Cognition and Instruction/Beliefs About Learning and Knowledge

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In order for education to be the most successful, educators need to understand not only the various ways in which intelligence and knowledge is acquired, but also the beliefs surrounding them which are held by students and teachers. These beliefs are influenced by hope and impact students' behaviors and what they believe they can achieve academically. The way teachers view these beliefs will influence the way they structure their classrooms and curriculum, which in turn has an effect on students educational experiences. This chapter will further explain hope and the beliefs about knowledge and intelligence and the impact they have on learning.


Beliefs[edit]

Implicit and Explicit Beliefs[edit]

Beliefs are personal opinions about the environment and the self. Each person holds both implicit beliefs and explicit beliefs. Implicit beliefs are subliminal beliefs that influence an individual’s behaviour [1]. For example, an international student who attended schools that only taught in Chinese, might develop an implicit belief that he or she has poor English pronunciation. Subsequently, this belief causes him or her to avoid reading or speaking aloud in an English-speaking school. In addition, implicit beliefs help the construction of an implicit theory, which involves an individual making unspoken speculations about the causes of an event [2]. As an example, the aforementioned international student might state that he cannot pronounce English words properly because English is not the student’s mother tongue and the student’s family does not speak English at home. Consequently, the student has implicitly attributed his failure of pronouncing English words to both innate ability and practice. Explicit beliefs are conscious beliefs that impact a person’s behaviour [3]. For example, a student who is consciously aware of his or her excellent speaking and writing in English class might develop an explicit belief that he or she has proficiency in English.

It is important to transform implicit beliefs to explicit beliefs because many attributions that people place upon their learning performance are implicit [4]. The unconsciousness of certain beliefs will likely prevent people from discovering the reasons behind behaviors which might not be effective and/or healthy. In order to reflect on and to modify one’s beliefs, an individual should spend time trying to express their implicit beliefs to themselves and to the people around them. For example, a person can write in a journal or participate in group discussions [5].

Development and Effects of Beliefs[edit]

Before we can understand how to change beliefs, it is important to understand how beliefs come to exist. It has been found that for many teachers, beliefs are derived as a result of their own personal experiences in education growing up [6]. As a result, elementary teacher who are pre-service, enter programs with preconceived beliefs and attitudes towards education and how it should be approached [7]. Beliefs about knowledge and intelligence is very important in classroom environments, as it provides the structure and base for organizing these environments [8]. They impact how a teacher designs his or her classroom in terms of curriculum, methods, techniques and skills [9]. Even the teaching of specific subjects such as math is impacted by the way teachers view knowledge and intelligence, as discovered by Stohlmann et. al (2014), which will be discussed later in this section [10]. One area of beliefs teachers may hold is in regards to the roles of students and how information is attained. One theory, described by Bas (2015) is that teachers maintain either a traditional view, or a constructivist view about education [11]. On the one hand, the traditional view is where teachers act as the authority figure towards students who are passive recipients of knowledge. On the other hand, a constructivist view sees the teacher as a guide who helps students in obtaining knowledge, in this view students are active participants in their own learning [12]. A similar but more detailed view is the epistemological belief which consists of four categories, in which students progress through in their educational development [13]. These categories include dualism, multiplism, relativism, and commitment [14]. Dualism acts similarly to a traditional view, while multiplism shares views with a constructivist perspective.

Changing Beliefs of Students and Teachers[edit]

It can be very difficult for people to change their beliefs and attitudes, Brownlee et al. (2001) found this to be especially true the more a belief is connected with other beliefs within an attitude structure [15]. Whether information has been acquired as affective knowledge, which is subjective and based on emotional reactions or as cognitive knowledge, which is knowledge obtained objectively and rationally, will also impact the difficulty of changing ones beliefs [16].

While beliefs may be difficult to change, it is still possible to achieve with the proper understanding of how to implement beneficial change. When it comes to changing beliefs which have been attained through affective knowledge or cognitive knowledge, how the information was originally obtained plays a significant role in how the belief should be challenged. It has been found that information which is obtained through cognitive knowledge, is resistant to change through affective means and vice versa [17]. This means that information which has initially been obtained through cognitive means, is more prone to change through cognitive means, and information initially obtained through affective means, is more susceptible to changing beliefs through affective means [18].

