How would you explain a personal epistemology?
In my understanding of the word epistemology, a personal epistemology is the view that one has about his or her world. Epistemology encompasses ones’ belief system. It is concerned with different ways that a person believe what knowledge is, how it can be acquires and the truth in that particular knowledge. This is so true for teachers. We all have our own belief system. Sometimes our own belief system cloud the way we think about what knowledge is and how learning should happen. Furthermore, personal epistemology deals with how a person analyzes the nature of knowledge and how that nature of knowledge is associated with other ideas such as what truth mean, why people believe on the things they believe in and how they justify their belief?
How confident do you feel about expressing your personal epistemology?
I feel relatively confident to express my own epistemology. I believe in hard work, perseverance and so forth and these beliefs are so engrained in my belief system such that I do not really need any evidence to believe otherwise. I understand that the forces of exposure to different world views have an undue influence on ones’ world view. I have lived for years in Africa and the United States. The long exposure in the two worlds has and is still continuing to shape my own epistemology. Due to this exposure, the way I look at knowledge, learning, truth and my belief system have also changed.
To what extent do you think that your own epistemology shapes your philosophy of teaching and learning?
My epistemology has shaped a great deal of my teaching philosophy. I tend to use my belief system on what knowledge is and how knowledge is acquired to drive instruction. I believe in a constructivist ideology of learning and therefore use inquiry a lot to help students create their own understands of concepts. I also blend in other learning and teaching theories such as humanism, cognitivism and others whenever the need arise.
I believe that students must create their own understanding of concepts for content to become meaningful to them. In addition, I tend to be harder on my students especially the ones’ who seem not to apply themselves or for lack of a better word “lazy”–to become better. This is because of my belief that to succeed, you need to work hard.
How confident are you are about explaining the impact of theoretical perspectives on educational practice?
I feel somewhat confident at explaining the impact of theoretical perspectives on educational practice. I feel like an educator that is not well grounded on the teaching and learning theories lacks some of the tools that will help him/her to become an accomplished instructor in science and other subjects. Educators who lack the various perspectives regarding how students acquire knowledge have difficulties in becoming better teachers. I truly believe that understanding these theories (Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Social Cognitivism, Humanism, and Constructivism) is fundamental for all instructors. At least having a basic understanding on these theories would be beneficial.
Which learning theories are most closely aligned with your personal beliefs about learning and teaching?
I think both constructivist theory and behaviorism theory are closely aligned to my beliefs about learning and teaching. I use both of them in my daily instruction. I use behavioral theory mostly for teaching basic facts and assessing students understanding of those facts through testing and in the “show what you know” part of assessment. I use constructivist ideas especially when introducing new concept through lab based learning and gizmos. Here students use their prior knowledge to construct new meaning or to make sense of the information.
What is your opinion of the inclusion of theoretical perspectives in teacher professional learning?
I feel like a teacher that is not well grounded on the teaching and learning theories lack some of the tools that will help him/her to become an accomplished instructor in science and other subjects. Teachers need to know the various perspectives regarding how students acquire knowledge. I truly believe that understanding these theories (Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Social Cognitivism, Humanism, and Constructivism) is fundamental to all instructors. At least having a basic understanding on these theories would be beneficial in my views. I am not trying to say that I am an expert of the teaching and learning theories, but I feel that my exposure to the theories have broaden my understanding of the best practices in learning and teaching.
What do you think the role of theory plays in the research process?
Theory plays a great role in the research process. A research that is not grounded in theory will be lacking or not well grounded. Therefore it is important to understanding the theoretical framework in which the research is based. A research that is based on learning or teaching theory is easy to explain and understand. In addition, a theoretical framework provides the skeleton on which a research question can be developed and supported. An education research is supposed to explain the gaps or extend knowledge of an otherwise already known learning or teaching theory.
Do you think it is important to have a theoretical framework in a research study? Why or why not?
I think it is very important to base your research in an already established theoretical framework. In doing so, your research will be more grounded rather than being based on thin air. A theoretical framework provides the bones (skeleton) so to speak in which your research (the meat) will be anchored. It is especially true when you are engaged in writing the methodology section your research. Here, theoretical framework can be a guide in helping you to clearly define the gap that is in the existing information. In addition, theoretical framework can also be very helpful when you are analyzing and reporting the findings of your research. Findings that are based on a theoretical framework are more credibility than those that don’t.