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Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

DOI 10.1007/s11165-015-9495-5

Social Categorization on Perception Bias


in the Practice of Microteaching

Jon-Chao Hong 1 & Ming-Yueh Hwang 1 &


Chow-Chin Lu 2 & Chi-Ruei Tsai 1

Published online: 21 January 2016


# Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Abstract Microteaching has gained considerable attention for its effectiveness in rapid and
contextual training in professional development programs. However, the interpretive quality of
the teaching demonstration and peer feedback may influence individuals’ attribution and self-
correction, leading to ineffective learning. In this study, a microteaching workshop in a
professional development program for 78 elementary school science teachers was investigated.
The results showed that the effectiveness of microteaching was negatively affected by
participants’ perception bias due to social categorization. Moreover, it was indicated that the
participants’ perception of the in-group and out-group, classified by the degree of the
individuals’ science knowledge, fostered social categorization. Participants tended to experi-
ence perception conflicts caused by their inability to see personal faults, and a typical
perception bias of “seeing one’s own strengths and seeing others’ shortcomings” was more
frequently recognized in the out-group. These results converge to highlight the importance of
social categorization in perception bias relevant to microteaching.

Keywords Social categorization . Perception bias . Microteaching . Analogical thinking .


Inductive reasoning

* Ming-Yueh Hwang
hwming06013@yahoo.com.tw
Jon-Chao Hong
tcdahong@gmail.com
Chow-Chin Lu
lucc45@yahoo.com.tw
Chi-Ruei Tsai
bass2143@gmail.com
1
National Taiwan Normal University, 162, Heping East Road, Section 1, P. O. Box 7-513, Taipei,
Taiwan
2
National Taipei University of Education, 134, Heping East Road, Section 2, Taipei, Taiwan
186 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

Introduction

To remain up-to-date on the ever-changing subject matter of instruction, professional devel-


opment (PD) in education requires continuous and progressive efforts. In teacher education,
manifold forms of training and development activities have been established for pre- and
in-service teachers. Microteaching, a teacher training technique, provides teachers with an
opportunity to update their teaching skills and is currently practiced worldwide (Allen and
Ryan 1969; Remesh 2013). The practice of microteaching involves various activities of
communication; someone participating in a microteaching session can get feedback on specific
weaknesses he or she is interested in exploring (Popovich and Katz 2009). In microteaching,
human communication is defined as a circular and overt attempt to modify a partner’s mental
state; therefore, the activities of communication can influence participants’ effectiveness.
Communication provides the platform for self-reflection and self-correction after demonstra-
tions and feedback from other teachers (Remesh 2013). The interactions between teacher
participants include two types of roles: a presenter who speaks and an observer who listens. In
this sense, misunderstandings can arise when observers have a perception bias. In such cases,
the presenter will not accept the observers’ feedback, and further disputes will hinder the
effectiveness of microteaching (Kahneman and Tversky 2002; Thompson and Nadler 2000).
The issue of perception bias is the reason why the microteaching process has rarely received
realistic feedback from peer teachers through classroom observations (Smith and Collins
2009).
In the cognitive processes of messaging and reasoning, based on individuals’ backgrounds,
experiences, attitudes, and selective analysis of what they have seen, people unconsciously
produce bias that distorts judgment and decision-making by social influence (Murphy 2002;
Pronin 2007). This social understanding leads to perception bias from a functionalist perspec-
tive, whereby processing resources are located selectively to self-relevant environmental cues
(Ackerman et al. 2006). This phenomenon results in a state of social categorization by which
people categorize themselves and others into differentiated groups and allocate their resources
of attention differently to those groups (Ray et al. 2010). In this sense, people tend to infer
attributes based on the most likely category without further processing the details of the
information (Sussman et al. 2014). When involved in microteaching practices, social catego-
rization could jeopardize an individual’s judgment on observed instructions and affect both
teaching orientation and effectiveness (Van Boven et al. 2003). However, seldom has research
examined social categorization affecting individuals’ attention when judging others’ behav-
ioral pattern. Thus, this study explored individuals’ cognitive processing in relation to social
categorization in a teacher PD program.

