0.58
0.53
0.62
0.71

0.50
0.56

0.79
0.61

0.53
0.64
0.75

0.55
0.70
0.48
0.52

0.61
0.59
0.43

0.64

0.61

0.56
0.57
0.58
0.40
0.63

0.44
0.46
0.73
0.58

0.46
0.45

0.46

0.48
0.41
0.42

0.77
0.55
0.77

0.66
0.75

0.80

limits. These beliefs increased after the rst teaching practicum.


However, belief in telling students that they are wrong decreased
substantially.
4.3.2.3 Between T3 and T4. Between the rst teaching practicum
(prior to T3) and the second (prior to T4), there were decreases in
mean values for items 18 (are experts) and 28 (set rm limits),
suggesting that by T4, the pre-service teachers were more accepting that good teachers do not know everything (are not always
experts) and there are times to be less consistent and more exible.
Consistent with these beliefs at T4 is the belief at this time that
good teachers listen more than they tell rather than being
authoritarian in their instructions. These results correspond with
the factor analysis data discussed above where the teachers in
preparation focussed on their own limitations at T3 but shifted back
to a greater focus on the students at T4. The results indicate
a maturing in the thinking of the pre-service teachers towards
more student-sensitive teaching and the realisation that good
teachers are human beings who make mistakes and are not always
the same at T4.
To see if there are any signicant differences in the changes in
beliefs over time between gender and age group, a repeated measure

0.79

0.59
0.71
0.77

0.64

0.44

0.72

0.74

0.73
0.61

ANOVA was carried out for these two groups. Table 9 contains only
those items where signicant differences were found. As shown in
Table 9, there are two items each that showed signicant differences
(p < 0.05) for either the gender or the age group factors. Gender
differences are seen for items 23 (have obedient students) and 25
(set different goals for different students).
Fig. 1 shows where the differences are with the means over time
in relation to gender. For both statements, female pre-service
teachers beliefs were quite steady over T1 to T4. The male preservice teachers beliefs in have obedient students were more
positive (higher mean values) after the observation round T2 but
declined steadily at T3 and T4. Their beliefs in the statement that
good teachers set different goals showed mean values decreasing
a little after the observation round prior to T2 but was substantially
higher at T3 and T4. As they gained more teaching experiences, the
male pre-service teachers appeared to acknowledge more that
there are differences in abilities in a classroom and that having
obedient students is not necessarily an attribute of a good teacher.
For the female pre-service teachers increasing experiences as
teachers appeared to lead them to believe more strongly in good
teachers having obedient students but not to change substantially
in their relatively strong belief in the need to set different goals for

Table 8
Repeated measures ANOVA over T1T4 of what good teachers are.
Good teachers.

T1 vs T2
Diff in means

12.
14.
16.
18.
19.
28.
30.
31.
32.

really know all their students


help students succeed
maintain a quiet classroom.
are experts in what s/he is teaching.
are consistent.
set rm limits.
tell students when the students are wrong.
expect lots from students.
listen more than they tell.

0.33

0.41

Diff in means: means decrease in agreement;  means increase in agreement.

T2 vs T3

T3 vs T4

p-value

Diff in means

p-value

0.474
0.324
0.038
0.242
0.729
0.124
0.762
0.023
0.535

0.22
0.22

0.030
0.030
0.676
0.173
0.048
0.000
0.011
0.608
0.078

0.25
0.69
0.44

Diff in means

0.44
0.46

0.35

p-value
0.800
0.413
0.812
0.007
0.343
0.007
0.921
0.720
0.031

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289


Table 9
Repeated measures ANOVA for differences between gender and age group over
T1T4 of what good teachers are.
A good teacher.

p-values
time  agegroup

time  gender

21
23
25
27

0.028
0.818
0.162
0.030

0.094
0.048
0.035
0.682

know how to teach well in all situations.


have obedient students.
set different goals for different students.
dont make mistakes.

