‘I HOPE THEY WILL LISTEN TO ME...’ CHALLENGING PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ BELIEFS ABOUT PUPIL BEHAVIOUR IN DEIS SCHOOLS
Marino Institute of Education (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:This paper investigates Irish pre-service teachers’ beliefs about pupil behaviour in primary schools serving communities designated as disadvantaged - DEIS Schools, (DES, 2005). Research in teacher education suggests that one of the greatest causes of concern for pre-service teachers is managing pupil behaviour. There is also general consensus in the literature that school-based placements can positively challenge pre-service teachers’ beliefs. However, other research finds that school-based placements merely serve to confirm the firmly-held beliefs of pre-service teachers about working in disadvantaged communities.
This study investigates pre-service teachers beliefs about pupil behaviour in DEIS schools before, during and after a school-based placement in a school serving a disadvantaged community. All pre-service teachers in the researcher’s home institute take this three week placement known as The DEIS Placement. This placement was introduced in an attempt to challenge the un-thought, un-questioned beliefs of pre-service teachers and to provide an opportunity for these pre-service teachers to identify, question and analyse their previously-held beliefs about many facets of educational disadvantage including pupil behaviour. In Ireland, teacher candidates belong to a predominantly homogeneous population, being mostly white, female and middle-class and many have little, if any, experience of pupils in DEIS schools.
The conceptual framework for this research was informed by the Bourdieuian concepts of habitus and field. The habitus was understood as the durable, almost indiscernible, matrix of perceptions and beliefs which had been internalised and naturalised by the participants in the study. The field was understood as the social space within which the pre-service teachers met their pupils, each having their own position within that space. Bourdieu argues that changes to the network of relationships within the field can cause the habitus to be re-structured.
In this research relationships changed in primary classrooms, where many participants worked with pupils from disadvantaged communities for the first time. Evidence of the re-structuring of the habitus was found in changes to the durable dispositions and beliefs held by pre-service teachers about pupil behaviour. It was decided that participants' responses needed to be imbued with evidence of such changes to ensure that throw-away remarks were not considered a changed habitus.
This paper reports on data gathered from reflective journals and semi-structured interviews: the qualitative stage of a Case Study with a mixed methods research design. It has three key findings. It finds that The DEIS Placement provides an opportunity for pre-service teachers to critically challenge and analyse their beliefs about pupil behaviour in DEIS schools. It also finds that most participants' beliefs about pupil behaviour changed over the research period. Finally, it finds that participants report that The DEIS Placement helps prepare them to work in DEIS Schools and succeeds in alleviating their fears about teaching in disadvantaged contexts.
It discusses possible future research, particularly examining possible links between Garmon’s dispositional and experiential factors and possible changes to pre-service teachers’ beliefs about educational disadvantage (Garmon, 2004). Finally it concludes that The DEIS Placement plays an important role in challenging pre-service teachers' beliefs.
Keywords: Pre-service teacher education, educational disadvantage, pupil behaviour, school-based placement, beliefs.