Pre-service Teachers' Representations About Children's Learning: A Pilot Study

Maria L. Pedditzi1, *, Marcello Nonnis1
1 Department of Pedagogy, Psychology and Philosophy, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy

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© 2020 Pedditzi & Nonnis.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Pedagogy, Psychology and Philosophy, University of Cagliari, via Is Mirrionis 1, 09100, Cagliari, Italy; Tel: 39070/6757519; E-mail:



Research on teachers' representations of children's learning is currently ongoing.

Social representations are common-sense theories built and shared in everyday interactions. Their analysis can detect the possible differences between teachers’ naïve beliefs and scientific learning theories.


The objective of this pilot study is to analyse the beliefs about children’s learning of a group of teachers. The beliefs will be related to the most acknowledged learning theories.


A mixed methods research was employed to analyse 100 pre-service teachers’ representations of the origins of learning and the psychological processes involved.


It emerged from the results that the teachers interviewed consider children’s learning mainly as culturally acquired, which reveals the prevailing constructivist conception of learning. Many pre-service primary school teachers, however, tend to see learning as mere ‘transfer of information’; many pre-service kindergarten teachers perceive learning as ‘behaviour modification’. The most considered psychological aspects are ‘knowledge’ and ‘acquisition’, while emotions are barely considered.


Linking implicit theories and disciplinary theories could support pre-service teachers in integrating the theory and the practice of learning so as to understand the way their models influence their educational choices.

Keywords: Social representations, Pre-service teachers, Teachers’ beliefs, Teaching process, Education, School environment.