Teachers’ beliefs about intelligence: An investigation into the beliefs of public primary school teachers in Australia and Norway
Master thesis in Educational Psycology
By Karin Elisabeth Sørlie
My present interest in the role of beliefs stems from hearing about the classic study „Pygmalion in the classroom‟ during one of my educational psychology classes. I became concerned with the potential impact teachers‟ beliefs might have on students, both in terms of the students‟ own beliefs and their performance. My background within educational psychology had convinced me of the potential for learning and development given the right context and effective teaching methods; I simply deemed it more interesting and relevant to consider an individual‟s potential, as well as the methods to reach this potential, rather than possible innate differences in ability.
When I enrolled in the present master program, I quickly decided to investigate the role of teachers‟ beliefs in the two countries. While gifted education was a research genre in its own right within my faculty in Australia, it seemed to be a controversial topic in Norwegian society. Comparing my impressions from the educational system in Australia with what I was seeing and experiencing in Norway, I felt the differential treatment of giftedness and high ability in the two systems might reflect deeper cultural differences.