Teachers have complex systems of beliefs and it is not necessary that these beliefs are reflected in the instructional decision making by the teachers. There are a number of reasons for this gap between beliefs and practices. The researchers claim that there is no impact of teachers’ beliefs on the instructional decision making. Also, there can be changes in the beliefs of teachers but same does not happen often with the teaching practices. The behaviors of the teachers in the classroom are significant indicators of their beliefs. Also, these beliefs affect the instructional choices of the teachers. Life’s behaviors of a person are based on the beliefs that also develop the value system. This is why there is concurrence between the teaching intentions and teaching strategies. It was noticed that the complexities of the classroom constrain the abilities of the teachers to practice their beliefs and make decisions that are aligned with those beliefs. Thus, not the beliefs but contextual factors have a powerful influence on the instructional decision making and classroom practices.
The class size, the extent of the pedagogical background of the teacher, grade level, socioeconomic status and experience of the teachers is the reason for the difference between beliefs and instructional practices. Also, there are other elements such as general education, age, training, principal’s support and salary of the teacher that relate to beliefs and practices. The researchers determined how the teachers view pedagogical reform in science and how they want to bring a change. The results revealed that although the teachers had inquiry-based views on teaching they do not follow same practices in the classroom. Only a few teachers were able to challenge the practices and follow their beliefs of teaching. Based on the studies carried out in the past, it can be said that the beliefs of teachers do not influence the instructional decision making by the teachers as a number of external forces are acting upon this relationship.
Teacher Belief Systems
The beliefs that are held by the teachers are organized within systems and cannot be viewed in isolation. The belief systems of teachers can be characterized in four ways as found from the literature. These are:
- Belief system as interacting categories of beliefs
- Belief system as system of coherence
- Belief system as a combination of core and peripheral beliefs
- Belief system as nests of beliefs