Chinese Secondary Physics Teachers' Beliefs and Instructional Decisions in Relation to Inquiry-based Teaching

Zheng Zhu, David Geelan


This paper reports five Chinese secondary physics teachers’ beliefs and instructional decisions in relation to inquiry-based teaching (IBT). It is part of a larger study intended to explore Chinese secondary physics teachers’ beliefs and the ways in which their beliefs influence their classroom practices in the context of the current Chinese science curricular reforms around inquiry-based teaching. The study employed in-depth semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, informal conversations and field notes to explore teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices. The data analysis reveals that a range of beliefs the five teachers held – about the nature of science and physics, teaching and learning, and inquiry-based teaching – exerted a compound influence on teachers’ instructional decisions.Their perceptions of ‘what counts’ as effective teaching seemed to be the predominant influence. Furthermore, these beliefs and their influence on teachers’ instructional decisions should be understood within  the current Chinese teaching context within which these teachers were working. They were teaching a reformed, inquiry-based curriculum while lacking a complementary assessment system, they were pressed for time, and they were under high pressure to prepare students for the College Entrance Examination.


China, inquiry, physics, pedagogy, reform

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