Details of Thesis

Title Thinking and Acting: an exploration of Australian early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practice regarding learning, teaching and religious education
Author Meehan, Catherine Jane
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2007
Abstract The purpose of this research was to explore the beliefs and practice of early childhood teachers in Catholic schools in Australia. In particular, the research investigated the teachers’ beliefs about teaching, learning and Religious Education. Also examined in this thesis was the classroom practice of early childhood teachers and the factors that impacted on their stated beliefs and translation into classroom practice. Whilst there are empirical studies that explore early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practice, there were no studies which explore early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practice with regard to learning, teaching and Religious Education in Australia. This study was conducted within both positivist and interpretivist paradigms, using a mixed methodological approach to data collection. Phase One was a large scale (n=540) use of a questionaire to ascertain teachers' beliefs. The Early Childhood Teachers' beliefs about learning, teaching and Religious Education questionaire was developed specifically for this study. Early childhood teachers from 6 states of Australian Catholic schools were surveyed using the Early Childhood Beliefs about Learning, Teaching and Religious Education Questionnaire. Following the quantitative analysis, four teachers were purposefully selected to develop rich, descriptive case studies. Classroom practice was observed and documented providing further insights into beliefs and practices with regard to Early Childhood and Religious Education. Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data was conducted using three computer software packages including: SPSS, Leximancer and NVIVO. The analysis of data revealed both differences and similarities that exist between teachers’ stated beliefs and classroom practice and in particular their pedagogy with regard to Religious Education Key findings of the research included a confirmation that early childhood teachers’ in Catholic schools generally taught in accordance with their beliefs. It was highlighted specifically that a range of factors impact on teachers’ practice, which both support and constrain their practice. Some of the implications for teachers, teacher educators, providers of professional development are delineated. There is evidence presented in the results that supports the hypothesis that teachers' beliefs do underpin their classroom practice and that there are factors that constrain or support teachers' in their efforts to teach according to their beliefs about learning and teaching. The study highlighted implications for Religious Education in the early years of schooling, for the continued professional development and curriculum development for Religious Education in the early years of schooling. In summary, this thesis examined the role of Early Childhood teachers’ beliefs about learning, teaching and Religious Education and the relationship to classroom practice. It critically explored the impact that a range of factors have on teachers’ ability to implement practice that was consistent with their stated beliefs.
Thesis 01front.pdf  19KB
02whole.pdf 1,850KB

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