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Updating understandings of 'teaching' : taking account of learners' and teachers' beliefs

MacLellan, Effie (2015) Updating understandings of 'teaching' : taking account of learners' and teachers' beliefs. Teaching in Higher Education, 20 (2). pp. 171-182. ISSN 1356-2517

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Abstract

The paper reviews recent psycho-educational literature to identify features of teacher thinking which enable learners to acquire meaningful knowledge. The review establishes that one powerful mechanism to improve teaching in higher education turns on exploiting adults' epistemic beliefs: beliefs about the nature and the acquisition of knowledge. Epistemic beliefs and knowledge construction interact with each other but both can be promoted through focused teaching. The four foci for teaching are (1) surfacing learners' epistemic beliefs, as these are the bases of new learning; (2) actively engaging learners' views of knowledge so that their refinement can be the objective of educational practices; (3) emphasising and evidencing critical thinking; and (4) foregrounding teachers' own epistemic beliefs in their reflections on practice.