Some of these research have claimed that teaching conceptions and beliefs have a fundamental influence upon the teaching approach adopted (Kember, 1997, Trigwell et al,1994). Yet despite all these studies on teaching beliefs and conceptions there has been no reference or mention of teachers metaphors. To talk about teachers beliefs and conceptions and neglect teachers metaphors of learning and teaching is odd. But the paucity of research on the influence of metaphors on teaching and learning shows that researchers fail to see the metaphorical influence on teaching and learning. This can probably be attributed to the classification of metaphors under the teachers beliefs terminology but to dismissively do this simply negates any further research on the subject matter.
Apart from Sfard (1998) and Martinez et al (2001) there is a little work has been done to uncover teachers educational ( learning and teaching metaphors).
Cognitive linguists, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) stated the influence of metaphors on behaviour: metaphors may create realities for us especially social realities. A metaphor may thus be a guide for future action. Such actions will, of course, fit the metaphor. This will in turn reinforce the power of the metaphor to make the experience coherent. In this sense, metaphors can be self-fulfilling prophecies
According to Martinez et al (2001) metaphors exert powerful influences on processes of analyzing and planning in education and, in particular, they are profoundly affecting teachers thinking about teaching and learning. Sfard (1998) stated that Paradigms of learning can provide a suitable frame of reference for analysing or interpreting the metaphorical roots of learning and teaching in schools.
The Martinez et al (2002) study didnt focus on Higher education teachers but rather on 50 experienced elementary school teachers and 38 prospective ones whereas this study aims to find out the metaphorical conceptions of HE teachers. Also with higher participant numbers in mind.
Lots of research studies on university teachers beliefs, conceptions and metaphors of teaching have been of qualitative research methodology. (Fox, 1983, Dall Alba,1991, Martin & Ramsden,1992, Dunkin,1995, Willcoxson,1998, Ballantyne et al, 1999, Martinez et al, 2001) Qualitative researchers have been criticised for being unclear about research methodology (Maykut & Morehouse,1994). The above-mentioned studies are susceptible to this criticism. The data analysis isnt evident from the studies e.g. Martinez et al (2001) s study analysed metaphorical conceptions of learning of 50 experienced teachers and 38 prospective ones and compared the results. Three classifications of metaphors (behaviourist, constructivist and situative) were analysed from the participants stated definitions of learning and teaching .How they analysed this and which qualitative methodology they used was not mentioned. Fox (1983) research should be criticised because we dont know how many teachers participated in his study or which research methodology was used to analysed them. Yet, Interestingly his work has been cited in several recent studies (Ballantyne et al,1999, Buelens,2002, Norton et al, 2002)
Though there are also studies which have adopted a quantitative approach ( Kember & Gow, 1994, Trigwell & Prosser, 1999,Buelens et al, 2002, Norton et al, 2002). A critique that can be leveled against the use of questionnaire survey that purports to measure teachers beliefs, conceptions and approaches is that teachers could report what they think, hope or believe they do rather than what they actually do in the classroom (Kane et al,2002). Buelens et al(2002)s online administration of their questionnaire was a truly unique and innovative approach which will also be adopted in this study. The advantages of use such as optimal the use of time (faster delivery), resources (no postal charges) and effort (quick distribution) were considered. Though their reference of the teachers as subjects instead of participants would have caused the raising of ethical eyebrows if the study was conducted in Britain instead of Belgium. Given that there is no widely accepted quantitative scale of preference for measuring teaching beliefs, approaches and conceptions. A frequently mentioned scale which measured teachers approaches to teaching was the Approaches to Teaching Inventory Trigwell & Prosser,(1999).