Figure 1 Changing Beliefs Mind Map

Another way in which beliefs can be changed was found in a study which compared techniques teachers in the US used, with techniques used by teachers in China [19]. It was found that Chinese teachers had a greater coherent understanding of the concepts and were therefore better able to provide flexibility in their explanations, these teachers were also better able to provide meanings to their students [20]. In contrast, teachers from the US were procedure based, and were not able to provide the same rich explanations to their students [21]. US teachers beliefs about the best approach to teaching math changed once they were able to see the difficulties students had when they were taught only procedurally and not conceptually, and when a change in student learning was evident [22]. While it may be difficult to change student or teachers views about knowledge and intelligence may be difficult, by providing environments where students and pre-service teachers are able to reflect on their own beliefs and shift into new modes of thought, a change in belief can be possible [23].

Beliefs about Intelligence[edit]

Intelligence[edit]

Figure 2 Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
Figure 3 Carroll three stratum model of human Intelligence

Intelligence can be defined in multiple ways. According to Sternberg, intelligence is based on three components: adjusting to, shaping and choosing an environment [24]. It is also related to discovery and invention[25]. Throughout history researchers studied intelligence to determine its nature and outcomes. In addition, social and cultural factors influence the ways people interpret intelligence [26]. Moreover, intelligence is viewed as a general ability or as multiple abilities. For instance, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences involves seven intelligence aspects: logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence (refer Figure 2) [27]. Similarly, Sternberg discovered three types of intelligence: emotional, creative and practical intelligence[28]. Lastly, Carroll’s hierarchy of intelligence represents intelligence as a general ability that is made up of broader abilities, which can be further broken down into more specific abilities (refer to Figure 3) [29].

Entity and Incremental Theory[edit]

Two implicit theories of intelligence pioneered by Dweck are known as the entity theory and incremental theory. The entity theory presents the belief that intelligence cannot be changed; whereas, the incremental theory demonstrates that gradual modifications of intelligence are possible [30]. Entity and incremental theorists differ from each other based on their understanding of an individual’s behaviour [31]. For instance, entity theorists explain a person’s behaviour due to his or her genetically determined characteristics [32]. Incremental theorists however, focus on identifying certain factors such as, intentions, necessity, previous behaviour and emotions, which give rise to an individual’s behaviour [33]. Consequently, entity and theorists have different responses toward negative consequences. Individuals who believe in the entity theory will have a higher chance of demonstrating helplessness when they are facing challenges in terms of their performance [34] . Furthermore, they will attribute their poor performance to their unchangeable traits; therefore, they feel that they have no control over their intelligence. On the other hand, those who believe in the incremental theory of intelligence will likely use controllable factors to counter negative effects to improve their performance [35].

Entity Theory Incremental Theory
Intelligence is Changeable No Yes
Explanation of Behaviour Genetics Intentions, necessity, previous behaviour, emotions
Reaction to Negative Consequences Helplessness, giving up Persistence, problem-solving by regaining control

As mentioned earlier, intelligence can be viewed as multiple abilities. Furnham conducted a study recently on entity and incremental beliefs about the multiple intelligences. The goals of the study was to see whether students believe that each of the fourteen intelligences is changeable or fixed and whether personality (e.g. Big Five and CORE self-beliefs) has a role in these entity and incremental beliefs[36]. The fourteen intelligences were divided into three categories: abstract, skillful and classical[37]. Abstract intelligences, such as naturalistic, sexual and intra-personal intelligences are easier to change[38]. In addition, skillful intelligences, such as musical and creative intelligences are less easy change because they are believed to be based on innate ability as well as practice[39]. Moreover, classical intelligences which include verbal and logical intelligences are easy to change[40]. The CORE self-beliefs in the study were measured based on self-esteem, self-efficacy, internal locus of control and emotional stability[41]. Regardless of holding incremental beliefs, high CORE self-beliefs help people see that intelligence can be increased because these beliefs cause a person to see that change and improvement are possible[42]. The study also demonstrated that people who are introverts are more likely to hold entity beliefs; whereas, people who are extroverts are more likely to hold incremental beliefs. Furthermore, the openness personality trait appeared to promote incremental beliefs[43]. Overall, Furnham's study raises awareness for the need to understand the diversity of students in the classroom when observing their entity and incremental beliefs about intelligence. The multiple intelligences model along with the entity and incremental theories help educators to pinpoint students' beliefs about a specific intellectual ability, which can be useful since different disciplines request different skills. Also, educators can gain knowledge on what types of intelligences are harder to change from a student's perspective. Although the study only found correlations between personality traits, such as openness, extraversion and CORE self-beliefs and incremental beliefs about intelligence, it might still be useful to try to promote these traits and see if they are of any help to students' incremental beliefs.

