British Journal of Educational Psychology

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Volume 74 Issue 3 (September 2004), Pages 323-496

Teachers as scholars of their students' conceptions of learning: A Hong Kong investigation (pages 361-373)

Background: The need for effective teachers to reflect on their students' thinking is now generally recognized. Moreover, the study of students' conceptions of learning and their impact on learning outcomes has become a popular area of research. But are teachers aware of their students' conceptions and do they reflect on them when planning their teaching?

Aims: This paper reports two interview studies of Hong Kong teachers designed to find out whether they considered their views of learning differed from those their students held and if they took into account any such differences in their teaching.

Sample: In Study 1 and Study 2 the interviewees were 30 and 32 Hong Kong secondary school teachers, respectively. These teachers varied widely in terms of their teaching experience, subject areas, and the ages and ability grouping of the students they taught.

Method: In‐depth semi‐structured interviews were conducted in Cantonese and transcribed into English by a class of trained Chinese post‐graduate students of education using a phenomenographic approach. The transcripts were analysed independently by groups of 4–5 of the interviewers and the author.

Results: The conceptions of learning espoused by Hong Kong Chinese teachers interviewed in both studies were similar to those reported in the literature for more advanced Western students and their teachers. However, they perceived the great majority of their students to hold much less sophisticated views. Twenty‐one of the 32 teachers interviewed in Study 2 claimed to take differences between their own and their students' views of learning into account when planning their teaching. But in most cases it seemed that they were simply trying to adapt their teaching according to their perception of their students' ability and motivation levels. Implications for educational reform in Hong Kong are discussed.

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