Investigating Student Teachers’ Conceptions of Social Studies through the Multi-dimensional Structure of the Epistemological Beliefs
Erkan DinçDepartment of Turkish and Social Sciences Education, Uşak University, Uşak 64100 Turkey
Servet ÜztemurMilli Eğitim Bakanlığı, Manisa İl Milli Eğitim Müdürlüğü, Görgülüler Ortaokulu, Manisa 45200 Turkey
The first aim of this study is to define student teachers’ epistemological beliefs and how they conceive social studies. The second aim is to determine whether participants’ conceptions of social studies differ in accordance with the epistemological beliefs they hold. Designed as a sequential explanatory mixed research, this study employs 620 student teachers in its quantitative phase, while the participants of the following qualitative phase consists of 17 students teachers. The Epistemic Belief Inventory and a semi-structured interview schedule were used as data collection instruments. The findings of the quantitative study revealed that student teachers hold highly sophisticated epistemological beliefs in the following three dimensions of the inventory: (i) Access to Knowledge and Knowledge Acquisition, (ii) Certainty of Knowledge, and (iii) Control of Knowledge, while they have average sophisticated beliefs in the Structure of Knowledge dimension. The qualitative findings reveal that participants perceived social studies as life itself and as a relaxing subject taught in middle schools. The comparison of the quantitative and qualitative findings in the last phase of the study revealed that the participants’ conceptions of social studies differ based on the level of their epistemological beliefs in each dimension of the inventory.