Jordanian chemistry (student) teachers’ beliefs about chemistry teaching and their views on educational reform

University of Bremen, Germany

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ingo Eilks

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The purpose of this thesis was, to investigate different aspects of (students) teachers' beliefs about chemistry teaching in secondary schools for the case of Jordan - a country where the base of knowledge about teachers' beliefs is very rare. The principle points that were primarily dealt with are achieving a general overview of chemistry teachers' beliefs in Jordan while taking findings from a developed Western country (Germany) and research on a mid-western country with a development level between Jordan and Western Europe (Turkey) ä s external references. Beliefs to be researched were focusing on curricula and pedagogies in chemistry teaching and learning, the aims and objectives of chemistry lessons, and the nature of good education. Further investigations were made concerning explanations and beliefs for the reasons of the prevalent practice in chemistry education in Jordan and effects of ongoing reform.

Different instrument were used to perform this research in order to try to get a comprehensive overview about the beliefs held by Jordanian (student) teachers and framing them by respective data from Turkey and Germany. The first one was applying the modified Draw A Science Teacher Instrument by Markic, Eilks and & Valendis (2008). The instrument is based on (student) teachers' drawings of themselves in typical teaching situations in their subject and includes a set of open questions to explain the drawn Situation. The data was evaluated by a grid based on Grounded Theory analyzing Beliefs about Classroom Organization, Beliefs about Teaching Objectives and Epistemological Beliefs on different scales between very traditional towards modem/theory-conform beliefs. A second evaluation using part of the same data source was made by applying the 'Draw-A-Science-Teacher- Teaching'-Checklist from Thomas, Pedersen and Finson (2001). This evaluation analysed the data by a rating checklist to decide upon the degree of teacher- or student-centeredness of the (student) teachers' beliefs. A third instrument from Hermans, Van Braak and Van Keer (2008) was focusing (student) teachers' beliefs about what constitutes good education in general based on Likert-questionnaire methodology. Based on the data found in by the written survey semi-structured interviews with experienced teachers were conducted. The interviews were inspired by the findings on the Jordanian chemistry teachers' and student teachers' beliefs about the pedagogies and goals of chemistry teaching and learning.

The results from the modified DAST, and original DASTT-C that were applied on the Jordanian, Turkish and German chemistry (student) teachers show that both the Jordanian and Turkish (student) teachers hold very traditional beliefs when it comes to teaching and learning chemistry. Their beliefs can be characterized by high level of teacher-centeredness, a transmission-oriented understanding of learning, and a strong focus on the pure learning of subject-matter. This is even slightly more the case for Jordan than in Turkey. On the other hand, we saw in the case of the German (student) teachers that it is possible to hold modern beliefs concerning chemistry teaching and learning, characterized by student-centeredness, orientation on scientific literacy for all and more constructivistic learning.

From the studies about the nature of good education, which reveals that all the groups that were researched value modern educational beliefs than traditional beliefs more when it comes to teaching and learning in general. It seems that the teachers instinctively understand that learning is far more than rote memorization and that learning is a developmental process. But, in concurrency to transmission oriented beliefs of education the picture is more diverse. Here the samples from Jordan pronounce rote transmission of knowledge nearly is important is the development of more general skills. In Turkey and even more in Germany the (student) teachers much more supported the developmental educational beliefs than they do for the rote transmission oriented beliefs. A clear tendency was found here too.

The findings from the interviews which aimed to explain the situation thoroughly in Jordan supported the findings from the written surveys. The teachers also described a dominance of a traditional and teacher-centered style of chemistry teaching in Jordan as it was mirrored in the beliefs of chemistry student teachers and teachers described the written tools. Many reasons were named from problems in infrastructure and too big class sizes, via traditional curricula, textbooks and assessment Systems, towards teacher education programs too less oriented at the later profession of being teachers. The study revealed also that despite many reform initiatives in Jordan took place in recent years, most of the teachers in Jordan are not very acquainted to the reforms, and implementation rate is slow.

As a conclusion, this study asks for reflecting the structure of chemistry teacher education in Jordan (and maybe also in Turkey). It seems that a more thorough focus on changing the (student) teachers' beliefs towards a modern understanding of education in chemistry is necessary. Perhaps offering additional courses on modern educational theory and pedagogies and to connect them more thoroughly with own teaching experiences might help. Anyhow, a more comprehensive set of approaches might be needed that might consist of three points of potential action: (I) integrating reflection on prevalent beliefs into prospective teachers learning about their later profession of being a chemistry teacher within their university studies, (II) re-organize the introductory Seminars in the initial phase of teaching towards more connectedness with modern educational theory and own teaching experience, and (III) establish long-term CPD programs based e.g. on teacher collaboration, interactive workshops, or action research based innovations. Aside, the study also puts light on the ongoing reform process in Jordan. It seems that reform in Jordan (chemistry) education needs to put stronger emphasis to take the teachers' beliefs into account and to apply more interactive and participatory strategies of reform considering the teachers being more partners in the reform process rather than being passive consumers

The main findings of the thesis are published in the following journal articles

Al-Amoush, S., Markic, S., Abu-Hola, I., & Eilks, I. (2011). An explorative study on Jordanian chemistry student teachers’ and experienced chemistry teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning. Science Education International, 22, 185-201.

Al-Amoush, S., Markic, S., & Eilks, I. (2012). Jordanian Chemistry teachers` views on teaching practices and educational reform. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 13, 314-324.

Al-Amoush, S., Usak, M., Erdogan, M., Markic, S., & Eilks, I. (forthcoming). Pre- and in-service teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning chemistry in Turkey. European Journal of Teacher Education advance article, DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2013.807793.

Al-Amoush, S., Usak, M., Erdogan, M., Markic, S., & Eilks, I. (forthcoming). Beliefs about chemistry teaching and learning – a comparison of teachers and student teachers from Jordan, Turkey and Germany. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education accepted for publication.

Thesis (cumulative thesis based on articles in English language with an introductory summary of 40 pages in English language)

Al-Amoush, S. (2012). Jordanian chemistry (student) teachers’ beliefs about chemistry teaching and their views on educational reform. Dissertation University of Bremen


Dr. Siham Al-Amoush,

University of Bremen,

Leobener Str. NW2,

28334 Bremen,


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