Teachers' Beliefs About Barrires Towards Implementation of Innovative Teaching Practices
The transition of compulsory school education to models that foster 21-century learning outcomes such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration is a typical educational policy strategy among many leading countries. An increase in the competitiveness of Russian education is declared to be an important aim in Russian policy statements. Implementation of novel teaching methods that lead to students’ mastering of basic skills, increasing motivation and engagement are challenges that Russian society is facing nowadays.
However, the implementation of constructivist forms of pedagogy has its own history in Russia. Attempts to institutionalize those innovative developments are usually associated with perestroika and the 1990s. Despite these attempts, there has always been a big gap between the mass school and this “avant-garde search”. Teaching practices in most schools remain to be conservative and desperate to students’ involvement and their cognitive development.
Teachers’ beliefs, dispositions, mental models are said to be an important factor of resistance towards changes in school. They influence how teachers percept phenomena, make judgements and behave in the classroom. Beliefs are determined by personal knowledge, life and work experience. Being closely connected to the knowledge that teacher has (content knowledge, knowledge of child’s psychology, procedural knowledge of how to deliver a lesson), teachers’ beliefs nevertheless own a significant affective component. Thus, beliefs become a filter that helps teachers to interpret new phenomena.
In this work, teachers' beliefs about barriers towards implementation of creativity-fostering teaching practices, such as cross-curricular learning, inquiry-based learning, assessment for learning, are examined. 15 focus groups with 144 teachers of primary and secondary school were conducted in 6 schools in the Moscow region. We used the guide developed together with our colleagues while working on the project “Key competencies and new literacy” of the Institute of Education HSE. Using the methodology of qualitative content analysis, we distinguished the main groups of barriers from the teachers’ perspective. The barriers teachers mention most frequently are:
1) unpreparedness of students,
2) lack of qualification,
3) overloaded curriculum and standardized testing,
4) rigid organization of lessons and school subjects,
5) inadequacy of existing learning materials,
6) absence of support from parents and principal.
Most of these barriers are mentioned in research literature worldwide. However, two barriers are highlighted only by Russian teachers. Those are the perception of students as being not prepared for changes and belief that resources to foster creativity that already exist are inadequate.