Literature Review

Microteaching Theory and Practice

For novice teachers, microteaching provides a practical situation that reduces class complexity
and utilizes performance feedback, thereby enabling teachers to work on specific teaching
skills after observing video demonstrations by model teachers. This process provides the
impetus for reflection, but can result in teachers who too often perceive that their
own practice is free from problematic patterns to phrase-out microteaching practices
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(Sellars and Francis, 1995). Nonetheless, with proven success among the novice and more
experienced teachers, microteaching helps to promote real-time teaching experiences (Remesh
2013). In this regard, the genuine context enabled by microteaching offers the potential for
novice science teachers to reflect more profoundly on their experiences and practices.
The concept of microteaching refers to a type of “scaled-down” teaching, a subconcept of
teaching that must be examined to determine if it follows the same regulatory standards of the
teaching concept (Perlberg 1987). Microteaching utilizes real teaching situations to develop
teaching skills, and it supports teachers to gain more extensive knowledge regarding the art of
teaching (Remesh 2013). Francis (1997) supported the reflective role of microteaching;
reflection advocates reconceptualized microteaching as a process of critical inquiry.
Microteaching programs have produced changes in ordinary teaching skills and strategies
based on the extent of individual belief theory, which differs significantly from conceptual and
cognitive behavioral views of evaluation criteria. The behavioral and cognitive views of
microteaching programs allow preservice teachers to adjust their beliefs and actions accord-
ingly (Francis 1997). A growing number of studies have shown that microteaching is indeed
an effective method to enhance teaching skills (Benton-Kupper 2001).
In addition, microteaching experiences involve the participants’ understanding of them-
selves, which can change over time through interaction with others. The interaction shapes
their perception and assessment, as well as the peer’s effectiveness in microteaching (Macrae
and Hewstone 1990). Participants might also form stereotypical preconceptions that lead to
bias in their decisions on the use of resources (Ray et al. 2010; Ray and Matschke 2012).
Hamilton (1979) proposed the idea of social categorization to structurally measure stereotyp-
ical preconceptions. He outlined a range of cognitive biases resulting from social identity and
postulated that participants’ distinction between in-group and out-group would affect their
information processing (Tajfel 1981; Scheepers et al. 2002).
Microteaching laboratories or centers have been implemented in many universities in
Taiwan (e.g., National Taiwan University, National Cheng-Chi University) for teachers’ PD.
Further, microteaching workshops and counseling to assist teachers to conduct microteaching
in their classes have also been held. However, seldom have microteaching programs been
applied to preservice teacher education programs for science teachers at the elementary school
level (Ministry of Education [MOE] K12 Education Administration 2013). In addition, due to
the certification system and the severe shortage of elementary school science teachers in
Taiwan, college students who have different initial teaching orientations (such as art majors)
or who had nonscience majors during their preservice training are required to serve as science
teachers. To support these science teachers, considerable resources from the government,
schools, and science teacher communities are invested to provide PD programs for teachers
without rich science backgrounds (MOE K12 Education Administration 2013). In regards to
the PD programs, microteaching practice has become an essential component supporting
teachers for teachers to conduct science inquiry learning. Thus, this study cooperated with a
science PD program to explore the effect of social categorization on microteaching.

Social Categorization

As Hamilton (1979) highlighted, “to the extent that persons grouped into the same class are in
fact similar, such categorization increases our ability to anticipate what a particular member of
that group is like and how he is likely to behave” (p. 56). Furthermore, Hamilton explained that
social categorization leads people to experience emotions in response to situations and events
188 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

that they appraise as affecting their in-group. As elaborated in social identity theory (Tajfel
1982), thinking of oneself as a group member infuses the group with affective significance
(Garcia and Ybarra 2007; Macrae and Bodenhausen 2000). People experience group-based
emotions, and these emotions have important implications for intergroup attitudes (Cottrell and
Neuberg 2005; Maitner et al. 2007; Seger et al. 2009). Salient crosscutting social categoriza-
tions are not only the reality of a complex landscape of intergroup relations but also an
effective tool for prejudice reduction (Ray et al. 2012).
To structurally measure social categorization, research has established the effectiveness of
crossed categorization, which demonstrates the differential impact of the combination of
various shared and unshared categories on general attitudinal-evaluative measures of prejudice
(Crisp et al. 2006; Vescio et al. 2004). If categorization occurs along a particular dimension,
participants are expected to make more within-category than between-category errors for this
dimension (van Leeuwen et al. 2012). For participants who take part in microteaching
practices, their perception bias could affect their intergroup behaviors as well as their teaching
effectiveness. Thus, this research explored how social categorization relates to perception bias,
and in turn affects microteaching practice.

