Primary School Teachers’ Beliefs about Spelling and Spelling Acquisition

Submitted by: Susanne Riegler
Abstract: In recent years, teachers’ professional competence has increasingly become the focus of German didactic research. The research interest encompasses not only their professional knowledge, but more and more also teachers’ beliefs, which form the basis for their actions in German lessons. This growing interest is due to the assumption that the subject-related beliefs of teachers play a significant role in the planning of lessons and the quality of teaching.
Beliefs can be described as “ideas about the essence and nature of teaching and learning processes, learning contents, the identity and role of learners and teachers […] as well as the institutional and societal context of education” (Reusser et al. 2011, 478). In contrast to knowledge bases, beliefs are subjectively and collectively held true, without satisfying “criteria of consistency or the requirements of argumentative reasoning or discursive validation” (Baumert, Kunter 2006, 497).
The few (mostly qualitatively oriented) studies that exist on the domain-specific beliefs of teachers of German are related to the teaching of reading and literature. The exploration of beliefs concerning language-related aspects of the subject, however, still constitutes a major research gap (see Lessing-Sattari/Wieser 2018, 50). In particular, there exist no empirical findings concerning teachers’ beliefs about spelling and spelling acquisition up to now.
As part of our video study “Profess-R”, we developed a questionnaire, which allows us to identify teachers’ beliefs concerning the domain of spelling in four areas (see Woolfolk Hoy et al. 2006): beliefs concerning the teacher’s own self-efficacy, beliefs about the subject-matter spelling, beliefs about teaching and learning in spelling lessons and beliefs about learning and learning conditions of pupils. The questionnaire consists of 70 items which are to be answered on a four-level Likert scale. It has been piloted several times. With this instrument, the domain-specific beliefs as part of teachers’ professional competency are to be collected in “Profess-R” and subsequently analysed with respect to their relation to the planning of lessons.
In our talk, we will present the design of the questionnaire as well as results of the proof of reliability und report on the descriptive findings with the participants of our video study (N = 40).

teachers‘ beliefs, primary school, spelling acquisition, questionnaire

Baumert, Jürgen; Kunter, Mareike (2006): Stichwort: Professionelle Kompetenz von Lehrkräften. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 9 (4). 469–520.
Lessing-Sattari; Wieser, Dorothee (2018): Lehrkräfte. Systematisierung aktueller empirischer Studien, ihrer Gegenstandsbereiche und Forschungsansätze. In: Boelmann, Jan (Ed.): Empirische Forschung in der Deutschdidaktik. Vol. 3: Forschungsfelder. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren. 41-51.
Reusser, Kurt; Pauli, Christine (2014): Berufsbezogene Überzeugungen von Lehrerinnen und Lehrern. In: Terhart, Ewald et al. (Ed.): Handbuch der Forschung zum Lehrerberuf. 2nd ed. Münster: Waxmann. 642–661.
Woolfolk Hoy, Anita; Davis, Heather; Pape, Stephen (2006): Teacher Knowledge and Beliefs. In: Alexander, Patricia A.; Winne, Philip H. (Ed.): Handbook of educational psychology. 2nd ed. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum. 715–737.