5.0

male

285

steady over the four times, while the above 30 year olds belief
dropped sharply from T1 (mean 2.54) to T2 (mean 1.69). For this
group of students, the T2 mean value held quite steady after
practicum experiences T3 and T4. For both age groups, their beliefs
evolved to acknowledge the human nature of teachers, who may
not necessarily know how to teach well in all situations and who
are not perfect but can make mistakes.
These two areas of age and gender-associated differences
indicate that some beliefs change quite substantially in the course
of the year and not uniformly for people undergoing the same

5.0

female
4.0

4.0

3.0

3.0

2.0

2.0

1.0

1.0

0.0

male
female

0.0
T1

T2

T3

T4

23) ... have obedient students

T1

T2

T3

T4

25) ...set different goals for different students

Fig. 1. Beliefs affected by gender over time T1T4.

different students. For the male pre-service teachers, increased


experience seems to have been associated with less belief in
obedience and the growth of a very strong belief in differentiation
in goals for different students, which differs in emphasis from other
ndings in the literature (Ogden et al., 1994; Witcher & Onwuegbuzie, 1999).
Fig. 2 shows where age was associated with signicant differences across time. The items that showed signicant changes in
beliefs over time between age groups are good teachers know how
to teach well in all situations (item 21) and dont make mistakes
(item 27). For both items, there were signicant gaps (see Fig. 2) in
the mean values between the under 30 and above 30 year old
pre-service teachers at the beginning of the course (T1) but these
differences closed by T4. The under 30 year old pre-service teachers
viewed good teachers knowing how to teach well in all situations
more positively than the above 30 year olds but this belief
decreased slightly over the school placement experiences. The
reverse appears to be true for the above 30 year old pre-service
teachers. For the item that good teachers do not make mistakes, the
under 30 age group of pre-service teachers beliefs were relatively

experience. The small numbers and lack of distinctiveness of variables such as overseas education meant that only age and gender
could be analysed quantitatively. Teaching methods did not
signicantly relate to changes in beliefs.
4.4. Pre-service teachers beliefs about their own
strengths and needs
4.4.1 Strengths
In the responses to the open question as a teacher, what do you
think are your strengths? about half of the responses given by the
students focussed on personality traits across the four times (see
Table 10). Being kind, caring, dedicated, organised, compassionate,
committed and enthusiastic are the traits that featured more
strongly in their responses. This is consistent with their perceptions
of what a good teacher is (see Table 6). These affective/emotional
attributes, viewed as positive characteristics of good teachers
by pre-service teachers are consistent with numerous research
ndings in this area (Artiles & Trent, 1990; Weinstein, 1990;
Witcher & Onwuegbuzie, 1999).

30yrs and below

5.0

more than 30yrs

30yrs and below

5.0

4.0

more than 30yrs

4.0

3.0

3.0

2.0

2.0

1.0

1.0

0.0

0.0
T1

T2

T3

T4

21) ...know how to teach well in all situations

T1

T2
T3
27) ...don't make mistakes

Fig. 2. Beliefs affected by age group over time T1T4.

T4

286

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

Table 10
Coded responses of pre-service teachers beliefs of their own strengths as teachers. N 37.
Categories

T2 Total
T3 Total
T4 Total
T1 Total
responses 82a responses 68a responses 70a responses 78a

Examples of responses

Relating
Have good interpersonal skills, able to relate to students, build good rapport,
to students
gain respect, have good people skills, able to engage and/or motivate students,
Communication
Good listener, condence in public speaking, able to explain complex things
Subject matter
Knowledgeable, passionate about subject, expert in subject
Persona (positive Kindness, patience, motivated, imaginative, exible, sensitive, caring,
personality
committed, creative, hardworking, fair, clear, calm, wise, compassionate,
traits)
motivated, rational, assertive, dedicated, condent, enthusiastic, humorous,
organised, reective, condent
Others
Life experience, teaching experience, willing to learn, maturity, teaching
strategies, beliefs e.g. education is important, research skills, like children,
youth, making a difference, controlling class

% of responses

% of responses

% of responses

% of responses

12

15

24

23

16
15
45

13
12
43

9
10
44

4
7
52

12

17

13

14

a
Total responses represent all responses given by students, with most students identifying more than one strength. All students responded to this question in all the four
questionnaires. The responses are not ranked.

