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This study utilizes theory from situated cognition to investigate faculty beliefs about student learning and their influence on teaching decisions. Results of interviews with and observations of 56 science and math faculty found that the two most common beliefs are: (a) students learn best through repeated practice, and (b) students have different learning styles. The remaining 13 beliefs exhibited an underlying dimensionality regarding whether teachers or students are responsible for constructing knowledge and understanding. These findings provide insights into factors that can be used to design locally attuned interventions in contrast to a “top‑down” model of change.