Though the Approaches to Teaching Inventory developed by Trigwell & Prosser (1999) was designed to measure teachers approaches to teaching. The ATI was developed using a relational perspective. From this perspective, approaches to teaching are seen as being contextual or relational thus the approach adopted by a teacher in one context maynt be the same, as the approach the same teacher will adopt in a different context. Due to this relational element Trigwell and Prosser (1999) havent published a scale norms for the studies they have conducted because they will vary according to the context. This is the weakness of this scale because since the scale measures teachers approaches contextually then it can only measure a facet of the teachers approaches to teaching. Getting teachers to place themselves in a particular context is restrictive because a lot of teachers switch roles from taking a large undergraduate class to a group size postgraduate class. Hence the ATI cant offer a truly holistic view of teachers approaches to teaching. Despite this, a lot of studies have this scale with university teachers in over 20 countries and across all the disciplines typically taught in universities. (Trigwell and Prosser,2001)
The current state knowledge about studies of teachers beliefs, conceptions and approaches has been divided. There will not always be an automatic relationship between underlying beliefs and observable teaching approaches Kember (1997). Whereas Trigwell et al (1994) found a logical relationship between diagnosed intentions of teachers and the strategies they claimed to adopt. .
Most of the studies only examined teachers espoused theories and approaches of action and then generalized their findings to predict their participants actual behaviour in the classroom. It was argued that lack of observational studies to confirm participants stated teaching approaches doesnt reveal the entire story on the teaching and learning in schools thus they only tell half the story. Kane et al (2002)
The adoption of both quantitative and qualitative approaches in this study will serve to put it in a better stead than other studies, which only adopted a single approach because the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches will counterbalance each other.
Also the use of the Approaches to Teaching Inventory in this study, which though has its weaknesses but it major strength is that further validation research, isnt necessary.
Unlike Norton et al (2002) and Buelens et al (2002) questionnaires which still requires necessary further validation research. Given the paucity of studies in the influence of teaching and learning metaphors on teaching approaches and also the lack of adequate study on Higher Education teachers metaphors of learning and teaching. This study is timely and necessary and will go a long way towards discovering the power of metaphors on teachers approaches and behaviour in the classroom.
The aim of this study is to determine if the participants metaphors do match their teaching approaches. It should be stated that participants who hold a conceptual change /student-focus approach are expected also to hold a constructivist metaphor of learning and teaching while participants who hold an information transmission/teacher-focused approach will likewise hold a behaviourist metaphor of learning and teaching.
Participants will be university teachers drawn from the Northwest region of the United Kingdom. These Academics will be selected from the Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences fields. HE teachers in the Northwest region were targeted because I (researcher) am based in the Liverpool Hope University, an institution which is based in the Northwest hence the research is being conducted within the researchers jurisdiction. Since the study involves an online administration of the questionnaires, the participants will be selected from their universities website and official college brochures. This is done in order to have access to their email addresses so they can be contacted about participating in this study. A target of 400 participants will be regarded as a success but this is dependent on the number of contacted teachers who decide to willingly participate in the study. The aim is to contact at least 1000 teachers but because this online electronic approach is relatively new there are no guideline criteria to work against except the Buelens et al (2001) study.
The Approaches to Teaching Inventory has been developed to measure the ways teachers approach their teaching in a particular situation. It is composed of 16 items. Eight items are part of a sub-scale that measures conceptual change/ student focus (CSSF) approach. Four of the eight items refer to motive of the approach while the other four to the strategy. The other eight items form a sub-scale labelled information transmission/teacher-focused (ITTF) approach with four items referring to intentions to transmit information and four to the use of a teacher-focused strategy to achieve that intention. The instrument was developed by Trigwell and Prosser (1999). The ATI was developed using a relational perspective. From this perspective, approaches to teaching are seen as being contextual or relational thus the approach adopted by a teacher in one context maynt be the same, as the approach the same teacher will adopt in a different context. Due to this relational element Trigwell and Prosser (1999) havent published a scale norms for the studies they have conducted because they will vary according to the context. Alpha scores for the internal reliability of the 8 items in each of the two scales are consistently found to be between 0.7 and 0.8 for the scale.
The responses to all the 16 items of the scale are on a five-point scale from only rarely true to almost always true and all items are scored positively.
I have contacted Trigwell in relation to the permission to use the ATI questionnaire and he wrote back to me with permission to use the ATI scale in this study and also he sent a detailed paper review of the ATI scale construction.