Goal Orientation and Learning Performance[edit]

Initially, Dweck and Leggett stated that the implicit theories of intelligence give rise to two separate goal orientations, which are known as the performance orientation and the mastery orientation. The performance orientation involves the belief in the entity theory and the display of proficiency; whereas, the mastery orientation includes the incremental theory and the desire to improve one’s proficiency[44]. This goal orientation model suggests that people are either performance-oriented or mastery-oriented. Over time researchers discovered that people could be performance-oriented and learning-oriented at different degrees depending on the task[45]. Additional features were added to this model, such as approach and avoidance[46]. Both of these components are applicable to performance and learning orientations. As a result, research on the beliefs about intelligence throughout history has led to the creation of four goal orientations that influence learning performance:

Figure 4 Goal Orientations
  • Performance-approach goals

Concentrate on the desire to show proficiency by making other people targets for competition[47]. For example, a student decides to work and pay attention in class because he or she wants to get the top grade, subsequently the grade gives him or her the motivation to study. However, once this grade is no longer achieved, the student will likely lose interest in learning.

  • Performance-avoidance goals

Focus on the finding ways to avoid tasks that will likely reflect failure when compared to others[48]. For instance, a student wants to do well in a class because they do not want to lose and be embarrassed. However, if the student cannot perform well, then he or she will choose to avoid any task that they cannot succeed in. Subsequently, they will likely miss many learning opportunities.

  • Mastery-approach goals

Bring about a commitment to improve competence and to engage in meaningful learning, in which understanding is highly valued[49]. For example, a student chooses to learn by obtaining a strong understanding of the knowledge that is imparted in the classroom. The student will take the time to self-regulate his or her learning by posing questions to teachers when confused or when they want to learn something new and improving their understanding and knowledge through consistent discussion with teachers and classmates.

  • Mastery-avoidance goals

Give rise to hiding from inadequacy in relation to the self and to an undertaking[50]. For instance, a student does not believe that he or she has the ability to learn and understand something. As a result, the student often thinks negatively of him or herself by saying "I am not smart" or "This question is too hard". Overall, they believe that they cannot improve their ability which means they cannot deal with the difficult task at hand.

Western and Chinese Beliefs about Intelligence[edit]

Beliefs about intelligence are mostly tied to the Western culture. However, these western beliefs are often not applied to other cultures, such as the Chinese culture, which is a significant problem because schools contain students from various cultures. In addition, Sternberg stated different cultures will have some dissimilar interpretations of intelligence, which in turn leads to varying behaviours. We dedicated a section for differences between Western and Chinese beliefs about intelligence because the recent success of Chinese students in international, academic assessments has produced a desire to discover whether the Western beliefs about intelligence affect these students’ learning performances[51].