Perception Bias in Social Categorization

Self-categorization theory (Turner et al. 1987) proposes that individuals are self-perception
dependent and also group dependent. Perception refers to the processes of an individual’s
responses and interpretations of the surrounding environment through psychological reflection,
selection, integration, organization, and signification when one encounters external signals
(Lee 1982). Taggar and Brown (2006) proposed that self-perception reveals bias that is
generated from selective attention, storage, and recall. Perception bias on group boundaries
often discussed, so that categorization becomes simple, almost an automatic process conducted
on its own (Hogg 2001). In this sense, most people think that others have greater perception
bias than themselves (Pronin 2007; Ross and Ward 1996; Van Boven et al. 2003). This
phenomenon shows that the perception bias of “seeing our own strengths and seeing others’
shortcomings” is the norm (Van Boven et al. 2003). However, perception bias is increasingly
being studied for its effects in social-cognitive development, and many factors, such as
personal beliefs, expectations, and backgrounds, are likely to affect an individual’s perception
bias (Bazerman 2005). With perception biases, people who share one in-group with the
perceiver are regarded with less prejudice than out-group members (e.g., Crisp and Hewstone
2007). In the interest of whether this phenomenon would occur during microteaching practice,
the present study focused on teacher perception bias in a microteaching setting based on the
different scientific backgrounds of teachers.

Perception Bias and Science Background

In social cognition, knowledge-based validation of information usually relies on evidence-


based processes (Richter et al. 2009). This process is referred to as rational inquiry in
perceiving the real world. By rationalizing the inquiries, students may only grasp some parts
of formal or structural aspects of reality (Strawson 2005). In so doing, individual perception
typically emphasizes cognitive processes of partial information selection and interpretation
(Smith and Collins 2009). Exploring only parts of reality may deepen perception bias in
practical natural science teaching (Andres and Mausfeld 2008). This study examined
Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 189

individuals’ background knowledge in science as it affects perception bias between teaching


and observation in microteaching. Moreover, evaluative bias and self-recognition bias seem to
operate independently but in parallel to cause perception errors (Meissner and Brigham 2001).
As such, the present study compared the effects of applying social categories to target
perception bias through cross comparison in science microteaching.

Four Types of Reasoning

Researchers have endorsed the notion of challenging students to think through questioning and
discussion to jointly construct meaningful learning (Li 2011; Young 2008), resulting in the
following types of reasoning (Quellmalz and Hoskyn 1997). Inductive reasoning is related to
the identification of category, and discovering principles, laws, and series, from the particular
to the general. Deductive reasoning involves a single psychological mechanism to infer a
multifaced phenomenon that has been linked to cognitive branching to infer principles
(Reverberi et al. 2009). Analogical reasoning draws on prior knowledge to make sense of
new contexts (Richland et al. 2010). Analogical reasoning seems likely to require the ability to
integrate multiple relations and the ability to inhibit tendencies to respond based on similarities
(e.g., Morrison 2005). The last type of reasoning is reversible reasoning, which changes the
direction of the thinking process by contrasting options (Driscoll and Moyer 2001) and
providing information under precisely defined conditions (Bourgeois-Gironde 2010).
For instance, the four types of reasoning activities in the “hardening effect of soap” topic in
the model lesson, as described in the Research Procedure below, are as follows: (1) analogical
reasoning (e.g., what kinds of objects will harden in the same environment; the answers with
analogical reasoning may include cooked rice or cooked noodles), (2) reversible reasoning
(e.g., what kinds of objects will soften in the same environment; the answer with reversible
reasoning may include biscuit cake or lava), (3) inductive reasoning (e.g., what kinds of
conditions can make an object become harder or softer; the answer with inductive reasoning
may conclude: if the moisture of an object is higher than the moisture of the outside
environment, then the object will become harder, and vice versa), and (4) deductive reasoning
(e.g., what kinds of methods can make an object become harder or softer than its original state;
the answer with deductive reasoning may be: if we change the humidity of the object’s original
environment, even wood may soften). To effectively promote students’ reasoning, teachers
need to scaffold students’ reasoning by considering what students can accomplish on their own
(Vygotsky 1978). In line with this, reasoning can be mediated and constructed as a scaffolding
method (Rojas-Drummond et al. 2013). Thus, whether teachers are able to scaffold the four
types of reasoning by drawing on their personal experiences in microteaching was investigated
in this study.

