This paper builds on previous studies of instructional practice in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses by reporting findings from a study of the relationship between instructors’ beliefs about teaching and learning and their observed classroom practices. Data collection took place across six institutions of higher education and included in-depth interviews with 71 instructors and more than 140 hours of classroom observations using the Teaching Dimensions Observation Protocol. Thematic coding of interviews identified 31 distinct beliefs that instructors held about the ways students best learn introductory concepts and skills in these courses. Cluster analysis of the observation data suggested that their observable practices could be classified into four instructional styles. Further analysis suggested that these instructional styles corresponded to disparate sets of beliefs about student learning. The results add momentum to reform efforts that simultaneously approach instructional change in introductory courses as a dynamic relationship between instructors’ subjective beliefs about teaching and learning and their strategies in the classroom.

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Published in CBE—Life Sciences Education, v. 18, no. 2, ar26, p. 1-16.

© 2019 J. J. Ferrare. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2019 The American Society for Cell Biology.

This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-sa/3.0).

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This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (DUE-1224550) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (2012627).