Teacher Beliefs and the Processes of Change

Teacher Beliefs and the Processes of Change

Teacher Beliefs and the Processes of Change

Jack C Richards, Patrick Gallo & Willy A Renandya


The nature of teacher change is crucial to the field of second language teacher education. Since most of what we do in teacher education seeks to initiate change of one sort or another it is important to try to better understand the nature of change and how it comes about. The nature of what is meant by change is complex and multifaceted. As many others including Bailey (1992) and Jackson (1992) have pointed out, change can refer to many things including knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, understanding, self-aware-ness, and teaching practices. Several assumptions about the nature of teacher change underlie current approaches to teacher professional development:

  • teachers’ beliefs play a central role in the process of teacher development;
  • changes in teachers’ practices are the result of changes in teachers’ beliefs
  • the notion of teacher change is multidimensional and is triggered both by personal factors as well as by the professional contexts in which teachers work.

These assumptions reflect a bottom up view of teacher change rather than the top down model of change often seen in traditional models of innovation, where change is viewed as the transmission of information from educators or policy makers to teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1990). The present study was prompted by an interest in the kinds of beliefs teachers describe in relation to their practice and how they conceptualized their own process of teacher development. It therefore sought to clarify the following questions:

  • What core beliefs do language teachers hold about the processes of teaching and learning?
  • How do teachers see their teaching as having changed over time?
  • What were the sources of change?

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