Research Questions

In order to explore how social categorization affects perception bias in microteaching, this
study conducted an educational experiment in a teacher PD program to understand if teachers
with different backgrounds would possess perception bias in a crossed-categorization setting.
The research questions of the study were as follows:

1. Will teachers develop a perception bias through social categorization when practicing
different types of reasoning in a science microteaching setting?
190 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

2. Will teachers’ social categorization tendencies affect perception bias in different scaffold-
ing processes in a science microteaching setting?

Method

Participants

For this experimental study, purposive sampling was adopted. The participants recruited
for this study included 78 elementary school teachers who attended an in-service “natural
sciences” PD program. Their backgrounds and purposes for attending the program
varied. Half of the attendees were elementary school teachers whose original teaching
orientations were not in the natural sciences, and they enrolled in the PD program mainly
to expand their knowledge of the subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge. The
other half of the attendees were natural science majors who attended the program mainly
to improve their pedagogical knowledge; they had lacked experience in microteaching
while they studied undergraduate courses. Teachers from both categories would graduate
with a Master’s degree in education on completion of the in-service PD program.
Among the 78 participants, 18 were selected for the presenter group and 60 were selected as
the observer group. To conduct the cross-categorization comparison, the proportion of partici-
pants with or without background knowledge in science was equal in both groups. The presenter
group consisted of nine participants with science backgrounds (W-SB) and nine without science
backgrounds (W/O-SB). The observer group consisted of 30 W-SB and 30 W/O-SB.

Research Setting and Procedure

The microteaching technique involved the steps of “plan, teach, observe, re-plan, re-teach and re-
observe” (Politzer 1969). Accordingly, the participants in the presenter group were required to
design the microteaching materials and processes involved to teach a topic on soap application.
The participants were given sufficient time to prepare for the contents on the soap application
topic. Further, they were given 10 min of rehearsal time before they addressed a “microclass”
comprising of a small group of peers and a facilitator. The total length of the microclass was
restricted to 20–30 min. An example lesson plan on the properties of different types of soaps was
given in advance as the scaffolding instruction to illustrate the elements and strategies of teaching
a science lesson.
In this study, the four stages of scaffolding were integrated into two types of reasoning
(i.e., analogical reasoning and reverse reasoning) (see Table 1). For instance, to practice
analogical thinking, the presenter first raises a question for the students to think about or
reason with (i.e., providing thinking direction). If students could give several responses,
then the presenter could go directly to the “why” reason (i.e., inductive reasoning). If the
students were unable to give several answers, the presenter would provide an example to
further trigger students’ thinking. If students could provide more than three responses,
then the presenter would ask students “What is the reason?” (i.e., inductive reasoning). If
students were not able to answer this, the presenter would then list three to five answers
and ask the students “What is the reason?” If students could not at this point provide the
reason, the presenter would finally provide the explanation.
Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 191

Moreover, presenters can practice the four stages of scaffolding in analogical and reverse
reasoning interactively, in the following sequence: (A1) providing thinking direction with
analogical reasoning, (R1) providing thinking direction with reverse reasoning; (A2)
providing an example with analogical reasoning, (R2) providing an example with reverse
reasoning, and so on. Figure 1 illustrates the phases of the microteaching and details are
as follows:

Phase 1 Lesson planning: In this microteaching practice, the four stages of scaffolding
were integrated with the two types of reasoning (analogical and reverse reason-
ing). At the same time, an observation sheet was given to observers for them to
become familiarized with the indicators of assessment.
Phase 1-1 Preparing how to integrate types of reasoning into four stages of scaffolding. A
model example lesson plan entitled “The hardening effect of soap” was given.
Before the lesson, plans for different reasoning skills and how they could be
integrated into the instruction were discussed in detail (see Table 1).
Phase 1-2 Planning lessons with instructional sheet. After completing the lesson
plan integrating reasoning into scaffolding, all presenters were required to
plan a microteaching lesson. Participants met with the lecturer and their

