The present project is a comparative study of the beliefs about intelligence of public primary school teachers in Norway and Australia. The main aims were to investigate the nature of these beliefs, the extent to which they differed according to cultural context, and what the main influences on the teachers’ beliefs about intelligence were.
A mixed methods research design was employed. 27 teachers (21 in Norway and 6 in Australia) replied to an online survey, while 8 interviews were carried out in each country. While the teachers’ beliefs about intelligence were quite similar across the two countries, results indicated a cultural influence on the manifestation of these beliefs, where responses to belief items varied to different extents in Norway and Australia, depending on the nature of the survey item or the interview question. Furthermore, it seemed teachers’ beliefs were closely related to their individual, personal experiences; especially parental influence, childhood schooling experiences, and later work experiences.
These results were discussed in relation to research concerning the nature of beliefs as well as educational context, in terms of the specific manifestation of egalitarianism in each country. Severe limitations to the online survey in terms of sample size meant the results can not be generalized beyond the present sample and contexts, and must rather be interpreted in terms of an exploration of the relationships between beliefs about intelligence and the influences by background experiences as well as present contextual factors. Suggestions for future research investigations are made.