Pre-Service Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Attitudes toward Learning and Teaching Science in a Content Course

Pre-Service Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Attitudes toward Learning and Teaching Science in a Content Course

Cindi Smith-Walters (Middle Tennessee State University, USA) and Heather L. Barker (Middle Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6375-6.ch012
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Science teaching is approached with hesitation by many PreK-8 teachers. This chapter explores the research on attitudes toward science and learning science as well as the perceived science efficacy of elementary pre-service teachers. It also describes a content-based, pedagogically rich life science course for pre-service preK-8 teachers that incorporates active and interactive teaching techniques in lieu of the traditional science methods course. Using evidence from this project and other research studies, the chapter argues for the inclusion and modeling of these approaches when preparing teachers of science and proposes that this non-traditional approach for teaching content-based courses for preparing teachers be considered in place of traditional science methods courses.
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Setting The Stage

Elementary teachers are expected to be all things for all students: content delivery experts, special education providers, learning disabilities specialists, guidance counselors, health advisors, and pedagogy authorities, as well as content specialists in all traditional subject and skill areas. This is a tall order for anyone, particularly a new teacher who is years away from becoming a master educator (Berliner, 1988). The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (1996) reported that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years. Ingersoll (2003) estimated that 40-50% of teachers leave within the first five years and that rate has remained fairly consistent (Ingersoll & Perda, 2012). Ingersoll and Perda also noted that there is more pre-retirement attrition of mathematics and science teachers than those in any other subject areas.

The quest for excellence in all aspects of education is perhaps most pressing in the area of science. High quality science educators, using reform-based instructional methods, are vital to the development of future generations of scientifically literate citizens. Teacher preparation programs have a duty to effectively prepare candidates to meet this goal and to successfully handle the expectations and demands of this challenging career. With the increased emphasis on in-depth science content knowledge and delivery methods in K-12 classrooms, teachers now more than ever must be fully prepared, self-confident, and accomplished in conveying science content and skills to their students.

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