Table 1 Scaffolding in reasoning

Type of reasoning Exemplary scaffolds

Analogical A1. Providing directional thinking What objects will harden after a period of time?
reasoning A2. Providing examples Teacher provides one example (e.g., cheese) then
asks students to think of similar items.
A3. Providing answers Teacher provides one example (e.g., cheese) then
asks students to think of similar items. Teacher
provides no more than five answers (e.g.,
bread, clay) and asks students to think of more
items and asks students for explanation.
A4. Providing answer explanations Teacher provides the answer “reduction in
moisture content results in hardening”.
Reverse reasoning R1. Providing directional thinking What objects will soften after a period of time?
R2. Providing examples Teacher provides the example of biscuits.
R3. Providing answers Pills, dry tea leaves, candy
R4. Providing answer explanations If the moisture in the atmosphere is higher than
the water content contained in the object, then
the object will absorb the moisture.
Inductive reasoning What kinds of conditions can make an Whether an object will harden or soften after a
object become harder or softer? period of time depends on the level of moisture/
water content contained in the atmosphere and
the object. If the moisture of an object is higher
than the original moisture of environment, then
the object will become harder, and vice versa.
Deductive What kinds of methods can make an If we change the humidity of the object’s original
reasoning object become harder or softer environment, even wood may soften.
than its original state?
192 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

Phase 1: Teaching Phase 2: Microteaching Phase 3: Feedback &


planning practice reflection

1. Design micro-teaching 1. Proceed with 1. Observers give


plans and materials microteaching feedback
2. Refine the teaching 2. Observers take notes 2. Presenters reflect
plans and materials 3. Play the video recorded and plan next microteaching
3. Familiarization with 4. Observers refine their
the observation sheet note taking

Fig. 1 The phases of microteaching

peers to check that their lesson plans fitted with the required scaffolding.
All presenters prepared their instructional sheet, based on the scheme of
microteaching mentioned above.
Phase 1-3 The observer group familiarized themselves with the observation sheet by
discussing the meanings of each indicator and doing a pilot evaluation.
Phase 2 Microteaching practice: 18 participants in the presenter group were
assigned to conduct microteaching that demonstrated their lesson plans
in practice. The microteaching occurred from the middle of the semester,
so research participants were familiar with each other. The total length
of the lesson was restricted to 20–30 min, and observers assessed
whether the four types of reasoning were successfully integrated into
the four stages of scaffolding in microteaching.
Phase 3 Feedback and reflection: According to the microteaching process, ob-
servers gave feedback to presenters and presenters were also asked to
reflect on the feedback. The similarities and differences between reflec-
tion and feedback were recorded for data analysis.

The microteaching was carried out by the 18 participants in the presenter group and the
process was recorded on video. Watching the video recording allowed participants to review
and reflect on the content of the videos, and increase their awareness for acquiring the
necessary skills to become an effective teacher (Kong et al. 2009; Liu 2012). This study first
asked the presenters to review their own teaching in relation to their strengths and weakness;
second, they used the critiques provided by the observers to reflect on how they performed in
the microteaching and identify areas for improvement. Specifically, the conflict between
presenters and observers with respect to the perceived strengths and weakness of the
microteaching episodes were systematically analyzed in this study.

Data Collection

Yeany and Padilla (1986) asserted that most teachers teach as they were taught and
contend that teaching is rarely a “thought through” skill; this notion implies the
Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 193

existence of a modeling phenomenon. A variety of classroom observations can serve


