Teachers' conceptions of education: a practical knowledge perspective on 'good' teaching

Yvonne de Vries, Douwe Beijaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Research on teachers' practical knowledge is considered to be an alternative to several other research approaches to teaching which study teaching from a limited point of view and from an outsider's perspective, often with the aim of exerting control over teachers. It is argued that research on teachers' practical knowledge takes into account in a better way what really matters in teaching because it emphasizes the knowledge and beliefs of teachers themselves about teaching. In this study, the issue of 'good' teaching is highlighted from a perspective on teaching based on teachers' practical knowledge. The conceptions of education of eight experienced teachers were investigated with a multi-methodical approach. Teachers' conceptions of education consist of their views on the objectives of education, the contents of the curriculum, and the role of the teacher and the students in the teaching and learning process. Several contextual factors and teachers' interpretations of these factors seem to exert influence on teachers' conceptions of education, such as the schools in which they work, the characteristics of the students and subjects they teach, and general developments in society. It is concluded that it is difficult to give a precise definition of good teaching from a practical knowledge perspective because of the personal and context-embeddedness of teachers' practical knowledge. However, the results indicate that research on teachers' practical knowledge adds new information to the discussion of good teaching when compared with the results of more traditional research approaches to teaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-397
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptions of education
  • Contexts of teaching
  • Good teaching
  • Research on teaching
  • Teacher thinking
  • Teachers' practical knowledge


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