Chen and Wong’s study compare Western and Chinese students’ beliefs about intelligence and their academic performance. In the Chinese cultural context, performance-approach goals are very common because the schools promote competition, which in turn encourages a social hierarchy that forces students to obtain high academic achievement [52]. Moreover, the academic achievement in Chinese culture is viewed as a child's obligation to his or her family [53]. Consequently, Chinese students are constantly competing to honour their families. Furthermore, mastery goals are prevalent as well because the Chinese culture values Confucian philosophy, which promotes self-development and self-fulfillment [54]. The results from the study demonstrated that like Western students, Chinese students who hold incremental beliefs are more likely to utilize mastery goals, which help them build effective learning strategies. Subsequently, these students' academic performance are likely to be more successful [55]. However, the study showed that Chinese students' academic achievement might be due to their use of performance-approach goals. Also, even though performance-avoidance goals are often negatively associated with learning, it is positively correlated with mastery goals in Chinese students [56]. Overall, the desire for self-development, competition and avoidance of failure in the Chinese culture give rise to the positive correlations between mastery, performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Unlike Western students, Chinese students might be able to obtain academic success with both performance and mastery goals[57]. More research will need to be conducted to prove this phenomenon because the current study has a limitation of the participants being university students with high academic success. Therefore, future research should involve middle and high school students with varying academic achievement.

Wang and Ng's study focused on grade seven and ten Chinese students' implicit beliefs about intelligence and school performance. The results of the study showed that Chinese students viewed the changeability of intelligence and school performance separately and that the two have a role in developing helplessness [58]. The Chinese culture emphasize the importance of effort over ability in terms of academic achievement, but this does not necessarily mean that they automatically believe that intelligence is changeable [59]. In fact effort can be associated with improving performance or counteracting substandard intelligence in Chinese students[60]. Also, Wang and Ng found that Chinese students believed that school performance was more changeable than intelligence[61]. Therefore, Chinese students might be more likely to avoid helplessness and might even have higher academic achievement than Western students[62]. This is because Western students view intelligence and school performance as related. Western students that hold entity beliefs about intelligence focus mainly on innate ability, which in turn hampers their academic achievement. For example, if they believe that intelligence is fixed, then their school performance cannot be changed. Lastly, the study found that like Western students, Chinese students that strongly believe that intelligence or school performance are not changeable, will more likely develop helplessness[63].

Hope[edit]

For a student to reach a high level of hope, two components are necessary. These are agencies which is goal-directed determination, and pathways which is the planning of ways to meet goals [64]. Agencies are also referred to as willpower or ‘will’ and pathways are also commonly referred to as ‘ways’ for one to reach their goals [65]. Mellard, Krieshok, Fall and Woods (2013) provide an example for understanding how pathways and agencies work by considering a highschool dropout working in the food industry who wants to earn more money. He may consider pathways such as working hard at his current job and try to get promoted, look for a better paying job for his current skill level. He may also consider a larger goal, but break it up into smaller achievable goals such as obtaining his GED, then getting a certification in trades. He would then move onto the agency stage, where he would choose one of his options and put it into action with thoughts such as “I’m capable of getting my GED”. If he were to encounter obstacles such as requiring transportation to get to school, he would use the same patterns and consider possible pathways such as asking a classmate for a ride or taking public transit [66]. In order for high hope to develop both components must be present as neither alone is sufficient [67]. External agents can influence hope as well, as external resources can help people increase the perceived pathways and agencies rather than thinking goal setting and hope are only individual pursuits [68].

Figure 5 Hope Mind Map[69]

Benefits of Hope[edit]

There has been lots of research to show that high hope has several benefits for students mental well-being. It has been shown to increase optimism and happiness in students, and students with high hope are less likely to have anxiety or depression as students who have low hope [70]. Higher hope has also shown to increase academic achievement, especially in students around the 7th grade [71]. Research has also shown that these students are more likely to prepare to achieve academically by studying more and getting involved in extracurricular activities [72]. When students have a higher level of hope they are also more likely to set more challenging goals for themselves at school [73], and focus on success over failure [74]. This alternative focus leaves these students to perceive they will be successful at attaining the challenging goals they set for themselves [75].If students however, fail to obtain this perception they are likely to experience learned-helplessness. This maladaptive strategy commonly develops in performance-oriented students who have experienced failure and come to believe that anything they try will result in failure [76]. As a result, these students refuse to engage in tasks because they assume they will not succeed [77]. By failing to participate in anything, these students prevent themselves from being successful and therefore have a difficult time increasing their levels of hope for future accomplishments. The overwhelming research shows the importance of increasing levels of hope in students, not only for the benefits of mental well-being but also for the effects it has on students academic performance.