as modeling encounters for observing teachers with an observation checklist as a
rating protocol to describe behavior categories of the classroom process (Jacobs 1973).
The observation form to conduct an adult learning review was amended by four
science professors to ensure the appropriateness of the information from teaching
practices and was validated for videotape observation.
Observation sheets can offer an opportunity to collect focused data for reflection on the area
of concern, helping the observer to perceive the happenings in a systematic way in order to
understand and analyze them (Wajnryb 1992). Therefore, they are appropriate to use for
observing the classroom and what goes on in it for the purpose of microteaching exploration.
The microteaching observation sheets of this study (see Appendix) included the scaffolding
application of providing direction for thinking, providing similar examples or searching
websites, offering an answer, and providing an explanation for the answer in teaching practice.
The presenting and observing teachers placed a check mark in the blank area of “Have
presented” or “Have not presented” and produced the following four types of perceptions: (1)
Observers and presenters both perceived “Have presented”; (2) observers and presenters both
perceived “Have not presented”; (3) observers perceived “Have presented”, presenters per-
ceived “Have not presented”; and (4) observers perceived “Have not presented”, presenters
perceived “Have presented”. Regarding “seeing our own strengths and seeing others’ short-
comings”, this research focused on type 4, and only the data for this type were used for analysis.

Data Analysis and Reliability

Chi (1997) developed detailed descriptions on how to segment verbal data and emphasized the
importance of measuring reliability of coded data in every step of the analytical process, i.e.,
“during segmentation into units, categorizing or coding of the units, depicting the coded data,
seeking pattern(s) in the depicted data, interpreting the pattern(s), and so forth” (p. 24).
Accordingly, the comparisons between presenters’ recorded content were validated by six
science and education experts (five science education doctoral students and a senior elemen-
tary school science teacher). The quantitative data process contained a microteaching obser-
vation sheet. The original data were arranged, coded as a percentage, and classified for further
analysis. In this study, the setting of each W-SB and W/O-SB observers group consisted of 30
individuals. As an example, assuming the microteaching is in the analogical thinking stage.
The presenters are W/O-SB and the observers are W-SB. The frequency of the observers
perceiving the presenters demonstrated “providing answers” is calculated. After the
microteaching, there were average frequency counts of 24 times calculated, which equals 80
% (24/30), and this percentage was coded.
After the protocol was coded, ambiguities and disagreements were discussed among
the four professors. This consisted of reviewing the code on the observation form and
confirming with the video recording the four types of reasoning practice components.
Next, independent raters coded the evaluation of coding reliability by applying a
triangulation process. Consequently, an interrater reliability coefficient was computed.
A coefficient of 97 % was considered indicative of reliable coding for this study.
To answer the research questions of this study, an example of perception bias and
the frequencies of social categorization are shown in Table 2.
194 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

Table 2 An example of perception bias in analogical thinking

Analogical reasoning W/O-SB presenter W-SB presenter

W-SB observers W/O-SB observers W-SB observers W/O-SB observers


(%) (%) (%) (%)

1. Directional thinking 57 15 41 53
2. Providing examples 73 43 50 57
3. Providing answers 80 40 43 53
4. Providing answer 70 30 53 53
explanations

Results

After the coding had been validated, an independent sample test was conducted to
examine the hypotheses of this study, and the results are discussed in the following
subsections.

Perception Bias of Different Reasoning Types Across Groups

To address the first research question in relation to the application of four types of
reasoning, two null hypotheses were used to text for statistical significance: H0-1—In
the case of presenters W/O-SB, there is no significant difference between presenters
perceiving they “have presented” the four types of reasoning and observers perceiving
they “have not presented”; and H0-2—in the case of presenters W-SB, there is no
significant difference between presenters perceiving they “have presented” the four
types of reasoning and observers perceiving they “have not presented”. In order to
test the difference, the mean percentage of each row was calculated to derive the Chi-
square value. The sum of the χ2 was used to test H0-1, and Table 3 shows that
χ2 =8.09 (p=0.04), which is above the critical value 7.81 (df=3). This indicates that
H0-1 should be rejected. The result also indicates that for presenters W/O-SB,
observers W-SB and W/O-SB perceived a significant difference regarding whether
the presenter had presented the different types of reasoning, indicating perception bias
through social categorization.
Table 3 also shows that χ2 =0.28 (p=0.96) for H0-2, which is significantly below the critical
value 7.81 (df=3). This indicates that H0-2 is accepted. That is, when presenters were W-SB,
there was no difference in the perception of observers W/O-SB and W-SB. This result indicates
that for presenters W-SB, both observers W-SB and W/O-SB perceived that the presenter

Table 3 Comparing four types of reasoning across groups

W/O-SB presenter H0-1 W-SB presenter H0-2


χ2 (p value) χ2 (p value)

Different types of reasoning 8.09 (p=0.04) Rejected 0.28 (p=0.96) Accepted


Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 195

demonstrated the different types of reasoning (i.e., no perception bias through social
categorization).