Knowing subject matter and communicative skills did not rate


highly as pre-service teachers strengths, and decreased further with
time. However, the rating of being able to relate to students had
increased substantially after T3 and T4. Pre-service teachers having
less emphasis on the academic dimensions of teaching has also been
reported, for example, Weinstein (1990). These data suggest that the
pre-service teachers developed a better understanding of adolescents during their teaching rounds but the complexity of teaching
where content knowledge and communication skills were involved
became more real as they had more teaching experiences, hence the
decrease in the pre-service teachers perceptions of these areas as
strengths. The complex nature of teaching is summed up by one
student after the rst teaching practicum, indicating the direct effect
of the experience on belief structures:
really I dont know anymore. What I thought made a good
teacher was obviously wrong (T3).
4.4.2 Needs
The open question asked in the questionnaire that underlies
needs is what do you most need to know before your next
placement in a school? The pre-service teachers needs could be
viewed as perceptions of their own weaknesses or gaps that
needed to be lled to complement their perceived existing
strengths. Table 11 shows the coded data of the pre-service
teachers responses from T1 to T3. The T4 questionnaire did not
have this question as the students had nished with their school
placements. However they were asked to identify their weaknesses in an open question at T4.

The results as shown in Table 11 indicate that classroom


management managing student learning and professional expectations remain as concerns for the pre-service students from T1
(before placement) to T3 (after the rst teaching practicum).
Professional expectations such as knowing where they would be
teaching, knowing about school policies, dress code, and how to
interact with teachers and students which were identied as the
equal largest need (30% of total responses) in T1 decreased only
slightly over the next two school placements. The anxiety of being
prepared for the second teaching practicum could be contributing
to the increase in classroom management concerns (25% at T3), but
remained less strong than concerns about managing learning (30%).
In the last questionnaire at T4, the pre-service teachers were
asked to identify their weaknesses. Apart from three students who
did not respond to this question, most of the other students
responded indicating one weakness. Of the total of 41 responses (see
Table 12), 23% identied weaknesses in classroom management
and 57% issues in self-management such as being disorganised,
procrastinating, lacking condence, not being strict enough, not
being a good listener, and being too nice. There is an interesting
relationship that could be perceived here between the sense of loss
of control after the rst direct teaching experience and expressions
that appear to blame themselves for experiences that may not have
gone well by the end of their course.
5. Conclusion
The systematic documentation of the beliefs and experiences of
the 37 pre-service teachers in this research study provides teacher

Table 11
Coded responses of pre-service teachers beliefs of things I need to know before the next school experience. N 37.
T2 Total
responses 46a

T3 Total
responses 49a

% of responses

% of responses

% of responses

18%
11%
30%

17%
11%
37%

25%
12%
30%

11%

11%

7%

30%

24%

26%

Categories

Examples of responses

T1 Total
responses 61a

Classroom management
Lesson plans
Managing student
learning

How to control kids, strategies to cope with difcult students


How to prepare lesson plans
Curriculum at secondary schools, what to teach (content), assessment, CSF & VELS,
how to involve students, what and how to teach content, classroom dynamics,
how to present to teenagers, motivate and explain to students,
special needs student, pace teachingb
Develop condence to teach, how students will receive me, how not to look
like an idiot in front of my supervising teacher, have sufcient knowledge
Dress code, how to interact with staff, expectations of student teachers, how does the
school work, types of students, where I will be teaching. School reputation,
school/principal expections

Condence
School policies &
environment

a
Total responses represent all responses given by students, with most students identifying more than one need. All students responded to this question in all the three
questionnaires. The responses are not ranked.
b
Victorian Curriculum Standards Framework & Victorian Essential Learning Standards.

