• Olena Zhukova Daugavpils University, The Faculty of Education and Management, Vienības Str. 13, Daugavpils, LV-5401, Latvia
Keywords: novice teachers, efl, teacher’s beliefs, problem-based learning, PBL


This article presents the results of the pilot study conducted with the aim to examine novice teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and challenges regarding the implementation of a problem-based learning (PBL) approach in the EFL classroom. The relationship and discrepancies between novice teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and actual classroom practices were also investigated. In total 25 novice teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) with up to 3 years of teaching experience participated in the study. 

The data for the present study were collected from face-to-face semi-structured interviews and classroom observations. In total, 25 novice EFL teachers working in Latvian basic and secondary schools agreed to participate in the survey.

The finding of the survey suggest that novice teachers’ beliefs are not always reflected in their actual classroom practices for a number of external and internal constraints, such as students’ expectations and perceptions, school administrators’ demands and lack of commitment, context of teaching, lack of professional skills and methodological support, and examination pressure.

These findings of the present study might have implications for school administrators, EFL teacher educators, teacher training institutions and the institution that provide teacher professional development courses, as well as for education policy makers and for EFL teachers themselves. 


Barell, J.F. (2006) Problem-Based Learning: An Inquiry Approach. California: Corwin Press

Boothe, D., Vaughn, R., Hill, J., Hill, H. (2011) Innovative English Language Acquisition Through Problem-based Learning. Conference materials. International Conference – The future of education. Florence, Italy 16 - 17 June, 2011

Butler, S. M., (1998) The Process of Problem-Based Learning: A Literature Review. Journal of Health Occupations Education: Vol. 13: No. 1, Article 9.

Chow, J.Y., Davids, K., Button, C., Renshaw, I. (2015) Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: An Introduction. Routledge

Cheong, F. (2008) Using a Problem-Based Learning Approach to Teach an Intelligent Systems Course. Journal of Information Technology Education. Volume 7, 2008

Erkmen, B. (2014). Novice EFL teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning and their classroom practices. Hacettepe University Journal of Education, 29 (1), pp.99-113.

Frederiksen L.L., Lund J.H., Beck M. (2016) Different Understandings of the Relationship Between Teacher Education and Professional Practice. Journal of the European Teacher Education Network. 2016, Vol. 11, 112-120

Farrell, T. S.C. (2008). Learning to teach language in the first year: a Singapore case study. In T. S. C. Farrell, (Ed.), Novice language teachers: Insights and perspectives for the first year (pp.43-56). London: Equinox Publishing Ltd.

Fleming, M., Stevens, D. (2014) English Teaching in the Secondary School. 2nd ed.: Linking Theory and Practice. Routledge

Fives, H., Gill, M.G. (2014) International Handbook of Research on Teachers’ Beliefs. Abingdon: Routledge

Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & May, H. (2014). What are the effects of teacher education and preparation on beginning teacher attrition? Research Report (#RR-82). Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania.

Johnson, A. (2013) Effective Methods for 21ST Century Learning: A Teacher Action Research Project. Meridian: A K-16 School Computer Technologies Journal. Vol 16, No 2 , 2013

Khader, F.R. (2012) Teachers’ Pedagogical Beliefs and Actual Classroom Practices in Social Studies Instruction. American International Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 2 No. 1; January 2012

Kern, R. (2012) Teaching language and culture in a global age: New goals for teacher education. AAUSC 2011 Volume: Educating the Future Foreign Language Professoriate for the 21st Century. Ed. Allen,H.W., Maxim, H.H. Cengage Learning

Kagan, D.M. (1990) Ways of evaluating teacher cognition: Inferences concerning the goldilocks principle. Review of Educational Research, 60(3), 419-469

Kemp, S. (2005) Constructivism and problem-based learning. Learning Academy. Retrieved March, 21, 2017, from

Larenas, C.D., Hernandez, P.A., Navarrete, M.O. (2015) A Case Study on EFL Teachers’ Beliefs About the Teaching and Learning of English in Public Education. Porta Linguarum №23, enero 2015, pp. 171-186

Law, N., Yuen, A., Fox, R. (2011) Educational Innovations Beyond Technology: Nurturing Leadership and Establishing Learning Organizations. Springer Science & Business Media

Melnick, S, and Meister D.G. (2008). “A Comparison of Beginning and Experienced Teachers’ Concerns.” Educational Research Quarterly 31, no 3: 39–56

Mahfoodh O.H.A. (2011) A Qualitative Case Study of EFL Students’ Affective Reactions to and Perceptions of Their Teachers’ Written Feedback. English Language Teaching. Vol. 4, No. 3; September 2011

Mathews-Aydinli, J. (2007) Problem-Based Learning and Adult English Language Learners. Center for Adult English Language Acquisition. Washington: Center for Applied Linguistics. April 2007

McAninch, A.R. (2003) Teacher Beliefs and Classroom Performance: The Impact of Teacher Education. IAP

Mitchell R., Miles F. (2004) Second language learning theories (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold

Mishra, P. & Mehta, R. (2017) What We Educators Get Wrong About 21st-Century Learning: Results of a Survey, Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 33:1, 6-19

McCoaghan, K. (2008) Problem-based learning tutors’ beliefs and challenges. Burnaby: Simon Fraser University Library.

Othman, N., Shah, M.I.A. (2013) Problem-Based Learning in the English Language Classroom. English Language Teaching; Vol. 6, No. 3; 2013

Park, S.H., Ertmer, P.A. (2007) Impact of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) on Teachers’ Beliefs Regarding Technology Use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. JRTE, 40(2), 247–267

Patch, M. R. (2008) Measuring Sustained Effects of a Diversity Course on Classroom Teacher Beliefs: A Retrospective Pretest Study. ProQuest

Pajares M.F. (1992) Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research Fall 1992, Vol. 62, No. 3, pp. 307-332

Pecore, J. L. (2013). Beyond Beliefs: Teachers Adapting Problem-based Learning to Preexisting Systems of Practice. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning , 7(2).

Phipps, S., & Borg, S. (2009). Exploring tensions between teachers’ grammar teaching beliefs and practices. System, 37(3), 380-390.

Richards, J.C., Gallo, P.B., Renandya, W. A. (2001) Exploring Teachers’ Beliefs and the Processes of Change. SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, Singapore Retrieved March, 10, 2017, from

Subramanian, U. (2014) Teacher Beliefs and Practices in Designing and Implementing Problem Based Learning in the Secondary Mathematics Classroom: A Case Study. Dissertation, Georgia State University

Schwarzer, D., Grinberg, J. (2016) Successful Teaching: What Every Novice Teacher Needs to Know. Rowman & Littlefield

Tan, O.S. (2003) Problem-based Learning Innovation: Using problems to power learning in the 21st century. Boston: Cengage Learning

Teaching Practices, Teachers’ Beliefs and Attitudes. (2009) Chapter 4. Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS – ISBN 978-92-64-05605-3. OECD 2009. pp. 83-135