Faculty Beliefs Interview
College and university instructors develop beliefs and attitudes about science teaching and learning over time as a result of their own experiences as learners and as teachers, many without explicit preparation in teaching or grounding in theoretical constructs. These beliefs—about how students learn, how science should be taught, about the social and cultural context of learning—influence their curricular choices and teaching practices. One of the goals of our research is to uncover instructors' beliefs, attitudes, and underlying assumptions about teaching and learning science and to see how those beliefs change, if at all, with long-term engagement in professional development in investigation and design and inclusive teaching practices.
Collecting data about beliefs
Ideally, data about beliefs is collected from participants by a combination of methods such as surveys, reflections, and interviews. For the TIDeS project, we are collecting data from materials developers and implementers using:
- Survey questions that probe the level of agreement with statements about teaching from the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (Banilower et al., 2018),
- A qualitative, semi-structured interview protocol adapted from the Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI) (Luft and Roehrig, 2007),
- Reflections from materials developers during and after the implementation process.
The survey questions from the NSSME+ were incorporated verbatim into the TIDeS materials developer survey in order to allow for comparison with with the current K-12 STEM teacher workforce. Survey question responses are categorized as reform-based or traditional beliefs on the basis of the level of agreement with the statement presented.
Several of the TBI questions are geared specifically towards K-12 teachers, however, and the language is less meaningful for college-level instructors. For that reason, we modified the TBI questions while maintaining the overall structure and analysis process in order to better reach our audience. The process by which we did that and the questions in the Faculty Beliefs Interview are further described below. Interview responses are coded into the five categories described by Luft and Roehrig (2007): traditional, instructive, transitional, responsive, reform-based.
Developing and testing the Faculty Beliefs Interview
We began with the Teacher Beliefs Interview (TBI) developed by Luft and Roehrig (2007), a semi-structured interview protocol consisting of seven questions. This widely-used protocol was designed to elicit the beliefs of K–12 teachers and map those beliefs on to five categories ranging from traditional to reformed, with the ultimate goal of providing feedback to teacher preparation programs. Although some authors have used the TBI in post-secondary (college and university) contexts (e.g. Czajka and McConnell, 2019), we felt that the questions did not all solicit the types of responses we were hoping to see, particularly about instructors' perceptions of diversity, how they thought about inclusivity in their teaching, and how they structured their teaching, taking into account the college setting. However, we valued and wanted to retain the ability to map responses onto a scale.
As a result, we developed the following seven questions, based on the TBI:
- How do you describe your role as a teacher?
- How do you see your students?
- Describe one of your most successful teaching experiences within this class, and why you felt it was successful.
- Describe one of your least successful teaching experiences and why you felt that way.
- How do you decide how to approach a particular content area or topic in this class?
- How do you know when learning is occurring or has occurred?
- What kind of support or professional development do you feel would benefit you most as a teacher in this class?
Responses to the last question, in addition to providing insight into instructors' perceptions of their own areas of potential growth, could provide direct feedback to the project and allow us to offer professional development opportunities that met instructors' needs.
For face validity, we consulted experts who had used the TBI extensively in college settings. Their feedback on our questions guided refinement in the language of the questions. For construct validity, we piloted the interview protocol with four instructors in the spring of 2020 and coded their responses. Analysis of this data allowed us to review whether the questions were eliciting instructors' insights about our constructs- : instructors' philosophy about teaching science and their notion and approaches of successful science teaching and learning. We found that the order of the questions was critical. Eliciting the responses about most and least successful experiences in teaching often motivated them to discuss their approach in teaching science. Similarly, when instructors were asked to describe their role as a teacher, they were reflective and insightful towards describing the role of their students in their classrooms.
Implementing the Faculty Beliefs Interview
Instructors were interviewed at the beginning of their participation in the TIDeS program, prior to their engagement in any professional development, and then again at the end of the project. Initial interviews were conducted over Zoom, recorded, and transcribed. We used a Responsive Interviewing Style (Rubin & Rubin, 2012) which encouraged participants to confidently share their own ideas, express disagreements, and construct their own narratives. Responses were coded using NVIVO (1.0, 2020). The files of the transcripts for each of the participants interview sessions were imported as documents into NVIVO where responses to each interview questions were grouped and coded. Additionally, the interview transcripts were also coded deductively as a whole and once the coding was complete, a code book was generated that allowed investigators to examine participants responses in various ways.
Banilower, E. R., Smith, P. S., Malzahn, K. A., Plumley, C. L., Gordon, E. M., & Hayes, M. L. (2018). Report of the 2018 NSSME+
Czajka, C. D. & McConnell, D. A. (2019). The adoption of student-centered teaching materials as a professional development experience for college faculty, International Journal of Science Education, 41(5), 693-711, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2019.1578908
Luft, J. & Roehrig, G.H. (2007). Capturing Science Teachers' Epistemological Beliefs: The Development of the Teacher Beliefs Interview. Electronic Journal of Science Education,11(2), 38-63.
Rubin, H. J. & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Data analysis in the responsive interviewing model. In H.J. Rubin & I. J. Rubin, Qualitative interviewing, the art of hearing data (pp 189-211). Sage Publishers, CA.