Importance of Hope in the Education Process[edit]

It is important for parents and educators to create resilient learners by encouraging students to not only succeed but also stumble and fail [78]. By doing so, students are able to recognize failure as something which they can overcome and learn from. It is also important to encourage a realistic understanding of a student's potential [79]. Students who create goals which are too far out of their capacities are likely to fail more frequently and decrease their level of hope. Goal related experiences in general can be beneficial in increasing a student's level of hope [80], especially By creating goals which are realistic but still maintain some level of challenge, students are able to achieve goals and increase their level of hope for future challenges. Another recommendation to increase hope is to promote mastery goals in teaching [81]. It is also beneficial for students to have role models to encourage students to stay mentally energized to continue to pursue their goals and assist in finding pathways to achieve them [82].

Beliefs about Knowledge[edit]

Models of Knowledge[edit]

Epistemological beliefs are the beliefs about what knowledge is and how one acquires that knowledge (Otting)Epistemological beliefs are the individually based systems of beliefs that are more or less independent from one another. They differ according to the age and the nature of education [83] Younger learners are said to be more naïve, for instance, they quickly accept the knowledge without questioning it. Older learners, however, approach the knowledge in a more critical manner. In addition, one's type of the education affects one's epistemological beliefs. For example, the people who are in the soft sciences (e.g. psychology) approach the type of knowledge with uncertainty, which means that there are several answers or ways to solve a problem. On the other hand people in the hard sciences (e.g. chemistry) approach knowledge with the belief that it is fixed, thus there is one answer and not the several answers [84]. Epistemological beliefs predict numerous aspects of academic performance, including comprehension, cognition in different academics domains, motivation, learning approaches and self-regulation. Therefore, it is important for the teachers to understand epistemological beliefs. This subsequent sections will discuss the three different models of knowledge that were suggested by Perry, Schommer and Kitchner&King.

Perry's dualist and relativist model of knowledge

Perry states that students pass through two stages of knowledge which are the dualistic and the relativistic.[85] The dualist knowledge is when the knowledge is either right or wrong. There is no ambiguity. As the students’ progress, they tend to now think in a relativist manner. This approach states that knowledge can be evaluated based on personal experience. There is no one answer but rather the knowledge is uncertain. Knowledge approaches are very important because they affect how the students approach learning. Students who are in the dualistic stage are most likely to be looking for the fact-oriented information when they are studying. They study like they are memorizing the information and they do not take time to break down the information so that they could deeply understand it. This is different from the student who use the relativistic approach. When they are studying they tend to search for context-oriented information. This means that they break down the information through paraphrasing, constructing what they have understood and they also summarize their information. This leads to the students who use the relativist approach to learning, to do better in their classes when they are getting graded.

Schommer's four dimensions of knowledge

Schommer came up with four separate dimensions about knowledge [86] The first one was simple knowledge this is when knowledge is organized in bits and pieces, meaning that for one to understand it, it has to be broken down into smaller simple parts. The second one was certain knowledge which is the belief that knowledge is absolute, for example the student believes that there is one answer. The third one is fixed ability is the belief that one’s ability to learn is innate and cannot be changed for example the student will believe that it is either they are born to grasp materials. The fourth one is the quick learning which is the belief that learning is fast process or it completely does not occur. The earlier research that was done by Schommer, showing the effects that these beliefs had on the individuals learning were as follows: those who believed that knowledge was certain & simple tend to not use critical thinking skills, self-regulating skills and meta cognitive skills which resulted in them not acquiring the deeper knowledge since they were not questioning what they were learning[87]Those who believed that knowledge was fixed resulted in students engaging in superficial learning because they was no deep and thoughtful thinking when they were tuckling materials that were presented to them. This resulted in them giving up when they were faced with challenges [88] Those who believed in quick knowledge, were presented with a text and told to write a conclusion, most of them tent oversimplify the conclusion. Meaning that they just scrapped on the surface without asking themselves why they would think that would be the conclusion [89]

