The Impact of Academic Beliefs on Student Learning

The Impact of Academic Beliefs on Student Learning

Despina Varnava Marouchou (European University Cyprus, Cyprus)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch471
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Background

In view of the present economic crisis and the rising of youth unemployment there is an urgent need to cultivate a learning culture that requires much closer attention to the different ways in which students learn more effectively, (Leoni, 2011).

In recognition of these challenges and in an attempt to rectify and improve the quality of instruction, the Bologna Process agreement together with the European Strategy for 2020 initiated a number of reforms. One of the overarching objectives of the reforms was the improvement of teaching in HE. This, assumes the development of more flexible approaches that can override inflexible structures of formal educational practices (Metcalfe and Fenwick, 2009; Jütte et al., 2011).

Research in the area of teaching has long been steered mostly from the standpoint of teaching methods. This is because most of the researchers assumed that learning is automatic and occurs as a result of good teaching and so most of the research was focused on developing good teaching skills. As a result educators are very well informed about teaching but noticeably less about learning.

In recent years, research focusing on the academics’ point of view or beliefs is considered as equally important, (Kember, 1997; Prosser and Trigwell et al., 1999; Samuelowicz and Bain, 1992, 2001; Åkerlind, 2005; Igwebuike and Okandeji, 2009; Igwebuike, 2011).

In general terms, beliefs have being identified as the conscious or subconscious, perceptions, views and conceptions of teaching, (Thompson, 1992). In practical terms, however, they are understood as the way lecturers go about what and how they teach, (Åkerlind, 2005). Over the past decades, much interest has been generated in exploring the variation of these beliefs, nonetheless, their effect on teaching practices (Kember, 1997) and student learning remains, as yet, unexplored.

The value in investigating teachers’ beliefs in relation to their instructional practice is strongly supported in the literature. Brown (2003) provides a convincing argument; that all pedagogical acts “are affected by the beliefs teachers have about the act of teaching, the process and purpose of assessment, and the nature of learning” (p.1). As noted by Zuljan (2007), beliefs of teaching also influence classroom management. These personal beliefs can serve as lenses of understanding classroom events (Jones and Carter 2007) in terms of student or teacher-centred activities.

Thus an attempt is made within this article to understand how beliefs could actually influence teaching methods that in turn could have a profound and definite impact on student learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teaching Beliefs: Have being identified as the conscious or subconscious, perceptions, views and conceptions of teaching.

Student-Centred Learning: Is an approach to education focusing on the students and how they learn most effectively.

Teacher-Centred Learning: Places the university teacher at the centre of teaching and the student plays a passive role in the learning process.

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