Problem Statement: Student teachers’ beliefs and conceptions affect not only what and how they learn in teacher education programs, but also their future professional development in their teaching careers. Examining and understanding student teachers’ beliefs and conceptions is therefore crucial to improving their professional preparation and development, as well as the effectiveness of teacher education.
Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study was to explore elementary student teachers’ beliefs and conceptions about teaching in the contexts of student- and teacher-centered educational perspectives.
Method:This study employed qualitative research methodologies by asking 267 prospective teachers to provide a metaphor characterizing teachers. Both quantitative and qualitative data analyses were used for the study.
Findings and results: The results of analysis represented 113 metaphors made by student teachers about teachers—for example, they are gardeners. Results of descriptive analysis show that of the 267 student teachers, 227 (85.7%) had teacher-centered beliefs, 11 (4.1%) had student-centered beliefs, and 29 (10.1%) had mixed beliefs. The student teachers had no misconceptions about teacher-centeredness, meaning that all misconceptions and poorly structured beliefs were related to student-centeredness.
Conclusions and recommendations: The study showed that the teacher-centered approach is quite common among student teachers in Turkey. As a result, teacher educators should provide various opportunities for and model student-centered approaches so that student teachers can critically examine their beliefs and realize other educational possibilities. Furthermore, most participants lacked a consistent cognitive structure about teaching, largely due to misconceptions related to guidance and active learning, which require more in-depth research. Student teachers also described teachers’ and students’ roles with stereotypical metaphors, including teachers as knowledge givers who know everything and teachers as social controllers who disseminate dominant cultural values. Acknowledging these misconceptions can allow teacher educators to better design courses, classroom discussions, and assignments to help student teachers develop new pedagogical knowledge and beliefs.
Keywords: Teacher education, student teachers’ beliefs, teaching metaphors, educational approach