Developing motivation to teach elementary science: Effect of collaborative and authentic learning practices in preservice education

Watters, James J. & Ginns, Ian S. (2000) Developing motivation to teach elementary science: Effect of collaborative and authentic learning practices in preservice education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 11(4), pp. 301-321.

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The rapid growth in knowledge over recent times has meant that teachers have to be responsive to new and ever changing demands of society. Science is among those key areas of knowledge that has experienced overwhelming growth and thus developing scientific literacy is a priority if citizens are to participate effectively in society. Failure to develop children’s interest in science will disempower a generation of children in an era when scientific knowledge is at the foundation of our culture. Unfortunately, many elementary teachers express a lack of confidence in their ability to teach science with dire consequences for the quality of teaching. This paper reports a study involving a cohort of 161 elementary preservice teachers in the third year of a four-year Bachelor of Education program enrolled in a core science education (methods) course. An instructional program that addressed five essential dimensions of meaningful learning – the knowledge base, metacognition, motivation, individual differences and context – was implemented. Quantitative and qualitative data obtained through surveys, observations and focus session reviews revealed that a learning environment based on social constructivist perspectives was effective in developing students’ conceptual and pedagogical knowledge, and most importantly enhanced students’ sense of science teaching self-efficacy. Particular initiatives that were identified by students as being of value were collaborative learning and associated strategies, reflective journal writing, and assignment tasks that adopted principles of problem based learning. While statistically significant gains in science teaching self-efficacy (p < .001) were observed overall, qualitative data enabled a more detailed analysis of the changes in motivations and goals of individual student teachers. The paper explores how the experiences developed their confidence and will to teach science in elementary school and how opportunities were provided that empowered the student teachers to be proactive seekers of knowledge and become lifelong learners.

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ID Code: 1685
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: science teaching self efficacy, science teacher education, preservice, motivation, collaborative learning
DOI: 10.1023/A:1009429131064
ISSN: 1573-1847
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2000 Springer
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink
Deposited On: 01 Jul 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:26

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