Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Science Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Science Content Knowledge

November 2016

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Vol. 27, No. 6, p. 649–673, (2016)

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aims to examine relationships between preservice teachers’ science self-efficacy beliefs and science content knowledge in the context of a specialized physics course designed for elementary preservice teachers.

This study employed an embedded mixed methods design.
It was conducted in a specialized physics content course at a large Midwestern university.
The participants were preservice teachers enrolled in the course over three semesters. The authors administered Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument-B (STEBI-B) and a physical science concept test along with semi-structured interviews.

Based on the tests results, the participants were divided to three groups representing low, medium and high initial levels of self-efficacy beliefs.

Discussion and Implications
The findings indicated statistically significant gains in participants’ science self-efficacy beliefs and science conceptual understandings. Furthermore, it was found that there was a positive moderate relationship between gains in science conceptual understandings and gains in personal science teaching efficacy beliefs. These results strongly suggest positive changes in participants' science self-efficacy beliefs. 

In addition, participants felt confident in the science content learned in the course and felt comfortable teaching it. The authors argue that such improved levels of confidence to teach science and perceptions of themselves as science teachers are more likely to translate into practice in their future science teaching endeavors.

Finally, this study has implications for preservice teacher education programs.
The findings suggest that science content courses should be designed in ways that are consistent with ways preservice teachers are expected to teach. The science educators involved in designing such courses must include science experiences to make science learning relevant and realistic to students and for their future teaching.

Furthermore, the authors argue that continuous support and mentoring is needed throughout the preservice science teacher preparation program, especially for low efficacious students, to continue to develop their science self-efficacy beliefs.
Preservice teachers, who have low science self-efficacy, need ongoing encouragement to build positive perceptions of themselves as science teachers.
Science educators should continue to make efforts to extend their support for preservice teachers throughout their teacher preparation.

In conclusion, the findings of this study provided evidence that preservice teachers enrolled in the specialized content course experienced positive changes in their science self-efficacy beliefs, and that the development of self-efficacy beliefs. Furthermore, these findings indicate that development of science conceptual understanding are interrelated. Hence, the authors highlight the importance of designing specialized content courses for improving preservice science content training while demonstrating teaching approaches that could be applicable in their future classrooms. 

Updated: Feb. 13, 2018