From Students to Teachers: Investigating the Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs and Experiences of Graduate Primary Teachers

Abstract

The science achievement of primary students, both in Australia and abroad, has been the subject of intensive research in recent decades. Consequently, much research has been conducted to investigate primary science education. Within this literature, there is a striking juxtaposition between tertiary science teaching preparation programs and the experiences and outcomes of both teachers and students alike. Whilst many tertiary science teaching programs covary with positive outcomes for preservice teachers, reports of science at the primary school level continue to be problematic. This paper begins to explore this apparent contradiction by investigating the science teaching efficacy beliefs and experiences of a cohort of graduate primary teachers who had recently transitioned from preservice to inservice status. An opportunity sample of 82 primary teachers responded to the science teaching efficacy belief instrument A (STEBI-A), and 10 graduate teachers provided semi-structured interview data. The results showed that participants’ prior science teaching efficacy belief growth, which occurred during their tertiary science education, had remained durable after they had completed their teaching degrees and began their careers. Qualitative data showed that their undergraduate science education had had a positive influence on their science teaching experiences. The participants’ school science culture, however, had mixed influences on their science teaching. The findings presented within this paper have implications for the direction of research in primary science education, the design and assessment of preservice primary science curriculum subjects and the role of school contexts in the development of primary science teachers.

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Deehan, J., Danaia, L. & McKinnon, D.H. From Students to Teachers: Investigating the Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs and Experiences of Graduate Primary Teachers. Res Sci Educ 50, 885–916 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-018-9716-9

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Keywords

  • Primary science education
  • Preservice primary teaching
  • Transition
  • Science teaching efficacy beliefs
  • School science cultures
  • Mixed methods