Assessing Teacher Attitudes in Teaching Science

Article excerpt

The author posits that positive attitudes toward teaching students in the pubic schools is vital. In earlier research he demonstrated that pupil achievement was significantly higher at the .05 level in personal adjustment with student teacher assistance as compared to no student teacher assistance, and discusses the importance of teacher attitude in teaching science.

Positive attitudes toward teaching students in the pubic schools is vital. Rational thinking would tell us that good attitudes of teachers is superior to negative attitudes in the school curriculum. Rational thought is used to appraise teachers, curricula, students, and assessment procedures. Rational thinking may be compared to objective, measurable results in terms of assessing what has transpired in teaching and learning situations. Attitudes are difficult to measure. Attitudes, as compared to subject matter learnings, are a more subjective factor in which a plethora of attempts have been made to measure and objectify how good the attitudes are of an individual or group. In doing his doctoral dissertation (1963), the author used the California Test of Personality to measure the attitudinal dimension and its affects of student teachers on student achievement in the public schools. Pupil achievement was significantly higher at the .05 level in personal adjustment with student teacher assistance as compared to no student teacher assistance. Pupil growth in social development did not differ significantly, however, with or without student teacher assistance in the classroom, according to The California Test of Personality.

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The author has held quality attitudes toward science on the part of teachers to be of utmost importance in teaching and learning. He has completed assessing a Ph D dissertation (Thamilmani, 2000) entitled Teacher Competency, Teacher Personality, and Teacher Attitude on Student Achievement in Science, for Madurai Kamaraj University, in India. Thirteen Hypotheses were treated in this study. The following differed significantly in data provided from the study:

1. Teaching competency was related to attitudes toward teaching science.

2. Teacher personality was related to attitudes in teaching science.

3. Students of more competent teachers achieved significantly higher than those students who had less competent science teachers.

The attitudinal dimension emphasizes factors such as acceptance of self and others, prizing oneself and others, as well as mutual trust and empathetic understanding. Placing a high value on learning subject matter and skills in science is indeed vital! From this study, the following appear to be salient:

1. Teacher attitudes are highly important and prospective candidates for teaching need to be chosen on the basis of having positive attitudes toward science as well as toward students in the kindergarten - high school setting.

2. Candidates for teacher education should possess an adequate self concept. The self concept relates well to knowing and imparting science subject matter and skills as well as accepting pupils as learners and as human beings.

3. A demanding academic program in science for undergraduate students should be in the offing. Competency in subject matter knowledge is of utmost importance. Breadth and depth of subject matter must be in the offing. Subject matter acquired must be relevant and used in teaching pupils in the public school setting (Ediger, 2000, 25-32).

To impart science subject matter knowledge in teaching and learning situations, the prospective teacher also needs to experience:

1. methods of teaching course work which should be directly related to field experiences. Here, the prospective teacher may apply methods acquired to actual teaching situations in the pubic school setting. Methods of teaching learned should not be isolated, but integrated with practical experiences in the classroom. …