W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

287

Table 12
Coded responses of pre-service teachers beliefs of their own weaknesses as teachers at T4.
Categories

Examples of responses

Total responses 41a

Classroom management

Classroom management, disciplining students, yelling at students, voice projection,


weak when facing bad students, lack assertiveness
Being too nice, laugh too much, not following things through, disorganised, lazy,
easily distracted, procrastinate, lack condence
Content knowledge, coming up with activities to keep students engaged, writing lesson plans
Deal with teaching staff, school organisation

23%

% of responses

Self-management
Curriculum management
School policies & environment

57%
15%
5%

a
Total responses represent all responses given by students, with most students identifying more than one need. Three students did not respond to this question. The
responses are not ranked.

educators with a better understanding of the inuence of school


placements on the beliefs of pre-service teachers in relation to
what a good teacher is and how they view themselves as teachers.
The secondary pre-service teachers in this study joined the
course because they found the idea of teaching stimulating, but
they also valued the lifestyle that they perceived teaching to offer.
These pre-service teachers saw good teachers as being experts in
their discipline who were good at relating to and working with
adolescents. This was consistent with their quest for intellectual
stimulation. This study has shown that there are both constants and
variability in the beliefs of this group of pre-service teachers in
response to their subsequent school placement experiences.
Our research has indicated (see Table 7) that the constructs most
capable of capturing the variation among the students changed with
experiences in schools. Student achievement was the construct that
captured most of the variation prior to any experience with school and
again after the completion of the nal teaching placement. However,
after the initial observation in schools and the rst teaching placement,
being in control was the construct that captured most of the variation.
In the study we have attempted to link the pre-service teachers
perceptions of good teaching with their school teaching experiences.
Data were obtained immediately after their return from experiences in
schools. The constants indicate that certain aspects of their epistemological beliefs remain the same throughout their pre-service experience. These constant beliefs include good teachers having kind, caring,
understanding and charismatic persona who assist their students to
achieve. Their beliefs about good teaching evolved from believing
teachers have expert control to a focus on preventing loss of personal
control at T3 (after the rst teaching placement) and back to a belief
about more student-centred control at T4. For example, there was
a signicant decrease in their belief that good teachers have quiet
classrooms after their rst observation. However, their responses after
their rst teaching experience indicated more belief that good teachers
really know their students and set rm limits. However, after their nal
placement there was signicant decrease in their belief that good
teachers are experts who set rm limits but increased agreement that
they listen more than they tell. Being able to manage classrooms was
not seen as a highly important factor in the open responses of the
pre-service teachers about what a good teacher is at the beginning of
the course (see Table 6). Neither was it perceived as a strength by these
pre-service teachers at any of the four stages of their course when
quantitative data was collected. Instead, it was seen as a need by the
pre-service teachers indicating that this is something they wanted to
learn more about at all stages of their education. Their teaching efcacy
belief in this regard is constant and relatively low throughout their preservice learning experience and could be associated with their sense of
loss of control reported at T3 after their rst direct teaching placement.
Along the same line of reasoning, the priority in these pre-service
teachers general teaching efcacy belief in terms of their own learning
needs is to be able to manage student learning (pedagogy, instructional,
and assessment strategies). This belief remained constant throughout
their teacher education course. However, a changing positive personal

teaching efcacy belief viewed through identied strengths is their


increased condence in being able to relate to teenagers.
Not all these pre-service teachers responded in the same way.
We identied ways in which the belief structures of respectively
males and females and older and younger participants differed
both between the groups and over time. Even where there
appeared to be a common pattern, as in the factor analysis across
the four times, we noted a substantial change in the nature of the
beliefs after the rst teaching placement. This was not just
a temporary aberration followed by a return to previous patterns.
The belief pattern for these pre-service teachers that emerged after
their second teaching placement was substantially different from
that after their rst placement and also differed from the patterns
prior to course-related experiences in schools. The emphasis on
a combination of charismatic control and attention to student
achievement echoes Baxter Magoldas (1993) sense of connected
teaching and suggests that these pre-service teachers experiences
have combined to promote a change in their belief structures.
We therefore concur with Schommer (1990, 1994) that beliefs are
amenable to change, even though some aspects of pre-service teacher
beliefs are less amenable to change than others. Furthermore, the
evidence from our study suggests that the changes in the beliefs that
we documented can be directly related to (some of) the experiences of
the pre-service teachers in the program. This indicates that it may be
possible for teacher education programs to actively engage with their
students beliefs and to increase their students efcacy by such
engagement.

