Initial Beliefs of Preservice Chemistry Teachers in Croatia
In the past thirty years, there have been many political changes in Croatia. These changes have had an impact on the education system, as well. The success of such educational changes depends on the teacher. The importance of teachers’ knowledge and their beliefs about teaching and learning for their action in the classroom is well known. Beliefs influence teachers’ representation of science, science knowledge and the organisation of knowledge and information. Keeping teacher professional development in mind, preservice teachers’ beliefs need to be sought out and examined by educators. These beliefs should be developed in the direction of teaching chemistry taking into account recent reforms, as well as teaching and learning theories. Various studies have been undertaken in different education backgrounds and systems regarding the beliefs of both preservice and in-service teachers. These studies show different results depending on the context in which they are undertaken. Transferring data to the Croatian system is therefore difficult. However, there are no studies in Croatia focusing on the teachers’ beliefs regrading teaching and learning chemistry. The present study evaluates the initial beliefs of preservice chemistry teachers in Croatia. The participants were instructed to draw themselves as chemistry teachers in a typical classroom situation in chemistry, and to answer four open questions. Data analysis follows a pattern representing a range between the predominance of more traditional orientations versus more modern teaching orientations, in line with educational theory focusing on: 1) beliefs about classroom organisation, 2) beliefs about teaching objectives, and 3) epistemological beliefs. The data revealed mostly traditional and teacher-centred knowledge among all of the participants. In the present paper, the data will be discussed and the implications for Croatian chemistry teacher training will be established.
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