A qualitative method of phenomenology will be used for interpreting the participants metaphors of learning and teaching. Phenomenological design is appropriate when ones goal is to explore a phenomenon about which little is written. The researcher collects information from participants who are asked to describe the phenomenon and the researcher then analyses the themes and interprets the data.( Flowerday & Schraw,2000). The researchers purpose is to describe and interpret the perspective of the participant (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). A sample of both teaching and learning metaphors will be provided the participants as a guide on how to develop their own metaphorical conceptions of learning and teaching. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) will be done to analyse the participants teaching and learning metaphors to determine whether they are behaviouristic or constructivist in nature.
The quantitative results will be analysed using a between subjects or independent groups study design. The reason for this is due to the nature of the hypotheses, which this research study aims to answer. A between subjects design uses two or more groups of different subjects, and the different groups are put into the different conditions. This is an experimental design where different subjects are subjected to different levels of the independent variable. That is to say, the experiment is comparing dependent variable scores between subjects. In order to perform a between subjects analysis we need to use a grouping variable. This variable represents the different independent variables. Typically the grouping variable data are sequential numbers used to represent the various groups of subjects in the between subjects design.
Therefore the statistical analysis for the two hypotheses is the statistical t-test: (1) To find out whether sex/gender (male vs female) has any influence on the teaching conceptions, beliefs and metaphors of participants and (2) To find out if the level of teaching (undergraduate vs postgraduate) determines the teaching beliefs and metaphors of the participants. The reason for this is that the t-test assesses whether the means for two independent groups are statistically different from each other. This statistical analysis is appropriate whenever you want to compare the means of two groups.
The second statistical test to be used under the independent group design study is the one-way ANOVA. This test will be used for the other two hypotheses, which this study aims to answer:
(3) To find out if the years of experience of the participants (1-9 vs 10-19 vs 20-29 years) influence their teaching beliefs and metaphors.
(4) To determine if the participants teaching conceptions and beliefs differ in terms of the discipline or field in which they teach. (Arts vs Social Science vs Sciences)
Since these two hypotheses have three groups (you cant have measure 3 groups with a t-test). The test, which measures the means of 3 groups, is a one-way ANOVA.
The medium of administration of the ATI scale is electronically via the Internet. The reason for this is because electronic delivery optimises the use of time (faster delivery), resources (no postal charges) and effort (quick distribution). The participants will be contacted via email through the database of email addresses culled from the Northwest universities brochures and websites. An introductory email will be sent with detailed information about the research to each prospective participant with the option of choosing to participate or to decline. Participants who agree to be involved will be sent the research ATI scale electronically. This is expected to have a higher response returns because only interested prospects will receive the research questionnaire. The participants will be asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with each of the 16 items along a five-point scale from 1 (only rarely) to 5 (almost always). They will also be asked to indicate their academic faculty, gender, years of experience and level of teaching. The responses to the survey will be anonymous, and the participants will also be assured that no attempt would be made to identify any individual participant. They will also be assured that particular departments, faculties and institutions would not be identified in any published account of the results. All collected data will be collated into an anonymous database for statistical analysis.
A qualitative section will be added to the ATI scale where the participant will be asked to provide their teaching and learning metaphor. A metaphorical example of both teaching and learning metaphors will be provided and they will be instructed that I dont expect definitions from textbooks rather their own personal, subjective understandings.
An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) will be used to classify the participants metaphors into either behaviourists or constructivists metaphors. IPA is concerned with trying to understand how participants themselves make sense of their experiences. Therefore it is concerned with the meanings, which those experiences hold for the participants. IPA is phenomenological in that it wishes to explore an individuals personal perception or account of an event or state as opposed to attempting to produce an objective record of the event or state itself.
The goal is to determine if the participants metaphors do match their teaching approaches. It should be stated that participants who hold a conceptual change /student-focus approach are expected also to hold a constructivist metaphor of learning and teaching while participants who hold an information transmission/teacher-focused approach will likewise hold a behaviourist metaphor of learning and teaching.
Hence this study aims to examine Northwest University teachers teaching approaches and also ascertain if their stated metaphors are in line with their measured teaching approaches.
Olaojo Babajide Aiyegbayo-is a Postgraduate student in Applied Psychology at Liverpool Hope University College.
Lin Norton is the supervisor of this research study and she is a reader in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University College.
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