Perception Bias for Different Stages of Scaffolding Across Groups

In this study, the four stages of scaffolding were only integrated into analogical
reasoning and reverse reasoning. Therefore, only the stages of scaffolding for analog-
ical reasoning and reverse reasoning were evaluated for whether perception bias
through social categorization occurred. To address the second research question in
relation to the application of the four stages of scaffolding, two null hypotheses were
used to test for statistical significance: H0-3—In the case of presenters W/O-SB, there
is no significant difference between presenters perceiving they “have presented” the
four stages of scaffolding, but observers perceiving they “have not presented”; and
H0-4—In the case of presenters W-SB, there is no significant difference between
presenters perceiving they “have presented” the four stages of scaffolding and ob-
servers perceiving they “have not presented”.
Regarding providing directional thinking, providing examples, providing answers, and
providing answer explanation, Table 4 shows that χ2 values for the presenter W/O-SB were
35.49 (p=0.02) and 33.42 (p=0.17), respectively, for demonstrating analogical reasoning. This
indicates that for a presenter W/O-SB, there was social categorization as there was a difference
between observers W/O-SB and observers W-SB when evaluating the presenter’s stages of
scaffolding. For presenters W-SB, Table 4 shows that χ2 values for the four stages of
scaffolding were 9.40 (p=0.99) and 5.25 (p=1.00). This shows that for presenters
W-SB, there was no significant difference between observers W/O-SB and observers
W-SB, indicating no social categorization difference in evaluating the presenter’s four
stages of scaffolding.

Discussion

Briefly, the results of this study indicated that perception bias existed with social categoriza-
tion. The data analysis of this research showed that, due to differences in scientific back-
ground, differences of perceptual bias in the four scaffolding stages were significant. A
significantly high level of perception bias with social categorization emerged in relation to
the presenters W/O-SB and observers W-SB. The results imply that one knows his/her own
shortcomings and that out-group feedback is more effective than that of the in-group. The
second research question, “Will teachers’ social categorization tendencies affect perception

Table 4 Comparing stages of scaffolding across groups

W/O-SB presenter H0-3 W-SB presenter H0-4


χ2 (p value) χ2 (p value)

Analogical reasoning 35.49 (p=0.02) Reject 9.40 (p=0.99) Accept


Reverse reasoning 33.42 (p=0.17) Reject 5.25 (p=1.00) Accept
196 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

bias in different scaffolding processes in a microteaching setting?” was assessed through


examination of presenters’ provision of thinking direction, examples, and answer explanation
while teaching science concepts.
The present study found that analogical reasoning was the most frequently
mentioned by presenters in teaching the soap properties topic. As anticipated, teachers
W-SB had more knowledge of soap properties than teachers W/O-SB. Teachers W-SB
could provide examples, thereby showing a higher frequency in the use of analogical
reasoning, resulting in a smaller frequency of “Have not presented” in this stage of
scaffolding. This finding supports other research that holds that adequate knowledge is
the main prerequisite for analogical reasoning (Goswami 1992), and this knowledge is
used to simulate natural accounts of feature-based similarity and structured
information (Taylor and Hummel 2009). That is, presenters W-SB had more subject
domain knowledge than presenters W/O-SB, which affected the observations of both
groups of participants when evaluating presenters W-SB.
Social categorization implicitly affects the way one measures another’s performance. In
particular, patterns of social desirability reveal fundamental effects of categorization
processes, suggested in the categorizations, people pick up others’ arbitrary features that
happen to correlate with patterns of social interaction with in/out-groups, leading to
spontaneous and implicit categorization by those features (e.g., Sani et al. 2005; Tooby
and Cosmides 2010). In this study, the social categorization process was related to one’s
science background, which influenced in/out-group observers’ assessments and feedback.
This explains why the results of this study revealed such large differences between the
perceptions of the observers, with and without science background.