Kitchener and King's Reflective model

This is framework of work was coined by Kitchener and King, in which explains the different stages that the students go through in seven stages of reflective knowledge. These seven stages are dived into three stages which are pre-reflective judgment (stages 1 to 3 knowledge is certain), quasi- reflective judgment (stages 4 and 5 knowledge is not certain)and reflective judgment (stages 6 and 7 knowledge is context based) [90]. This model is important in that it focuses on the reasoning behind the answers of the open-ended questions and also the individual’s problem solving skills. Also, the model is affected by the age, education level and major that one is in. Consequently, this is significant in the learning process because those who believe that knowledge is simply something that is handed done from authority learn differently from those that believe that knowledge is constructed. The studies that were done about the different stages show that those who value the teacher’s expertise and think that knowledge is certain tend to follow a more traditional manner of learning [91]. This means that they wait to be handed over materials by the teacher. However, students that are in stages 6 and 7 recognize that knowledge is something that is personally constructed and not handed down by an expertise. These students are able to challenge their learning environments and are more open to the collaboration of information with the other students, because they also believe that peers like teachers can be a source of knowledge.

Figure 6 Reflective Thinking Model

Western Culture vs Eastern Culture[edit]

There are cultural differences in the beliefs in epistemology. [92] The two views that are going to be discussed are the Western culture and Eastern culture. The Western culture emphasizes more on the Socratic view, in which the students are taught to question and challenge the information that they are given. Therefore they are more active in their learning because they are expected to reflect on the given information. The Eastern view of learning is mainly based on the Confucius. This is the belief in the student’s effort and willingness to learn. The students were expected to respect the authority that is imparting information to them because they are seen as the ones that are always correct and needs to be constantly followed and be obeyed if one wants to learn. Learning is not something that the students just do, but they do it for a purpose. Most of the time the purpose of learning was for the students to go work as civil servants [93]. These differences in cultural beliefs does not mean that these students are in the different stages of knowledge but rather that they have different ways to acquire knowledge. It is important that the teacher does not become bias about this views, by thinking that those students who value the what the authority is says without questioning it or those who come from the Eastern culture are in the early stages of knowledge.[94].

Application to Instruction[edit]

Awareness and Discussion of Beliefs[edit]

It is important for educators to be aware of the various beliefs relating to knowledge and intelligence. By making students aware of what their beliefs are, through group discussions and reflection journals, teachers are better able to help students identify and change their beliefs [95]. Moreover, teachers should also explicitly teach students how beliefs about intelligence and knowledge affect learning. For example, if someone believes intelligence is something which is fixed, they will be less likely to pursue in learning when faced with a challenge [96]. In addition, if someone believes knowledge is fixed, then they are less likely to reflect or question their thoughts because they think what they know is always true. Similarly, these beliefs can change the opportunities in which we expose ourselves to [97]. If an individual does not believe they have the knowledge or intelligence required for a certain career opportunity, they are not likely to attempt to pursue that career. With appropriate belief strategies, nearly all students can attain a high academic achievement as these strategies can encourage students to use previous knowledge and develop advanced critical thinking skills [98]. In this respect, classroom environments play a significant role in shaping students beliefs as they can enhance beliefs already held by students, challenge them, or introduce new ideas [99].

Not only is it important to be aware of the different beliefs about intelligence and knowledge held by students, but teachers should be aware that these beliefs change as the students age. For example, elementary school students tend to believe intelligence entails capacities based on cognition. This is determined by how much knowledge an individual possesses and how well they read and comprehends visuospatial relationships [100]. These students believe intelligence involves non-cognitive factors, such as communication and interaction skills, work habits, and athleticism [101]. High school students however pay more attention not only to a person’s cognitive abilities when judging an individual’s intelligence but also their performance [102]. Jones’ study presents five themes of how high school students define intelligence: knowledge, skills and abilities; academic effort; achievement; decision making and personal characteristics [103]. Taking the age of the student into consideration is important in understanding how they perceive intelligence. If teachers are aware of these beliefs, they can better recognize how it impacts students learning and organize their classroom environments and curriculum accordingly.