6 Implications of the research ndings


Although derived from data from only 37 participants, the
implications of these ndings are that teacher education programs
can usefully explore how to capitalise on their students efcacy
belief that they are able to relate to students as the teacher education
year progresses so as to strengthen their students academic and
communication skills. For example, to reinforce the skills of building
rapport and trust with their students, pre-service teachers should be
assisted by experiencing slightly risky pedagogies, for example, in
pursuing more self-directed learning. Technology would be useful in
this regard and would allow for self-paced learning. However, to be
able to deviate from more traditional ways of teaching requires preservice (and in-service) teachers to be comfortable being challenged
by their students, which requires reinforcement of their perceived
strengths in being able to relate to school-age students.
A recurring need of the pre-service students is classroom
management and (more strongly) managing student learning. The
former is associated mainly with managing behaviour while the
latter is associated with pedagogy and teaching methods. However,
the two are not separate and pre-service students should be
encouraged to focus on what and how they are teaching to engage
students with meaningful tasks, which will in turn alleviate

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W. Ng et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 278289

behavioural problems rather than focus on disciplinary tactics to


manage classroom misbehaviour.
This research also suggests that building the teaching efcacy of
pre-service teachers could be an important part of teacher education programs. Ghaith and Shaaban (1999) have demonstrated that
teachers who have high personal efcacy are less concerned about
survival and are able to bring about more effective learning thereby
increasing their general teaching efcacy. Teacher educators should
be connecting pre-service teachers beliefs in their own strengths to
their learning needs in order to assist them with improving their
teaching efcacy.
The current study elicited beliefs of pre-service teachers that are
most likely inuenced predominantly by placements experiences.
Further research into how the universitys coursework programs
contributed to the responses obtained in study is required.

Open questions:
1. Why do you want to be a teacher? Please identify the reasons
that were most important in your decision to become a teacher.
2. What makes a good teacher? Please list what are for you the
most important characteristics of a good teacher.
3. As a teacher, what do you think are your strengths?
4. What do you most need to know before your next placement in
a school?
Q4 is replaced by As a teacher, what do you think are your
weaknesses? at T4.

References
Acknowledgements
This research study was supported by a grant from the Faculty of
Education, La Trobe University. We thank Hui Huang, Faith Parsons and
Ramon Lewis for their assistance with the quantitative data analysis. We
also thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.
Appendix. (survey statements about good teachers)
Please indicate how much you agree with each of the following
statements about becoming or being a teacher. Please tick SA
(Strongly agree); or A (Agree); or NS (Not sure); or D (Disagree)
or SD (Strongly Disagree) for each item.

Statements 1 to 11 refer to your motivations

SA

1. I have always wanted to be a teacher.


2. Teaching is something that I can do since I cant
work in the area for which I originally trained.
3. Teaching is a good way for me to get Permanent
Residence in Australia.
4. I am passionate about
[one or more of my teaching methods].
5. I need a job.
6. I have tried other things and decided that teaching
is what I really want to do.
7. I like the idea of the holidays.
8. Its a good way to travel.
9. It ts in with other family or work commitments.
10. The pay is good.
11. People in my family have always been teachers.
Statements 1233 refer to what a good teacher is. Good teachers:
12. really know all their students.
13. make students feel successful.
14. help students succeed.
15. assist students to work independently.
16. maintain a quiet classroom.
17. maintain a busy classroom.
18. are experts in what s/he is teaching.
19. are consistent.
20. are exible.
21. know how to teach well in all situations
22. are loved by their students.
23. have obedient students
24. always challenges students to learn more.
25. set different goals for different students.
26. cant be tricked.
27. dont make mistakes.
28. set rm limits.
29. use different approaches in different situations
30. tell students when the students are wrong.
31. expect lots from students.
32. listen more than they tell.
33. are always the same.

NS

SD

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