Selected Academic Writings

Don’t Take It Personally? The Role of Personal Relevance in Conceptual Change

The overall purpose of this study was to investigate the role of personal relevance in conceptual change. First, we used an experimental design to investigate the role of augmented activation—which directly implicated teachers’ personal prior beliefs about mathematics learning and instruction—and refutational text manipulations on short and long-term conceptual change in preservice and inservice teachers’ constructivist beliefs about mathematics to test for a mechanism of change. Second, we examined the relationships among affect, cognitive processing, and conceptual change to clarify our understanding of the mechanisms of the conceptual change process and to empirically test key hypotheses in the Cognitive-Affective Model of Conceptual Change (CAMCC). Our results indicated that messages that heighten the personal relevance and challenge to prior beliefs with contrary evidence (i.e., augmented activation) produced conceptual change in preservice and inservice teachers’ mathematics beliefs, whereas there was no consistent effect of refutational text. We also found support for several key pathways in the CAMCC, with implications for conceptual change theory and teacher education.

International Handbook of Research

on Teachers' Beliefs

Teacher beliefs play a fundamental role in the education landscape. Nevertheless, most educational researchers only allude to teacher beliefs as part of a study on other subjects. This book fills a necessary gap by identifying the importance of research on teacher beliefs and providing a comprehensive overview of the topic. It provides novices and experts alike a single volume with which to understand a complex research landscape. Including a review of the historical foundations of the field, this book identifies current research trends, and summarizes the current knowledge base regarding teachers’ specific beliefs about content, instruction, students, and learning. For its innumerable applications within the field, this handbook is a necessity for anyone interested in educational research.

Preservice Elementary Science Teacher

Attitudes Matter

Wilder, Butler, Acharya, & Gill, 2019

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This article is focused on the creation of a new scale for measuring preservice teachers’ positive affect for science, the Preservice Elementary Teacher Affect Scale for Science (PETAS–S). This new instrument is designed specifically to measure the level of positive affect toward the subject of science in preservice elementary teachers. Confirmatory factor analysis reveals the instrument loads on a single factor, positive affect. Reliability is robust, with Cronbach’s alpha of .96. Positive affect has been shown to predict future levels of engagement in domain-specific academic subjects and is expected to aid preservice teachers in understanding the complex relationship between their students’ interest and enjoyment of science with their own. This research contributes to the important role of emotion in preservice teachers’ attitudes toward the subject of science and how it might affect the way they teach their future students.

Developing and Validating the Elementary Literacy Coach Self-Efficacy Survey

Ulenski, Gill, & Kelley, 2019

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This article describes the development and initial testing of the Elementary Literacy Coach Self-Efficacy Survey, a new instrument designed and created to assess literacy coaches’ efficacy for coaching-specific tasks. A synthesis of literature on literacy coaching tasks and experts in the coaching field were used to craft the Elementary Literacy Coach Self-Efficacy Survey items. Construct validity of the survey items was explored through correlation with other established instruments. Exploratory factor analysis was performed on the survey yielding three factors. Results indicated a high level of internal consistency, and correlations and factor analyses supported the construct validity of the instrument. The results from this study allow researchers to better understand the beliefs of elementary literacy coaches regarding tasks specific to their roles as literacy coaches. Furthermore, the results provide direction for targeting professional development and training of elementary literacy coaches.

Classroom Culture, Mathematics Culture, and the Failures of Reform

Gill & Boote, 2012

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Despite the tremendous amount of effort devoted by many mathematics educators to promote, defend, and implement reform-based mathematics education, procedural mathematics, which locates mathematical correctness in the procedures learned from textbooks and teachers, persists. Many researchers have identified school and classroom culture as the source of the problem; however, the exact meaning of school culture and its influence on teachers’ practices remains unclear. What is needed is a clearer understanding of classroom culture and how it influences practice. The purpose of our study was to examine how the aspects of a culture reinforce each other (and how they resist aspects alien to the cultural system) to understand the sui generis nature of culture. We use five aspects or indicators of culture—language usage, standard practices, tools and equipment usage, ongoing concerns and values, and recurring problems—to describe how they work together to create a culture.

Is it a Challenge or a Threat? A Dual-Process Model of Teachers' Cognition and Appraisal Processes during Conceptual Change

Gregoire (Gill), 2003

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What accounts for well-meaning teachers' lack of implementation of subject-matter reforms, such as making one's classroom centered on problem solving, even when they positively value the reform and believe they are implementing it in their classrooms? Teachers' subject-matter beliefs may constrain them from adopting practices that conflict with those beliefs. The purpose of this article is to propose a theoretical model, the Cognitive–Affective Model of Conceptual Change, that integrates key findings from overly cognitive models of belief change with motivational and affective factors found in social psychology theory and research. This model explains why teachers' beliefs about instruction are resistant to reforms that challenge their existing beliefs, and it provides a conceptual framework within which to devise a better means of advancing teachers' beliefs and supporting them in the process of implementation.