Epistomological knowledge is also believed to depend on the age and experiences of the child. According to studies done by Perry, as children progress through levels of education, so did their level of knowledge. As individuals mature, their beliefs about the complexity of knowledge, the justifications of knowledge and the effort required to obtain knowledge began to change. This finding is important for teachers to understand that acquiring critical thinking and justification of knowledge that is seen in the higher stages of reflective thinking or relativistic stage comes with age and experience. Therefore teachers should not rush to impose critical thinking, instead they should offer patience and support and take small steps when introducing critical thinking [104]. The belief of intelligence being fixed or incremental also affects the academic achievement of the student and their motivation. Students who believe intelligence to be incremental see intelligence as something that requires effort. These students see failing a test a result of not putting in enough effort in studying, improving would require the motivation to applying more effort. This is different from students who believe intelligence is something that is fixed, which led to learned helplessness and lack of motivation to succeed in the next test. With these students teachers need to teach students that school is about effort and intelligence is not something which is fixed [105].

Development of Reasoning Skills and Reflective Thinking[edit]

Teachers need to ensure that they give information that challenge their student’s epistemological views [106]. Epistomologial beliefs influences the learning of the individuals. Those who believe that learning is something that is complex, uncertain,effortful and requiring justification tend to do well with their academics [107].This is because they know that their motivation changes their learning. They are also open to exploring the new ideas, and go out there to find deeper contextual information.These are the learners who are in the higher stages of the reflective thinking and those who are believed to be in the relativistic stage [108]. The beliefs in the epistemological knowledge is something that should be taught to the teachers as well. This is because the teachers beliefs about knowledge and how it is acquired affects the student’s learning process [109]. The teacher's beliefs about teaching are deemed important because they may be used to filter and interpret information, frame tasks, and guide action [110]. The teachers who believed that they were the only source of information that their students had, structured the class in a non-discussion one. This led to their students believing that knowledge was certain, and the only sources of knowledge was from the authority. This differs from the teachers that believed that knowledge is constructive, this led to them designing the classroom in a more collaboration manner. The teachers would encourage students, to think critically about the information that they were given. The teacher also encouraged the student’s engagement with others because they knew that this will help in making them more open to the new ideas. This also encouraged the students in their reflective thinking. Therefore it is important that the teachers are trained not to have the traditional view of thinking because this in turn influences the students.

Cultural Diversity[edit]

Figure 7 Canadian Mosaic Wall

British Columbia's new curriculum has developed three competencies that students should strive for during their education. One of the competencies that relates to the cultural diversity of the beliefs about intelligence and knowledge is the positive personal and cultural identity competency:

"[T]he awareness, understanding, and appreciation of all the facets that contribute to a healthy sense of oneself. It includes awareness and understanding of one’s family background, heritage(s), language(s), beliefs, and perspectives in a pluralistic society. Students who have a positive personal and cultural identity value their personal and cultural narratives, and understand how these shape their identity. Supported by a sense of self-worth, self-awareness, and positive identity, students become confident individuals who take satisfaction in who they are, and what they can do to contribute to their own well-being and to the well-being of their family, community, and society." [111]

The multicultural classroom in Canadian schools require educators to be open-minded and flexible when helping students develop their cultural identity and their beliefs. Figure 7 demonstrates the multicultural society that exists in Canada today. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the Western and Eastern cultures have a different view on intelligence and knowledge. As a result, children need to be taught explicitly about how cultural identity affects their beliefs about intelligence and knowledge

In terms of beliefs about intelligence, cultural differences give rise to different goal orientations which in turn causes academic performances to vary. Therefore, teachers should evaluate the beliefs and goal orientations of each individual student in a private session to ensure that they are positive and useful. Unfortunately, there might be occasions, in which students have negative beliefs and ineffective goal orientations because of the cultural context they live in. For example, in Chen and Wong's aforementioned study, there appears to be a positive correlation between performance-approach, performance-avoidance and mastery goals. In addition, these goals each seem to help Chinese students' academic achievement. However, an important point to keep in mind is that this correlation is most likely based on the Chinese students' desire of self-development, competition and avoidance of failure. Educators should strive to encourage self-development to enable students to taken on mastery goals, but competition and avoidance of failure are not features of a good learning environment. There is a lot of stress that comes with competing and avoiding failure. Even if academic achievement is obtained, educators need to be cautious. It might be more effective to promote an incremental view of intelligence in the classroom because students holding this view are more likely to focus on their own improvement and to learn for the sake of mastery and enjoyment. Subsequently, students are more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their learning.

