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An investigation of the relationship between teachers’ attitudes and their curriculum planning decisions in primary reading instruction : an application of the Fishbein model Sweet, Robert Arthur


The purpose of the study was to predict and explain elementary teachers' curriculum planning intentions and behaviours from a knowledge of their personal and professional characteristics. The particular planning behaviours investigated involved recommending the instructional use of basal reading programs with different ability groups of primary level students. Three classes of antecedent variables were considered in the prediction: formative, relating to the possession of situational information relevant to primary reading instruction and indexed in terms of prior classroom teaching experience at the primary level; academic, relating to the possession of theoretical information relevant to primary reading instruction and indexed in terms of prior preservice or in-service preparation in elementary reading instruction; and psychological properties, involving the beliefs, motivations and attitudes held toward the planning task. Relationships between curriculum planning intents and behaviours and antecedent variables, as well as among antecedents, were investigated in the context of Fishbein's Behavioural Intention Model. Basic to the definition of the Model is the notion that intention and behaviour may be predicted primarily from attitudinal and normative factors. Specifically, the Model proposes the variables of Attitude Toward the Behaviour and Subjective Norm as the necessary and sufficient predictors of intention and hence, behaviour. Other variables such as traditionally measured attitudes and individual difference factors are presumed reflected in the attitudinal and normative components of the Model. The subjects included 112 elementary teachers from the New Westminster School District (School District 40, Province of British Columbia). Data collection instruments were composed of questionnaire items, Semantic Differential-type instruments and a Behavioural Record Instrument. Descriptive statistics, correlational analyses and regression analyses were used to examine the empirical relationships among variables. The results of analyses indicated that subjects' curriculum planning intentions and behaviours could be usefully predicted from psychological properties variables and that formative experiences and academic learnings were largely reflected in those psychological properties; specifically, subjects' attitudes toward the behaviour and their normative beliefs regarding performance of the behaviour. While the effect of teaching experience and formal learning on subjects' intention and behaviour was largely mediated by attitude and norm, the former exerted some influence on the empirical relations found between behavioural criteria and the Model's predictors. It was concluded that application of the Fishbein Model to antecedent-process studies in teaching research offers a useful tool for making quantitative and visible the relationships between instructional processes and antecedent variables as well as among antecedents.

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