Teacher beliefs and cultural models: A challenge for science teacher preparation programs



The purpose of this paper is to present an argument for developing science teacher education programs that examine teachers' beliefs about multicultural issues and their impact on science teaching and learning. In the paper, we (a) delineate a rationale for the study of teacher beliefs about issues of culture and its impact on science teaching and learning; (b) assert three major categories of teacher beliefs to examine for designing teacher education programs that aim to meet the challenges of increasingly culturally diverse classrooms; and (c) discuss implications for science teacher education programs and research. Research has shown that knowing teachers' beliefs and designing instruction and experiences to explicitly confront those beliefs facilitate refinement of and/or transformation of beliefs and practices (Bryan & Abell, J Res Sci Teaching, 36, 121–140, 1999; Harrington & Hathaway, J Teacher Education, 46, 275–284, 1995; Hollingsworth, Am Educational Res J, 26(2), 160–189, 1989; Olmedo, J Teaching Teacher Education, 13, 245–258, 1997; Tobin & LaMaster, J Res Sci Teaching, 32, 225–242, 1995). Furthermore, prior to student teaching, preservice teachers need to be at least culturally sensitive teachers (Gillette, In Teacher Thinking in Cultural Contexts, F. A. Rios (Ed.); Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; 1996, pp. 104–128). Science educators need to continue to identify those beliefs and practices that undergird desirable and equitable science instruction. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed86:821–839, 2002; Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI 10.1002/sce.10043