Conclusion

Social categorization is the notion that people categorize others based on perceived
similarities and differences (Morrison 2005). Others that are seen as similar to self tend
to be categorized as the in-group, or considered part of “us”. Thinking skills are one of
the most important abilities that individuals acquire through microteaching practices
(Marin and Halpern 2011; Mercer 1996, 2004). However, those seen as dissimilar to
the self tend to be categorized as the out-group, or thought of as part of “them” (Ray
et al. 2010). In microteaching, the feedback from peers is essential to the presenters. If
one fails to learn his or her own shortcomings or subjectively disagrees with the feedback
from others, a perception bias is generated by social categorization, and as the present
study has shown, this is likely to reduce the effectiveness of microteaching. As a result,
this study highlighted the important theoretical point that perception bias is a distinct
process affected by social categorization, which is simply noticing the difference between
individuals being in the in/out-group (i.e., in this study’s microteaching episodes, whether
the participants were W-SB or W/O-SB was a critical factor in determining social
categorization).

Implications

The results verified the thinking bias of “my-side bias” proposed by Stanovich and
West (2008). Thus, social categorization as identified in this study has major
Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 197

theoretical implications for science microteaching practice in particular. One of the


implications relates to the microteaching research assumption that social categorization
in scientific reasoning and scaffolding activities are significantly related, in that one’s
perception bias will affect one’s feedback on microteaching. This finding may also be
relevant for other teaching activities using scientific reasoning and/or scaffolding
strategies in other teaching settings.
Grimberg and Gummer (2013) focused on a professional development program for
science teachers near or on American Indian reservations in Montana. The results of
their analyses indicated that, after 2 years in the program, teachers changed their
teaching practices and beliefs about their ability to teach science and implemented
equitable instruction in a way that positively impacted students’ performance. The
findings of the current study identify that social categorization relates to perception
bias and should be considered in microteaching in teacher PD programs. The findings
of the present research also provide important insights for designing PD programs for
particular groups as well as educational programs targeting in- and preservice teachers
of natural sciences.

Limitations and Future Study

The first limitation to be considered is that the data on microteaching activities were
collected by observers to ascertain how the presenters performed scaffolding strategies
in each activity. Such data could have been gathered multiple times to determine
which of the activities the observers perceived to have accurately interpreted those
scaffolding indicators and how observers evaluated each of these pursuits. Yeany
(1980) posited that the teacher’s behavior influences the classroom interaction between
teachers and students. Some student behaviors can also be classified as transactional
(e.g., manipulation of science equipment and verbal response patterns); other student
behaviors are covert (e.g., mental attentiveness). This study utilized the four stages of
scaffolding with four types of reasoning to guide students’ mental processes. Addi-
tionally, teaching practice related to transactional factors should be incorporated into
microteaching observation to improve the effective teaching of science concepts in
future studies. In microteaching, teachers receive feedback on concept instruction and
presentation skills, including body language and colloquialisms; these aspects were not
examined in this study.
With social categorization, the observers’ assessments are influenced by their
familiarity to the themes or objects, the feeling of ease of processing, or perceptual
salience, and this cause the prejudice in the assessment or evaluation process
(Pietraszewski and Schwartz 2014). This implies that social categorization may not
only affect perception bias in microteaching practice, but also many other types of
evaluations. Thus, future studies relevant to social categorization could examine other
science evaluations, such as science fair evaluations, or invention evaluations, to
examine the effect of social categorization on the evaluation.

Acknowledgements This research was partially supported by the “Aim for the Top University Project” of
National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan and the
“International Research-Intensive Center of Excellence Program” of NTNU and Ministry of Science and
Technology, Taiwan (MOST 103-2911-I-003-301 and MOST 101-2511-S-003-056-MY3 and MOST 104-
2911-I-003-301).
198 Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201

Appendix. Microteaching Observation Sheet

Group: A B Science Background: with without

Please mark either “Have presented” or “Have not presented” in the appropriate column

Have Have not Remark


Presented Presented

1. Analogical reasoning

1.1 Providing direction of thinking

1.2 Providing examples

1.3 Providing answer

1.4 Providing answer explanation

2. Reverse reasoning

2.1 Providing direction of thinking

2.2 Providing examples

2.3 Providing answer

2.4 Providing answer explanation

3. Inductive reasoning

4. Deductive reasoning
Res Sci Educ (2017) 47:185–201 199

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