Problem Statement: Epistemological beliefs have a significant impact on both learning and the learning process. The levels of epistemological beliefs of teachers and students closely affect their ways of teaching and learning, their perceptions, efforts and acquisition. Thanks to the recent studies, the epistemological belief levels of students in different grades are researched in terms of different variables. It is important that the epistemological belief levels of the teacher candidates at teacher training institutions are defined continuously and regularly and that their beliefs are taken into account in teacher training programs.
Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to explore the epistemological beliefs of teacher candidates in terms of various variables.
Method: The study made use of a survey technique in which teacher candidates were asked to respond to an Epistemological Beliefs Inventory (EBI). The study group consisted of students at Balıkesir University Necatibey Faculty of Education (NFE) and Faculty of Science and Literature (FSL). Of the 533 students participating in the study, 216 were from the Necatibey Faculty of Education and 317 from the Faculty of Science and Literature. Of the total students, 341 were female while 192 were male. For data analysis, t test and ANOVA were used. In situations where the analysis of variance proved to be significant, Scheffe’s test was applied to determine the direction of the variation.
Findings and Results: The findings of the study led to the conclusion that epistemological beliefs of teacher candidates were moderately developed. Teacher candidates believed that learning is more dependent on ability rather than effort. The students in the Faculty of Science and Literature had a stronger belief that learning is dependent upon effort rather than ability, while the students in the Necatibey Faculty of Education, however, had more of a belief that learning is dependent upon ability and that there is only one unchangeable truth. The research revealed that epistemological belief levels exhibited significant differences in terms of departments and teaching types. Epistemological belief levels also differed significantly in terms of genders. It was found that male students, more than females, believed that learning is more dependent on effort rather than ability. It was found that there wasn’t any difference between the epistemological beliefs of teacher candidates in terms of the educational levels of their parents.
Conclusions and Recommendations: It was concluded that the epistemological beliefs of teacher candidates had matured moderately and they believed that learning was more related with ability rather than effort. Determining the levels of epistemological beliefs of teacher candidates at the faculties of education is important in terms of improving their beliefs positively and getting to know these students better. Moreover, it is thought-provoking to discover the high level of maturation of teacher candidates’ beliefs that learning is dependent upon ability and that there is only a single truth. Qualitative research should be carried out especially to understand why the level of belief in a single truth is so high.
Keywords: teacher education, teacher candidates, epistemology, epistemological beliefs