Early Childhood Teachers' Empowerment and Implementation of Teaching Method Programs for Child Development in Science Education

Article excerpt

It has been argued that the efforts of professional development in science education have often been unsuccessful in the past, because teacher educators failed to consider prospective teachers' attitude and reflective thinking to put into practice (Ward &McCotter, 2004). Early childhood teacher attitudes toward science education need to be examined to improve the quality of their science teaching and instruction, because they were considered to be crucial factors and components in the classroom in influencing the success of their science teaching (Cobern & Loving, 2002).

Undergraduate, early childhood science method courses in a college for unskilled early childhood teachers influence their concern and attitudes toward science teaching. It has been recognized that the effective science method course for preservice teachers needs to have a smaller size discussion group, accessible teacher educators, and should experiment with a variety of hands on activities (Brainard & Wrubel, 1993). The effect of hands on activities in science method courses combined several characteristics: integration of methodology with real practice for teaching young children, peer supervision and discussion (Martin, 2000).

Any new approach to evaluate and implement science method course programs for early childhood teachers should take into account a variety of experiences and inquires. Early childhood teachers need to encounter and struggle to solve their problems in order to overcome their barriers in real situations.

Teacher educators need to implement new science instructional practice to bring educational improvement into classrooms (Luehmann, 2007). These practices require new curriculum or a very different instructional approach in the early child method course in college.

In recent years a growing number of researches in teacher education, related to reflective thinking for professional development. The aim of studying reflective thinking in teacher education is to find out how teachers perceive questions and reconstruct their own teaching. Breault(2004) has asserted that there is no best way of teaching and there is ambiguity about what teaching should be. I have shown that writing a reflective journal is a potential method to help preservice teachers think through and deeply understand the process of personal theory building. Also, teachers develop their own reflective thinking, related to their real life and learning.

There are many words to interpret the process of reflective thinking in teacher education: consider, ponder, analyze, evaluate, investigate, and think critically about their work related to teaching and learning. The essence of reflective thinking is a connecting process of drawing value and insight from past experience, reconsidering and developing new aspects of our life (Dewey, 1933). Teacher educators who are eager to increase attention of teachers' practical knowledge have stressed the importance of acquiring the real practice of reflective thinking in teacher education so that preservice teachers can seek to promote their reflective practice and make attempts at better understanding what teaching is about. Writing a reflective journal has recently gained recognition as an effective tool for teacher education implementation(Good & Whang, 2002). Teacher educators as evaluators might assess a preservice teacher's professional growth using portfolios and help them develop their reflective thinking on their instructional practices (Tillema & Smith, 2007). Teacher education programs for preservice teachers in science method courses have recently seemed to emphasize practice and expose teachers to a variety of practical knowledge and skills.

I was interested in discovering how much the teachers changed their attitude towards science teaching and became researchers, making a linkage between practice and theory in science teaching while they have learned about the effectiveness of portfolio assessment. …