Evolution of Teachers’ Conceptions During Teacher Education

The notion of professionalization of teaching staff, which aims at ensuring teaching quality, is a current concern in educational science and for policymakers. Such a process involves a conscious and targeted development of beliefs – e.g. relating to teaching methods – and knowledge of teachers during their initial training (we use the word “conceptions” as an umbrella term for beliefs and knowledge). Indeed, empirical research is increasingly concerned with the theme of teachers’ thinking. However, a number of issues are currently under debate. This project intends to clarify what is currently a grey area in research on teachers’ conceptions: How do teachers’ conceptions evolve along with their pedagogical training? Interestingly, research findings indicate that teacher training only has a limited impact on teachers’ conceptions. This is due to several factors such as firmly established ideas about teaching acquired during their own experience as a student. Given the mix of various conceptions and theories underlying this conclusion, it is however important to clarify to what extent various types of conceptions do evolve, and to investigate more in-depth how these changes occur and what are the resistance to such changes.

This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (N°100019_146351)

Consequently, the objective of this project is to analyse how the conceptions of vocational education and training (VET) and secondary school teachers evolve throughout their pedagogical training. Moreover, the project attempts to understand the factors which promote or impair conceptual change. The project deals with these issues in the context of  two basic activities in the teaching profession – course planning and classroom management. Additionally, two populations of trainee teachers are investigated by the project, i.e. general preservice secondary school teachers and VET teachers (who undergo pedagogical training while already working as teachers), so as to assess the degree of generalisation or any differences between these two populations.

In particular, the project will seek to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is the nature of VET teachers’ conceptions when they start teacher education?
  • How do these conceptions evolve?
  • Are there differences according to age, training, work experience, the type of classes or types of training?
  • Is there a consistent relationship between conceptions and teaching practice? What factors influence the degree of consistency?
  • How does initial training influence the conceptions of VET teachers?

In order to answer these questions, two stages of research combining various (qualitative and quantitative) methods to collect and analyse data are planned. Stage I comprises a survey based longitudinal study with aim to infer profiles of evolution of teachers’ conceptions from the  beginning of teacher education to its completion. In a second stage, interviews will be conducted with teachers selected based on their responses to the questionnaire, so as to understand the factors promoting and the barriers to changing their conceptions. This study will yield scientifically established data to improve the state of knowledge about teachers’ thought processes, and serve to improve teacher education and the implementation of pedagogical innovations.

Format: 2020
1.8.2013 to 31.7.2016
Other/former employees: 
  • Dre Kim Lê Van
  • Dre Céline Girardet
  • Fitore Daka
  • Cynthia Vaudroz
  • Elodie Gobat

Professeur Marcel Crahay; Fanny Boraita, Dr.; Institut Universitaire de Formation des Enseignants, Université de Genève