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Shared Planning Time: A Novel Context for Studying Teachers’ Discourse and Beliefs About Learning and Instruction

by Michele Gregoire Gill & Bobby Hoffman - 2009

Background/Context: Although teachers’ core instructional beliefs are difficult to accurately measure, they provide a framework for understanding the thinking that underlies important curricular and pedagogical decisions made in the classroom. Previous research has primarily used self-report to study teacher beliefs, but self-report is better for reporting explicit cognitions rather than implicit ones, such as beliefs.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of our study was to investigate teacher talk during shared planning time to provide insight into the rationales behind teachers’ decision making that may be related to their underlying beliefs about subject matter, teaching, learning, and their students.

Setting: Xavier Middle School is located in a suburban area of a midsized progressive city in Florida and has a teacher-student ratio of about 1:19. It serves sixth- through eighth graders, and 28% of the student population are minority students.

Population/Participants/Subjects: A team of 4 eighth-grade mathematics teachers at a suburban middle school in the southern part of the United States agreed to participate in this study.

Research Design: A qualitative case study of eighth-grade mathematics teachers’ discourse was conducted during their weekly shared planning time during the course of one semester.

Data Collection and Analysis: A tape recorder and field notes were used to record the team’s lesson planning discourse. After reviewing the written field notes, scenes of rich dialogue from the audiotapes were selected to be transcribed. Data from the transcripts were coded and assigned to relevant domains based on semantic relationships.

Findings/Results: We compiled all the domains related to teachers’ rationales or teachers’ thinking about learning and instruction and organized the data in a taxonomy supported by relevant examples from the transcripts. We found that these rationales and cognitions mapped onto six categories consisting of beliefs about pedagogical content, general pedagogy, subject matter, curricular choices, resources/textbooks, and students’ thinking. A consistent theme was found that reflected underlying beliefs in a traditional transmission model of instruction and learning.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This study supported our hypothesis that teachers’ collaborative planning time discourse provides a unique lens for understanding teachers’ beliefs. Furthermore, teachers’ planning time provided a forum for teachers to display the rationales underlying their decision making, rationales that are usually hidden from view, especially from the view of a researcher. Teachers’ normally hidden planning process was thus rendered visible, and hence open to investigation.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 5, 2009, p. 1242-1273
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15241, Date Accessed: 6/15/2021 2:51:24 PM

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About the Author
  • Michele Gill
    University of Central Florida
    E-mail Author
    MICHELE GREGOIRE GILL is an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on investigating the causes of conceptual change in teachers’ core subject matter beliefs using randomized experimental designs. She also studies the nature of teachers’ beliefs and how such beliefs are related to students’ academic achievement, motivation to learn, and optimal development. Dr. Gill teaches graduate courses in human development and learning theories at the University of Central Florida. Recent publications are “Establishing Legitimacy for Montessori’s Grand, Dialectical Vision: An Essay Review of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius” in Teaching and Teacher Education (2007); “Getting Teachers Where They’re Needed Most: The Case for Licensure Reciprocity” in Teacher Education and Special Education (coauthors P. T. Sindelar, A. G. Bishop, V. Connelly, & M. S. Rosenberg, 2007); and “Changing Preservice Teachers’ Epistemological Beliefs About Teaching and Learning in Mathematics: An Intervention Study” in Contemporary Educational Psychology (coauthors P. T. Ashton & J. Algina, 2004).
  • Bobby Hoffman
    University of Central Florida
    BOBBY HOFFMAN, assistant professor of educational psychology in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Central Florida, is an educator and researcher with specific interests in the antecedents of motivation and beliefs. His current line of research focuses on the motivational efficiency hypothesis, which states that positive motivational beliefs such as self-efficacy, goal orientations, intrinsic motivation, engagement, and metacognitive strategy may facilitate the efficiency of problem solving and learning. Additionally, Dr. Hoffman investigates the impact of same-sex instruction on learning and motivation. Recent publications are “The Effect of Single-Sex Instruction in a Large, Urban At-Risk High School” in the Journal of Educational Research (coauthors B. Badgett & R. P. Parker, in press); and “The Influence of Self-Efficacy and Metacognitive Prompting on Math Problem-Solving” in Contemporary Educational Psychology (coauthor A. Spatariu, in press).
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