“Uncentering” teacher beliefs: The expressed epistemologies of secondary science teachers and how they relate to teacher practice

Glenn R. Dolphin, John W. Tillotson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


This multi-university, three-year longitudinal study examined the relationship among seven secondary science teachers‘ personal, student and scientific epistemologies. Paying close attention to each participant‘s use of metaphor when speaking about his/her learning, students‘ learning and the products/processes of science, we were able to discern each participant‘s epistemological stance as indicating the acquisition metaphor of learning or the participation metaphor of learning or some combination of the two (pluralistic). We compared video recordings of each participant‘s classroom teaching practice to develop an understanding for how their epistemological stance might relate to that practice. Based on our results, we contradict the current paradigm that beliefs guide practice, by positing that practice might actually determine beliefs. Where teachers having more field experiences were more likely to talk about learning through doing (participation) and those whose practice emphasized knowledge transfer, adhered to the acquisition metaphor for student learning. If teacher practice influenced their beliefs, this has profound implications for the structure of teacher education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental and Science Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Epistemology
  • Metaphors of learning
  • Science teaching
  • Teacher beliefs
  • Teacher practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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