As for beliefs about knowledge. cultural differences lead to different ways of developing and utilizing knowledge. As mentioned earlier, the Western and Eastern cultures have differing views of knowledge. Therefore the teacher should be willing to have a multicultural classroom. For instance, one that has both the Socratic view and Confucian view and be able to teach the students to implement one or the other depending with the situation and the class that they are taking. The Socratic view is important for the social sciences classes in which the students are supposed to question what they are learning since there is no right or wrong answer. The Confucian view is helpful in learning the hard sciences. such as physics, which adhere to the laws,meaning that the student has to grasp the fundamental facts. The teacher should create a classroom that is group based so that the students can be able to share their different beliefs and critically think about them [112]. Overall, teaching children the Socratic and Confucian approaches explicitly can help students have a better understanding of how cultural affects beliefs and thinking, which in turn prepares them to collaborate with people in a multicultural society. Additionally, other cultures' beliefs can also be researched and it is highly encouraged that teachers keep themselves updated to ensure that they are considering the effects of culture in their classrooms.

Suggested Readings[edit]

Bernardo, A. B. I. (2010). Extending hope theory: Internal and external locus of trait hope. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 944–949. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.07.036.

Haimovitz, K., Wormington, S. V., & Corpus, J. H. (2011). Dangerous mindsets: How beliefs about intelligence predict motivational change. Learning And Individual Differences, 21(6), 747-752. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2011.09.002

OECD (2009), "Teaching Practices, Teachers' Beliefs and Attitudes", in OECD. , Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI: 10.1787/9789264068780-6

Glossary[edit]

Affective knowledge: Information acquired subjectively, based on emotional reaction.

Agency: Goal-directed determination, willpower.

Beliefs: personal opinions about the environment and the self

Certain knowledge: belief that knowledge is absolute

Cognitive knowledge: information acquired objectively and rationally.

Constructivist view: teachers are guides in helping students obtain knowledge, students are active in their own learning

Dualist knowledge: belief that knowledge is either right or wrong

Entity theory: the belief that intelligence cannot be changed

Epistemological beliefs: beliefs about what knowledge is and how one acquires that knowledge

Explicit beliefs: conscious beliefs that impact a person’s behaviour

Fixed ability: belief that one’s ability to learn is innate and cannot be changed for example the student will believe that it is either they are born to grasp materials

High hope: occurs when both agencies and pathways are present, students believe they have ability of attaining their goals.

Implicit beliefs: subliminal beliefs that influence an individual’s behaviour

Implicit theory: involves an individual making unspoken speculations about the causes of an event

Incremental theory: demonstrates that gradual modifications of intelligence are possible

Intelligence: a person's capacity to adjust to, shape and choose an environment

Mastery-approach goals: bring about a commitment to improve competence and to engage in meaningful learning, in which understanding is highly valued

Mastery-avoidance goals: give rise to hiding from inadequacy in relation to the self and to an undertaking

Mastery orientation: includes the incremental theory and the desire to improve one’s proficiency

Pathways: planning of ways to reach one's goals

Performance-approach goals: concentrate on the desire to show proficiency by making other people targets for competition

Performance-avoidance goals: focus on the finding ways to escape tasks that will likely reflect failure when compared to others

Performance orientation: involves the belief in the entity theory and the display of proficiency

Pre-reflective judgment: the stages in which knowledge is certain

Quasi-reflective judgment: the stages in which knowledge is uncertain

Quick learning: the belief that learning is fast process or it completely does not occur.

Relativist knowledge: belief that knowledge can be evaluated based on personal experience

Reflective Judgement: the stages in which knowledge is content based

Simple knowledge: knowledge is organized in bits and pieces, meaning that for one to understand it, it has to be broken down into smaller simple parts

Traditional views: teachers act as an authority figure while students are passive recipients of knowledge.

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